Funny Women On The Fringe

19 August 2018

This will be my 16th year of being at the Fringe in some capacity. It all started one hot August (yes, really!) back in 2003 when I came as a visitor. Like most of us visiting the world’s largest arts festival for the first time, it was overwhelming, even frightening but I knew that Funny Women had to be there.

I had already created Funny Women in 2002. At that time, the live comedy circuit was very much a boy’s club and there was a need for some recognition of all the brilliant female talent simmering under the surface. We launched the Funny Women Awards in 2003 which continues to be the benchmark for new female comedy. 

From our modest start of one performance-based award attracting 70 entries, the last competition in 2017/2018 engaged over 1,000 performers, writers, content creators and film makers across our four different award categories. I couldn’t be any prouder of what we have all achieved collectively as women over the last 15 years and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe offers us a unique opportunity to showcase the latest crop of new talent.

Many of our awards alumni have shows of their own at this year’s festival and we are only able to showcase 25 of them in this year’s run of Funny Women On The Fringe. Some of them have already sold out their own shows so this might be your only opportunity to see acts like Maisie Adams, Sindhu Vee, Gráinne Maguire, Sarah Keyworth, Catherine Bohart and Rosie Jones.

We had our very first run of shows at the Fringe in 2004 and have been back every year since at various venues, and producing a range of activities, from workshops to panel events. This year we have already hosted two events at Fringe Central in the run up to this year’s five showcases at the new Blue Box venue outside the Assembly Rooms on George Street.

We last ‘played’ the Assembly Rooms back in 2006 before the venue was refurbished to its current glory. We had a run of shows and our line up featured some now very famous names including Zoë Lyons, winner of the 2004 Funny Women Awards, Lucy Porter, Ayesha Hazarika, Shazia Mirza, Jan Ravens, Shappi Khorsandi, Miranda Hart, Mrs Barbara Nice and Susan Calman.

Fast forward 12 years and we are back showcasing some women who are sure to be household names in the near future and it is wonderful for us to reflect on how many brilliant funny women we have given a platform to both here at the Fringe and at our other events throughout the UK and Ireland.

None of this would have happened without the support of our own brilliant team, who have been out and about across the festival seeing female shows and writing reviews for our website. Special thanks also go to our partners at Starling Bank, whose financial support has enabled us to produce our events and maintain a presence in person and online.  We are all completely invested (pardon the banking pun…) in broadening and growing the platform for female comedy. 

We are in the process of creating a charitable trust to ensure a legacy – the future of Funny Women lies beyond me and exists within our growing community of brilliant women, and men. Year on year the number of women who enter our awards grows, and we are keen to start new chapters of Funny Women, like the one we set up in Ireland this year. Do come and chat to us if you would like to get involved or email me at lynne@funnywomen.com.

In the meantime, please buy a ticket for one of our brilliant shows and know that you are supporting the future of female comedy. Our 2006 press release said exactly the same thing and I am very proud that we are still doing this 12 years on.

Lynne Parker, founder, Funny Women.

Funny Women On the Fringe takes place from Monday 20th August every day until Friday 24th August, 19:20 at The Blue Box, Assembly Rooms.