There was a huge amount of excitement in the forums around the upcoming Women in Comedy Festival in Manchester; a brilliant project helmed by comedy powerhouse Jessica Toomey now in its eighth year, but once the celebrations on getting our slots died down, then became the hum of worry – shows needed to be prepared but stage time has never been at more of a premium.
I joined a thread on the Funny Women Facebook forum wondering if anyone would be interested in getting a venue to do an all-day ‘festival’ in London specifically for Work in Progress shows ahead of the run, and got a great response from the community. I run a few gigs and have been lucky enough to work with the Cavendish Arms in Stockwell over lockdown putting on streamed shows, WIPs, and live podcasts, and knowing they were huge supporters of grassroots comedy, I asked if there were any dates free to run this. Shirley got back to me immediately with suggestions, those suggestions went to vote, and now we have it – Sunday, 12th September, a day of brilliant WIPs from wickedly funny women. The women working on these WIPs, Rabiah Coon, Lorraine Hoodless, Gemma Barry, Erin Crouch, and Rebekka Turner immediately stepped up offering support for everything from making promotional videos to getting the event listed on Facebook, it’s been a real team effort so no one has felt overwhelmed despite being on a really short timeline.
I’m really proud of what we have put together and I cannot express enough how straightforward it is to get something like this off the ground, particularly with such a fantastic community of female comics around to support you, so if you think you might want to run something like this, start by finding a space and work from there. It might just give you the taste for starting up your own night.
Taking part are:
2pm – Lorraine Hoodless: According to Everyone Else
To do list: perfect home, perfect partner, perfect career, perfect body, perfect family. Perfect! Well… according to everyone else. It seems the whole world has a view on who Lorraine Hoodless should be and how she should behave. She battles with what is expected, and the image we project in beaming selfies. How does any of that help when what we should really be looking at is the world around us and the collapsing environment?
It’s time for an unfiltered, honest look at ourselves. Lorraine’s first solo show is witty, irreverent, and most of all truthful. Amused Moose semi-finalist 2020.
3pm – Erin Crouch: Alaskan in Exile and Rabiah Coon: Nice Try
Two American ex-pats will perform their 30 minute works in progress.
There are strange things done in the midnight sun and some of those things were done by this comedian. Erin Crouch traded the hardship of the Alaskan wilderness for the hardship of the Value Added Tax and has been making German audiences laugh about it, which really should have gotten her a reality show on TLC.
Rabiah Coon is an accident-prone project manager who moved to London in 2020 and spent a year alone in her flat writing about her shortcomings, overcomings, and misbecomings. In Nice Try she shares her [possibly unreliable] narrative on close encounters with death, living with a chronic illness, and a surname that even offends her!
4pm – Gemma Barry: Flaps of Steel
Sometimes it takes balls to be a woman. It was on a postcard in my kitchen. Then I thought, fuck that I’ve got Flaps of Steel!
Why don’t we ever say, grow some flaps? Which took Gem off on a bit of an exploration of what it means to be a vagina owner these days. The weirdness, the taboos, and the history. How has our health been shaped by what’s between our legs?
Time to unpack those big girl pants…bodies are fascinating. Being an ex-nurse Gem has seen a lot of them, but frankly, the amount of ridiculous stuff that happens in her body on a daily basis is nuts!
When someone told Gem to stop being so hormonal, she didn’t take it as an insult because it’s fact she has over 40 of them and be dead without them!
Gem wants a world where she doesn’t have to hide her tampon up her sleeve because it might make Dave’s head explode. She needs to live in a world where periods aren’t blue – is that too much to ask?
5pm – Rebekka Turner: Bex’s Chainsaw Moussaka
Rebekka is back in force with her new high-energy stand-up show full of nonsense, comic turns, and lots of weird stuff you weren’t expecting: guaranteed!
There’ll be no storytelling, no deep meaning about relationships, no moral messages near the end… but there might just be quickfire jokes, dark wordplay, oddball characters, off-the-wall impressions and – if you’re lucky – some meaty layers between those aubergines.
Come with Bex on an unexpected whimsical journey as she tries to better fit in.
The Women in Comedy WIP Festival takes place on Sunday 12th September. Shows run from 2.00 pm – 6.00 pm at The Cavendish Arms in Stockwell. They are free to attend – but donations are welcome.