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Welcome to the 20th year of the Funny Women Awards and we’re delighted to be back on stage at the Bloomsbury Theatre for the fourth time.

Last year we acknowledged the creation of Funny Women back in 2002 and this year marks the 20th anniversary of running these Awards launched in 2003 to celebrate and develop new female comedy talent. It’s been hard won this year to bring the Awards to fruition as the entertainment industry battles against the state of our economy. Never has it been more important to support new and developing grassroots talent and I am immensely grateful for your support tonight.

We don’t do this alone so thanks to ITV and Whitehead Ross for sponsoring elements of tonight’s Awards, and to our amazing partners including NextUp Comedy, The Comedy Crowd, Sky Studios, the London Short Film Festival and WUKA. With their support we’ve managed, quite remarkably, to bring you a show full of the finest performers, writers and creators whose work has been selected out of nearly 2,000 entries and nominations from all over the world.

This year the Awards have been run almost entirely by volunteers and fuelled by goodwill. To go forward into the next 20 years we need your support.  As a non-profit community organisation, we are fortunate to have such an incredibly dedicated team including our non-executive board and a team of volunteers.  And, of course, I am particularly indebted to Funny Women’s Matron, the incredible Jo Brand, for kindly agreeing to host tonight.  

It’s been fantastic for all of us to bask in the glory of recognition since the ‘Archive on 4: 20 years of Funny Women’ programme aired on BBC Radio 4 last Saturday night. Two programmes have been commissioned by the BBC, and you will be able to relive highlights from tonight’s show this coming Sunday 1st October on BBC Radio 4, at 7.15pm.

For many of us here on stage tonight, Comedy is our livelihood and in the current toxic climate I want to ensure that we can continue our work as agents of change in this industry and others. Even a small contribution by joining Patreon, makes a difference. For less than the price of a takeaway coffee you can be a part of all this!

Congratulations and good luck to everybody tonight!

Lynne Parker –  Founder and CEO.
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All winners and runners up will share a prize pot worth £5k kindly sponsored by ITV, and also receive some unique opportunities.

Stage Award supported by

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This is where the Funny Women Awards all began. In 2003 we had 70 entrants and now our original and longest standing award has grown significantly.

Many of our Awards alumni, winners and finalists are now household names including Zoe Lyons, Kerry Godliman, Sarah Millican, Bridget Christie, Susan Calman, Katherine Ryan, Sara Pascoe, London Hughes, Sindhu Vee, Jayde Adams and Desiree Burch.

They’ve set the benchmark for the future of female comedy incredibly high.

The Stage Award is open to all new acts with no or under five years of agency representation.

To enter this year’s Stage Award contestants submitted a five-minute video of one single continuous performance. This did not need to be a professional standard video and could have been a home self-tape using a smartphone. The variety of videos we received was astounding.

In our search for the ten 2023 Stage Award finalists, the Funny Women team and a select panel of industry judges scored nearly 400 videos from Romania, UAE, Luxembourg, Estonia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, Canada, Italy, Iceland, France, Denmark, Belgium, Germany, Australia, USA, Ireland, Netherlands and the UK. There were, two preliminary rounds, 12 online “watch party” heats and four online “watch party” semi-finals, and here we are today.

Meet the Finalists

Blank Peng

What is your hometown?
China
Where are you currently based ?
London
Who are your Comedy heroes?
Jerry Q (A Chinese Comedian)
Inder Manocha (He asked for it)

What exciting thing do we not know about you?
My stand-up in Mandarin is better. What a pity you cannot hear that.

 

Charlie Vero-Martin

What is your hometown?
Edinburgh
Where are you currently based ?
London
Who are your Comedy heroes?
Kathy Burke, French & Saunders, Michelle Gomez, Julia Davis, Tina Fey, Catherine O’Hara, Madeline Kahn
What exciting thing do we not know about you? I have over 20 characters that I love to play including a passive aggressive pinecone, Napoleon and a puppet made out of a picnic basket.

Hannah Platt

What is your hometown?Liverpool
Where are you currently based ? Manchester
Who are your Comedy heroes? Dylan Moran, Fern Brady, Kiri Pritchard-McClean, Richard Gadd
What exciting thing do we not know about you? I used to be a burlesque dancer, but I was too miserable.

