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."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Summer nights: ‘Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp’
TVBut what do we Brits really know about them?
Arts and Entertainment
Dr Michael Mosley is a game presenter

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

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

    Britain's Atlantis

    Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

    David Starkey's assessment
    Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

    'An enormous privilege and adventure'

    Oliver Sacks writing about his life
    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
    Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

    Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

    Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
    Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

    Orthorexia nervosa

    How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
    Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

    Lady Chatterley’s Lover

    Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

    Set a pest to catch a pest

    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
    Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

    The dark side of Mexico

    A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
    Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

    Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

    Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
    A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

    A nap a day could save your life

    A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
    If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

    If men are so obsessed by sex...

    ...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

    Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
    The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

    Rolling in the deep

    The bathing machine is back but with a difference
    Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

    Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

    Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935