Four to see at Women in Comedy festival

Four acts you should see at this year's Women in Comedy festival

Preview | 20 Sep 2016

If the idiotic outcry by MRA bedwetters over the idea of four women bustin’ ghosts in horror-comedy Ghostbusters proves anything, it's that Manchester’s Women in Comedy festival, the only festival of its kind in Europe, is still vital as it approaches its fourth edition.

It returns 20-30 October, kicking off with Suzi Ruffell, Angela Barnes and Jen Brister at the launch night gala and offering up a wealth of talent over the following days, including many Skinny favourites who we've covered in these pages.

We caught some of the acts earlier this year when they took their new shows up to the Edinburgh Fringe. Here's what our reviewers had to say...

Katie Mulgrew

“Katie Mulgrew's new show Saboteur takes an introspective look at parenthood and the bond between child and parent. She wants the world to up its game, but has yet to muster more than the signing of e-petitions to make it happen. Saboteur references the fact that Mulgrew is prone to self-sabotage – now that she has the responsibility of a child, she faces an even bigger challenge to get it together.

“Mulgrew's conversational inclusivity and buddying charm create a cosy atmosphere, akin to a coffee-fuelled catch-up with an old friend around the kitchen table. 'You don’t get to go out much with a 11-month-old baby,' she says, before delving into a routine about emotional signposting. She is naturally funny, but it's her storytelling that pins the show together.” [James McColl]

Katie Mulgrew is at The Castle, 25 Oct, 8pm, £5

Fern Brady

“An hour of quick-witted, acerbic standup from someone who's soon to be a household name... Fern Brady's show is tough-talking and packed with don’t-give-a-shit honesty. Yet despite the hard-hitting themes, she makes it all as light as a soufflé. For the first time this Fringe, I was crying with laughter.” [Polly Glynn]

Fern Brady is at Nexus, 29 Oct, 9.30pm, £5-£7

Suzi Ruffell

“Suzi Ruffell’s Common has a clear message – it’s cool to be proud of your roots, but there’s no shame in wanting after a dream house by the sea. Aspiration doesn’t go hand-in-hand with fucking people over.

“Ruffell’s story takes us from a school classroom in her home city of Portsmouth to her recent television debut, and the narrative of her journey blends excellently with her message about class structure and LGBT rights. It’s a very well written show that gains momentum and never lets up, partly because Ruffell herself is hilarious, a performer with a formidable range that she utilises to the fullest extent.” [Craig Angus]

Suzi Ruffell performs as part of the launch night gala at The Frog & Bucket, 20 Oct, 8pm, £15-£20

Sophie Willan

“Finding a way to laugh at real tragedy is never easy, but Sophie Willan resorts to levity so effortlessly, it's almost as if she’s had plenty of practice. Which she has, it turns out, as is revealed in her performance of On Record – a cerebral take on a lifetime spent in and out of foster care, summed up succinctly via her analysis of the pile of personal records she received from the state on turning 23.

“Willan sandwiches one hell of a life story into a delightfully scripted performance that leaves audiences marvelling at her upbeat, largely blameless version of what has evidently been a far more arduous childhood than she lets on.” [Tamara Mathias]

Sophie Willan performs as part of the wrap night party at The Frog & Bucket, 30 Oct, 8pm, £10-£20

Women in Comedy festival, Manchester, 20-30 Oct