New Female Comedians Riding The Wave

When I first started running comedy nights featuring all-female line ups around 5 years ago I wasn’t exactly spoilt for choice. Quality wasn’t a problem but the quantity just wasn’t there. Invariably it meant a quick turnaround of comics. This wasn’t ideal and is particularly problematic for clubs such as mine where a large percentage of the audience are regulars. The last couple of years however has seen an explosion of new female comedy talent that is both promising as it is diverse.

It will be interesting to see how comics such as India MacLeod, Twayna Mayne, Lindsey Hulse, Katie Field and Hannah Silvester develop. (This list is clearly not exhaustive. I decided to jot down the first five names that came to mind on the grounds that otherwise it would be a very long article). With any luck they will follow in the footsteps of Mercedes Benson aka Gemma Layton. Originally booked as an open spot, she impressed because every time she was asked back, she always had one or two new killer jokes up her sleeve. Gemma’s on stage persona Mercedes Benson is a chav. I tend to hate these personifications as they are invariably performed by some middle class pipsqueak with a sneering view of a class they clearly know nothing about. Gemma’s Mercedes bucks that unfortunate trend with great characterisation and some killer lines.

Hannah Silvester too has risen up the ranks from open spot to a reliable act whose Brummie charm and extreme likeability unerringly endear her to audiences. India MacLeod has a marvellous dead pan persona and some great jokes at her disposal. India recently did 10 minutes for me and out of the 10 around 8 minutes of it was solid new material. That’s a pretty good % rate by anyone’s standards. Several of the jokes were of the type which ended up receiving the unofficial comic’s seal of approval. This is where the more seasoned performers turn and mouth “good joke” to each other.

Since I first saw her a few years ago, Katie Field has come on leaps and bounds. Not only has she clearly worked on her material, but she has also honed one of the most important tools in a comic’s armoury – her comedy persona. Katie’s put in a lot of hard work in developing her craft and it’s clearly paying off.

I’ve only seen Twayna Mayne twice but both times she’s impressed. Like India, she too has a dead pan persona, some brilliant jokes and bundles of potential. Her rant about the perils of travelling to Morocco if you happen to be female and black is hilarious as much as it seems heartfelt; and I suggest any woman of colour thinking of making such a trip to be well-advised to check out Twayna’s act before confirming their booking.

Lindsey Hulse is a new act whose innate funny bones more than make up for her lack of experience. The first time she did an open spot for me, she ripped the room. Lindsey has a slightly left of field personality that helps her stand out from the crowd. In January Lindsey came back to perform at my Birmingham night armed for the most part with a completely different set, most of which worked and again wowed the crowd. She even impressed headliner, Zoe Lyons who admired one of her jokes in particular. No bad compliment considering Zoe is one of the best joke writers and performers in the business.

As anyone in comedy will tell you, in comedy timing is all important. Maybe the timing is now right for a new wave of female comedians. After all, it’s about time!

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