I am very fortunate to be doing something that I am intrinsically passionate about. I love comedy and I enjoy working with women and helping them to achieve their potential. In terms of profit – I leave this open to interpretation! Profit is not always about money (although that helps!) and I believe that it’s just as important to profit emotionally as it is financially. It’s also about the kind of lifestyle you want for yourself.
By embracing the opportunities and talents you are given in life, it’s down to you to profit from them. This could be how about how combine working at something you love with having a partner and a family, just as much as it could be about being a billionaire – it depends what drives you. You might be driven to be a billionaire just so that you can afford to set up the charity you are passionate about – for me profit is all about recognising what you want out of life. I have had some tremendous opportunities and I’ve taken them on board.
So what is my passion? Having worked with well over 1,000 female comedy acts since I first set up Funny Women in 2002, I’ve become attuned to what makes a woman funny and I believe, passionately, that we all have it in us to be funny and benefit from it.
Most women will say unprompted that they’re not funny or ‘can’t be’ funny or at worst, they fear being funny. Rarely do you hear a man express the same view! Most men think they are utterly hilarious! I believe passionately that humour can change the world. It helps us to look at things differently, diffuse difficult situations, and build relationships. Further more women are very good at it – not necessarily in the same way as a man would interpret humour but powerful in terms of communication.
Just look at the laughter and happiness that is exchanged between women in India and Africa when they cook or grind grain together. A recent television programme took western women to live with remote tribes in South America, with the nomads in the desert and the icey wastes of Siberia, The universal language was laughter.
Culturally women’s behaviour is rooted in being subservient to men and subservience is not synonymous with confidence. Genetically, confidence goes hand in hand with testosterone, power, strength and leadership. Yet these remote tribal women had a dignity we don’t have in western society built out of the rituals of everyday survival. They are central to their communities and their bonds as women are strengthened by their ability to communicate with each other through humour.
Funny Women is a bit like a tribe sometimes! I’ve seen first-hand how we can re-route our feminine skills to cash in on the masculine domain of the stand up circuit even though it’s still not the most welcoming place for women. We bond, we help and we laugh with each other, as much as the audiences we play for.
Our tribal approach to humour means that people are beginning to accept that there is a different style of comedy which has a feminine slant. It’s smarter, sassier and more cerebral – it’s made up of the skills we use as women in our every day lives with our friends, kids and general communications. When we have the confidence to take this to the stage, it’s dynamite – think Joan Rivers, Roseanne Bar, Victoria Wood, French & Saunders, Jo Brand….Margaret Thatcher, Harriet Harman, Ann Widdicombe! Yes, political life is a bit like performing comedy!
So to ‘profit’ from this, we need to let go a little. Don’t be fearful of using humour. Practise, try it out on your friends, family and colleagues. That’s how comedians do it. I’m confident in a financial reward in all of this too – real profit. My workshops are finally getting recognition and we’re fully booked for the next date in London and have added an extra date in March.
I’d encourage every one of you to get off the sofa, turn off the telly and go out and support live comedy – there’s a comedy club near you and it needs an audience. I’m doing my best to even up the stakes and get more women performing on the circuit and the more enlightened promoters are booking them. We need real social interaction and you don’t really experience comedy unless you’re in a room full of people laughing.
All of this has its downside of course. I met a friend I haven’t seen for a couple of years at a networking event earlier this week. I’ve always suspected avoidance techniques but on this occasion she couldn’t ignore me. We chatted politely about her work, our kids, husbands, houses and mutual friends and I asked her about her work. She didn’t ask me anything about Funny Women – possibly fearful that I would whip out a flyer and force it upon her!
But, just as we parted, I bravely suggested that she should come to one of my shows. The eyes glazed, she looked embarrassed and then told me that her ‘comedy days were over’.
I feel very sad about this exchange. Somewhere deep routed in our western culture we’re suppressing the need to laugh. Yet my passion for comedy and humour is not diminished – it’s a bit like skiing uphill but no pain, no gain!
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.