Is there anything better than a good belly laugh? And why not laugh your socks off on a Monday night to get your week off to a flying start? Well, that was the plan for last Monday, 20th May 2024. Orla Doherty and I, as comedy duo ChatterBoxx, co-hosted another sellout Funny Women stand-up comedy and music show in the main room in Whelans, Wexford St, Dublin.

All the heavy lifting was done in the weeks before the gig, so I set Monday aside to polish off my set. Did I feel a bit silly in my kitchen telling jokes to my wooden spoon? Yes, yes, I did, but it had to be done. And it was worth it because, like all our previous shows, this one was epic.

Orla and I opened the show, shamelessly inviting the audience to wet their knickers laughing. Our goal is runny mascara and pains in jaws and sides – from laughter, of course. We like to include music in our shows to get the party started, so we introduced singer/songwriter Jessica Smith to the stage. She was accompanied by something you don’t often see on stage at a Funny Women gig—a man, Stephen O’Loughlin, on guitar. They opened with Sam Sparrow’s Black & Gold.

DirtBird Sue Collins was first up and she described the horrors women experience in changing rooms. Orla followed with tales from hospital mixed wards. Sinead Quinlan shared some hilarious anecdotes from her dating life before Barbara Scully shared some insights into how it feels to be six feet tall.

After the break, I kicked off by describing things that got on my nerves. I introduced author/illustrator Aoife Dooley, who filled us in on the happenings on dating apps, while headliner Emma Doran gave us the inside track on hosting kids’ birthday parties amongst other things. Jess and Ste finished off the show with Tina Turner’s Proud Mary.

The key takeaway for me was the amazing atmosphere in the room on the night. It was a gorgeous, sunny day in Dublin, and that summer energy carried into the room. For sure, comedians are a critical part of the show, but so too is the audience, and the crowd last Monday night brought their best energy into the room. If the feedback from the show is anything to go by, they had a fabulous night.

Emma Doran pointed out that there was definitely a bang of peri-menopause in the room, and she was right. I continue to wonder why our shows attract at least 90% female audience. Why is it that men, in general, shy away from an all-female standup comedy lineup? Is the clue in the question? Are they shy? Whatever it is, my feeling is that it’s their loss, and if it is the case that our shows are predominantly women-only events, then, speaking for myself, I’m unapologetic in this regard. For me, it doesn’t matter who tells the joke. What matters to me is whether the joke is funny or not.

Although the landscape in Ireland is changing, the comedy industry continues to be dominated by men. Things have come a long way for women since Funny Women was founded 21 years ago, but there’s still plenty to do to approach equality. Having said that, every Funny Women show and every comedy lineup that includes women is yet another step in the right direction.

‘Til next time.