Starting from May, we are launching a new comedy column, Funny Women Diaries, with Funny Women, UK’s leading female comedy community. In this first entry, Kate Stone writes about what is like to launch Funny Women Awards 2016 and how the awards help female comedians from UK get their start in comedy.

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It’s Monday. The Funny Women team is gathered around a table in our Covent Garden office above the Benefit Cosmetics shop. It’s 16:00. “Where are we on the agenda?” Lynne asks our intern Kat “Item three” “Great!” “Of 10” “Oh.” We have all been here since 10am.

We’re usually more efficient than this but we have just launched the 2016 Funny Women Awards with a new format for the Stage Award category. This year we are having regional finals across the UK and those who make it to the finals will be mentored by some of the best women on the comedy stage today. Ellie Taylor, Sarah Pascoe and Shazia Mirza among others are all signed up to mentor. It’s exciting but also involves a lot of comedy/comedian/date/venue wrangling.

Funny Women Diaries Funny Women Award-Winner 2015 Desiree Burch

   FUNNY WOMEN AWARD 2015 WINNER DESIREE BURCH ‘LIVE’ ONSTAGE

Whilst we are approaching this busy time of the Funny Women Awards, the Brighton Fringe and Edinburgh Festival Fringe we thought we’d also try and do some major tweaking to our website, which I edit. So we’ve all been looking at ‘wireframes’, navigation bars and user journeys. I have been looking at pictures of Kodama. Because they calm me.

So why are we doing all of this? Because we believe that women are still getting a raw deal in comedy. Yes, the comedy scene has moved on somewhat from mother-in-law jokes but an all-woman comedy lineup is still a rarity and many people consider such shows to be purely aimed at a female audience; an all-male lineup would not be thought of as a men-only show.

Our founder, Lynne Parker started up Funny Women in 2002 in response to a sexist comment about women not being funny. In 2003, the Funny Women Awards was launched and since then we have seen Bridget Christie, Katherine Ryan, Andi Osho and more come through the Awards. We now have awards for live performance, comedy script writing, comedy shorts and best show.

So there’s lots to do to help all the funny women out there get their start in comedy! I’ll be keeping a regular diary for Tomboy Tarts giving you a behind the scenes look at all the activities Funny Women get up to and interesting people we meet. And if you think you’re funny there’s still time to enter our Awards!