Funny Women in 2010
Women are funny. Thats a fact. So is there really any need for an all-female comedy award? Let us know what you think.
Below, Funny Women founder and producer Lynne Parker explains why she set up Funny Women, and why the awards continue to be relevant. But first, here's a look at the 2010 Awards, and the final that was held at the Leicester Square Theatre a couple of weeks ago:
Back in 2005 a well known female comic said that by the time Funny Women is five years old, there would be no more need for a competition. This was not meant unkindly but more as a statement on why we need it at all. Even without the Funny Women Awards, a new generation of female comics would exist, yet would they be coming to prominence so quickly? Given that we had over 350 entrants this year, I'm confident in saying, I don't think so.
We're still being asked if women are funny and comedy is a well-established 'boys club' - look through the comedy listings each week and the majority of acts on the circuit are male. Panel shows are still a shop window for funny men and the function of women (if at all) is largely decorative or 'academic' - note the school marm-ish appearance of television personalities Lorraine Kelly and Carol Vorderman as the fact-checking boffins on the new BBC One panel show, Ask Rhod Gilbert.
Women create their own glass ceiling and gaze at the life they think they would like to have, quite often not doing much to improve things for themselves. Biology and lifestyle conspire, so we are still adapting the live comedy environment to suit us. The boys understand this more than we give them credit for and largely support the new world that a diverse group of women entering comedy has created for them.
As well as more marriage prospects, audiences are broader and the potential is greater for everybody. It's no real surprise that the women who do well on the circuit (and there are far fewer of them) make it through the ranks and into our living rooms by the power of television, very quickly. This need for diversity embraces the good acts - and to survive as a woman in comedy, you have to be good.
Meanwhile, the established female acts have stopped gazing back through the double glazing they installed 15 years ago and some are even treading the boards again, taking full advantage of this female-friendly environment. As in the music industry, the money is now in 'bums on seats' and DVD sales. A tour is de rigueur darling, and television is so last season!
On a positive final note, I had a conversation with a young journalist who attended this year's Funny Women Awards final expecting it to be a 'right on', competitive, feminist experience but found the opposite.
It was summed up by the fact that a woman she had been sat next to and hardly knew, shared her Maltesers over the laughs! Such was the caring, sharing atmosphere of the show. We nurture and support new female acts because if they have fun performing, so do our audiences. Pass me a Malteser!