Where are all the girls?

French's fears for new female comics

Dawn French has said she is worried that too few new female comedians are breaking through into the big time.

Her comments came as a new poll to name Britain’s funniest woman was dominated by a generation of comics aged close to 50.

Victoria Wood, 53, topped the poll, while French herself came second at 48.

She said: ‘We both thought that once the way had been opened up, there’d be a new breed of female stand-ups playing all the big venues.’

‘You've got established people like Jo Brand and Meera Syal, and there's no longer anything wildly unusual about, say, an all-female sketch show. So we've arrived; I'd just like to see more of us.’

The only new name in the list, compiled from a survey of 4,200 people for Radio Times, is 38-year-old Catherine Tate, at No 9.

The poll was conducted to coincide with the broadcast of Dawn French’s Girls Who Do Comedy, in which she interviewed 38 female comics, including newer names such as 2005 Perrier-winner Laura Solon.

French said that many of those she spoke to had been put off comedy by men.

‘Quite a lot of the women said there had been occasions when they had curbed their funniness out of respect for men, who needed approval more,’ she said. ‘As a woman, you're supposed to let the men through.’

The full top ten was:

  1. Victoria Wood
  2. Dawn French
  3. Kathy Burke
  4. Julie Walters
  5. Jennifer Saunders
  6. Jo Brand
  7. Joyce Grenfell
  8. Joan Rivers
  9. Catherine Tate
  10. Lucille Ball


Published: 8 Aug 2006

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