Name: Jane Duffus
Business: What The Frock! Comedy, a comedy brand that promotes female stand-up comedians
Type of Business: Arts & Entertainment
Location: Bristol, United Kingdom
Reason for starting: I looked around and learned that there were no women in comedy. The comedy clubs weren’t booking them, the TV shows weren’t booking them, the radio panels weren’t booking them. Yet I knew there were hundreds of brilliantly funny women out there. After doing some research I found out that on a typical Friday night in the UK, only 8% of the comedians being booked at comedy clubs are women. It motivated me to launch What The Frock! Comedy in January 2012 to promote and support talented female comedians.
How do you define success? The response I get from audience members and from the performers fires me on. We have so many repeat audience members, and there are numerous comedians who we work with really closely and champion them on via shows, media and more.
When we launched the What The Frock! Comedy Newcomer Award in 2013, all of the places were filled within 24 hours. When we opened entry in 2014, all of the places were filled in 10 hours, and women were applying from as far afield as the States. There is such demand for all-women comedy competitions as well as comedy nights. This fires me on and confirms to me that I am delivering a service that people want and need. Plus, I love what I do. To me, that is the sign of a successful experience.
Biggest Success: We were invited to London’s famous Southbank Centre for International Women’s Day 2013 (the biggest arts centre in Europe), and as part of the three-day Women Of The World Festival we hosted a comedy showcase to an audience of 700+ people. The buzz from running this successful show was fantastic.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it? Geography. We’re not based in a capital city. We’re based in the South West of England – although we’ve put on shows all around the UK. But the majority of acts are London-based, which means that to tempt them out of the capital to perform, we need to factor in a much higher fee for them to cover their travel and accommodation costs. Which means lower returns for the business. But I am determined that this doesn’t become yet another London-centric event. Too much of life is focused solely on capital cities.
Who is your most important role model? It’s a cliche, but my mother. She’s strong, she’s independent, she’s feisty. She sees something she wants and she goes for it. She taught me that if you want something to happen, you have to make it happen yourself. And she is right.
Edited by The Story Exchange