This year has been pivotal in so many ways. We were excited about celebrating our 18th birthday and running our biggest and best Funny Women Awards ever! Yet, like so many people in the entertainment industry, COVID-19 has hit us hard. We’ve cancelled nearly 70 events and faced many challenges, the biggest being to run the 2020 Awards without the benefit of seeing the acts in live heats and semi-finals. But we’ve done it!
This is the 17th year we’ve run the Awards and the quality and breadth of comic talent hasn’t diminished. From our very first competition in 2003 with just 70 entrants for one award, getting 1,500 women engaged with five different Awards with their performances, scripts, short films and web series is a true measure of Funny Women’s importance and the resilience of women in comedy.
Funny Women is my life’s work but I can’t do this single-handed. Every one of us in the Funny Women team has made sacrifices to ensure this year’s Awards went ahead, in particular Becky Singh who’s pin-sharp direction has kept everything going even in the midst of a global epidemic.
Thanks to those joining us on our live stream, to the many industry judges who’ve supported throughout this process, and the acts themselves for taking part and getting this far.
We launched the Comedy Writing Award in 2011. The Award encourages women to develop their comedic skills in script format and our panel of carefully curated commissioners, agents, writers, performers and producers have selected the top three scripts, one of which will win tonight.
In 1643 King Charles I and Oliver Cromwell issued proclamations banning women from dressing as men to fight in the English Civil War…
Do you really think that stopped them?
Pip swaps babies for battles when she joins the English Civil War dressed as a man. But she’s not the only one who’s ‘strapped’.
In 1520 a widow’s wild effort to open an apothecary is met with local contempt.
Hayley Mulch is on the run after stealing thousands of pounds from work to fund her on-off boyfriend Noah. She’s heading up north to him, along with best friend Lex, whilst being pursued by
her Rambo-like colleague Evan. No WhatsApp, no face wipes, no common sense.
The Best Web Series Award was created to recognise the wealth of green comedy productions that start and exist solely online. In 2020 we are invited you, the public to nominate your favourite Comedy Web Series created by women. In a year in which we have all had to pivot online, it’s refreshing to see so many people kept creating in the mediums that were available to them and that the audience is there to watch. The award for Best Web Series was voted for by the public, replacing the Best Show Award for this year, and reached a whooping 3.5K nominations received.
Katherine Hurley is a Croydon based actress, writer and producer. In 2014 she set up female-led production company Angel on the Corner in a bid to bring uncompromising work to UK audiences and beyond. Frustrated by the lack of complex narratives about working class women, Katherine approached long time collaborator and friend Matthew Jay France, to work with her on Croydon based grit-com “BRONZED’ set in a local sunbed shop.
She has two cats Skepta and Stomzy, loves UK garage and 90’s RnB, dressing up (fashion daaaarrling) and travel. Other than her creative pursuits Katherine delivers drama interventions to young people with additional needs across schools and youth clubs in South East London.
Australia’s queens of character comedy – The Travelling Sisters are Lucy Fox, Laura Trenerry & Ell Sachs. Masterful physical comedians and clowns, the trio create absurd, off-the-wall comedy and unforgettable characters.
Based in Melbourne, they have toured their award-winning shows all over the world. 2020 has seen the debut of the Sisters web series ‘Meet the Mullets’ on YouTube.
Scarily on point, constantly on Zoom benders, and dangerously on…TikTok – Sophie McCartney, aka Tired ’N Tested, is a 30-something parenting vlogger turned viral ‘comedimum’.
In just a few years her riotous representation of modern day ‘mumming’ has resulted in over a million, loyal, social media followers. Combining an astute ‘in it together’ comedic approach with musical compositions, cringe-inducing raps, parody songs, sketch writing, wildlife documentaries, and traditional stand-up has earned her nearly 100 million online video views (along with just the one ‘Cease and Desist’ notice).
Mariana Feijó is an international comedian, writer and photographer. She co-produces queer, female and immigrant comedy nights all across London. Her work has appeared in the Guardian, the BBC, Duckie at The Royal Vauxhall Tavern, the East End Film Festival, the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York, and more.
As Commissioning Editor, Sarah has been developing a slate of exciting comedy projects from a diverse array of established and emerging content makers, delivering short form series and long form sketch and sitcom ideas for BBC Two and Three.
Recent commissions include the cult hit sketch show FAMALAM, comedy pilots Behind the Filter, written by Phoebe Walsh and Fully Blown produced by Studio 71 and shortform series Coconut staring Humza Arshad, one of YouTube’s Creators for Change.
A grand total of 179 Shorts were entered into the Award this year, from which 25 made the longlist, 12 then made the shortlist, with the process culminating in deciding our brilliant Top 3. We were delighted that each of the videos in the Top 3 represented a variety of genres, styles and topics and have been so pleased that 2020 hasn’t dampened any creative spirit when it comes to creating new comedy shorts.
Lizzy is a comedy writer and filmmaker from Newcastle. She studied Physics and Philosophy and still secretly wants to be an astronaut one day. Her films have screened at festivals including Cannes, Berwick, Encounters and at BFI Southbank and her TV pilot was shortlisted for this year’s BBC Comedy Writersroom.
From the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond, Nikola is a London-based performer who originally trained as a dancer at The Dance School of Scotland and Bird College.
In 2015, she started a YouTube channel (Nikola in the Pond) dedicated to comedy videos. She now has over 591,000 views.
Mo and Steph met at Bournemouth University and have since moved to Manchester to make comedy sketches. When they’re not being silly in front of the camera, you’ll find Steph making sweet beats in her room, and Mo writing horror screenplays in her pyjamas.