 

Kate Cheka

What is your hometown?
Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire
Where are you currently based?
London
Who are your Comedy heroes?
Katherine Ryan, Sam Jay, Nicole Byer, Michelle de Swarte, London Hughes, Jo Brand!
What exciting thing do we not know about you?
My Tanzanian name Cheka, which is actually my middle name not my surname, means to laugh or to smile in Swahili

Nikola McMurtrie

What is your hometown?
Balloch, Scotland
Where are you currently based ? London
Who are your Comedy heroes? Diane Morgan, Julie Walters, Peter Serafinowicz, Chris Flemming, Pauline Mclynn (I could go on)
What exciting thing do we not know about you? My first paid job was dancing in a pantomime with Mr Blobby when I was 9.

Rachel Baker

What is your hometown?
Aldershot

Where are you currently based ?
Birmingham- Have been for 7 years. Apparently, it takes 7 years to become a Brummie, so I think I am a Brummie now.
Who are your Comedy heroes?
As a child, I was enthralled with Caroline Aherne, Julie Walters, Meera Syal, Jo Enright, and Emma Chambers. I love using physicality in my jokes and growing up watching those childhood heroes has helped me find joy in playing around with that. Also, Kiri-Pritchard Mclean and Joe Lycett are heroes in regards to their community approach to stand up which they do in a hilariously silly way.
What exciting thing do we not know about you?
In a recent poll, 84% of people said I look like the MegaBus man. Image below

Sascha LO

What is your hometown?North London
Where are you currently based ?
Still North London haha (Although I’ve been based in the North East for the last three years, in County Durham but I just moved back home/in with my parents two weeks ago)
Who are your Comedy heroes? I have so so many but a few include: Bridget Christie, Mae Martin, Chloe Petts, Emma Sidi, John Kearns and also obviously Jo Brand (although I hope this doesn’t make me a kiss-up!)
What exciting thing do we not know about you? 1) I’m allergic to baked beans and 2) I’m currently making a surreal comedy short film confronting the climate crisis through the clichéd medium of sock puppet headlice. 

Su Mi

What is your hometown?
The treacherous depths of East London.
Where are you currently based ?
Living in East London for 32 years and counting!
Who are your Comedy heroes? Mesmerised by early Emo Phillips, Monty Python and The Mighty Boosh, I’ve been encapsulated by alternative / surreal comedy since I was 15. Major Ross Noble , Bill Bailey and Demetri Martin fan too! Margaret Cho is a huge inspiration to me. Right now however love Michelle Wolf, Dulce Sloan and Steph Telov!
What exciting thing do we not know about you? I love drag and like to dress up as a gay piece of corn with a whip every month or so.

Tal Davies

What is your hometown? Birmingham
Where are you currently based ?
Birmingham (I promise I have actually left the place since birth…)
Who are your Comedy heroes?
Sarah Millican, Sean Lock, Caroline Aherne, Dylan Moran, Joe Lycett, Victoria Wood… and honestly Jo Brand too, at the risk of sounding sycophantic!
What exciting thing do we not know about you?
I was once, accidentally, briefly in a jacuzzi with Boyzone (seriously).

Victoria Olsina

What is your hometown?
Alta Gracia, Argentina
Where are you currently based ?
East London
Who are your Comedy heroes? Diane Morgan, Laura Lexx, Amy Won, Daniel Sloss
What exciting thing do we not know about you? I run a crypto marketing agency. I have met the creators of ethereum in person. I’m the first Argentinian comedian to perform in the metaverse.

 
Jo Brand

TONIGHT'S HOST - Jo Brand

Jo Brand took on the self-styled role as our Matron back in 2019 and we are proud of our association with one of the UK’s best and most beloved funny women.  

Jo is a pioneer of the stand up scene and is familiar to television audiences as the host of ‘The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice’ (Channel 4). As an acclaimed comedy writer she  won a BAFTA for the sitcom; ‘Getting On’ (BBC), in which she also starred, set on a hospital’s geriatric ward partly inspired by her earlier career in nursing.  

Despite her numerous television credits and busy filming schedule we’ve tempted Jo back onto the live stage tonight to host our Awards in their 20th anniversary year.  We are proud to have our Matron at the helm supporting grassroots comedy and championing women.

Tonight's Headline GUEST: Lorna Rose Treen

Lorna became the first ever double award winner at the Funny Women Awards in 2022, when she won both the Stage Award and the Comedy Shorts Award.

Lorna then went on to win Chortle’s coveted Best Newcomer Award in early 2023. Lorna also won Dave’s Best Joke of the Fringe 2023. She was a finalist in the inaugural Sean Lock Award 2023.

Alongside her award-winning live work, Lorna has made waves with her viral TikTok and Instagram sketches – which have amassed over 2 million likes and millions more views.

As an actor, she has appeared in The Emily Atack Show (ITV), and voiced the Snake in an advert for PETA with Blink Ink with Jessie Cave. She played the lead role in short-film As I Live and Breath (Take the Shot Productions) which is currently doing the festival circuit now.

