This November in our Funny Women Diaries, the Funny Awards may be over but the funny woman Kate is not resting on her laurels with plenty of upcoming events and planning for looming 2017. 2016 has been a year of crappy news but she’s staying inspired to continue the Funny Women by two compelling BBC documentaries about badass women.
Having repeatedly mentioned how busy we are at Funny Women HQ because of the Ed Fringe and then the Funny Women Awards you might think this diary entry will be all about resting on our laurels. Not so. We still have plenty to do, comedy nights in Brighton and London, reviews, corporate jobs, workshops and planning for the looming 2017. Actually, 2017 is not looming, it can’t come soon enough as 2016 has been a rubbish year in which many great people succumbed to the Grim Reaper and Brexit became a Real Thing.
With all the crap news it’s hard to keep your pecker up. I’ve been really inspired to continue the Funny Women cause by two excellent BBC documentaries (I don’t know if you can watch them on BBC iPlayer but I know there are ways and means for all to see them let’s say) about women. One is The Secret Life of Sue Townsend (Aged 68 3/4) by documentary maker Jude Ho, a bittersweet documentary that is part of the BBC’s Love to Read campaign about the creator of the lovably pretentious teenage diarist Adrian Mole. Not only was Sue a hilarious writer, but more importantly she was working class and pretty much self-taught. An avid reader and secret writer, it was only when Sue’s second husband discovered her work and thought it was excellent that she joined a writing group, and went from there onto great success. Sadly Sue died in 2014 after years of ill health due to diabetes, this documentary made me laugh and cry because she still had so much to do. She was a voice for the working class and funny women, a rare thing I fear.
The other documentary was Virago: Changing the World One Page at a Time about the feminist publishing company set up in the UK in the 1970s. These women spoke about how to get a business overdraft they had to have two male guarantors! That’s mad! And it’s really not that long ago. When they started male journalists fretted about whether they would run out of material to publish by women. These women persevered and created the brand most familiar to me as a child, the dark green spined Virago Classics books on my mother’s bedside table. One of the women said a motto of theirs was: “We might publish from the margins, but we are not marginal.” I like that. I think it lines up with a lot of what we’re trying to do at Funny Women.
I look forward to the day the BBC makes a documentary about us and what we did for women in comedy. I hope viewers will be shocked and skeptical about our stories of sexist hecklers and women comedians only meeting each other at our gigs because otherwise, they are the only women on the bill. I hope we can inspire people to keep on pushing for equality and, why not, being funny whilst at it.