Andrew Dipper

Sarah Millican leads rise in ticket sales for female comics

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The recent rise of Sarah Millican and Miranda Hart has lead to a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey.

Stand-up shows by female comedians account for 14% of all comedy tickets sold – up from 2% in 2009 – according to a newly released report by Ticketmaster.

Stand-up Shappi Khorsandi said it was great to see the surge in female comedians stamping out prejudice in the industry.

She said: “We have still further to go though, I’d like to see more female comics enjoying the dominance that men do on the bigger stages.

“Perhaps we are not capturing the public’s imagination in the same way, but it is all changing for the better and we are well on the way to enjoying equal success with our comedy brothers.”

Research published in The State of Play: Comedy report also revealed the influence of television work in making or breaking comedy careers. More than half (51%) of comedy goers said they would only pay to see someone they had already seen on TV.

The survey, which questioned more than 2,000 people, also found that going to comedy gigs was a social experience, with more than half saying they went in groups of three or more.

It found that heckling is disappearing in comedy, with only one in five (20%) comedy goers suggesting it was acceptable to heckle and 3% of those admitting to doing it regularly. Heckling and updating social media during a gig is considered the most unacceptable behaviour.

The extensive survey also found:

  • Two-thirds of comedy goers would rather go to a big comedy tour with a famous comedian rather than a smaller event with mostly unknowns.
  • Lee Evans is the UK’s favourite comedian.
  • A huge rise – 46% – in the number of comedy events outside of London, driven by an increase in regional theatre tours.
  • Half the British population have been to at least one comedy event in the past three years, with the majority of comedy goers being 25 to 34 years old.
  • Ticket prices are the highest ‘barrier to entry’ for people going to gigs. The average ticket price for a theatre show is £27.20, and for an arena show it is £35.40.
  • Comedy-goers prefer theatres (39%) to arenas (29%).
  • 32% of people say that reviews influenced what comedy shows they go to see. 14% of people get their information about comedians from the internet.
  • Routines about family are said to be the funniest, but comedy goers say they find jokes about disability a turn-off.
  • 82% of comedy goers own a live comedy event DVD. 17% own more than 10.

The report also revealed the UK’s top 10 favourite comedians, as well as the 10 best-known stand-ups and the top 10 family friendly comics:

Ticketmaster’s Vice President of Insight, Sophie Crosby, said: “There are a lot of positives the industry can take from the report – not least the popularity of live comedy and the willingness of consumers to attend… and in the UK, it’s more accessible than ever.

“The industry is in rude health and it’s fantastic to see that the public are engaging in a range of options for seeing live comedy – from arena tours with the country’s biggest comedians to shows in smaller regional venues.”

The full report is available to read here.