Lorna has written for radio, stage and online, including BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 2, and BBC Radio 4 Extra.

Her award-winning comedy short was screened at the London Short Film Festival 2023.

Lorna is also a seasoned improvisor, performing with Improvised True Crime Documentary: Criminally Untrue as well as an alumnus of the Improverts, Edinburgh’s longest running improvisation troupe.

COMEDY SHORTS AWARD SUPPORTED BY LONDON SHORT FILM FESTIVAL

A grand total of 168 Shorts were entered into the Award this year, from which 20 made the longlist, 10 then made the shortlist, with the process culminating in deciding our brilliant Top Three. We are delighted that each of the videos in the Top Three represents a variety of genres, styles and topics and have been so pleased that creative spirit is prevalent amongst our comedy shorts entrants.

Each if the Top Three will be played on stage at the Gala final. You can view the Top 10 here.

The Top Three

Where’s your bag?

Amy Spinks & Lauren Soley

Lauren Soley & Amy Spinks make up the writer/performer duo BAB. West Midlands bred, BAB, write bold and relatable sketch comedy.
‘Where’s Your Bag?’ stemmed from a sketch writing sesh in a pub in Soho, where we were too broke to buy a pint. Lauren wrote this sketch whilst taking a piddle and Amy printed the sign. We would like to take this opportunity to remind all the ladies to wipe front to back and not the other way round.

Pitchlash

Claire Parry

I’m a fingers in all the pies person as you can see by my approach to casting this short film…I had the inspiration for Pitchlash after watching Whiplash whilst working on my clowning show Boorish Trumpson, featuring a despotic conductor character.  I thought it would be fun to make a parody of Whiplash but featuring Boorish as the conductor. I then thought it would be funny to play all the other roles! Luckily I had my partner Jack as a teammate (who’s a very talented filmmaker) who confirmed he’d be able to edit several of me into one shot.  The music/rhythm was a big part of this so we spent a good while figuring out the perfect beats for things to happen. 

My coffee journey

Holly Hall

Holly Hall is an Actor, Writer and Comedian who won BBC New Comedy Award’s Digital Comedian of The Year in 2021 with her comedy sketch ‘When podcasts go wrong’.

She wrote and starred in BBC Three comedy short ‘It’s what she would have wanted’ which also stars Fiona Allen, Kiell Smith-Bynoe and Kate Robbins.
As an Actor, Holly has appeared on The Last Leg (Channel 4) in sketches with Adam Hills and her childhood hero Mr Blobby, DMs Are Open (BBC Radio 4 Extra) and she performs regularly on the improv comedy circuit.

 

COMEDY WRITING AWARD
supported by

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Women writers have been turning the comedy world upside down with their innovative scripts lately.

We launched the Comedy Writing Award in 2011. The Award encourages women to develop their comedic skills in script format. Our panel of carefully curated commissioners, agents, writers, performers and producers have selected the top three scripts from 387 entries which was the most we have ever received, one of which will win tonight.

Our team of judges have gone through a rigorous reading process to find the scripts with the best humour, structure, dialogue and originality, which gets tougher and tougher every year.

The Top three

WELCOME TO THE AVALON

Chloe Partridge

CHLOE PARTRIDGE

Writer and actress from The Stroud Valleys, Gloucestershire. She has developed projects with Hat Trick and Expectation and played Rosie in Stephen Merchant’s, ‘The Outlaws’. Chloe has a keen interest in finding wit in the macabre, light in the darkest of places and is dedicated in her mission to create scripted content that stimulates the conversation around climate change.

The Marital Bed

Kate Rawson

The idea for The Marital Bed came to me as I noticed fantastic women around me (and one exceptionally close, ahem, to me) sometimes compromise on their dreams, desires and dinner preferences almost by default. I wondered about the origins and the consequences of women subverting what we want and came up with an intense, frank and (given the context of this programme presumably) achingly funny story about a long-married couple and their bed. I love Mary Oliver’s poem The Journey, its message inspires this story, as well as conviction in myself to write it with my voice at full volume!

Nice Girls Don’t

Rosanna Wood

Rosanna Wood is a writer and sometime comedy performer. She writes in multiple genres but especially loves screenwriting. She uses her writing to reframe well-established narratives as well as find the funny in all life’s awkward, embarrassing and down-right terrible moments. It’s cheaper than therapy.

CONTENT CREATOR

We are now entering the third year for our newest Award. The Content Creator Award is entirely publicly nominated. We have had a staggering 155,000 votes cast for this award, so far, over the three years.

