Ladies Are Funny Festival
Reformed Whores, cats, and cookies: A view from the inside of LAFF
I’ve finally gotten some sleep after spending the last week working full-time as Associate Producer of the 6th annual Ladies Are Funny Festival. It has proven (yet again) to be the most grueling, but also the most fun, week of the year for me. I’ve had so many fellow comedians help me with my career as it's grown, and it’s nice to do the same for others.
For those who didn't get a chance to join us this year, LAFF went bigger than ever this year. Wednesday's special opening night event, for example, was a one-woman show from 30 Rock’sSue Galloway at the 29th Street Ballroom.
The show went off without a hitch, which is rare in the festival world. I was so excited for the show that I ducked out of the room during tech rehearsal so I wouldn’t have any of her show spoiled before the live production.
Wednesday's special opening night event was a one-woman show from 30 Rock’sSue Galloway at the 29
I was glad I waited, because it was one of the best sketch shows I've seen in a long time. Inspired by the format of a women's beauty magazine, the show was creative, infectious, and hilarious and had everyone talking for the rest of the festival. LAFF producer Julie Gillis even asked Galloway if she could get her hysterical commercial jingle “Apple Break” as a ring tone.
Thursday night’s torrential downpour didn’t keep the audience away from the mix of local and national stand-up and improv acts, which was a huge relief. I caught as many acts I could when I wasn't literally running around Salvage Vanguard Theatre. (I had to go around the outside of the building in the rain several times to get from backstage to the box office.) Despite the rain, I left feeling great about the acts we selected and relieved that Thursday night, sometimes the most disastrous for audience attendance, had healthy crowds.
Friday night was one of my favorite nights of the festival since it featured some extremely innovative acts. It also marked my second evening having Tiff’s Treats for dinner.
The 8 p.m. slot had an all-star line up that included Mystery Science Theater’s Mary Jo Pehl’s solo show, which she had tweaked since its Frontera Fest debut. Also on the bill were Philadelphia’s ManiPedi and half-local group The Right Honorable Nelson Kincade. The latter group brought historically influenced comedy to the show with such sketches as “Emily Dickson at a Casting Call for Anthropologie.”
After watching the two ladies backstage prepare for the 10 p.m. shows, I knew it was going to be amazing. Caitlin Reilly of It’s Just Reilly was putting on a pair of huge boxer shorts and stuffing in a big butt, which she then stuffed inside a Quinceanera gown and a pair of janitor’s coveralls. She topped off everything with a pair of subtle Groucho Marx glasses. Meanwhile, Butt Kapinski is in the other corner strapping on a homemade lamp pack to her back to finish off her noir ensemble.
Both shows fully lived up to their amazing costumes in humor and absurdity. Mingling in the lobby after the show for celebratory beer and pizza, everyone from the audience swarmed around the performers, asking questions and trying to weasel their ways into the next day's already sold-out workshops.
Saturday started early for me, with a daytime panel organized by LAFF staffer Dave Buckman at the Hideout Theatre. We had various casting agents, producers and stand up and improv bookers come out to answer questions in an informal Q&A. Sarah Kennedy and Sarah Mowery, two stand-ups from Albuquerque we lovingly call The Sarahs, were in attendance and asked for advice on jump starting their career when you live in a place like Albuquerque with little to no "comedy scene." In the positive atmosphere, the advice given seemed helpful for everyone; sometimes you just need key points to be reiterated.
Cobra, a neighborhood cat, wandered into the theatre three times, squeezing in the front door when no one was looking. (Next year, Cobra, buy your tickets online early and we won’t have this problem...)
I ran straight from the panel to the Salvage Vanguard Theatre. Like the previous nights, that evening was spent trying to manage the sold-out shows with the rest of our awesome staff. Every name added to waiting list made me feel proud of what we had accomplished; and there were a lot.
At 11 p.m. on Saturday night, the last show kicked off with the genius singing act, Reformed Whores, took the stage. It would have been the end of my festival if it wasn’t for one adorable intruder trying to crash the show for free. Cobra, a neighborhood cat, wandered into the theatre three times, squeezing in the front door when no one was looking. (Next year, Cobra, buy your tickets online early and we won’t have this problem...)
With another year of LAFF under our belts, fellow producer Julie Gillis and I are taking a much-needed couple days off. But it's never too early to start planning ahead for (yay!) the next one.
Thanks to all of our amazing Austin audinces who believe in the special powers of funny ladies. With all of the sold out houses, it looks like it's time to start building and expanding. That means we'll need your help, Austin, to wrangle more voluteers, fill more seats and keep supporting women in comedy even more. I'd say from the looks of it, we're ready.