Thursday 19th - Sunday 29th October 2017, Manchester UK

Festival patrons, crew and director

Festival Crew

The festival continues year on year due to the energy and commitment of a glorious team who offer their time on a voluntary basis. The Women In Comedy Festival is unfunded and 100% volunteer and we would like to thank our amazing and committed crew team, without people like you we really would not exist.

Rob Medford - Crew Coordinator

Denee Cassisy - Venue Manager Coordinator / Video interviews

Andrew Stavasdale - Office  Manager / Secretary

Kerry Leigh - Box office updates

Eleanor Tomsett - Comedy symposium lead / in house resercher

Jenny Roche - Writing Competition lead

Shelley Emma and Andrea Cameron- Merchandise

Nickie Bernsmeier-Rullow - AV & Tech Coordinator

Reanda Watson - Head of AV & Tech

Hayley Ellis & Lydia Bernsmeier-rullow - Social Media

Lynne Parker - Funny Women Heats

People who do whatever needs doing without a title who are equally as important !

Lesley Kershaw, Ruari Paton, Charlie B, Mel Medford, Helen McDermott, Susannah Gaddass-Birchall, Sophiea Iqbal, Marie Goulbourne, Karen Pudner, Rachael Gaddass-Birchall, Sarah Neubrand, Sarah Ward, Clare Barry, Stella Wright, Rosie Kelby, Jaynee Lauren Gooding, Zia Zucconi, Dawn Rigby, Clare McIvre, Clare and Rachel Carn, Adam Martin, Lolly Squelch, Kate Williams, Gemma Torr, Mandy Tootill, Angela Booth, Julia Nicholson, Nicky Griffiths, Kate McCabe, Amy Vreeke, Jessica Toomey, Sarah Buczynski, Lily O’Farrell, Jason Cooke, Sofia Milone, Jo Smiles.

Festival Director

Hazel O’Keefe is the founder of Dulcet Sounds, Laughing Cows Comedy, Club Feminista, The Women in Comedy Festival and is the catalyst for many other projects. A full time self employed consultant, event manager, curator and promotor, who is value and principle driven ‘O’Keefe has taken a very practical approach to solving the problem of discrimination in the comedy world’  (The Telegraph) Her work was recognised by Manchester City Council who awarded her ‘Women of Arts and Culture‘, commended by Northern Power Women and awarded comedy business of the year by the Northern Soul awards.

Festival Patrons

Ayesha Hazarika MBE

Glasgow-born Ayesha Hazarika spent over a decade in the corridors of Westminster, working for some of the Labour Party’s most senior figures such as Harriet Harman and Ed Miliband as senior Labour adviser working in the Women and Equality Unit and drafting the Equality bill. Now a stand up and political commentator who appears on BBC, ITV & SKY and writes columns for the FT, Guardian, Scotsman and Grazia.

Ayesha has made a prominent return to the comedy circuit where her politics find expression in her standup, touring her show "State of the Nation"

‘We still live in an age where men are thought of as being the masters of humour. Women are allowed to be funny, but in controlled numbers. The Women In Comedy Festival challenges this giving support, encouragement and stage time to female comics and showcasing the many women comics who are rising up the ranks and are killing it on the circuit at every level.

The festival also celebrates the diversity which should exist in the mainstream comedy. Funny people come in all the glorious shapes, sizes and flavours that human life has to offer. As with all art or culture, diversity matters in comedy because audiences like variety, and like hearing a range of stories and experiences that are interesting, quirky, different, shocking, rude, challenging but most of all funny. I don’t think comedy should be some right-on education, but it can be a brilliant way of holding up a mirror to what’s going on and allowing us to talk about and laugh at things that are clearly mad, bad and sad. And let’s be honest, we could all do with a bit of that right now.’

Dana Alexander

Dana is a comedian, writer, actor, producer and touring International Comedian. One Canada’s most outspoken and hilarious women now making her home in the UK. Dana is also the creator and producer of Fierce and Fabulous a live alternative comedy cabaret, her style  has been described as smart, irreverent and revolutionary.

Isy Suttie - “I have always loved gigging for Hazel at Laughing Cows as they just have such a love of comedy and look after the acts so well. As a consequence the gigs are a joy to play because they're not out to make a fast buck - they really care that everyone (acts and audience) has as much fun as possible. The festival is a great thing because although when you're a female comic you don't think, "Hey, I'm FEMALE!" every day, it does surprise me how many audiences haven't seen girls do it before, and some promoters are still very bad at booking women for their gigs. The line up for the festival is brilliant, including some of my very favourite acts like Jo Neary and Zoe Lyons, but also newer acts who will be exciting to see.”

Sony award-winning stand-up comedian, actress, writer, composer and musician Isy is best known for playing the role of Dobby in the British sitcom ‘Peep Show’, Esther in ‘Shameless’ and Kiki in ‘Whites’. Isy was nominated for Best Female Newcomer at the 2008 British Comedy Awards and Female Breakthrough Artist at the 2011 British Comedy Awards. She was nominated for Funniest Woman in the 2010 Loaded magazine's Lafta Awards, which she won in 2011. She was nominated again in 2012 and Chortle Awards best newcomer nominee (2005). In 2013, the BBC Radio 4 version of Pearl and Dave won a Gold Sony Radio Academy and she also wrote for the popular teenage drama Skins under the guise of "comedy consultant" Award.

