Heard the one about the 'bitchy' female comics?

Three leading comedians have been accused of perpetuating a "bitchy and irrational" stereotype of woman comics by the organiser of an all-female stand-up competition, after they criticised her for charging entrants.

Lynne Parker, the organiser of Funny Women, apologised after making the comments about comedians Shappi Khorsandi, Sarah Millican and Jo Caulfield on her blog – saying she had been subjected to "communal cyber-bullying" on Twitter – but defended her right to charge people to enter.

Ms Parker founded the competition in 2003 to help combat the sexism she believed was rife in comedy and after losing sponsorship during the recession has this year announced a fee of £15. But many comedians object on principle to "pay to play", arguing that it takes advantage of them and that the competition is unnecessary.

On hearing news of the fee, Khorsandi tweeted: "Aspiring comics! Never pay to enter a competition! Buy a new hat instead," while Millican wrote: "Advice to any budding female comedians, no need to pay to play by entering Funny Women. Just be funny, write loads & work very hard." Caulfield also said: "Funny Women have finally proved it IS harder for women in comedy because men AREN'T charged £15. Please reconsider this RIDICULOUS idea."

Ms Parker responded by writing that potential female comedians "can either take Ms Khorsandi's advice and do what's expected of you as a girl (get a new hat), jump on the bandwagon and perpetuate the stereotype of the bitchy irrational female comedian more interested in gossip than developing a professional profile; or you can rise up and act with the strength and poise of a woman, join us in making a statement and be a fundamental part of taking female comedy beyond this silliness and on to the next level."

Yesterday she said she was "genuinely sorry for tarring the female comedy world," and that her comments were an emotional, knee-jerk reaction to a torrent of sometimes highly abusive comments on Twitter. "When someone starts slagging you off, if you've got balls you stand up," she said. "People think we're making huge amounts of money out of it but we're certainly not."

"It is hard for women to perform in what is a very blokey environment, we're not all Jo Caulfield with balls of steel. A lot of women who take part never carry on with comedy, but I see it as a way of pushing them beyond the boundaries of what women are normally expected to do," she said.

However, other comedians including Dave Gorman, Tim Minchin and Chris Addison have since added their names to the growing list criticising the charge. Ms Caufield told The Independent yesterday: "Pay to play is a terrible thing, it feels scammy. It's like someone saying do you want to be a model and pay all this money to have some photos done. It's just not right.

But Cerys Nelmes, one of this year's entrants, defended the competition: "I went to a Funny Women workshop in January, and if it hadn't been for Lynne I'd be stuck in Bristol doing nothing. Instead I'm gigging around the country. She's been 100 per cent behind me, and I've been going so mad about all the stuff on Twitter and Facebook because some of it is vile." The winner of last year's award, Gemma Whelan, also said the nastiness was unfounded. "I had a very positive experience. I don't feel Lynne's ever tried to spin me or make money out of me."

Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
    Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

    Marian Keyes

    The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

    Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

    Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
    Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

    Rodgers fights for his reputation

    Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
    Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

    Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

    'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
    Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick