“Helping women to perform, write and do business with humour.”
Why is it, that when we think of stand-up comedians we think of men? What about the female comedians? Why do they seem to be few and far? Brighton has hit the jackpot by hosting the Funny Women shows at Komedia – a comedy show hosting a range of different female acts in a two-hour slot. We set to find out a bit more about the brains behind Funny Women, and even watched the show ourselves.
What you need to know about Funny Women
- Funny Women was set up in 2002 by Lynne Parker, as a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction to a misogynistic comedy promoter she worked with in 2000 who claimed that ‘women aren’t funny.’
- At the heart of Funny Women’s philosophy is a desire to help women find their voice, whether that be through performing, writing or using humour in business and every-day life.
- The Funny Women Awards were launched in 2003 and are now the benchmark for women breaking into comedy, nurturing female talents, including the hugely successful Sarah Millican.
Supporting women’s causes
While Funny Women provides a platform for women to express their inner comedian, they also aim to raise awareness and funds for a variety of causes that directly affect women. Through their events, Funny Women has raised over £200,000 for charities during the last 11 years, including Penny Brohn Cancer Care, YWCA, Jo’s Trust, V-Day, ActionAid, Ovarian cancer action, Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life, The Victoria Foundation, RISE. Their partner charity this year is Refuge.
Prepared for an evening of belly laughing, we went to find out for ourselves how these ladies have extended their creative and comedic boundaries by joining the Funny Women show. The event was held in the Komedia Studio, a more intimate room complete with caberet-style round tables, candles, and a bar in the corner. Politely sitting behind the front row (in a bid to avoid being ‘picked on’) we sat comfortably for the 8pm start.
The night consisted of six different acts with a female compere – Julie Jepson – who opened the show, and introduced each act. With her raunchy, half-naked ‘female-on-motorbikes’ shirt and her natural engagement with the audience, it has to be said that Julie really was the glue that sealed the night. Her comedic performance tied all the acts together, and it was obvious that everyone looked forward to her coming on. She was effortlessly funny – it wasn’t scripted, her introductions and brief encounters with the audience were naturally comical, and she bounced off the audience – reacting to our comments with witty jokes that just rolled off the tongue.
The six acts were diverse, talented women who provided us with character performances, song, stand-up comedy, and duo sets. No one act was the same, and the age range differed completely. It was refreshing to watch – from those who had been doing this for years, to those just starting out and getting their big break in comedy. Of course, with any performance you watch, there will always be those acts you prefer, and ones you don’t quite ‘get’, but every woman was appreciated by the audience, even if our favourites differed. Watching a show that one minute had two young girls dressed as builders twerking to Beyonce, swiftly moving on to a woman talking about her gay son and his sexual habits… well, we were always surprised and it was far from predictable.
The headliner, Marijana (Gabby Best), finished the show and had everyone in stitches with her character performance that was the most convincing of the night. She was the Funny Women Awards Winner in 2012, and it’s pretty clear why. Her character’s ‘slack at the knees’ walk, clear-cut arrogance and pelvic floor exercises were both hilarious and compelling. We all loved her, and it was a fantastic end to the night.
And do you know what? After expecting to turn up to a room full of ladies in the audience, we were surprised to see many men among the audience, all who were not ashamed to be laughing out loud. This is no feminist, anti-male gathering. Everyone was welcomed… and everyone enjoyed it. We came out pleasantly surprised. Thank you Funny Women… we WILL be back.
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