September 30, 2011

Get In The Mood with OBV! and Somebody's in the Doghouse - Will a Wet T-Shirt Contest Help You Out? I'm Not Watching You!

By WICF Editor Liz McKeon


Happy Friday, WICFers! Have you submitted your show yet? To inspire you, we're bringing the funny from two favorites of the Fest - Marty Johnson and Leah Gotcsik, better known as Somebody's in the Doghouse with "Wet T-Shirt Contest" — and Megan Goltermann and Chris Cuddy of OBV!, with "I'm Not Watching You." Seriously, get your creative juices flowing. We want to see you on our stage, too!


Somebody's in the Doghouse — Wet T-Shirt Contest

Somebody's in the Doghouse will be performing at UCB in NY on October 3rd at 8 PM - for tickets, go to the reservations link at UCB.



OBV! — I'm Not Watching You

Catch Megan in Explosion Bus, tonight at the Vancouver Inerenational Comedy Festival, and in January with The Ruckus in SketchHaus at ImprovBoston — shows are Fridays at 9 PM, go to the ImprovBoston site for dates and tickets.
See Cuddy as part of the ImprovBoston Mainstage — shows are Saturdays at 8 and 10 PM, go to the ImprovBoston site for tickets, or see them at the Philadelphia Improv Fest on Friday, October 7th; hosting "Comedy On Tap" at The Burren in Somerville, MA every third Sunday of the month with fellow WICF alumna Shannon Connolly, and co-hosting the ImprovBoston podcast, "Wicked Funny."


Be sure to submit your show or workshop to WICF 2012, running March 21st-25th in Massachusetts!

Want us to give a shout out to your video? Email editor@womenincomedyfestival.com!

Women in Entertainment on the Web -- And the Girl on Girl on Girl Comedy Show Live at Oberon!

By WICF Editor Liz McKeon


I know, I know, you're looking for some reading material to get you through your last few hours at the office, right? Well, check these out! Did you miss these articles about women in entertainment from around the Web?

UCB's Kate Spencer writes over at HelloGiggles about one of those quirks women seem to display, maybe all too often: "All Apologies: We Don't Have to Be Sorry for Everything"

The Huffington Post, together with Witstream.com, bring us: "18 Funny Women You Should Be Following On Twitter"

Hank Stuever at The Washington Post talks about parts for women in this fall's TV lineup, touching on, among other, "Whitney," "2 Broke Girls," "New Girl," "Pan Am," "Charlie's Angels," and "The Playboy Club" in: "Bunnies, babies and broads: What is TV trying to tell us about women?"

The brilliant Maureen Ryan at Aol TV. breaks open the industry and how female writers play a part: "Why Is Television Losing Women Writers? Veteran Producers Weigh In"

"Girl on Girl on Girl Comedy Show"
Oh wait — you want something to actually go out and DO this weekend, do you? Well, for the Bostonians, at least, don't ignore this ringing endorsement: WICF Contributor Kate Conner wants to make sure you all know that "Montreal comics (the FABULOUS) DeAnne Smith and Jessica Salomon will be performing this Sunday in Boston."

Check out the show's Facebook page, or buy tickets on Oberon's site - the show is this Sunday, October 2nd, from 8:30-11:30 PM.

Canada does Boston!

September 24, 2011

Giulia Rozzi Already Knows Women Are Funny

Reblogged from WICF Alumna Giulia Rozzi's tumblr, My Brain Is Made of Glitter




And now some thoughts on TV, gender, the offensive use of drag, and other shit.

To start, can the media please stop with the “are women funny?” and “chick comedy rules the new fall TV season” articles and shit. Just stop.

The short response to this nonsense is yes, some women are funny. And as far as “chick comedy” goes, why do we need to specially label shows when women are the stars and writers? When men star in and write shows, do we call it “dude comedy?” No, we just call it comedy.

There’s so much buzz about Hollywood’s new found love for funny women, especially “edgy brunettes” (oh good, maybe I’ll get work. Oh wait, I’m “too ethnic” so maybe not). Apparently quirky (gorgeous) women are TAKING OVER THE WORLD, so much so that ABC had to combat this horrible problem with Work It (Clip above. Yup, that’s a real show.).