We are looking for new voices that might otherwise be overlooked by mainstream networks. Hidden gems of comedy that you find on social media platforms and we found them in abundance. Here are our top 20, the voting was fierce and frenzied and tonight we will crown the Funny Women Content Creator winner.

Meet the SHORTLIST

Bec Bartley

Claudine Ullman

dB & Neets

rants and big pants

Farrel Hegarty

Farrel Hegarty
Holly Fry
Holly Hall

Karyna Aslanova

Kate Dolan

Katerina Robinson

katerina robinson

Lolo Jagun

Loz Booth

Mary-Claire Fitzpatrick

Mrs Smith

Nerine Skinner

Ola Labib

ola labib

Quirks & Foibles

Serena Terry

Soph Galustian

Sophie McCabe

Sophie Rose McCabe

Zara Gladman

industry award SUPPORTED BY
The Comedy Crowd

comedycrowd

We created the Funny Women Comedy Industry Award with our industry partners The Comedy Crowd to recognise the women working ‘behind the scenes’ in live and broadcast comedy – the gag, sketch and additional material writers, and the producers, promoters, developers and creators who are at the forefront of television, radio, live and digital entertainment.

 It has become increasingly clear to us that whilst women comedians were beginning to get a much better deal on screen and on the airwaves, female comedy creators were still vastly outnumbered by their male counterparts, in front and behind the camera.  

Whilst acknowledging that comedy is an incredibly hard profession for almost anyone to break into and make a living, this award celebrates the talent and tenacity of the women performers, writers and creators of Britain and Ireland, who have overcome the clearly disproportionate barriers to entry to succeed in this highly competitive field.

Over 65 professionals have been nominated by a pool of industry.

Our Top Three for the 2023 Funny Women Comedy Industry Award with The Comedy Crowd are:

The Top three

Sarah Bowles

Sarah has been recognised for her work as the main coordinator for the ISH Edinburgh Comedy Awards, set up in response to the potential cancellation of the long-standing Edinburgh Comedy Awards. Sarah led a team of comedy fans and volunteers to provide a fresh alternative to the established award format providing modest prizes but bags of recognition to help boost comedians who have struggled since Covid.

Sarah has plenty of form – she runs ‘Laughs at the Louis’ comedy nights in Dover and produces comedy shows for The Rat Pack in London and Edinburgh. She is also a talented comedian and was a finalist in the 2023 Silver Standup Competition at the Leicester Comedy Festival.

Sarah Louise Young

Sarah-Louise has been recognised for her devotion and care of Lynn Ruth Miller, her dear friend who was loved by so many people in the comedy industry. She cared for Lynn Ruth in the last few weeks of her life and helped organise her memorial, coordinating a team of friends and devotees, with live entertainment, film and an exhibition and sale of Lynn Ruth’s extraordinary portfolio of art, costumes and collectables. 

Sarah-Louise is an actress, writer, director, improviser and internationally renowned cabaret performer. She and Lynn Ruth shared a passion for championing other women and, along with fellow artist Victoria Melody, she started a free online support group for Female & Female Identifying Solo Theatremakers with nearly 500 members. She is currently touring the UK and Europe with An Evening Without Kate Bush’, ‘The Silent Treatment’ and ‘ALMA.

Vix Leyton

Vix is one of the hardest working women on the circuit performing, producing, creating formats and podcasting and worthy of our recognition. Discovered by Mark Watson on Twitter, Vix is a natural storyteller drawing on her Welsh roots. She is also an award-winning personal finance expert, and PR hustler, so you might have heard her commenting on the TV or radio about meal deals or how to get all your money back on a rip off holiday. 

Vix created the panel-show-come-podcast ‘The Comedy Arcade’, both an audio success and compelling live show, picking up a nomination for Leicester Comedy’s best podcast in 2021 and racking up sell out shows at Edinburgh Fringe last year. She also co-hosts spending show ‘False Economy’ interviewing some of the UK’s biggest names on their spending habits and regularly MCs pro nights including Red Imp Comedy, Poodle Club and Outside the Box.

Our Charity Partner

TIME’S UP is an organisation that insists on safe, fair and dignified work for everyone. TIME’S UP UK exists so no one has to say #MeToo again. In response to the growing TIME’S UP movement in the US, a group of UK-based women: actors, activists, producers, writers and others from the film, TV and theatre industries catalysed a sister initiative in the UK. For maximum impact it is set up under the TIME’S UP brand and aims to amplify and reinforce the message already promoted in the US.

