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April 28, 2016

WICF's Daily Cartoon Originals
by Women in Comedy Festival - 0

Cartoon © Copyright Laura Merli


Cartoon © Copyright Michelle Barbera



See your cartoon in this space!
We will consider panel cartoons. Submissions are open to all genders. $10 per accepted cartoon. You retain the copyright. 
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April 26, 2016

WICF Interviews: Jessica Delfino, the Mind Behind that Great Big NYC Comedy Photo Shoot
by Women in Comedy Festival - 0


Jessica Delfino (left) put the call out and hundreds of female comedians came to
photo shoot in NYC. All photos © Mindy Tucker
Interviewed by Michelle Barbera

A couple of weeks ago, comedian Jessica Delfino enlisted prominent New York City comedy photographer Mindy Tucker to do a massive shoot of every female-identifying comedian in New York who answered the call. Delfino created a Facebook event to get the word out and gauge interest. Hundreds responded, resulting in a huge group photo and video shoot in a suitably big and de rigeur hip Brooklyn club (and what looks like a lot of fun being had).

I interviewed Jessica and asked her about the shoot and her recommendations for seeing live comedy made by women in New York City.

WICF: Do you have plans to organize shoots in other cities or have you been approached about doing so? Would you be interesting in seeing that happen?
JESSICA: I have thought about organizing other shoots in other cities and I have been approached about it. Once the dust settles, I will have to confer with Mindy about this and get her thoughts on it, but having an excuse to go to other cities, meeting comedy cohorts and gathering them up to shoot their group portrait sounds like a ton of fun to me.

WICF: About what percentage of the comedians at the event did you know beforehand?
JESSICA: It's hard to say. I thought I knew a lot of comedians but honestly, many people who came through the door were new faces for me, and I checked a lot of people in, personally. Some people I recognized their names but not faces, or vice versa. But I knew many of the women there that day and collected/gave a lot of hugs. I'm going to say I knew, or knew of, about maybe two-thirds of them.

Creatively costumed comedians at the shoot. Photo © Mindy Tucker


WICF: Do you think festivals and mainstream comedy clubs are lagging behind independent shows and upstart networks and comedy sites?
JESSICA: I think there are opportunities for women who are already established at festivals and certain clubs, but some of the talented, lesser-known women are probably not as likely to get the prime stage time at festivals and clubs.

WICF: How did you find the space for the shoot?
JESSICA: Marianne Ways arranged the space for us. It was at Littlefield, a venue in Brooklyn that features a lot of great comedy shows.

The whole, triumphant group. Photo @ Mindy Tucker


WICF: What made you laugh the hardest at the shoot?
JESSICA: There were a lot of laughs watching the video vignettes. But honestly, I didn't have a ton of time to chit chat, I was running around handling organizing details of the event. I also liked seeing Selena Coppock in the bikini top she promised to wear, and a lot of people's outfits were in general, pretty funny. Rebecca Trent's get-up was pretty hilarious. Our theme was "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and it was perfect.




WICF: Can you talk a little about some of the cool shows and comedy nights run by women in New York that the world should know about?
JESSICA: Wow, there are too many to list them all. Kara Buller and I are just starting up a new show called All God's Creatures. Katie Compa runs Dudes Being Dudes Being Dudes which is a hilarious show where female comedians do stand up in drag. Lauren Maul runs Bitchcraft with Selena Coppock which is a great show that also involves elements of music and cabaret. Mo Fathelbab, who is a big supporter of women in comedy, just introduced me to the show Just Pussy which is fronted by Melissa Rocha and Eve Peyser. It's an all-woman line up and it's pretty great. Lynn Bixenspan runs Relationshit, a comedy storytelling show. Caroline Castiglia runs an all female-produced talk show called Right Now. Marianne Ways books Night Train,  Rebecca Trent runs Creek and The Cave, I run The Unicorn, Trish Nelson runs Banter Girl, a female-fronted production company that supports female work. Kambri Crews runs QED. Nuva Ring is an email-based, female-comedy only discussion group run by Nive Kulkarni. Coree Spencer is the creator and director of CinderBlock Fest which is a festival that aims to level the female playing field in comedy, and I'm leaving out about 400 others.