Great. Fine. TV is all about ladies being ladies and men being men.

Am I angry at these shows? No. If done well, jokes about gender can smart and insightful and after watching a full episode or two of a show I can then, formulate an opinion. My own personal opinion. Because I understand, especially as a comedian, that humor is personal. So I’m not mad, well except when it comes to Work It because, COME ON! So many people are hating on Whitney and yet I’ve heard little criticism about Work It which revives the hack “men in drag” shtick in response to the oh-so-realistic problem of women controlling the work force. Why is no one Tweeting about how offensive that is?

Maybe these ”chick” and “dude,” or whatever they’re called, shows will be great. Maybe they will suck. I don’t know and I don’t really care.

What I do know and what I do care about is all this non-stop hullabaloo (God, I love that word) regarding women and humor. As if women being funny is something new. In case we’ve forgotten, funny women have always been killing it on TV. Realistic looking, strong, amazing funny women like Lucille Ball, Vivian Vance, Carol Burnett, Carol Channing, Joan Rivers, Roseanne Barr, Phylicia Rashad, Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan, Estelle Getty, Betty White, Gilda Radner, Joyce DeWitt, Suzanne Sommers, Phyllis Diller,Isabel Sanford, Jean Stapleton, Valerie Harper, Mary Tyler Moore, Vicki Lawrence, Candice Bergen, Penny Marshall, Cindy Williams, Dixie Carter, Annie Potts, Delta Burke, Jean Smart, Shelly Long, Kirstie Alley, Rhea Pearlman, Jackee Harry, Marla Gibbs, Julia Louis Dreyfus, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Kristen Wiig, Ana Gasteyer, Maya Rudolph, Cheri Oteri, Jane Curtin, Rachel Dratch, Molly Shannon … and so so so many more. Talk to me about edgy when something like the Golden Girls is back on the air.



Four women over the age of 50 starring in a hilarious show about being over 50?

Now that’s edgy. Or Good Times, Family Ties, Who’s The Boss, or Roseanne. These shows touched upon gender differences as well as class differences without beating you over the head with it. And they starred relatable looking people. Some were even about, gasp, black people!

Where are the sitcoms about other races and ethnicity’s this fall? And I don’t just mean tossing in a wacky Asian boss with an accent or wacky Indian cab driver with an accent or the black BFF or gay BFF. [In] American sitcoms, we constantly fail to share the true American experience. The diverse, flawed, sometimes ugly, American experience. (Ugh, if only American Girl had been given the proper chance.) And now I’ll shut up, like a good not-rich, not-perfectly white, unfunny woman should.


Credit: Francine Daveta
Giulia Rozzi is a NYC based writer, comedian, actress and producer raised in Boston by two adorable Italian immigrants. Her very personal, blunt, and animated comedy has earned her the honor of being named a Moth GrandSLAM champion, one of the Frisky's "Top 15 Comediennes You Should Be Laughing At" and a two-time ECNY Best Female Stand Up nominee. She's appeared on MTV, Vh1, Italian MTV, CNN and in her original web series themessage-board.com. She co-hosts/created the highly acclaimed humorous sex-themed storytelling show (and now also a podcast) Stripped Stories and the bi-monthly Brooklyn-based comedy show Dive Comedy. She has written for Playgirl, BUST, Glamour, XOJane.com, TheGLOC.net, NY Press, Lifetimetv.com, Lemondrop, AOL.com, Takepart.com and the MTV series Silent Library where one of her ideas (licking cocoa butter off a mans hairy back) made Snooki vomit (so proud!) She has also contributed essays to the anthologies My Parents Were Awesome  and Mortified: Real Words, Real People, Real Pathetic. She is currently working on her first memoir about her depressed, drunk, divorced quarter-life crisis. More at www.giuliarozzi.com.