Jo Caulfield

“from Marie Lloyd to Sarah Millican, women have been making audiences laugh for centuries. Legends like Lucille Ball, Joan Rivers, Ellen DeGeneres, Jo Brand, French and Saunders and Miranda Hart paved the way for numerous female performers, many of whom are now carving out careers on the comedy circuit and beyond. Women In Comedy celebrates just that, women in comedy – the stand-ups, the singers, the sketch actors, the filmmakers, the writers and other funny women who are currently making their mark in the world of comedy. This exciting new festival showcases and supports the hottest talent around, from those you’ll know from TV to the rising stars, and everyone in between. It gives women a place to perform, network and exchange ideas, and it’s something I’m incredibly pleased and proud to support and be a patron of. Here’s to a great festival – and many more to come. And here’s to more women finding a way into comedy as writers, performers, directors and some like me, comedy gossips.”

Jo Enright - “The festival is so important and exciting. It showcases such a wide range of female talent. It is my privilege to be a part of it.”

For more than a decade Jo Enright  has  worked with many of the UK’s leading comedy writers and directors. Appearing alongside Peter Kay in Phoenix Nights, with Steve Coogan in I’m Alan Partridge and playing the female lead Sue, in Life’s Too Short, directed by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant.  Jo has recently received rave reviews for the part of Angela in ITV’s The Job Lot. Alongside acting Jo is also a highly acclaimed stand up comedian Jo  has appeared on many TV shows and toured all over the world performing her stand up.  Her comedy awards include the 2002 Chortle Award for ‘The Best Female Circuit Comic’ and the 2001 ‘Best Female on the Jongleurs Comedy Circuit’ award. Jo has just finished co-writing a commissioned script for Channel 4 and Babycow Productions and is about to start filming series 3 of The Job Lot for ITV. 

Kiri Pritchard McLean

‘The WICF is a vital part of the British Comedy scene. Curated by the tireless and ambitious Hazel O'Keefe, it provides women of all; ages, religions, ethnicity, backgrounds, sexuality and experience with a visible platform. This is a festival for everyone and is peerless in it's approach. Newer acts are given lots of stage time in supportive environments and more established acts can tour their latest shows in a sold out room of savvy audience members, run by an army of positive and professional volunteers. There is no festival quite like it and that is why I'm proud to be a Patron.’

Welsh Comedian Kiri Pritchard-Mclean has been making a name for herself in the short time she's being performing stand up comedy becoming finalist at Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year and being nominated for Chortle Awards: Best Compere 2016. She has achieved further success as one fourth of multi-award winning sketch group Gein's Family Giftshop (in capacity as writer/director).

A unique and assured comic voice Kiri is whip smart with material to match,  regular on the North West comedy scene Kiri has a strong presence beyond her years and the rare ability to be challenging in her material without alienating her audience.

Lynne Parker

Lynne is the founder and chief executive of Funny Women which she created in 2002 as a knee jerk reaction to a misogynistic comedy promoter who told her that ‘women aren’t funny’. Lynne went on to launch the Funny Women Awards, now in their 15th year, which provide a valuable platform for women starting their comedy careers. In 2016 over 500 women entered for four different awards for comedy performance, writing, short film and best show.


Lynne is also a respected writer and commentator, regularly contributing to business and consumer publications including the Independent, Guardian and the Huffington Post.  She runs workshops about using humour in the workplace for boosting confidence and self-esteem, building teams and improving diversity. Funny Women now works with some of the world’s leading companies and organisations including JLL, PwC, MasterCard, Investec, Lloyds of London, Aon, Virgin, and Accenture running bespoke corporate events and providing workplace training.

Lynne’s pioneering work in female comedy has been recognised with several business awards and nominations including the NatWest Ladies at E11even Business Awards 2011, the 2015 and 2016 Forward Ladies Women in Business Awards and the 2016 Kent Women in Business Awards. She was also recognised as one of ‘One Hundred Unseen Powerful Women who change the world’ for her outstanding work in the area of arts and media.


“Hazel and I have run our businesses in parallel for over 15 years and we have great mutual respect for what we have both achieved in providing a platform for female comedy. I am passionate about women having a place where they can express themselves and develop their own comedic voice so it makes perfect sense to bring the Funny Women Awards to the Women in Comedy Festival this year. Even in this ugly, politically-challenged and misogynistic world, brilliant female comedy prevails and I look forward to showcasing even more amazing new acts during this year’s festival.”

Maxine Peake

"I’m proud to be supporting the UK Women in Comedy Festival as a patron. A festival filled with laughter combined with feminist principles taking place in the North … what’s not to support!”

Bafta-nominated Northerner Maxine Peake regularly performs at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre and is also renowned for playing Twinkle in Victoria Wood's sitcom Dinner Ladies, Veronica in Channel 4's Manchester-based drama series Shameless and barrister Martha Costello QC in BBC legal drama Silk and most recently, Grace Middleton in The Village.

Susan Calman

Susan Calman is “supporting the festival as a performer because there are few better places to perform than in Manchester, as part of such a supportive and celebratory festival alongside some of the best comics in the country.  As a patron I think it’s vital that the festival exists to showcase how diverse female writers and performers are, so that we can finally put to rest the idea that we’re all the same.  We’re not.  And with such a vast array of comedians showcased in October it’s a privilege to be part of it and to support it.”