A new survey by Ticketmaster has revealed that female comics have enjoyed a great boost to their popularity over the past five years. Their State of Play: Comedy report shows UK box office receipts for comediennes surging from 2% of the national total in 2009 to 14% last year, figures that confirm, as many have for a while suspected, female stand-ups are making great in-roads into an industry traditionally dominated by men.
While male comedians still dominate the top ten most popular comics, Miranda Hart was the best rated female, tying Frankie Boyle for tenth position in the survey of comedy gig-goers. She was followed closely by the Geordie joker, Sarah Millican. Both Hart and Millican are part of the Champions Speakers agency’s growing roster of comedians, entertainers, business and sports speakers.
Women have had a presence on the comedy circuit for many decades, a pattern that accelerated during the early and mid-1980s thanks to the success of the alternative comedy movement, but the recent overall growth in their popularity represents unprecedented progress. With women now firmly established on the comedy scene, no longer can the relative lack of females be put down to some lazy idea that ‘they are just not funny’.
Ticketmaster’s survey showed that over half of those questioned were more likely to pay to see someone they had already watched on television – Millican and Hart’s advances in the live arena can be traced back to having had their own TV shows – but that takes no account of the success of Pan Ann, who was placed fourth by the survey despite making very little impact on television.
Many observers are rightly looking for more progress in coming years, hoping women can enjoy more success. Stand-up comic Shappi Khorsandi said: “It’s great to see the surge in female comedians, stamping out the prejudice. We have still further to go though, I’d like to see more female comics enjoying the dominance that men do on the bigger stages.”
That said, both Millican and Hart have taken part in major national tours and are regularly filling those larger arenas and, while their examples may be comparatively, they are leading where others will follow. More power to their elbows!