February 13, 2015

Four Lessons I Gained from My First Improv Class

Improv helped me improve my social life and learn to play

By Jennifer Purdie, WICF Guest Blog Contributor

Jennifer Purdie
[Jennifer is a Southern California-based freelance writer for publications such as The Los Angeles Times, CNN, and Phoenix Magazine. She recently finished her first novel titled The New Year’s Eve Project.]

I decided to sign up for an improv comedy class with Second City, one of the most famous comedy companies in the world. I followed the adage “Go big or go home,” and since going home meant spending another hour in LA traffic, I went big. Also, I texted too many friends I signed up for an improv class to back out now. Incidentally, every time I typed the word “improv,” my phone autocorrected to “improve.” Oh, the irony.

Despite its large name in the comedy industry, Second City’s building looked quite modest set against the over-the-top billboards and structures along Hollywood Boulevard. I headed up the stairs to check in with a stunning blonde with clear blue eyes sitting behind the welcome table.

“You work here?” I asked, even though the answer was obvious.

“Yes, I’m one of the performers.”

I felt jealous—she was funny and that good-looking? The universe can be so unfair.

“Your first improv class is down the hall. We have snacks available and some brochures on our classes if you’d like,” she said.

I pushed my childish backpack over my shoulder and sweated my way to the classroom, while first drowning my insecurities in free bottled water and packaged pastries.

The teacher, a short female bespectacled in huge red-framed glasses with an abundance of personality, fit what I imagined the standard improv performer. She called herself “Tall Sarah,” no doubt a joust at her small stature, and made us makeup nicknames for ourselves to create a classroom persona. As the class progressed, my fears subsided and I felt more at ease speaking in front of others.

Biggest statement: I’d return for more.

These four applicable lessons I took with me outside the classroom and into my “real life”:

1. Take time to play. We pretended we were sailors and dancers and tried to confuse others with silly word association games—things I haven’t engaged in since my age turned into double digits. I now host similar games with friends who invite more friends. Social life = improved.

2. Say yes. The number one rule in improv is to never deny anything. Whatever someone tells you, you must go with it. Words like “no” and “but” hurt an improv scene because it breaks it and you can’t go anywhere from there. When I’m invited to an event now, I say yes. It’s easier to stay at home, but it’s not always best to do what’s easy. Night life = improved.

3. Raise your hand. I loathe being first at anything. Let someone else mess up and then I can learn from their mistakes and do better. This is why I never sit in the front row in anything. Ever. Now, when someone asks for a volunteer, I raise my hand first. Willingness to embarrass myself = improved.

4. Public speaking won’t kill me. I recently did a motivational speech to a group of women and realized people are interested in what I have to say and want me to do well. It was a refreshing revelation. Creating self-exposure = improved.

Taking risks is the best way to get off the hamster wheel of life.

February 10, 2015



Jane Lynch, Lily Tomlin and Cristela
WICF is thrilled to announce our first three headliners for our 2015 festival, April 22nd-26th. All three are co-presented by our venue partner, the Wilbur Theater. Jane Lynch (Glee) will perform the Boston premiere of her new comedy show and will also be honored by the Women in Comedy Festival with our second annual WICF Excellence award for her numerous contributions to comedy and to the advancement of women in comedy through her work on stage and screen.

January 20, 2015

What Has Cheese Ever Done For Me?

Besides bringing me unbridled joy and something to wrap my mouth around on a Friday night

By Brittany Meyer, WICF Guest Blog Contributor

Brittany Meyer
[Brittany Meyer is an FSU graduate, Chicago resident, arm wrestler and comic. Just so we're clear, everything she knows, Yeezy taught her. Follow Brittany on https://twitter.com/BallroomBritz and https://www.facebook.com/StoneColdJane]

I'm not gunna sugar coat this because cheese is not best served that way; I love cheese. If you're a reasonable human, you love cheese. If you're a dog, you love cheese. If you're a mouse, you're stereotyped to love cheese. If you're lactose intolerant, your life is sad and I bet you love cheese anyway.

Cheese is the partner you've always wanted but never thought existed; you put in a little time remembering it at the grocery store and you can have it damn near any time you want. Cheese is never busy doing anything except aging and subsequently becoming more delicious. Cheese is dynamic--it can be sweet, savory, spicy, tangy, salty, creamy and revitalizing, it's the Leonardo DiCaprio AND Daniel Day Lewis of food. It always has time to be there for you (in the cheese drawer) and is readily available at most places. Cheese is unlike any friend you've ever had.