The awards Team

Alex
Rochford

Alex Rochford

Kate
Stone

KIRSTIN
MILLER

Lynne
Parker

Mariana
Feijó

Funny Women Would Like to Thank

Non-Executive Board: Tracey Barr (chair), Lauren Allpress, Janet Awe, Debbie Charleston, Rachel Creeger, Monica Gaga, Jo Fletcher-Cross, Richard Lightman, Harriet Minter, Alex Rochford, Jae Sloan.

Regional Producers: Rachel Barber, Louise Leigh, Justine Sless,  Roxy Jiminez, Val Troy, Orla Doherty, Robin Golinski, Anna Beth, Heli Parna. 

Thanks to everybody else who supported judged, promoted and presented at this year’s Awards:

Ade Rawcliffe, Philip Ilson, Ian Ross, Tracey Barr, Ruby Raut, Priya Chande, Rachel Creeger, Mark Creeger, Jon Jayson, Amy Annette, Amy Williams, Katie Blake, Donna Letley, Tash Snaith, Jo Fletcher-Cross, Zoe Paskett, Carmen Mackey, Shardene Blake, Helen Hawkins, Sammy Nunn, Anna Morris, Anjana Jogy, Ellen Gallagher, Kate Stone, Sian Rowland, Lulu Baker, Caia Buckeridge, Rhona Lonergan, Rachael Walsh, Ellen Dunn, Victoria Lloyd, Kathleen Price, Louise Weightman, Mariana Feijó.

And everybody at  Bloomsbury Theatre, ITV, Whitehead-Ross Education and Consulting, Steve Ullathorne, Julian Hall PR, NextUp Comedy, WUKA, Tatty Devine, Health Collab and Sky Studios. 

If we’ve forgotten you, not intended!  You’re still very special to us!

Thanks to our Patrons: Abhi, Alexis Roy, Ali Jay Lawrence, Alice Rudge, Amy Coop, Amy Parker-Dixon, Ann Deaves, Anna Ampatziani, Anna Crompton, Annie O’Callaghan, Averagecatlady, Bec Bartley, BevBunn, Cara MacB, Caroline Jones, Caroline Lyons, Charlie Vero-Martin, Chezelle Bonner, Corinna Wilson, Debra Meftah, Dervla, Eleni Young, Emma Jot, Erin E, Funke Akiboye, Gillypompom, Grace Kelly, Hannah Bourne, Helen Banyard, Helen Brooks, Hilary Jones, Ian Wood, Irish Comedy Guide, Jan Fitzgerald, Jan McGinley, Jane Condon, Jane Day, Jane Walker, Jasmin Vinculado, Jaye Nolan, Jennifer Benavidez, Jenny Colgan, Jo Austin Greer, Jo Barrow, Jo Arnegie, Jodie Mitchell John Simister, Katherine Bourne, Kerry Cassidy, Kimberly Policella, Kimi Tayler, Kristin Duffy, Lauren Allpress, Lily Maryon, Lina Haman, Linda Jane Butler, Lisa May, Lisa Ronaghan, Liz Cotton, Luc, Marie Belsten, Marta Correia, Mary, Michelle Brooks, Naomi Heap, Nastia, Nathan Charles, Nichola Brenchley, Nicola Coppen, Orla Doherty, Rachel Creeger, Rachel Dingle, Rachel Overd, Rebecca, Rebekah Lord, Ren, Roberto Tyley, Robin Golinski, Robyn Egan, Saba, Sarah Conrad, Sasha Kinsley, Shardene, Shiv, Sooz Kempner, Sophie Chaplin, Sophie Garrad, Suchandrika Chakrabarti, Susie F, Susie Steed, Suzy Bashford, Tande Vollenbroek, Tash Snaith, Tracey Barr, Valerie Steele, Valerie Troy, Vic Barry, Vicky Peirson, Victoria Dyson, Yemi Jackson,

LIVE FINAL Judges

Alex RochfordAwards Director
Becky SinghIndependent Director & Producer
Brett VincentGet Comedy
Bruce DessauEvening Standard
Simon MasonThe Comedy Store
Ellen FrostBloomsbury Theatre
Victoria LLoydMighty Bunny
Janet AweIndependent Development Producer
Jessica ToomleyFrog & Bucket
Julia KcKenzieBBC Radio
Kate StoneVault Comedy
Kathleen PriceChambers Mgt
Katya Balfour-LynnDLT Entertainment
Lulu BakerBBC Studios
Lynne ParkerFounder and CEO
Anna CookeLive Nation
Nicole MuldowneySky Studios
Rachel CreegerComedian, Director & Writer
Amy WilliamsNext Up Comedy
Sojo McKenzieIndividual Artist Management
Steve BennettChortle

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Comedy Shorts Award Entry Requirements

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

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