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Funny Women

Funny Women

Here at Funny Women, we believe that comedy is good for what ails you. Who hasn’t got a go-to sitcom or stand-up special for when they’re feeling down or a bit under the weather? However, the University of Bristol’s comedian in residence Angie Belcher is creating a new form of therapy that employs the theories and ideas of stand-up comedy formation to help people recover from trauma.

Comedy On Referral, a new arts-based wellbeing course will be delivered in collaboration with the Wellspring Settlement Social Prescribing Team from their Healthy Living Centre site in Lawrence Hill in January 2022. This is not some form of Patch Adams film style healing, Belcher won’t be recruiting comedians to perform on the wards. Belcher says: “It’s not sending on comedians to help people,  it’s the process of learning stand up using your own experience.

Comedy On Referral is a six-week course to give you the tools, confidence and support to write and perform stand-up comedy about your life. You get to control the narrative of your previous encounters and bring about a new version using comedy. This course is an opportunity to connect with other people though the creative act of writing and performing. You’ll get to learn how to write using comedic devices, how to use storytelling theories to create great content, and how to use your body, voice and breathe to perform like a stand-up.”

The course is a pioneering combination of psychology, comedy and storytelling to help people to own the narrative on their past traumas. Belcher has chosen comedy because she sees it as: “…a natural human trait, and we are already comedians. Every night you come home from work and tell your significant other/dog/ dad what your day was like, but in the car home you’ll exaggerate details, make your retorts funnier and build a story that will entertain your friends and family, all we do with professional comedy education is give you the tools to take this to a more polished and informed level.”

As for the trauma Angie is eager to explain why comedy and therapy are natural bedfellows, “Past traumas are perfect for comedy. Comedy doesn’t come from the happy, perfect moments of your life, but from our everyday struggles and major life events”

How did Angie realise comedy was useful for people’s mental health? “People who’ve been through big life experiences such as bereavement and ill health often can’t wait to tell me their story, mostly because there’s always something weirdly funny about the situation. It’s a case of, this part of life is tough, but you’ll laugh at this one thing that happened… You can acknowledge and honour the comedy of a situation, as much as the ritual and sadness of it. It’s a small bit of respite, so why wouldn’t you take it? I started realising that we could support people to write about these situations, help them to become the protagonist of their experience and inspire them bring that version of themselves to the stage. The process of learning how to frame your experience as comedy has a cathartic and healing effect. I then went further and realised that if we face future experiences role playing, or embodying life with our “inner comedian” we can become more resilient and happier. So, the comedy therapy course can help on a practical level with how to live with joy, rather than fear of old traumas. It’s a wonderful course”.

The course is for anyone who is ready to explore their anxiety and trauma through comedy, participants will receive plenty of one on one help and Belcher will have three people assisting her. While Belcher does not prescribe the course as a replacement for traditional clinical approaches, instead she sees it as an opportunity for people who would not normally have access to comedy courses. “When you are ready to explore some darker times from your history, you find that just talking about it in a funny way is quite lovely, and more importantly, it has a ripple effect on your audience, you help other people to cope with their sadness. When you bring your story alive for others, it makes other people feel less alone, having your experience mirrored back to you is hugely comforting. Comedy builds community.”

We couldn’t agree more!

This six-week course is free to attend, and referrals come from Social Prescribers via GPs.

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Comedy Shorts Award Entry Requirements

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Funny Women NextUp…Comedy Shorts Award

Are you a budding Director? Producer? Screenwriter? Are you collaborating with friends to make a funny video? Then we are looking for YOU!

If you have a short film or sketch that you think is hilarious, then enter your work for our Comedy Shorts Award to be in with a chance of winning some life-changing support and mentoring from comedy professionals.

WHAT KIND OF FILM ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?

A 1- 6 minute film that can take the form of anything comical. It’s a great opportunity to show us your creative flair and have fun!

WHO CAN ENTER?

This award is open to all women filmmakers and content developers. The film must be an original narrative created, produced and devised by a woman, or women, although male cast and crew members are allowed.

ARE THERE ANY ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS FOR MY FILM?

Yes – we require all films to be 6 minutes or under, to be entirely original dialogue, to not feature brand logos and most importantly, to only use music with the written consent of the performer and/or publisher either personally or via the PRS system https://www.prsformusic.com/ .

WHAT WILL YOU DO WITH MY FILM?

We will broadcast selected entries on our Funny Women YouTube channel and social media (so keep an eye out) and the top 10 finalists’ films will also hosted on a dedicated Funny Women Comedy Shorts Awards page on our website. We will also broadcast the final 3 entries as part of the grand final night.

HOW IS IT JUDGED?

Films are judged for production, concept, delivery/performance, creativity, writing and overall funniness. The top 10 films are then viewed by an independent judging panel of top television and film industry professionals who will choose one overall winner and two runners up. The final three will be invited to attend the grand final in London on the 23rd September.

WHAT CAN I WIN?

2021 Funny Women Awards Prizes

The deadline for registration for the Comedy Shorts Award has passed.

If you need further information please contact us here