Cheese was always a big deal to me at various house warming parties, work socials, and holiday cocktail parties. Did you ever go to a party and know no one? I bet there's someone you do know....Mr. Bellavitano. Sometimes he's sweet, sometimes he's draped in balsamic, which ever way you meet him, he's got a good story for you and you're going to have a good time. And what's that? He's got friends on that cheese plate he wants to introduce you to? Sounds to me like you just got in with the IN crowd.

For as long as I can remember, cheese has been important to me. My mom is a terrible cook and I was often forced me to scrounge up my own dinner; this usually lead to a buttery, gooey, crisp, grilled cheese sandwich fried with TLC and a sense of accomplishment. I never lost that "baby weight" because of these bad boys but it was still better than my mother's grilled cheese sandwiches since she never fried them, she always toasted the bread then melted the cheese between them in the microwave, like it was f*cking amateur hour or something.

Since moving to Chicago and becoming an “adult," I realized quickly there are few joys in life and you really have to savor the small things. You know what brings me joy? Cheese sales and cheese samples. Go to the largest Whole Foods near you and just take that shit in. $3.99 double cream brie at Trader Joe's? How can it be THAT good and THAT cheap? Beats me, but it does pair nicely with a $1.99 baguette and three-buck chuck.

Now, I feel like I'm painting a pretty wide-eyed portrait of cheese…but this isn't to say we didn't have problems; like all healthy relationships, we had our ups and downs. When I first moved after college, I went on so many terrible job interviews and was so poor there were many times I thought I was going to have to move back home because I was completely under-qualified for everything I applied to and my temp job barely paid me enough to cover rent. Once, I came back from a really horrible job interview and the only thing that made me stop crying was remembering goat cheese existed—not that I even had that cheese in my fridge, just that it's a thing. Suddenly, things didn't seem that bad. If goat cheese with cranberry preserves existed, I wanted to exist too. I wiped my tears and got back into the job hunt. I had all the support I needed.

Through our hard times and all the great times, I am grateful for all the things cheese has done for me; and while doctors may disagree, cheese has been the healthiest relationship I've had. If nothing else, I'm glad I have found something that brings me so much joy, something that makes life just a little more savory and the world a little better. Cheese, if you're reading this, I hope you know how much I care about you and I'm planning something special for us on Valentine's Day.

January 9, 2015

Post-Olympic Boston an Anarchic Wasteland of Despair

Kenmore Square, Boston, 2027

By Marcia Baker, WICF

January 9th, 2027

Boston, MA — As predicted by a large number of Bostonians, hosting the 2024 summer Olympics has led to a complete collapse of the metropolitan Boston area. Once a center for education, medical research and biotech development, Boston is now a barren desert of roving gangs and feral children. Though a rousing success, the Olympics caused Boston to immediately go bankrupt, taxed the inadequite infrastructure to the point of no return, and caused mass hysteria and psychosis due to lack of parking spaces for locals. 

Says former Professor Joshua "Slit" Garrison, "Before the Olympics, I was teaching linguistics at MIT and training for triathlons in my spare time, now I'm firing missiles from a makeshift helicopter on a daily basis to fend off attacks by rival gangs looking for gasoline."

Garrison firing from his helicopter

Garrison (left) in 2015 and (right) in 2027

Joanna "SlaughterFrau" Duggan of South Boston comments "My biggest worry before the Olympics was digging my car out in the winter and putting a chair out to save my parking spot. Now I have to put a head on a stake to get anyone to respect the boundaries of my property." She pauses to scare away a wild dog with a baby's arm in its mouth by hitting a bat against a trash can."So what if they set several new world records at the games. Where does that leave us? Literally up shit creek", she continues, pointing at a creek full of human shit.

The Olympic Stadium, built expressly for the games, has been converted to a colosseum-like steel-cage jousting arena dubbed "Thunderdome" where residents fight to the death for food.

Leslie "Dagger" Sorrento, a former public school principal, holds out little hope. "A few years ago, I was worried about our children and their complicated relationship with technology and social media. Now I'm just worried about them decapitating me with a boomerang.

A post-Olympic child
"The opening ceremonies were wicked cool though", remarked an unidentified couple while roasting a baby on a spit.

December 16, 2014


Three More Ways to Find Yourself by F*cking Around

By Courtney Pape, WICF Guest Blog Contributor

[Courtney Pape is an actor, writer and comedian who lives in Los Angeles and dreams of being bi-coastal. Follow her on twitter @courtpape to see if it happens and laugh in the meantime.]