Jackie Kashian Has Mass Appeal

By WICF Contributor Barbara Holm

Having arrived at Laugh's Comedy Spot (laughscomedy.com) an hour and a half early, I nervously drank about ten glasses of water while sitting in the back of the room. One of the bartenders, Aaron, sat next to me and asked what my napkin had done to me to deserve being shredded into confetti. I told him that I was anxious about hosting because the headliner, Jackie Kashian, was really awesome and funny and I didn't want to do poorly as an MC. He laughed and reminded me that Jackie was super nice, and told me I should stop being a scaredy cat and act like a grown up adult, which I am.

Jackie Kashian, WICF 2010 Headliner
Both shows went really well. Jackie, who has had a Comedy Central half hour special, has been doing stand up for 22 years. She's one of the strongest headliners I've had the pleasure to work with. She's likeable, funny and smart, with very engaging, interesting stories replete with ample punchlines. A past headliner of the Women in Comedy Festival, she was nice enough to give me a little interview in between shows. Jackie started in comedy in Wisconsin, and moved to Minneapolis after completing college. Six years later, she did the Aspen Comedy Festival and then moved to L.A.



About moving to L.A., Jackie said, “Whenever you move to a new town, you have to prove you're funny again and you can't be too cocky about it; that was the downfall of several comics I met who moved there after me. They were like, "I'm huge in Chicago." Yeah, but there's 10,000 comics. You gotta reintroduce. If you're super funny it helps. It'll be easier.”

Jackie said her favorite up and coming comics/best kept secrets in comedy are Erin Foley, Aparna Nancherla, Mary Mack, and Dave Ross. Her all time favorites are Maria Bamford and Dana Gould. She tried to name every comedian in the world but we had to move on. Earnestly and sweetly, she said she felt bad because she knew she was forgetting people.

I asked her if she had any advice for new comedians. Jackie said that the best advice she ever got is posted on her website (jackiekashian.com), and came from Vanda Michaels:
1. Never compare yourself 
2. Be yourself 
3. Take risks 
4. Don't go for the obvious 
5. Be patient a. With your creativity, and b. With your career 
6. Have fun
Jackie thoughtfully added, “The most important part is the have fun part because I know people who keep doing it and they're angry and I'm like, stop doing it, there's other work, there's easier work ... It's comedy. It's so supposed to be fun."

Jackie has been hosting a popular podcast called "The Dork Forest" for six years. The premise is that Jackie and her guests talk about all things dorky and anything they may feel nerdy about. It's based on a hilarious joke she does about the dork forest:
“Now everyone's like, 'I have a tree in the dork forest.' Then they'd tell me that they knit. And I'd be like, 'I don't think of knitting as a dorkdom' but it is, because everything is, whatever weird - 'Oh, you collect sneakers? Okay.'”
One of the many things I love about Jackie is that she appeals to alternative comedy crowds, but also to a mainstream audience. Most comedians seem to be one or the other. She can work vegan coffee shops in Portland, and also comedy clubs on the road. About this concept, Jackie said, “About four years ago I was worried about it, but then I kinda embraced it ... I would describe myself as the golden retriever of stand-up comedy because basically any room is on board. For a while I was worried about it. I called Maria (Bamford) and I said, "Does that make me a hack?" And she said, "No, it just means for some reason that you're accessible.'” Jackie said she wasn't trying to appeal to any specific niche. She was just trying to talk about what she found funny in an honest, real way. This effort is clear in her act, which is comprised of intelligent, sincere, truthful and hysterical anecdotes. “So I don't know how I'm doing it, but stand-up comedy, as you keep doing it, you find what you want to talk about and you find out how to talk about the normal stuff that everyone talks about. Like I talk about being married, oh my god that's been addressed. But part of it is my discovery of it, which makes it my own angle.”

Jackie Kashian is an amazing headliner with smart, punchy, tight stories and a likeable delivery. She was a delight to chat with and an inspiration to work with.

Jackie is headlining the Laughing Skull in Atlanta, October 6th-9th. For more information about upcoming dates, check out jackiekashian.com.



Barbara Holm is a stand-up comedian from Seattle, Washington. She has performed at Bridgetown Comedy Festival, The Women in Comedy Festival, and Bumbershoot Festival. She has been described as clever, creative and unique.

