I read an article in the Irish Independent recently where comedian Ashlee Bentley talked about how things are now for female comedians in Ireland. She says “Things are getting better but I still think there needs to be improvement. Unless there’s a special night, I very rarely get to gig with other women.

Deirdre O’Kane featured on the Tommy Tiernan show earlier this month and she explained that “When I started there would be an audible groan when I was introduced on stage, you would hear ‘aw god, there’s a woman coming on now.

Stories like these are the reason why Lynne Parker set up Funny Women 20 years ago to address the experience that women/non-binary comedians were having in the industry. Its purpose is to encourage women and those who identify as women to enter the industry and participate in it in a supported way. The annual Funny Women Awards acknowledges the achievements on page, stage and screen. Ashlee Bentley was the Irish regional winner in 2017, in fact the first time I saw Ashlee live was at a Funny Women event in The Workman’s Club a few years ago.

This time last year I was getting my act together for my standup comedy debut – sure what else would you do approaching 50? It seemed like a good idea at the time – I was wrong, it was a great idea. For me, there were no barriers to entry and I’ve found the industry to be incredibly supportive and encouraging.

My debut set me, an accountant, on an unlikely comedy pathway. Alongside my comedy co-writing pal Orla Doherty, as the comedy-duo ChatterBoxx, we are the Irish producers for Funny Women. Last year we produced sold-out all-female standup comedy shows in the iconic Whelans, Wexford St. Dublin. Our last show in November was headlined by Deirdre O’Kane. And now we are back for more.

Our next show is on Monday 20th May 2024 and it will be headlined by Emma Doran. Apart from her standup comedy, she has attracted huge audiences for her online sketches and podcasts. She’s currently on tour with her sell-out show ‘Dilemma’ in UK and Ireland.

One half of the DirtBirds, Sue Collins will be at the show. The other half, Sinead Culbert was at our last show and we couldn’t have one without the other. The DirtBirds ‘Girls World Tour 2024’ is also on sale now.

Cork comedian and DJ on Cork’s Red FM, Sinead Quinlan will traipse up to the capital. Fun fact – Sinead is a regular warm-up act for Angela Scanlon’s Ask Me Anything and The Late Late Show.

I know our next act, Aoife Dooley as an author and illustrator. I love her middle grade Frankie’s World graphic novel series which has Frankie, an autistic protagonist at its heart. Aoife’s illustrations are phenomenal. But Aoife is also a stand-up comedian and she’ll be making her comedy comeback at the show.

If you were at our show in June 2023 you were witness to Barbara Scully bringing the house down ad libbing hysterical extracts from her book ‘Wise Up’. Barbara is convinced it was ‘first time lucky’ but we know better and we had to have her back.

But of course, there’s more than comedy to be had at a Funny Women show hosted by ChatterBoxx. Maria McKenzie (aka No Spring Chicken on social media) is also back to moderate another cheeky panel discussion with Barbara, Orla and me. It’ll be gas. Last time we went off on a tangent about Irish funerals, who knows where this conversation will go?

And all regulars at our shows know we top and tail the show with music, this time by Jessica Smith. You’ll be on your feet before the night is out.

Our last show was a sellout and at the rate tickets are selling, this one will be too. We’d love to see you on 20th May for a night of feel-good craic, comedy and music and to continue supporting phenomenal women in the Irish comedy scene.

Tickets available here.

Ashley’s interview in full here and clips of Deirdre’s interview here.