Most women I know are either working on a solo or collaborative show, just did one or are planning to do one at some point. Killy Dwyer is doing a solo comedy tour and documentary with her husband, and Jessica Watkins did a walking comedy tour across the USA which is so cool. So basically, if you ask anyone at the shoot what they are working on, they all have an answer. Female comedians are busy. We come up with funny ideas and we get shit done.


Mindy Tucker also took these lively individual portrait shots of the comedians at the shoot. Photo © Mindy Tucker


WICF: I'm guessing many creative connections were made at the event. Any plans for other events coming up?
JESSICA: Annually I produce the NY Funny Songs Fest, a three-day comedy music festival , May 19th - 21st. I'm also working on a show about being pregnant that will run in July at Joe's Pub, called Before My Water Breaks. I honestly have no idea of any of the collaborations that might have come about at the photo, but I did hear that a few old comedian rivalries were extinguished, and that alone made it totally worth it for me.

WICF: Mindy Tucker's work is amazing. What is a photo shoot with Mindy like?
JESSICA:Mindy is very calm and focused on her work. She's like a photography ninja. She doesn't talk a lot, but the directions she gives are very sharp and make good sense. Her eye is spot on, and she knows what's what. She notices details and arranges things the way they should be at the speed of light. Sharon Spell once said something like, "Mindy's photos don't do us justice, they do us mercy". There's also a huge appreciation for her in the comedy community. Her work is really enjoyed and celebrated. There's even such a thing as "Getting a Mindy", that is, having your photo/headshot taken by Mindy. How cool is that?

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This all sounds very cool to us at WICF. Out fingers are crossed for a Boston shoot. Be sure to check out Jessica Delfino's live show recommendations when you're in New York, as well as the wide variety of comedy these and many other women are producing online and onscreen.

People Were Pumped! Photo @ Mindy Tucker




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WICF Interviews: Comedian Josh Poirier Founded "Shaky Premises" After His Parkinson's Diagnosis to Produce Comedy Shows for a Cause
by Women in Comedy Festival - 0

Josh Poirier hosting Shaky Premises at the Riot Theater
Interviewed by Michelle Barbera

On April 14th, I went to Jamaica Plain (a diverse and creative neighborhood in Boston, MA) to see the Shaky Premises-produced night of stand-up comedy at the small indie comedy spot, The Riot Theater. Comedian and producer Josh Poirer was hosting a night of stand-up and musical comedy to raise funds for Parkinson's research (April is Parkinson's Awareness Month). The benefit show was conceived by Poirier and produced with Dave Thomas in the weekly Stand Up-Break-In slot. The show features a mix of established along with those just "breaking into" stand up.

Headliner Dana Jay Bein, Featured comics Danielle Andruskiwec, Dan Crohn, Kwasi Mensah, Kate Procyshyn, Vinnie Pagano, Anthony Scibellli, April comic-in-residence Paul Landwehr, and Break-ins Susan Boitano and Chris Nolan
One of the night's comedians, Kate Procyshyn, suggested every comic be brought on stage to Sarah McLachlan songs, to evoke the pathos of the infamous MSPCA spots for which she provided the soundtrack and narration. The music choice set the irreverent but affectionate tone of the evening, as most of the comedians were friends of Josh's. Headliner Dana Jay Bein didn't shy away from addressing Josh's Parkinson's Disease in his set, thereby setting up Josh for one of the best punchlines of the night:

Dana: Nobody has my new album. Does anyone have my new album?
Josh: I have it.
Dana: The shaky guy was able to order it.
Josh: Well, I was actually trying to order something else.