September 22, 2011

‘You Must Go and Win’ … Or At Least TRY to Make Some Kind of Effort

By WICF Contributor Allison Haskins


THIS BOOK HAS PICTURES!! I don’t care how old you are, it makes a book more exciting. I wanted to get that out there first and foremost in case you were having doubts about this kick-ass book review.

Alina Simone’s first novel, You Must Go and Win reads like a text book … if the text book were about castration and Eight Foot Brides (don’t worry — there are no castration pictures, but there ARE Eight Foot Bride ones!). There are parts of this book that are laugh out loud funny, parts that teach you about the Russian spiritualist group the Doukhorbors, and no shortage of Alina’s personal anecdotes which always manage to read as gloomy, comical, and inspirational, all at the same time.

Soon after her parents emigrated from Kharkov, Ukraine to a small town in Massachusetts when she was only one-year old, Alina became itchy to find her niche in the world. Music seemed to stand out to her and she thoroughly describes the personal struggle that it takes attempting to attain a successful music career — or for that matter, any big goal in life. She moved many times, lived in less than ideal places, often had audiences of a handful of souls, or even fewer, and finally toyed with the idea of throwing in the towel on indie rock music altogether.

After finishing You Must Go and Win, I was comforted to know that I am not alone in my overwhelming “Pessimistic-optimism”, as I like to call it. Alina, like me, seems to spend every waking moment having gigantic dreams and doing her best to accomplish them while simultaneously nitpicking and doubting every action. Alina chooses to fight the battle of pessimism by using some rare sources of inspiration. Of course, her Ph.D.-holding father is a man of few words, who, when he does speak, has some top notch insights to pass along – but then, too, the slogan of a courier service in New York is another area of inspiration for Alina, as well as…. Britney, bitch. (That’s right — Miss Spears can teach positive life lessons too!)

As said by the “Punk Monk” who is an actual real-day Monk who moonlights as Alina’s guru: “When you are not working on yourself, the world starts to work on you instead … you must acquire the skill to be yourself.” I love quotes like these because you can apply them to practically any situation and I honestly feel that any person could get something out of it. Go on, re-read that quote then take a minute and get lost in your fancy schmancy thoughts. You feel good now, right? Inspired? Told you!!

Another source of motivation for Alina was a Siberian punk-folk singer named Yanka Dyagileva (disclaimer: this book is not short on unpronounceable names). Alina was so touched by the songs and the life story of this artist that she has actually created a whole album covering her songs, ‘Everyone is Crying Out to Me, Beware,’ and has devoted several years to learning about and even living in Siberia.  New England winters are cold enough for me, thanks, but good you for, Alina!

I don’t want to have to include any spoiles in here, so just do yourself a favor and read the book. Or, if you’re not a fan of reading, yet you’ve managed to make it to the end of this review, you should at least take your tech-savvy butt to alinasimone.com.



Allison Haskins holds a Journalism degree and is a freelance comedy writer.  In her spare time, the Massachusetts native attends as many stand-up shows as possible and listens to every comedy podcast she can get her hands on. Follow Allison on Twitter at Twitter.com/Alliehaskins.

September 21, 2011

Mini Podcast 11.5 Is Up! Submissions, Midwich Twins

Co-host Michelle Barbera's seven-year old twin niece and nephew join Michelle for a very special mini episode to announce the opening of submissions for the 2012 Women in Comedy Festival.



Or find it on the podcast page.

September 18, 2011

Faith Solloway, Tonight's Emmys, and Secrets!

By WICF Editor Liz McKeon

Friend of the Fest Faith Solloway is writing for tonight's "Emmy Awards" broadcast, and, coincidentally, it so happens that she and WICF collaborator Ian Brownell have relaunched their Web series "Secrets" on FunnyOrDie.com. Haven't seen "Secerets"? You're missing out! The vignettes are witty, short little glimpses into a certain type of Cantabrigian-style sensibility, are LGBT-friendly, and comedically insistent.

Faith, along with her sister Jill, also a writer for tonight's broadcast, worked with tonight's host Jane Lynch during their time at The Annoyance Theatre.

The "Emmys" air tonight at 8 PM EDT. Secrets" can be seen at FunnyOrDie.com. Also, check out this Chicago Sun Times article on tonight's awards!

