This Thursday through Saturday, the Philly Improv Theater will present the first-ever all-female comedy festival in the city by the name of "Bonerama." It's the brainchild of Alexis Simpson, Artistic Director of PHIT (member of Illegal Refill and Rare Bird Show), Meg Favreau, Managing Director of PHIT (stand-up comic and one half of Meg & Rob) and Tabitha Vidaurri (of The Sixth Borough) and will feature some of the best female improv, sketch and stand-up comedians that Philadelphia has to offer. We recently took a moment to chat with Alexis about the fest.
Why a female comedy festival?
Tabitha and Meg were actually planning on doing an all-female comedian show. I know people like Karen[Getz] and Kelly [Jennings] of from Cecily and Gwendolyn have done it before and it's always a good thing. It really does celebrate the underdog in a boys' club and when they emailed me I said, “yeah that's a really good idea, why book just one show when we have a lot of really awesome female improvisers that can make a three-day weekend out of it?”
Do you see it as an opportunity for these performers to do something different?
I think that BWP and Cecily and Gwendolyn are two-women improv groups that probably won't do anything different and will just do their show which is great, but I think the most different thing will be what Amie Roe (of Illegal Refill) came up with, “Real Housewives of Philadelphia.” It's going to be a chance to see some improvisers do something really different. And the cabaret-style show, “The Bonerama Variety Hour”, which is what Meg and Tabitha originally planned, is a really good chance for people to experiment and maybe go outside of their comfort zone.
“The Real Housewives...” seems to be something ripe for parody...
It writes itself. I'm addicted to the show, I think it's amazing. I got hooked on the New York one. I just love watching these self-important, completely delusional women. They're rich, fine, great, and some of the women on that show actually made their own money and that's cool, but they're delusional and sick and there's so much drama that doesn't matter. Someone was asking me about it and I said “this is what happens when you don't have bigger problems to worry about.” You get mad about who said what about you at the Gucci party because you don't care about paying your electric bill. We're taking little bits and pieces from all of them. Liz Scott (half of BWP) is thinking of challenging herself to speak in only lines from the show. They're great characters, it's just fun to play awful people.
Do you think that these female performers have been limited in what they usually do on stage?
I don't think I've thought of it that way, but I guess that's the way it is. I do think when I watch a lot of comedy, and it goes back to why I feel good about this festival, is that I really feel that women are put into roles by men and allow themselves to be put into roles by men in which they are playing either the wife, the girlfriend or some slut. I've seen a lot of sketches written that way, I've seen a lot of improv sets go that way and I think “come on, do something else!” I do think that I've seen bits here and there that are different. Tabitha and Meg write really great roles for women. And there might be some other women involved that would like to do something more experimental in a show that is just for them.
You can see that limitation in movies too, I'd say...
Yeah, there's some hot girl that they want and usually she's hotter than the guys that's she's dating. I hear The Hangover was a great movie but the girl has the same ten lines like “Where's the groom? If you don't get the groom here I'll be a bitch!” And I see it too if they are not the hot girl that isn't very interesting, they're the crazy chick that's kind of funny.
How does Philly compare to other cities as far as female characters?
I think within the larger context, I think Philly has a really strong driving community and I feel like everytime I turn around I'm meeting more comedians. I feel like New York has some amazing female comedians. I will say, I went to L.A. and [female comedians] are there, but some of the women I saw were in the shadows. I played there and it seemed like they were surprised that a woman could be confident and in the forefront. I thought “Really, this is L.A.! This is a big town.” You see it exploding on the national scene though, so I don't think we're too far behind. I just don't how many other cities are women really in charge where they are running their own companies. And you see Tabitha running The Sixth Borough and Meg being half of a sketch duo that's very prolific and talented...I don't know how much that happens other places.
BONERAMA starts tonight and runs through Saturday. Visit PHIT's website for ticket information.