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.”
PW's Summer Guide 2015