September 16, 2011

Boston-Area Fans! Check THIS Out! Robin & Marcy's Comedy with Wings! This Sunday, Sept. 18th!


Robin Maxfield and Marcy Sacks are putting on one of the most innovative nights in the neighborhood - "COMEDY WITH WINGS" is the hot new place in Boston to see innovative and hilarious female comedy.



Find them on Facebook, see the ladies as part of the "Our Bodies, Ourselves 40th Birthday Bash" at Oberon at the A.R.T on Sept. 22nd, and, of course, come see the show! "COMEDY WITH WINGS: A Female Comedy Lab" happens on the third Sunday of every month, from September-May (second Sunday in October!) in Jamaica Plain, MA, and tickets for the September 18th show are available at http://comedywithwings.eventbrite.com.

Sue Costello Needs Your Money!


Fresh off the heels of her role in The Fighter and an acclaimed solo show, Friend of the Fest Sue Costello is kicking ass and taking names - but she's still a lady. Stand up, improviser and actor Naomi Ekperigin recently chatted with Costello about her return to an industry that "didn't know what to do with her," dealing with disappointment, and speaking your mind on stage and off.

She's currently spearheading a Kickstarter Campaign to bring her solo show, "Minus 32 Million Words," to New York City. You can make a pledge and learn more about the show here.

We'll be featuring feature an interview with Sue Costello on our new website soon - keep an eye out!


Image via www.SueCostello.com.

Do You Know Aliza Shapiro? You Should!

By WICF Editor Liz McKeon

Aliza Shapiro's Truth Serum Productions has been running "TraniWreck" in the Boston area since 2004. After this year's July show, Shapiro was admitted to the hospital having suffered a stroke caused by a cerebral hemorrhage. "Traniwreck" continues, and tonight, Friday, Sept. 16, 2011, Boston's own award-winning, "rabble-rousing, hot gender-blending mess of a cabaret variety show" will also be a benefit for Shapiro. They promise drag, burlesque, performance art, aerials, and "other uncategorizable, inexplicable phenomena." Local artists and performers have donated raffle prizes, and the proceeds benefit to Aliza's Brain Trust.

"TraniWreck: a Benefit for Aliza at OBERON"
TONIGHT
2 Arrow Street - Harvard Square
Cambridge, MA
Doors: 8 pm Show: 8:30pm 18+
Advanced tickets as low as $15
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=232626383441962
http://www.cluboberon.com/events/traniwreck-benefit-aliza-shairo

Image from TruthSerum.org

September 15, 2011

Submissions For WICF 2012 Are Open - This Time We Mean It!


That's right, you guys, submissions are open for the 2012 Festival! The dates for The 4th Annual Women in Comedy Festival have been set as March 21-25, 2012.

The new format for online applications is ready to go, and we are open for submissions!

Please go to the applications page of the WICF site to apply!

Show application deadlines and fees:

Regular: Tuesday, November 1st, 2011 ($30 submission fee)
Extended: Tuesday, November 8th, 2011 ($40 submission fee)

Instructor application deadlines and fees:

Regular: Tuesday, October 18th, 2011 ($10 submission fee)
Extended: Tuesday, October 25th, 2011 ($15 submission fee)

Note: All deadlines are at 11:59 p.m. (U.S. Eastern)

Good luck!

September 14, 2011

Meeting Amy Schumer at Bumbershoot

By WICF Contributor Barbara Holm

After watching ten hours of stand up in three days at a festival, a normal human might be tired or ready to go live in the real world. Luckily, I’m not programmed that way. Instead, I found myself weaving quickly through hundreds of festival-goers enjoying the last days of warmth before 10 months of rain. Ignoring the sun-kissed populace, I made my way into a dark indoor theater. I snagged a front row seat in what was about to be another sold out comedy show.

Bumbershoot, Seattle’s Labor Day weekend performance arts festival, is in its 40th year. I saw a lot of amazing stand up, including but not limited to Hari Kondabolu, Amy Schumer, Anthony Jeselnik, Andy Haynes, Rory Scovel, and Baron Vaughn. On the local stage (which was booked by Seattle’s People’s Republic of Komedy) my favorites were Rylee Newton, Ian Karmel and Mike Drucker.

