This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub.
The Lowry played host to the regional final of the 2016 Funny Women Awards as nine comedy acts took to the stage compete for a place in the coveted final.
Launched in 2003, the Funny Women Awards aims to find the best new female comedy performers by offering the winner a career developing cash prize of £2000 as well as industry support. The prestigious event is open to UK and Irish acts who have been performing comedy for under five years and has already helped to produce some major names on the comedy circuit including Katherine Ryan, Sarah Millican, Bridget Christie and Susan Calman.
This year marks the fourteenth year of the awards with a wide variety of female acts chosen to take part in regional final. Each act is judged by a panel of industry bloggers, bookers and promoters on their material, stage presence, delivery and originality and any acts that go over the six minute mark will be disqualified.
The two-hour comedy show saw nine acts take to the stage to perform a quick five to six minute set. Liverpudlian comedian Cath Rice opened the show by bravely asking the audience to shout out subjects she could twist into comedy, before running with her witty and funny take on unwanted gifts. Elsewhere, Janet Garner impressed with her daft but hilarious sketch about men and dolphins, as did Northern comedian Amy Reeke and Brummie comic Lindsey Santoro who entertained with her clever poems.
As expected from a comedy variety show, a couple of the acts fell flat. A swift exit by an audience member early on sadly put Jo Darcy off her stride, with the female comedian finding it hard to pick up momentum. There were also moments of silence in Amanda Graham’s set when a few of the one-liners fell flat, particularly those related to politics and pedophilia.
But the star of the show was undoubtedly Rivka Uttley who was eventually selected to go straight through to the final in London. Her incredibly funny sketch about her ‘relationship’ with her cat Matthew had the audience in stiches and her stage presence, delivery and originality is reminiscent of comedian Victoria Wood.
If the Funny Women Awards is a glimpse into what is to come in the female comedy circuit, we’re certainly in for a treat over the next few years.
Reviewed on 29 July
Donna is the Founder and Editor of Frankly, My Dear UK. By day, she works as a digital marketing specialist, by night she reviews film, theatre and music for a wide range of publications including WhatsonStage and The Reviews Hub. Loves Formula 1, prosecco and life.