Despite the chorus of naysayers (read idiots) who like to tell us that 'women aren’t funny' and make snide remarks about period jokes, there’s never been a better time for female comedians.
‘Since I set up Funny Women – an organisation promoting and showcasing new talent – 11 years ago I’ve seen a slow but steady incremental interest in female comedy.’ says founder of Funny Women Lynne Parker.
‘Women have to be better than good to succeed with so much male competition. Now you’re seeing the fruits of a whole new generation’s labours coming through.’
Here are five talented girls who’re leading the pack.
1. Bridget Christie
Why you need to know about her: Remember when Bic brought out those biros designed specifically for women? (They came in a pink box, natch, and got a lot of sarcastic reviews on Amazon.) Well, that’s the kind of misogyny Bridget wants to call-out – and have a good laugh at, too. Her brand of funny feminism is hot right now. She has a show on Radio 4 – Bridget Christie Minds the Gap – and a book in the pipeline.
Comedy USP: Reviewers describe her as ‘avant-garde’. That’s mostly because of her bizarre costumes. In previous shows she’s dressed up as an ant, Charles II, the Great Plague virus and a donkey. This year, the dressing up’s gone, but don’t expect anything too conventional.
Experts say: Fellow comedian Harry Hill called her ‘the most original comic I’ve seen in years.’
2. Aisling Bea
Why you need to know about her: Aisling (pronounced Ashling) is the new girl at school. Last year she became the first woman in 20 years to win the So You Think You’re Funny award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It’s the one all new stand-ups want to bag (Peter Kay, Dylan Moran and Lee Mack are previous winners).
Comedy USP: Her routines are high-energy, physical and a lot of fun. Her small-town Irish upbringing provides her with plenty of hilarious fish-out-of water-anecdotes. ‘My mother thinks I live a crazy life in London where I brush my teeth with cocaine and wipe my arse with money,’ is one stellar line. She does a mean One Direction impression too.
Aisling Bea, photographed by Lisa Thompson
3. Sara Pascoe
Why you need to know about her: You might have seen her on the telly – she’s a regular on Channel 4’s Stand Up For The Week and has acted in the likes of Twenty Twelve and The Thick of It. Her show, Sara Pascoe vs The Truth is a hot ticket at Edinburgh this year.
Comedy USP: Much of her material’s autobiographical. She great on teen angst– falling in love, being dumped and wanting a boob job – but she doesn’t shy away from big issues, like tackling sexism in the media. She does it without taking herself too seriously – and the old musical interlude.
What the experts say: Lynne Parker of Funny Women calls Sara ‘very funny and witty, she’s equally good with observational comedy or more cerebral.’
Sara Pascoe photographed by Mick Perrin
4. Claudia O’Doherty
Why you need to know about her: A breath of fresh air on the circuit, Claudia’s an Aussie making big waves with her very original shows. Last year she was nominated for the Edinburgh Comedy Award – the major prize that everyone wants to win
Comedy USP: Critics describe her work as ‘offbeat’, she calls herself a ‘cheer jerker’. Her show at Edinburgh last year began with her telling the audience: ‘It’s difficult theatre, it’s not a comedy, so don’t laugh.’ What followed included a historical drama spoof where she played a monk, a washerwoman and a New York cop. She’s inventive and a just little bit barmy.
5. Luisa Omielan
Why you need to know about her: Luisa’s show, What would Beyoncé do?, had sell-out runs in London. Now she’s got her sights set on the West End. As far as superstardom goes, she’s hot the heels of her idol, Queen B. The show’s autobiographical – she documents being 30, heartbroken, depressed and forced to live with her mum. How does she pull herself out of the doldrums? You guessed it, by channelling Beyoncé’s PMA.
Comedy USP: On stage, Luisa’s a sassy, bold, sequin-clad diva. While her stand-up tackles some dark issues – depression and suicide, for starters – she intersperses it with renditions of Beyoncé’s hits. ‘I get bored watching stand-up for an hour,’ she says. ‘I want to create a party atmosphere.’
Experts say: One reviewer described her show as leaving them with ‘a feel good factor so pronounced, they should prescribe it on the NHS.’
Luisa Omielan photographed by Rachel King
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