Amy Schumer was wonderful in the festival. Her writing is so tight; she had a punchline in practically every single sentence. Relying on garden path sentences and misdirection, she established herself as a clever one-liner comic, without being obvious about telegraphing in which direction the punchline would go. She is a very witty joke writer with cheerful, confident delivery.

After the show I just happened to run into Amy, completely on purpose. I was shy and awkward, but she was nice, sincere and even let me ask her a few questions about comedy! Amy has been doing stand up for seven years, which is impressive considering she has a super funny Comedy Central Presents and has performed on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. She placed fourth on Last Comic Standing when she was only three years in. I asked her if she was scared on that show and she said, “No, I knew I just had to have fun with it and enjoy every minute of it.” It was such a positive message that I am going to try to apply it to my own approach for work.


Video of Amy Schumer taking on a heckler. For more videos, see her website www.amyschumer.com.

Amy grew up on Long Island and began her comedy career in New York City. I’m always interested in how people feel about starting out in such a large, competitive scene. Amy articulately and sweetly explained, “I equate it to learning how to surf. If you learn how to surf on the short board, you can surf on anything. If you learn on a long board, you can only surf on that.” And New York City is definitely the shortest of the comedy surf boards.

A question I love asking headliners is whether they have any advice for new comedians, and they almost always say some form of the same thing — so it must be true. “Stage time,” Amy said confidently. “That’s it. There’s no shortcut.”

Amy Schumer was hilarious and smart on stage, establishing herself as one of the stronger comedians on the festival. She was extraordinarily friendly, funny and earnest in conversation and overall delightfully inspirational for me.

Amy’s album Cutting (which is great!) was released in April of this year. She has a recurring role on the new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm. For more information, go to www.amyschumer.com.



Barbara Holm is a stand-up comedian from Seattle, Washington. She has performed at Bridgetown Comedy Festival, The Women in Comedy Festival, and Bumbershoot Festival. She has been described as clever, creative and unique.

September 13, 2011

Explosion Bus Premieres!: Megan Goltermann and Misch Whitaker Get Drawn in a New Internet Show with Jonathan Katz, Tom Snyder, and Tom Leopold

Explosion Bus (The world's last animated hope) premieres tonight, Sept. 13, at 8:30 PM EDT. It's a four-season, animated, online show, and you can see it only at explosionbus.com. Created by Jonathan Katz, Tom Snyder, and Tom Leopold, the show features Boston and NY comedians who are effectively ambushed by the writers immediately before each recording session — they see their lines immediately before delivering them in the booth. Afterwards, Artistic Director Robert Keough and Artist Steve Davies create the Explosion Bus world in Sketchy Vision™. And the rest is history!


Watch the Explosion Bus preview here!


WICF performers Megan Goltermann (OBV!) and Misch Whitaker (Three Hole Punch) are featured as "Tanya" and "Katie," respectively. Of working with comedy legends and being "sketchified," Megan says, "Tanya is proof that if I was hot I'd be a bitch." When we asked Misch what she wanted her adoring fans to know, she told us, "I'm really excited to play a cartoon character after years of being told how much I resemble one."

Explosion Bus premieres tonight at 8:30 Eastern — explosionbus.com. With Tom Snyder, Jonathan Katz, Tom Leopold, Misch Whitaker, Megan Goltermann, Chris Cook, Jonathan Wilson, Ahna Tessler, Jayson James and Dan Weber.


Misch Whitaker currently writes and performs on the mainstage cast at Improv Asylum in Boston. She is also a member of the all female improv troupe Three Hole Punch and the all-singing, (some-dancing) musical improv group Hidden Falls. She can be heard as the voice of Katie on the animated series Explosion Bus (explosionbus.com). Misch recently cowrote the script for Gorefest 9: MASSacre General Hospital which will debut this October at Improv Boston. She lives in Cambridge, MA in an apartment decorated almost exclusively with beach rocks and tea lights. Follow her online @MischW on Twitter.