I caught up with Josh after the show to talk to him about Shaky Premises, his other shows, and how Parkinson's has affected him and his comedy:


WICF: Can you tell me about the Shaky Premises concept?
JOSH: Shaky Premises is a concept that I came up with shortly after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and realized that I could use comedy to raise funds for research into a cure for the disease. It is going to be an on-going fundraising effort that I wanted to get off the ground during Parkinson’s awareness month and will continue to fit in a show here and there wherever possible, planning, hopefully to have at least a show every month or two. Basically it’s a blanket term to throw over different shows that I produce or that friends produce to bring awareness to Parkinson’s Disease and to try and raise some funds. It’s already proven fruitful with $219 raised during the first show. My goal is $1500 by the end of the year.

WICF:  You produce a number of other shows in addition to Shaky Premises. Can you tell us about them?
JOSH:  Interesting Points and Tight Five are two shows that I co-produce/produce. Interesting Points is and always will be my baby. It’s a tribute to my love of British-style panel shows, such as QI, Would I Lie to You, and Mock the Week, among others. It’s really just a bunch of comedians getting to riff off one another’s stories and things that they are “experts” in. The show started in January 2013 and we just wrapped our 36th show at ImprovBoston on the night that Shaky Premises debuted at the Stand-Up Break-In. I created that show, but enlisted David Thomas as a co-producer to help book it properly. The other show, Tight Five, which I co-created with Sean Clarke, is an improvised stand-up show where comedians make up five minutes of material on the spot based on Powerpoint slides put together by Sean and me prior to the show. Sean is great to work with, and a great friend and has been incredibly supportive throughout the whole process. We will see Tight Five under the Shaky Premises banner. I think we’ve had about twenty-five shows since 2013, and we'll be doing a Shaky Premises/Women in Comedy Month version of it on April 29th at 11PM at ImprovBoston. I also co-produced and am still involved with IB’s Stand-Up Throwdown tournament currently in its third year.  I have a bunch of other ideas which are in the works and you should see soon.


WICF: Any more plans for benefit shows?
JOSH: Yes, definitely. We have the one at IB on April 29th and will have another on 8/18 at The Riot. I am going to be working a lot closer with the National Parkinson Foundation to get the word out there and fit as many as I can in before I become a dad in October, and after as well. I just know my life is gonna change quite a bit once that happens.

WICF: How have other comedians reacted to your diagnosis?
JOSH: Very well actually, everyone’s been great. David Thomas hates me because of all the new material I’ve gotten from it. I was recently on the panel at the roast of Dana Jay Bein and gave them free reign to make fun of it, and wow, did they take up the challenge. I haven’t had a negative reaction yet, and even if I did, like Taylor Swift says, I’ll just Shake It Off.

WICF: How has Parkinson's affected your comedy?
JOSH: It’s given me a whole new avenue of material, that’s for sure. I’ve written about 10 minutes of new material just based off of the disease and my stories around it. But also, to be honest, it had made me a bit more gun shy to get on stage because it’s such a visible disease that I get self-conscious before I get on stage and it kept me from getting up there for about 6 months, until I said screw it, and now I feel better than ever up there, shaking and all.

WICF: What are some things about Parkinson's people might not know and should?
Josh: Parkinson’s is a disease that is probably within 5 years of having a cure. A lot of that is because of The Michael J Fox Foundation, the NPF (National Parkinson’s Foundation), and the PDF (Parkinson’s Disease Foundation). The disease itself is insidious and affects every aspect of your life, and like snowflakes, very few Parkinson’s disease patient’s symptoms are the same. I have Young Onset Parkinson’s, which usually hits around the age of 40, but only accounts for 1 – 2% of the population of patients, most experiencing it after 65. Everyone knows about the tremors, what people don’t see is the exhaustion, the tightness of your affected limbs, and the pain that comes with it. It is also a very slowly progressing disease and will in time take most everything that requires movement (including speech) away from you, although that is a long way off for me and I’m not even on the preferred treatment yet, so I have a lot of good years ahead of me. I didn’t want this part to be all sad and maudlin, but it is a sobering disease that affects over a million people in the US and the more people know about it, the better. You can learn a lot from here.