Courtney Pape
In Part One of “Girls Should Date Less and F*ck Around More” I called out to women to make self-discovery the new standard prep before finding a boyfriend. Instead of going on crazy diets, going into credit card debt for the latest fashion trends and going on social media to cultivate a perfectly tailored persona that doesn’t even begin to encapsulate who we are as people in order to attract a guy, let’s focus on ourselves.

Once we enter a relationship, if we’re not prepared, it can be easy for women to nurture and care for their significant other while neglecting to nurture and care for herself. So Ladies: let’s strengthen ourselves as much as we can before we commit to someone so together we can build a life together, instead of cleaning up the wreckages of our pasts.

Three MORE Ways to Find Yourself by F*cking Around:

1. F*ck around with…FRIENDS

We don’t need to have a designated activity to spend time with our friends. Kick back with them and just do nothing. Have no plans. See what happens. What did we do with our friends when we were kids? We just played. We just showed up to our play date and figured out in the moment whether we would play “Pretty Pretty Princess” or Mermaids in the pool. So let’s take a note from our childhood selves and be more carefree. Let’s also continue playing “Pretty Pretty Princess”…who’s with me?

2. F*ck around with…EXERCISE

The older we get, the more we need exercise just to feel good. Or even normal. (And sex alone is not enough of an exercise regimen to stay healthy for all you jack rabbits out there!) As our lives get bigger, especially with a relationship and/or kids, we might not have the time or energy to get to that 7am spinning class. So f*ck around with different exercise classes, try different machines at the gym, look up good walking or hiking paths around you. Just switch it up! The more routine taking care of our bodies is before we have a relationship and/or a family, the more likely we won’t abandon the practice once we’ve committed to someone else.

3. F*ck around with…RELIGION & SPIRITUALITY

Are you religious or spiritual? Awesome! Take this time when you’re alone to deepen your connection to God, the Universe, Penelope Cruz’ hair, whatever you want to call it. This deeper connection will not only calm your crazy thoughts of, “I can’t believe Jessica is getting married!?! I’m so much prettier than her and I don’t even have a boyfriend. How does that make sense?” but it will also bring forth a guy on the same religious/spiritual path that you are on.

Are you NOT religious or spiritual? Awesome! Now is a great time to delve further into your beliefs or non-beliefs. Read and talk to people who share your thoughts, that way if a gorgeous JFK-looking guy wants you to convert for marriage you’ll know if religion is something you’re willing to compromise on or if it’s a deal breaker.

And I would encourage all of us, no matter what we do or don’t believe to keep an open mind and curiosity when it comes to all this stuff. Learn about different religions and spiritual practices, even if you think they’re bullshit. Because who knows? Maybe they do or say one thing you agree with or that helps you. Or maybe you’ll walk out thinking everyone in there is a lunatic, but any information and experience only strengthens who you are and what you believe in.

December 8, 2014


Obsess over yourself and guys will obsess over you

By Courtney Pape, WICF Guest Blog Contributor

[Courtney Pape is an actor, writer and comedian who lives in Los Angeles and dreams of being bi-coastal. Follow her on twitter @courtpape to see if it happens and laugh in the meantime.]

Courtney Pape
Luck is opportunity meets preparedness. When it comes to dating, the female sex has latched onto this concept and twisted the meaning of “preparedness” into extreme cleanses, fashionable clothes and having the best Facebook photos to make any guy swoon.

 Newsflash: Guys don’t give a shit.

When we were kids, little boys weren't trying to hold our hands because we had beach waved hair and a thinspo-enviable thigh gap. They did so because they just liked playing with us. So, what did we do to make them like us? We were just ourselves! Somewhere in adolescence our wires got crossed and we got the signal that our outside means more to guys than what's on the inside. Even through adulthood we've constructed our identity around physical appearances and being single or being in a relationship becomes a part of who we feel we are as a person.

Newsflash: You are not your body! 

Newsflash: You are not your relationship status! I don't care if you have the best husband who is your soulmate. (BTW Congrats, that's awesome & I'm totally jealous!) But you're a human being first and foremost!

Newsflash: You are your own person who is complicated as crap so why don't you learn to completely love, take care of and cultivate yourself in all facets before you do so for a romantic partner!?!

Instead of putting energy into our outward appearance and “finding” a boyfriend, like he’s lost at sea, let’s focus on ourselves. Let’s make self-discovery the new standard prep before "finding" our Nemo, which will probably come sooner now that we've washed away the stank of desperation. Now when we meet our match, he’ll be the one obsessing over us, not the other way around!

