It seems like just yesterday people — ahem, men — were writing Internet think pieces about whether or not women are funny, although calling them "think pieces" is probably too generous. But look at society now! We've accepted women as people who have a capacity for humor, and the result has been a "surge" of women in comedy, as iO West artistic director James Grace described it in a 2014 interview.
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The sketch trio Cake Batter — Angela Rysk, Erin Miller Williams and Lauren Frost — witnessed the surge first hand and last year organized the first Funny Women Festival at iO. The idea is to showcase female performers, sure, but also to foster community and empower women to get their work out there. Says Williams, "Women in comedy have always been there, it's just a matter of how grand of a scale they're being seen on. At FWF, we're hoping to give women an opportunity to perform and write and collaborate — it's there, it's happening, we just have to wake people up and give [women] a larger audience to show off what they're doing."
Response to last year's fest was so overwhelming that this year Rysk, Miller and Frost set out to make FWF twice as big. So they added a whole extra day of festivities — an Armando hosted by Mary Lynn Rajskub, cage matches between sketch groups from all over the country and Canada, and performances by lady-comedy posses like Girl Team Balls (Kate Walsh, Angela Kinsey etc). On Saturday afternoon, there are back-to-back panels on being heard on the Internet and getting your completed work seen — champagne included — featuring women from Cracked.com and Amy Poehler's Smart Girls.
And, yes. Men are welcome at all the shows, panels and workshops. Says Rysk, "All the performers are women, but men can join in. We support men — we want to support everybody. The festival isn't meant to be exclusionary in any way."
Cake Batter's Funny Women Fest, Wed., Dec. 2-Sat., Dec. 5 at iO West, 6366 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; ioimprov.com/west/festivals/funny-women-festival.