WICF: How has impending father hood affected your comedy?
JOSH: It hasn’t yet, wait, holy s**t! I’m gonna be a dad!

WICF: In a previous conversation, you described Dana Bein as your comedy mentor. Tell us more about that.
Headliner Dana Jay Bein
Josh: Class act all the way and one of my best friends in comedy and in general. He was my first stand-up teacher at IB and gave me a lot of tips and tricks to make my comedy better. He is like a comedy force of nature, in that he blows a lot of hot air (sorry, the roast is still fresh in my mind). One of the best people to have on your side and always makes sure that he gives 100% in everything he does, and it inspires me to do the same. When it comes to mentors though, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Maria Ciampa, Kelly McFarland, and Will Luera, all of which in one way or another, kept me going in comedy.

WICF: How have you come up with your show ideas?
JOSH: In the shower (sorry for that image), but it’s true, being there allows my mind to shut off from the constant noise of the world and focus on comedy. Just like most American TV, I take a lot of inspiration from the Brits, they have a different take on comedy, where all the rules are pretty much thrown out the window and people are just allowed to be funny in any way possible. Sometimes I will come up with a name and a show will form around that, because sometimes a great name needs a show built up around it. I have one that I’m trying to get up on its feet again called Generationalities, where I have comics of different age groups give their take on the same subjects.

April 14th's full comed lineup: Danielle Andruskiwec, Dana Jay Bein, Vinnie Pagano, Dan Crohn, Anthony Scibelli, Kate Procyshyn, Chris Nolan, Josh Poirier, Kwasi Mensah, and Susan Boitano (Not pictured: Paul Landwehr)
WICF: What comedy are you listening to these days?
EMILY: Kyle Kinane (one of the best in the business right now), Patton Oswalt, Chelsea Perretti, Pete Holmes, Maria Bamford, Brian Posehn, and Brits Jimmy Carr, Russell Howard, and American Ex-Pat Reginald D. Hunter. I also love Noel Fielding, but he’s more of a sketch comedian than a stand-up.

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If you live in the Boston area, you can purchase tickets for the Women in comedy Month/Shaky Premises edition of Tight Five happening on Friday, April 29th, at 11 pm at ImprovBoston in Cambridge here.



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April 24, 2016

Patton Oswalt's Comedy Made Us Feel Like We Knew His Late Wife, Michelle McNamara
by Women in Comedy Festival - 0

Michelle McNamara and Patton Oswalt

By Michelle Barbera, WICF Co-Producer

Like everyone else familiar with Patton Oswalt, I was shocked and saddened when I read that his wife of eleven years, Michelle McNamara passed away suddenly in her sleep on Thursday, April 21st. She was forty-six years old, and had a seven-year old daughter with Oswalt.   McNamara was a writer who studied at Notre Dame as an undergraduate and received her master's degree in creative writing from University of Minnesota. She founded the true crime website, truecrimediary.com, dedicated to both current and cold cases that have stayed for the most part off of the public's radar. What really caused a visceral shock for me was that I felt I was reading about the death of someone I knew — through her husband's comedy.

Oswalt is one of the few comedians whose albums I can listen to over and over again. His jokes and stories still make me laugh upon repetition and the rhythm and musicality of his delivery draw me in like an old sardonic friend with a comfy seat by the fire.

I've been a fan of Oswalt's for many years, listening as his stand up spanned his years as a single person, the joy of his new-found romance with Michelle McNamara, his early days of marriage, and his journey as a husband and parent. His stories are packed with laughs, but highly relatable for me as someone who has been going through the same phases of life around the same time, including having a daughter the same age as his. His comedy made me feel like I knew McNamara. From the story of how they met after one of his shows, to their absurd encounter with the morning-after of an apparent orgy at a house they went to look at with their real estate agent, to his worries about fatherhood and the ensuing joy and mystification at the little creature they'd made together, I felt invested in their lives and enjoyed each new chapter in their life together as a family. I met Patton Oswalt very briefly once after one of his shows. He was so pleasant upon our meeting I submit that the famous saying should go "one should only sometimes meet their idols", and from everything I've heard he is one of the kindest comedians out there.

