Funny Girls: Women and Comedy

Ref: C2228556

With tedious regularity, articles appear in the press posing the question: "Are women funny?" Stupid question. Yes. Yes, they are. Indeed, women have been fundamental in the development of comedy as both a genre and an art form. From the stages of music hall and vaudeville, figures such as Mae West moved onto film and caused scandal by challenging what was acceptable. In the early days of television, the most popular star was Lucille Ball, paving the way for strong female characters in situation comedies. Alternative comedy in the 1980s pushed the boundaires even further with the arrival of acts like French and Saunders. This course will look at how women helped shape comedy by focusing on the key funny ladies. As well as those mentioned above, the talents and influence of Joyce Grenfell and Victoria Wood will be explored, together with recents developments in comedy with the stand-up of Bridget Christie and sitcoms like Alma's Not Normal. Oh, and George... don't do that!

Course aim

To provide an overview and celebration of the leading women in the history of comedy and how their material has both challenged and advanced the genre.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is for beginners
  • This course is for improvers
  • This course is for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Trace the development of women comedians within comedy.
  • Identify the key female figures in comedy.
  • Explain why they are important.
  • Identify the key topics explored by female comedians.

How will I be taught?

What kind of feedback can I expect?

What else do I need to know?

Nothing is needed, just a willingness to watch and comment upon comedy. Among the female comedians you may want to watch in preparation for the course are: Lucille Ball, Bridget Christie, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders, Joyce Grenfell, Joan Rivers, Mae West, Sophie Willan and Victoria Wood.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

What can I do next?

View full course information sheet

Funny Girls: Women and Comedy


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you enrol. Please check the details below to ensure you meet the basic eligibility critiera:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2021
  • You declare that the address you provide is correct and that you will provide evidence of this and your eligibility to live and work in the UK
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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