Four Funny Females – Not So Much

I have to admit I was disappointed when Ledcat and I rolled out of Slapsticks last night, after catching their “Four Funny Females” show.  It should rightfully have been called “Some Kinda Amusing Ladies, a Gal with Potential and Gab.”

Harsh?  Eh.

Slapsticks is located on Library road just moments from the intersection with Saw Mill Run Boulevard aka Route 51.  It took us 13 minutes to get there from the Northside.  The venue is cute and festive and smoke free.  The service was just this side of horrible.  Our waitperson was clearly unhappy to be assigned to the room and it showed.  Next time, I'll bring a bottle of water. 

But overall the venue is fine.  No drink minimum and comfortable.

The performers though made me a little depressed to be a female in Pittsburgh.  It was supposed to be all revolutionary and groundbreaking because four female comedians never happens in Pittsburgh.  Now I know why.

First up, was young Subhah Agarwal, a CMU student who was clearly inexperienced but had some promise.  She had good timing, did a nice job with her ad libs and felt comfortable.  I feel somewhat rote in saying that her best work came when she invoked her mother because that plays into the idea that ethnic mommies are funny stuff and clearly the comedic alley for 2nd generation female comedians.  However, I think Subhah did the best job when she was skewering American xenophobia.  She missed some great opportunities to poke at the host (and her female comedians) for being unable to pronounce her last name (or unwillingly to learn).  I'd see her again. 

Next us was British born Sally Choppings who gives public speaking presentations on humor.  This felt like one.  Her jokes were actually funny, but her delivery was very old school.  I almost fell asleep waiting for the punchlines.  It felt like dated material even though it was sort of universal.  Ledcat liked her and said I'm being mean because I expect everyone to be like Gab.  Eh.

Third was the most significant disappointing comedian I've seen in a long time (including Gab's shlubs from the Brillobox who just sucked period).  Her name is Nancy Marshall and ten years in the LA public school system gave her fodder for two jokes.  Two.  And one of them was a fat joke about herself.  Because you can't be a plus-sized woman and not mock yourself, right?  I mean fat is funny.  Well, it can be except her jokes were from the 1980s and there was no biting zing in them.  Sitting on a size 2 woman to make an impression is more obvious than the fact that customer service was not a skill set for our waitress.  I just sat there with my jaw on the ground.  That's the best she can do?  She actually made VCR reference as if it were relevant.  She was soooo disappointing.  Ledcat kept kicking me so I wouldn't say anything.   She did make one funny joke about being more patriotic than thin people.  It was funny. 

Then Gab was up and she was smoking.  Maybe it was part relief at being able to laugh, but I found all of her material amusing even what I've seen many times before.  Gab did some new political stuff that was very good — she should pursue that because she has a flair for it.  President Obama should give her lots of material. 

Overall, it was a good experience.  It does prove, however, that we need more women to step up to the mike.  We need a female led comedy workshop for all the wannabee comedians out there (ahem, Gab).  Wouldn't it be great to bring a group of funny women together at Hoi Polloi for a night of learning from someone and a small intimate crowd to try something out on?  I mean if the unemployed Seth Rogan crowd can waste their time hanging in a pot haze at the Brillobox, we can do it, too!

And for those of us who are actually fat, a chance to do some clever work instead of Roseanne Barr retreads.  Good lord. 



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  • “We need a female led comedy workshop for all the wannabee comedians out there (ahem, Gab). Wouldn't it be great to bring a group of funny women together at Hoi Polloi for a night of learning from someone and a small intimate crowd to try something out on?”
    Actually, I have to disagree with you on this one. Just because someone is funny is their living room or out at a restaurant after a drink or two doesn't mean that the next step should be the club circuit. Gab has a college degree in theater, years of experience as part of a sketch comedy troupe, and she's been road tested on the radio. Let's leave the comedy to the pros and the rest of us can just continue to delight our friends informally.

  • I couldn't disagree more. The fact that it was such a big deal to bring together 4 local female comedians clearly indicates that there is a need to create female-friendly spaces for women to get up and try! Sure, only one or two might actually ever perform, but can't you see the value of teaching women that they can be the architect of the joke, rather than just the object of it or the recipient of it? It far transcends the lineup at the FunnyBone or Brillo Box.
    When you mention “the next step” from amusing friend funny to comedy club, you skip over an entire possibility of what lies between those two poles. At the very least, you cultivate an appreciation for good humor. At best, women add the power of humor to their personal toolbelt.
    I can't imagine someone like Gab would be threatened by someone wanting to see what its like to tell a joke in front of a microphone. To want to make other people laugh.
    Heck, I don't even know if anyone would participate, but it sure doesn't seem like comedy in Pittsburgh is about professionals anyway.

  • Oh Sue, I almost completely agree with your review.
    Subhah – tons of potential – can't wait to see her in a couple years.
    Sally – I thought she was funny. Not fantastic, but I laughed out loud.
    Nancy – YIKES. I was so uncomfortable for her. That was awful.
    Gab – Phenomenal.
    And that woman that we gave a ride to – she came by HP the next day for lunch between trips to the Andy Warhol and the Mattress Factory. Fun!

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