It's been a gift  get to know Michelle McNamara through her husband's eyes, and she is beautiful. I cannot imagine the sorrow that he, their young daughter, and their family and close friends must now endure. When someone is gone so suddenly in the middle of so much life, it's tragic and senseless and so difficult to process, and the strangeness of someone who is one moment so central to one's life slowly fading in detail and resolution seems impossible and then all too real. Oswalt's storytelling skills will help keep those small details alive for not only those who knew her, but for those of us who felt like we did.

Our deepest condolences go out to Patton Oswalt, their daughter Alice, and everyone who loves Michelle McNamara. I'll leave you with two of his stories about their relationship, "Rats and Orgy" (NSFW):






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April 15, 2016

Elizabeth Banks Launches Female-Driven Comedy Site WhoHaHa
by Women in Comedy Festival - 0

Elizabeth Banks
Self-proclaimed "amateur goofball" and super cool comedian Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games, The Lego Movie, Wet Hot American Summer) has launched a new female centric comedy site, WhoHaHa, "a space for female creators to distribute their content to a wider audience and a place for users to spend hours laughing until they pee." Check out this handy video of Banks explaining the website's mission:

WhoHaHa is actively scouring the internet for "the funniest women the web has to offer and delivering them to you on all platforms." WhoHaHa is taking recommendations for funny ladies "who needs to be shared with the world." Do you know anyone like that? Of course you do – and it can even be you, yes you: "are you a funny lady who wants to be shared with the world? Let us know!" Click below to submit links to your content:





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April 14, 2016

5 Places You Should Go in 2016, You Son of a Bitch
by Women in Comedy Festival - 0

By You Know Whom You've Wronged

1.) Take a Long Walk Off a Short Pier
Look at this serene, sparkling water. So inviting! You deserve to relax. Get yourself on that short pier and do not stop walking. Fun fact: Lake Waukesha celebrates 50 years as a notorious dumping ground for both corpses and toxic waste. The lake actually caught on fire once in 2007. Get your marshmallows ready!

A Short Pier, Waukesha County, Wisconsin

2.) Play in Traffic
Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Traffic
3.) Eat a Shit Sandwich
Sandwiches. Classic, simple, yet with an almost endless variety of toppings, fillings and breads. Easy to take along on any of your other travels and outings, and so much fun to share. Just make sure yours is filled with shit.

A sandwich with shit filling. Looks like chocolate, doesn't it?

4.) Fall Down a Well
Wells aren't just for kids anymore! And think of the satisfaction of finding a hole even bigger than you.

A deep, deep well. Seven days…

5.) Straight to Hell
I know, you're going to go there eventually, but why wait? So much to look at and experience, you'll never be bored, unless that's part of the eternal punishment Lucifer intends to mete out to you. But hey, what's worthwhile travel without some risk? From the giant birds eating humans whole to the vomit waterfalls, the sights, sounds, smells, and colors of hell will not underwhelm even the most seasoned traveller. While you're there, be sure to go fuck yourself.

Hell















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March 18, 2016

Watch the Hilarious New Sketch Comedy Web Series: Cake Walk!
by Women in Comedy Festival - 0

The Cast of Cake Walk

An Interview with Series Creator Serena Schuler


By Christine Cannavo, WICF Associate Producer

Cake Walk is an uproarious sketch comedy series about the joys and absurdities of Engagement, where nothing is a Cake Walk. It's a playful romp through love, marriage, and the wedding plans that threaten it all. Each episode features new characters barely holding on to their sanity as they get ready for the last, best day of their lives.

