Friday, June 21, 2019

Six Questions for Mette Jolly and Philippa Hall, Editors, Funny Pearls

Funny Pearls publishes cartoons, short stories and funny takes on life written by women worldwide. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Mette Jolly: I was looking for funny, short pieces to read online. Anything, a humorous dating series, short stories, cartoons. Something to read during breaks instead of online news and gossip. Admittedly, I may have been looking in the wrong places, nonetheless, I couldn’t find what I was looking for and decided to try and create it. I imagined that if I was looking for it, others might be too.

Philippa Hall: It was Mette’s idea, but I was thrilled when she asked me to join her in this venture. I have always used humour as a coping strategy for life and, like Mette, love the idea of a platform showcasing the funniness of women. I think that a lot of women underestimate how funny they are.

SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a submission and why?

MJ: The submission has to make me laugh, or at least smile a lot. Originality is appreciated too as is a tidy, well-structured piece. But I love nothing more than a line that makes me laugh every time I think of it.

PH: Obviously our top requirement is that it has an element of humour. I don’t necessarily expect to be rolling on the floor laughing, but I must smile at some point during the reading. The topic itself may be amusing or the story may be written in a humorous way, even though the subject matter is dark. Or the narrative voice may have a wryness to it. Secondly, for me, good prose is a joy. I love words and have huge admiration for writers who can produce textured language. Thirdly, originality. If you have a fresh idea or a new way of telling a classic story, you will always engage your reader.

SQF: What most often turns you off to a submission?

MJ: We don’t often receive anything that seriously turns me off. But I don’t like banal musing or cliché of any sort, be it in story, expression or even single words. Also, submissions, which are mean-spirited or in which characters have been created purely so that the writer can trash them. That I do find off-putting. 

PH: Laziness. Laziness in all its forms. When a writer hasn’t proofread or bothered to fix basic mistakes or hasn’t pushed themselves to work towards perfecting the writing. That is often manifested, as Mette says, in resorting to clichés – predictable ideas, hackneyed turns of phrase, or falling back on the easy option.

SQF: Many editors list erotica, or sex for sex sake, as hard sells. What are hard sells for your publication?

MJ: I think the list you mention applies to our website too although we haven’t received very much of that sort of thing. In addition, anything with a particular political angle tends to be a hard sell with our audience. Presumably because they visit the site precisely in order to get a break from all that.  Finally, stories that make the reader struggle through several pages to get to the point are unsuitable for an online format. Don’t get me wrong, a twist at the end can be great, but it mustn’t be the only point of the story.

PH: Sex can provide a great deal of humour in life, so I’m surprised we don’t get more stories about sex! Erotica is different though. Erotica and humour are perhaps not ideal bedfellows – yes, I know what I did there! – so we don’t get a lot of submissions which include blatant eroticism. I’m not sure that there is anything we deliberately use as a hard sell but there certainly are two topics which women seem to enjoy writing about: food and diet; romance and dating.

SQF: If Funny Pearls had a theme song, what would it be and why?

MJ:Greg’s Theme’ from the movie ‘Little Fockers.’

PH: The theme song from ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’. It’s funny but it’s also about being fearless as a woman. That song always lifts my heart.

SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?

MJ: Perhaps you could have asked why we only accept writing by women.

The answer is that we felt women were poorly represented in the humour genre. I would like to stress that we have no empirical basis for making this claim, it was a feeling, rather than a scientifically established fact. But many female writers have since told us they never thought they could be funny or that they had been told specifically that women aren’t funny. The latter is obviously nonsense.

Another widespread misconception is that only women enjoy humour by women. That’s nonsense too as our male readership would testify.

PH: Since we only accept submissions from women, I wish you’d asked whether our magazine is intended only for women. The answer to that is ‘no’. We have a broad readership and do not market Funny Pearls at a primarily female readership. Everybody needs a laugh!

Thank you, Mette and Philippa. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.


  1. I only discovered Funny Pearls today. I just read Katy Murphy's story which was so well-observed and relatable. I look forward to reading others later and perhaps submitting something of my own in the near future. Fantastic that funny women are being given a platform. So chuffed to have found this site!

  2. Stumbled onto this site, loved the concept and will keep visiting. Am a humour-columnist from Goa, India. They stopped my column because of lack of space (no advts for laughs; methinks India's humour bone's fractured these days and it's naught to do with COVID). Now to read more of your stuff and have a smiley afternoon. Thank you and good wishes, dear Editors. This is Sheela Jaywant here.