Andi Osho’s fifteen year career spans film, TV, theatre and stand up. As well as UK TV drama and comedy credits including Holby City, EastEnders and Death In Paradise, Andi played Jenny Donohue in Sky Atlantic’s street-race drama, Curfew, co-starring Sean Bean, Billy Zane, Miranda Richardson and Malachi Kirby. She made her US TV debut in Finding Carter and film projects include Lights Out, Swinging With The Finkels and Shazam!
Other projects include Michaela Coel’s groundbreaking HBO/ BBC drama, I May Destroy You, Ch4/Hulu co-production, National Treasure: Kiri, which became Channel 4’s highest rated drama and Olivier-nominated The Miser – Andi’s West End debut.
This year Funny Women introduces a new Industry Award in partnership with Comedy 50:50 . The Best Comedy Writer Award has been created to help recognise the women amongst our oft unsung heroes of comedy – the gag, sketch and “”additional material”” writers of broadcast.
Catherine was a 2019 BBC Comedy bursary writer and has worked across The Jonathan Ross Show, Have I Got News For You, The News Quiz, the Now Show, Newsjack, Hypothetical, Hello America, and more.
Christine Rose is an incredible television comedy writer and philanthropist, sorry, that should say fantasist. Over the last 15 years she has written on almost every big comedy show that you can think of, as well as some she would rather you didn’t think of.
Madeleine Brettingham is a TV and radio comedy writer who’s written across entertainment, sketch and narrative formats, and developed original projects with companies including Hattrick, Talkback and BBC in-house and has worked as a core writer on shows including Newzoids (ITV) and The News Quiz (Radio 4), children’s sitcoms including All At Sea, and contributes to shows such as Michael McIntyre’s Big Show, Saturday Night Takeaway, The Kumars, That Mitchell and Webb Look, and Harry Hill’s TV Burp.
BAFTA nominated Funny Women finalist, comedian, musician, improviser, writer and presenter, Rachel has is best known for her award winning Austentatious shows and starring in BBC 2’s Mash Report.
Russell Balkind is a freelance Series Producer. His recent work includes BBC2’s ‘The Mash Report’ and E4’s ‘8 Out of 10 Cats’. Over the years he has worked on a number of the UK’s favourite comedy entertainment shows including ‘Would I Lie To You?’, ‘Mock The Week’ and ‘The Crystal Maze’.
Saskia Schuster founded Comedy 50:50 two years ago to address the imbalance of gender in comedy. She started by changing ITV’s terms of comedy commissioning and together with Emma Barnard, the pair created a free to access database of comedy writers, currently standing at over six hundred names. Since then, Comedy 50:50 has held regular events, organised networking meetings, shadowing placements, paid work, mentoring, a podcast, panels and talks, pilot script readings, industry related courses and they have plenty more up their sleeves.
In March of 2020 Lynne asked if I thought I could keep the Awards running considering the almost certain challenges that lay ahead of us. The conversation was pretty short; if ever there was a time community was going to be needed in comedy, it was going to be this year. Moving a live stage competition from IRL to URL, whilst in the middle of a global pandemic certainly has been challenging but it forced us to refresh and update. It’s been great to use my broadcast and digital experience to orient ourselves towards the future; even finding benefits such as being able to work more closely with the Stage Award acts and the judges digitally. We’re incredibly proud of everyone who has participated and I am certain all the women you see featured tonight will become big(ger) names in the comedy industry.
East Londoner Laura Smyth has taken the comedy world by storm since she won the Funny Women Stage Award in 2019.
She is fast becoming a favourite on the London live comedy scene and has recently appeared on a brand new television series,’ Jonathan Ross’s Comedy Club’, aired on ITV1.
Kathleen is Funny Women’s Awards Coordinator and Community Engagement Producer. She is additionally a Manager for Pleasance Theatre, and has over the years worked independently in producing and events management across comedy and performance art.
James is Funny Women’s website developer and technology guru. James got involved with Funny Women in 2016, and most recently was responsible for launching the FWA website (the one you’re reading this on!) and redesigned the main Funny Women website.
Thank you to the Comedy Store London and the Groucho Club for hosting our (almost) live final broadcasts, to Tatty Devine for the amazing ‘funny woman’ prize necklaces for our winners, to Jon Mountague at Sky, Jane Millichip at Sky Studios for their kind support of the Stage Award and to our friends at Next Up (see their fantastic edit of The Stage Award Final 2019 here).
Special thanks go to Beth Bacon, Zena Barrie, Tracey Barr, Steve Bennett, Sir Gerald Pringle Taylor Singh, Professor Sue Black OBE, Sue Lister, Simon Mason, Saskia Schuster, Sammy Nunn, Saima Ferdows, Russell Balkind, Robbie Powell, Rob Aslett, Ricky Barber, Richard Lightman, Rachel Barber, Nicole Muldowney, Nana Hughes, Morwenna Gordon, Marina Kobler, Lee Griffiths, Kate Copstick, Karena Johnson, Julian Hall, John Simmit, Jessica Toomey, Jo Fletcher-Cross, Carlos Rodríguez Laiz, Jenny Bolt, Janet Awe, Iain Coyle, Holly D’angelis, Hannah Chambers, Emily O’Callaghan, Emily Kennedy Barnes, Emma Barnard, Ellen Frost, EJ Penalba, Athena Kugblenu, Angela Squire, Angela Ferreira, Andrew Fletcher, Alex Rochford, Adnan Ahmed, Christine Entwisle, Janet Awe, Steve Garland, Emma Barnard, Susie Hall, Samuel Nunn, Vivienne Egan, Shobu Kapoor, Sian Rowland, Farah Abushwesha, Verona Rose, Ellen Gallagher, Jenny Bolt, Fiona McDermott, Sharifa Mansour, Emily Allen Rob Aslett, Nana Hughes, Angela Ferreira, Loki MacKay & Claire Ackling.