Megan Goltermann has been a cast member at ImprovBoston for eight years. After performing with Friday Night Face-Off for five of them, she began directing the Ruckus sketch comedy show. Her voice can be heard as Tanya in the animated show Explosion Bus (explosionbus.com) and as the gritty Corporal Cup in Fizzy's Lunch Lab (lunchlab.net). She is currently co-writing and performing a two-woman show entitled OBV! (Abbr. obviously!). When not on stage, she moonlights as a sculptor (www.megangoltermann.com) and obsesses over whom to put on her apocalypse team.

September 12, 2011

Marty McFly and Doc Brown on the Newest WICF Podcast!

Marty McFly (Rob Crean) and Doc Brown (Dennis Hurley) join WICF Producer Michelle Barbera on the newest WICF podcast! Our intrepid trio discusses Van Halen, the odd ubiquity of the Tannen family, and the consequences of constantly tampering with time. Check it out on the podcast page!

Can't afford Marty's sneakers, but want to help a good cause - and laugh your ass off? ImprovBoston will donate $2 from every ticket purchased for this Friday's performance of "1.21 Jigowatts" to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research. You can find show details here.

September 9, 2011

Robby Hoffman: She Doesn't Need (Much) Money, She Just Wants to Make You Laugh

As the seventh of ten children (yeah, that's right, TEN), Montreal comic Robbie Hoffman had (hmmm, what's the best way to put this…) an "accelerated" childhood. As a four-year old, she was changing diapers (no, not her own … gross!). When she was six, she remembers strolling her two-year old sister all alone through the streets of Brooklyn. Coming from a poor family, with nothing outside of herself to offer, Hoffman recognized at a very young age what her gifts were: a big mouth, intelligence and humor, and she quickly learned how to wield them.

By the age of 17, Hoffman was living on her own, working her way through school, taking on any work that she could find, including a stint at McDonald’s, and a dubious telemarketing job. She already knew what she was going to do with her life (by contrast, the author, at 36, is still trying to figure this sh*t out for herself) and that she would some day make a living in comedy. She was also smart enough to know that she needed a solid Plan B. And so she put her comedic aspirations to the side and enrolled herself in an accounting degree program (you know, what all the loquacious, funny kids get into, right?). In 2009, Hoffman graduated McGill with a Bachelor in Commerce, and was immediately hired by a top tier accounting firm.

With "Get an education" and "Land a job with steady income" crossed off of her To Do list, Hoffman began doing stand up a year and a half ago at the age of 23. She started in the indy comedy scene, performing at the occult, smoke filled Comedy Loft (it in itself an interesting story, more on that later ... ). On one occasion, she almost passed out from all of the tobacco fumes (the vodka shots she downed back stage didn't help the situation, either). Here she found a supportive and gracious group of local comics, in a forgiving place where she could learn the art of stand-up.

Today you can find her doing open mics at Montreal's Comedy Nest and Comedy Works and performing her latest one woman show, "Robby Hoffman: Autobiography. So what, you think you're better than me?" at the Montreal Fringe Festival.
At 24, Hoffman has lived a lot of life, and it shows. She comes off more poised, more mature and more grounded than what you'd expect out of someone her chronological age.

Looking back, Hoffman sees, what on paper would be considered a rough childhood, but that is not how she remembers it. The adversity of being poor, being fatherless, being different, gave her an environment to flex her comic muscle, to hone her unique voice. She doesn't remember feeling any stress, she just remembers being happy.

She is still determined as ever to make a living from comedy, but isn't looking for lucrative career. Compared to how she grew up, she has got just about everything that she needs AND she gets to eat out whenever she wants (believe me, this is a BFD, talking to Robby you get the feeling that she was hungry a lot as a kid). She just wants your attention and is going to get it by making you laugh.


For more information on Robby Hoffman, check out her web site at www.robbyhoffman.com.


WICF contributor Kate Conner is a long time comedy nerd, who recently took the plunge onto the stage and into the spot light. Kate can be found performing at a wide variety of different venues including Comedyworks, The Comedy Nest, her living room, and the hospital psych ward. Originally from Minnesota, Kate, her husband and their four kids now live in Montréal.