The series was created by Serena Schuler, who developed the idea shortly after getting engaged. She began writing the series in June of last year and, with 12 members of Cast and 33 Crew, filmed over five weekend days in the fall. The series just launched online and right out of the gate, Cake Walk has received positive early reception in its first season. I spoke with Serena, who shared her experiences on the making of the series.

WICF:  Tell me about how you got into making films?
Serena:  It really began with the writing. I'd been writing stories my whole life, and got into screenwriting 6 years ago when I was living in New York. When I moved to San Francisco, I joined a film incubator, worked on a couple of films to learn the ropes, and made my first film The Ten Plagues. Since then, we've won awards and screened at festivals all over the world (including winning Audience Award Runner-Up at the Women in Comedy Festival last year).

WICF:  What was your inspiration for the web series Cake Walk?
Serena:  It seems as if everyone on Facebook and Instagram is getting engaged, taking it so seriously, and portraying themselves in the best light. But really, life at this stage is messier, crazier, and more hilarious than you'd imagine. I'm engaged myself and have come across the most hysterical circumstances which are totally worth poking fun at. I realized, this is comedy gold. We're taking something sacred and making it absurd.

WICF:  Did you improvise scenes to help you with the writing process?
Serena:  We always started with the script, and we were constantly building on the story. In rehearsals, the actors brought life to the characters and improvised some dialogue. Then, when we got to filming, I often would pause between takes to write down a new joke for the actor on a post-it note and share it with just her. She'd giggle to herself and use the new line in the next take. And usually, that was the line that made it into the final cut. These are the best improv comedians in San Francisco, they absolutely are at their best when there's a fresh turn to the story.

WICF:  Tell me about your fabulous cast!
Serena: The cast is mostly improv comedians, many of whom performed together onstage with various improv teams within Endgames in San Francisco. (And for several actors in the series, this is their first film credit!) One of our lead actors, Kyna Wise, is the daughter of actor Ray Wise (Twin Peaks) Two of our lead actors - Kaeli Quick and Julie Katz perform with the improv group Vagina Jones, and most recently performed at SF Sketch Fest.

WICF:  What's it like to work with actors who are improvisers?
Serena:  It's a phenomenal gift to work with improvisers. They're trained to go onstage and make bold character choices with voice, physicality, and all of the quirks to embody the person they're playing. Improvisers bring such a richness to each character. They can riff with each other's characters and bring new depth to each scene. There were times when I'd ask the actors - what would your character do next? And they were able to take a small detail from earlier in the story to think of a hilarious action or dialogue to make the scene really pop. Improv actors don't take themselves too seriously, constantly iterating on new material, and aren't afraid to try things. They're exceptional at listening and support each other as performers.

WICF:  What are your biggest hopes for the Cake Walk series?
Serena:  We know that there's an audience who's hungry for content that features women in comedy. And this series taps into the engagement experience that isn't being satirized enough, where there's plenty of room to make that connection with the audience who just wants to laugh at the absurdity of it all. There's so much potential for this series, we've only just begun! We're currently looking at partnerships and distributors for Season 2. In the future, I want to write for television, and it's been a fantastic experience to just put my work out there.

WICF:  What advice can you give to filmmakers about how to get your stuff out there?
Serena:  Find great collaborators and build your dream team. When it's your production at an indie level, you get to decide who to work with. Choose cast and crew that are strong in their craft and their passion. It's absolutely the strength of the team that makes the project soar.

WICF:  What is your take on the uproar in Hollywood over the lack of female directors, writers, and editors getting a hand up in the business?
Serena:  The good news is that there is momentum for change right now. Leah Meyerhoff is leading the charge with Film Fatales, a collective in which I'm a part, which supports and promotes female directors. There are also new studio initiatives like J.J. Abrams' production company Bad Robot and its talent agency CAA, which are now requiring that women and people of color are submitted for writing, directing, and acting opportunities in proportion to the population. It's an exciting time; this movement is just getting started.


Watch the Cake Walk Series

Like Cake Walk on Facebook

Follow Cake Walk on Twitter

Follow Cake Walk on Instagram
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