Ever wondered why there are so many more famous male comedians than women doing stand up? Lynne Parker, a former journalist, broadcaster and marketing consultant has founded Funny Women, an organisation designed to unleash the ha-ha from the fairer sex.
Funny Women is at the vanguard of nurturing and promoting female comedy talent – from finding new acts to supporting and booking established performers. Lynne is keen to point out that women are just as funny as men. 'Generally, women are very good at telling stories; men are more likely to tell jokes.' Lynne believes that confidence is the key to pulling off humour.
Over the last five years Lynne has come to recognise that women can achieve a lot by finding their comic voice, so they have launched a programme of workshops specifically aimed at companies and organisations who want their female employees to learn confidence building and presentation skills using some of the tricks of the comedy trade. Lynne says, 'I'm not a raging feminist but I do believe women are conditioned to think men have to be top dog. They're not less funny; they just lack self-belief.'
'Stand-up is one of the last bastions of male chauvinism: girls feel compelled to perform like men,' says Lynne. Despite that, she had nearly 300 applicants for her Funny Women Awards talent competition last year. There's clearly a desire out there - it may just take a little thing like shifting cultural perceptions to address.
On International Women's Day this Sunday, celebrities including Janet Ellis and Gabby Logan will perform live sets as part of Celebrity Funny Women (in support of ActionAid's Put Your Foot Down campaign).
Copyright Speakers Corner 2016