Three Ways to Find Yourself by F*cking Around:

1. F*ck around with…GUYS

You don’t have to date every guy you sleep with. Not every guy you’ve had a connection with has been sent your way as partner potential. “Then why is it the sex so good? What is the universe trying to tell me?” Enjoy it so you’ll you have fun, dirty memories to think of when you're making love to the same person for the rest of your life. Guys aren’t the only ones allowed to have highlight reels ladies!
{DISCLAIMER: Just because you CAN sleep with a guy, doesn’t mean you SHOULD. I’m not advocating sleeping around like crazy until your self-esteem crumbles and you contract herpes. Be discerning about with whom you share your body. Just because there are no long-term commitments being made doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be mutual respect, protection and a safe word.}

2. F*ck around with…YOURSELF

You know when you haven’t had sex in awhile and you reach that point where just watching a guy type fast on his computer turns you on? This is a great time to invest in a vibrator. And yes, I say “invest” because that’s what a vibrator is: an investment towards healthy sexuality.
3. F*ck around with…HOBBIES & INTERESTS

Have you always wanted to learn how to play guitar? Did you join Instagram thinking it’d help rekindle your love of photography but then just used it for selfies and stalking your ex? Do you look at Diane Keaton in Something’s Gotta Give and are majorly jealous she can speak French fluently while ordering at a bougy bakery? Take time to f*ck around with hobbies and interests that just make you happy! Do something that is not an excuse to meet a guy and do it alone! We’re co-dependant enough with our girlfriends when we go to the bathroom together so let’s spread our independent wings and realize sometimes there’s power in solitude.

December 5, 2014

Free Redeemable Content: Only Cost is Your Soul!

Falling for satire articles? At least you got a laugh out of it! That's free. You're welcome.

By Brianna Wodabek, WICF Guest Blog Contributor

Brianna Wodabek
[Brianna is an actor/writer. She is a graduate of the Second City Conservatory and has preformed in many improv and sketch shows including twice in the newly debuted show in New York: Beerprov. Check out her blog; Brianna Rants.]

New age comedy is at an all time high and thankfully social media has rolled down its metaphorical window to its’ beater car and cat called it right into the front seat.

I personally can't get enough of The Onion articles or anything relatable to those sites. But not only do the articles themselves tickle my funny bone, most days I get more joy out of the readers who actually believe them. I don't know when the line erased that now everyone believes what he or she read on the Internet; but I'm so glad it's happened and if I could, I would lock up that line to never be seen again. The Internet had only been used for eBay scams, MySpace aspiring musicians and “boobs” typed into Google. Nothing was credible on the Internet; it was the technological equivalent of old wives tales of hairy palms and blindness. So what was the tipping point? What was the one piece of information posted that made us think, “you know what, they’ve got something here”. Was it when CNN took hold? Or NASA? Either way, no matter what happens, the moment they declare aliens, I am 100% on board.

Nothing brought more joy to my 21 years of life than seeing numerous of my Facebook friend’s plaster "23,000 iPhone 6's infected with Ebola" across their pages so graciously informing us of this insanity! Could I have intervened and relieved them of their incessant hand washing and paranoia while handling their new brain melting device? Yes, yes I could have. Did I? I definitely did not. Instead I grabbed my Facebook watching popcorn and enjoyed it unfold.

I’ve noticed that sketch and improv comedy is in its’ prime at the moment. Between comedy festivals that feature up and coming performers, YouTube channels and satirical blogs, everyone is an expert in comedy. I’m thankful that I managed to get my foot into Second City when I did, not only to witness the comedic evolution; but so I can add it to my LinkedIn profile. The images of female comedians are changing and I couldn’t be happier. Females were always viewed as brash, foul-mouthed stand up comics. If you wanted to succeed as a female in this world, you had to be shocking and rude; now with the different mediums, that is not longer the case. Smart humor is now introduced and truly respected. Females are now respected and no longer underestimated. It’s exciting to be a part of this transition and we didn’t even need to burn our bras this time! This is the age of laughter as I like to call it and I would love to contribute to this as much as possible!

The world has gotten too serious; war, disease, famine. We need some satire to ease the negativity and remind us that we don't have to take everything so seriously. We will spend enough time in our lives worried and stressed about things that we can't control; we might as well take the time to enjoy a 3 minute article about "The Day in the Life of our Local Aliens from Mars and What They Cook With". It costs us nothing to laugh, people need to redeem this perk more.