Philly's Comediennes of Comedy

By Nicole Finkbiner
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 11 | Posted Mar. 30, 2011

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Amie is hoping to wedge the local gender gap between the other comedic forms by inviting some of her fellow improv gals to sit on her upcoming free workshop at PHIT specifically for sketch and stand-up comics.

She thinks it may just be the nature of sketch that precludes woman, describing a typical sketch writing session as a bunch of bros drinking beer, getting high and eating pizza. “I can see women being like, ‘this is not how I want to spend Monday through Friday,’” she jokes.

Even after finding success beyond the city limits, Northeast Philly native, Christine Nangle returns a few times of year to teach a sketch-writing workshop at PHIT, including one next month.

“I want to encourage comedy in Philadelphia,” she says.”

Following in the footsteps as Philly’s beloved comedy maverick Tina Fey, Nangle is currently one of the female writers at Saturday Night Live.

After graduating from Penn, she spent five years doing improv and sketch in Pittsburgh before moving to New York and enrolling at the Upright Citizens Brigade. That’s where she eventually caught the attention of an SNL scout and was asked to submit a package.

She got the good news while at the movies with a friend. “It was pretty surreal,” she says. “I was holding the phone shaking and I think I may have fell to the ground. People came over to me thinking that someone had died.”

The female players in the professional scene are also reaching out to help hone and nurture the comedic talents of a younger wave of amateur and aspiring comediennes.

Co-founder of 1812 Productions, “Philadelphia’s All-Comedy Theater,” Jennifer Childs is one of the Philly’s few, true veteran comediennes. As artistic director, she works with a predominantly male team of writers and performers to produce each 1812 show and special event.

Last year, with the help of two other female comedy vets, Jen ran the Funny Girl Bootcamp, a three-day workshop for women between the ages of 21-29 focusing on “finding your inner funny girl.”

The workshop covered text, character work and comedy history with Jen, short-form improv with Mary Carpenter and comedic dance with Karen Getz who has been teaching improv for 20 years.

“It was a terrific weekend and I learned as much as the students, I think,” Jen remarks. There will be a second installment of the workshop in June, open to women of all ages.

As for the whole gender issue and lingering notions of the “humorless woman,” most of the city’s comediennes feel like it’s a bit of a moot subject.

Especially in Philly.

“I almost wish there was some old-timey sexism,” Busa jokes. “That would just fuel me.”

Even being the leading lady of sketch, Meg says she always felt like one of the guys. Yet, she does dream of a world free of “sexy photo spreads of lady comics” where comedians can just be comedians.

With SNL being a notorious boys club, Christine says she often gets asked for input on the topic. While acknowledging that the big, bad comedy business can be rougher on women at times, as far as she’s concerned, the secret of success is quite simple.

“You just need to be really good at it.”

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COMMENTS

Comments 1 - 11 of 11
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1. Paul said... on Mar 30, 2011 at 09:12AM

“Nice article. Bummer Meg moved. First!”

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2. Pat said... on Mar 30, 2011 at 10:56AM

“As an "old lady" now about to turn the corner of 40, it's so refreshing to see that these strong, confident young women can run with the boys and also keep their femininity. I had no idea the comedy scene in Philly was so homogametic!

Also, when can I see/learn from my young female heroines? I want in!”

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3. Jessica Tommassello said... on Mar 30, 2011 at 11:15AM

“Maybe the article didn't properly contain the mood but the jokes didn't seem that funny. Who knows... it might be in the delivery.

Also, that's not what an Iron Maiden does... an Iron maiden is a metal case with a door that closes, inserting spikes into the torture victim. There is no "stretching" involved... I don't know if this is the fault of the author of the article or the comedians, but if you're going to make nerdy dungeon references or be decent journalists please do your research. I thought this was common knowledge.

See link below for a picture of an iron maiden...

http://exequy.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/ironmaiden.jpg”

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4. Danny Husk said... on Mar 30, 2011 at 03:47PM

“Hey, Pat, to answer your question in several parts:
1) The Philly Improv Theater runs improv classes a few times a month, and puts on improv, sketch, and stand-up comedy shows at the Shubin Theater just off South Street all the time. Info and tickets at www.phillyimprovtheater.com
2) The N Crowd performs every Friday at The Actors Center in Northern Liberties. The whole spiel is at www.phillyncrowd.com
There's also a fun and informal Improv Incubator every Sunday night at the Community Education Center at 35th and Lancaster, which is free to watch and/or participate and is perfect for dipping one's toes.”

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5. HEY LADIES! said... on Mar 30, 2011 at 04:33PM

“YAYYY! Oh man, this is by far my all time favorite cover store PW has done, ever. WARMED my heart! I am peripherally involved with PHIT and am also a budding commedienne (Thank you PHIT!), and this just... thank you so much for recognizing these amazing, amazing women! You have listed ALL my favorites!! I have taken both Christine Nangle's workshop and Jen Childs' bootcamp, and I highly, highly recommend both to anyone wanting to create their own work. Very powerful stuff. In life. And of course, in your creative endeavors :)”

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6. Quinn said... on Mar 30, 2011 at 04:40PM

“Why would you say "Nangle is one of the female writers on SNL?" DUH. Just call her a writer. It's limiting to just describe her as "one of the female writers." Do you think it say that on her paycheck?

I didn't know about her but that's pretty cool. Philly represent.”

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7. Doug said... on Mar 30, 2011 at 06:35PM

“Jessica Tommassello you need to go into an Iron Maiden..get a life”

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8. Danonymous said... on Apr 1, 2011 at 07:32AM

“Hey, assholes. I believe you forgot Samantha Russell.”

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9. Jeff said... on Apr 1, 2011 at 08:26AM

“Always great to see articles supporting the Philly comedy scene. I Have enjoyed both Carolyn and Mary's work and look forward to seeing the others. There are also other local funny women out there. Check 'em out”

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10. Joan said... on Apr 4, 2011 at 10:20PM

“"...it's so refreshing to see that these strong, confident young women can run with the boys and also keep their femininity....."

Since this type of comment still seems to be made in reference to women's success, I can see why women are going backward in places such as the news media where they all look like "girlies". People are stilll more concerned about women attaching themselves to feminine illusion than their abilities. Hey! Are there any "real men" out there?”

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11. Christine Meehan said... on Apr 26, 2011 at 11:07AM

“I applaud Carolyn and Mary for their talent and grace as a fellow comedienne and producer in Philadelphia. My hat is off to them.
Be advised they will be competing against Philly's funniest April 26th/27th in the Staten Island Comedy Festival--Philadelphia Auditions hosted at Tabu Lounge and Sports Bar. Tickets are $10. Doors open at 9PM. Audience votes, which means Philly has the opportunity to send off the 4 best comedians from our city, based on their TALENT. Come support your favorites!”

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