Funny Women is the leading female comedy franchise in the UK and has completely changed the traditional ‘boys club’ ethos of today’s comedy circuit. Founder, Lynne Parker, set up the company as a knee jerk reaction to a misogynistic comedy promoter she worked with in 2000.
“When I asked why they didn’t book any female acts, I was told categorically that there aren’t any funny women,” explains Lynne. “My company now provides an important platform for new and established acts to perform and we also introduce women to the power of humour in their every day lives with our workshops and training programmes.”
Central to the company’s success is its national talent competition, the Funny Women Awards, for new and aspiring female comedy performers. With names like Zoe Lyons, Andi Osho, Sara Pascoe, Miss London and even the new Loose Women presenter, Sarah Millican to aspire to, who have all come through the competition, a career in comedy is now a reality for funny women everywhere.
As well as providing a platform within the entertainment industry, Funny Women also challenges women from all walks of life to use humour in their lives. “Now, with the recession in full swing, people are looking to do business in different ways and humour is a valuable commodity,” explains Lynne. “We’ve built up a fantastic comedy franchise and developed a range of events and services that help women to find their voice. ” Fresh Starts extend to Lynne herself as she is recording her first audio book, ‘How to be a funny woman‘ which will be ready for download in spring 2011.”
If you fancy adding humour to your business repertoire then how about entering the ‘Funny Women in Business Challenge‘. The first event took place in the company’s home town of Richmond in November, and it really captured imaginations.
“There is no reason why we can’t use humour in our business lives and this new format proves it,” says Lynne. “I am amazed at how well our five challengers did and we hope to encourage a broader base of women to enter this year’s competition by taking the Funny Women Challenge format all over the UK. We are also recruiting new trainers so that we can run more workshops and training programmes for businesses and organizations.”
And if you fancy a career change then the Funny Women Awards are for you. Now in their 9th year, the awards are open to new female acts (up to five years performing) who can perform comedy in front of a live audience. The producers look for stand ups, impressionists, sketches, character and musical comics, ventriloquists, magicians, double acts and ensembles� anything, as long as it has a comic twist.
Last year the competition attracted a record breaking 350 plus entrants and it’s set to increase even more given the popularity of past and present winners. The 2010 Awards were won by comic duo, Thankless Child, Freya Slipper and Liz Black, reminiscent of a young French & Saunders combined with the twinkly charm of Ant & Dec.
Or how about trying your hand as an author? This year sees the introduction of a Comic Writing Award, which will offer women who are performance shy, a chance to compete.
“Not everybody wants to be a performer and we do encourage collaboration,” comments Lynne on the new writing category. “This will give new female writers a unique opportunity and we plan to team them up with appropriate performers.”
Funny Women’s impact on the world of comedy is the alumni themselves. Their success speaks volumes for the brand. Previous winners include 2009 victor and CBBC star, Miss London; Canadian Katherine Ryan in 2008; Andi Osho in 2007 ; Suzy Bennett, who took the title in 2006; Debra-Jane Appelby, winner 2005; Zoe Lyons, who won in 2004, and Sarah Adams, who triumphed performing as Jade The Folk Singer in 2003. Other successful Funny Women Awards finalists include Katie Wix, Anna Crilly, Bridget Christie, Susan Calman, Diane Morgan, Emma Fryer, Kerry Godliman, Wendy Wason, Sara Pascoe, Roisin Conaty and Holly Walsh as well as the hugely successful Sarah Millican.
“These women all demonstrate that there is a strong women’s voice emerging through live and broadcast entertainment and this is also reflected in the way in which we do business. We want women to be treated as equals in all walks of life and humour is an extremely powerful method of communication. It’s as valid in the boardroom as it is on the stage.”
Funny Women is at the vanguard of nurturing and promoting female comedy talent – from finding and developing new acts through its annual competition, the Funny Women Awards, to working with established performers.
Founded in 2002 by Lynne Parker, former journalist, broadcaster and marketing consultant, Funny Women has become a leading comedy brand, promoting new female talent through live events, workshops and training programmes.
Funny Women recognises that comedy is all about passion and fun and we take this with us into everything we do. We produce our own shows and tours as well as bespoke events for companies and brands.