Hiya, I’m Carmen, Awards Coordinator at Funny Women, an organisation based in Rochester dedicated to creating a more inclusive comedy industry. I feel very privileged to say that my role is currently being funded by Re:Generation 2031.
I’ve been working with Funny Women since May of 2021, joining after completing my degree in Drama and Theatre at the University of Kent. 2021 was a really odd time – it didn’t quite feel like the end of the world in the same way that 2020 did, but the prospect of leaving university (after finishing quite a practical course, largely online) and attempting to join ‘the industry’ was daunting. During my course I took a module in Stand-up Comedy, run by Oliver Double, and loved it. The course opened up a whole new area of the arts that I previously hadn’t seen myself in or engaging with. As I completed my final project I came across the Awards Coordinator position online AND two different people also sent it to me, which felt like a big sign that I should sort myself out and send in my application.
Upon getting the job, I was immediately thrust into the world of comedy. A large part of what Funny Women do is the annual Funny Women Awards. The Funny Women Awards is a new act competition for underrepresented genders in the comedy industry. Over the 20 years that the awards has been running it’s seen the likes of Katherine Ryan, Sarah Millican, Thanyia Moore, Jayde Adams, Rosie Jones, Zoe Lyons, Andi Osho, Lara Ricote and more. There’s lots of moving parts to the awards, with 1000s of entries coming in from around the world, submitting stand-up videos, comedy scripts, short films and nominating content creators. As Awards Coordinator I help organise this with the Awards Director, plotting out the timeline, liaising with producers, communicating with judges and being the main point of contact for entrants in the competition. I’m the custodian of the judging system, tech support, facilitator and producer for heats and semi-finals, entry approver, deadline setter, spreadsheet maker, guestlist inviter, protector of personal information and upholder of the integrity of the awards (unfortunately not the mother of dragons, but I do have two cats).
Working for Funny Women is like having an incredibly unique window into the industry. One minute I’m sending emails to stand-ups in Amsterdam or liaising with agents as industry judges and then the next moment I’m receiving info from BAFTA people about the judging system and being cc’d on important emails from Sky. AND it’s so exciting to see all the new talent and ideas floating around – it makes the judges’ jobs very difficult but I’m constantly in awe of what I see.
Over the two award seasons that I’ve worked on I have had some incredible opportunities. My favourite moment was when I got to interview Funny Women Matreon Jo Brand as part of our awards registration campaign. I was very grateful that they trusted me enough with such a big thing and as I sat opposite her in a bar in Soho I tried to keep my cool and not act like a competition winner or as if I’d just been booted out of the bake-off tent. Jo was so open, present and giving in the conversation and it’s something I won’t be forgetting in a very long time. I also got to work on podcasts, go through fascinating archives, write for the website, assist with social media and I have been trained up on Hootsuite, Canva and Bafta Nucleus.
I am so thankful for everything Funny Women has done in making me the producer and theatre maker that I am today. Among all the excitement and chaos of working in the comedy industry, it is the people that I have met in this job that have made it truly special. Also, I am entirely indebted to Creative Estuaries and Re:Generation 2031 for providing this opportunity and I want to say thank you so much for the support you have given me along the way, which has enabled me to do things I never thought I could do.