September 1, 2011

Sexualized Heckling

Part Three of a Three-Part Response to the Status Quo, Diversity and Misogyny in Comedy

Part I: No Offense, White Boys: Diversity in Comedy and the Rapeprov Happening by Pam Victor

Part II: When a Friend's Monologue Sounds Like a Confession of Sexual Violence by Jen Ducharme

By WICF Contributor Barbara Holm


I’m not trying to brag, but I get heckled a lot. Usually it’s something questioning my mental stability, like, “You’re weird,” or, “That’s too fucked up.” To which I can usually laugh and say, “You’re welcome.” After so many nights of drunken self esteem deflation, I rarely get angry at the audience for talking or heckling.

Heckling is an unfortunate obstacle that most of us will have to surmount. It’s important to respect the audience, because they paid to support art, and without them we wouldn’t be able to perform. However, last week for the first time, I felt sexualized by a heckler. He yelled out, “She looks like she knows how to give a good blowjob.”

It’s hard to describe exactly how completely disgusting and disempowering it feels to be sexually objectified when you’re trying to do something artistic. Violated, red faced, and shaking with rage, I attempted to process my emotions. I was confused because I had done a relatively clean set. What specifically about my robot and ghost one-liners had elicited that impression? Why had my creative and intellectual integrity been disregarded and my personality been diminished and reduced to that of its sexual worth? And what exactly does a girl who looks like she knows how to give a good blowjob look like, anyway? Printout from Wikipedia in hand, highlighted and noted with frowny faces over the “I"s?

Abandoning my joke halfway through, I froze and glared offstage into the lights. I did not laugh and role off it. I wanted the audience and the other comics to know sexual objectification was intolerable to me. I muttered a few comebacks and closed with, “I hope you feel really bad about yourself.” This got more applause than it deserved, probably because it was a very poignant, honest statement. Although fuming and desecrated, I knew it was probably bad form that I displayed irritation towards an audience member. When I apologized to the club manager, who is the kindest man in the world, Carl Warmenhoven, he waved away my apology with, “Gracefulness is not always required.”

A few days later the heckler showed up at the club again, as a prospective open mic comic. He approached me, put his arm around my shoulders, and said, “I’m sorry for that last show, you’re just actually beautiful.” First of all, “actually”? Like there’s something surprising about my attractiveness? Second of all, who the hell apologizes to someone for sexualizing them while putting their arm around them? That is unacceptable. In that instance I wished I was Rogue from the X-Men, as to make the embrace more comfortable for me. I said, “Not to be rude but I respect my own intimacy and sexual boundaries and so you’re not allowed to touch me.” I’ve gone to way too much therapy and I am much too assertive to know how to make friends anymore.

I’m not writing about this to be like, “Oh man, I’m such a victim, feel sorry for me.” Unless you want to, then go right ahead. The situation greatly affected me and I am sure that it is a common experience for many women. One of my friends had someone yell, “Take your top off,” when she was onstage. She retorted, “But I’m trying to make everyone laugh, so why don’t you take your pants off instead.” Comedians should be prepared to be heckled.

There’s not a lot you can do to prevent sexual objectification from happening in the first place, or if there is, I’m still figuring it out. I try to remember that even if someone judges me based on my worth as a sexual object, I can never judge myself on that rubric. If anyone sexually objectifies me in comedy, I try not to internalize that revolting, draining feeling of submission. That concession is the first step towards sexually objectifying oneself onstage.

No matter what your act is, you are a more important element of the show than just a pair of tits enveloping a microphone. A few women in the audience told me they were glad I showed genuine frustration as opposed to twirling my hair and giggling. If we respect ourselves and the stage and our material, it takes power away from those who disrespect us. Hecklers might try to sexualize me, but I will never sexualize myself because I respect my act and the art. Stand up comedy is one of the highest most pure and beautiful art forms and I am very proud to perform it.

Barbara Holm is a stand-up comedian from Seattle, Washington. She has
performed at Bridgetown Comedy Festival, The Women in Comedy Festival,
and Bumbershoot Festival. She has been described as clever, creative
and unique.