On Fridays in March, ComedySportz Indianapolis is turning over its 10 p.m. late show to female performers doing a mix of improv, sketch and stand-up. It's called the Gal Pal Comedy Fest, and while it was created by a couple ComedySportz vets - co-owner Mia Lee Roberts and assistant artistic director Claire Wilcher - it's not an official ComedySportz show, which means organizers have the latitude to invite all kinds of performers to do all kinds of material.
Each show will close with an "all-skate improv jam" giving all of the night's performers and selected audience members a chance to join in games and scenes. Members of IndyProv, Defiance Comedy and ComedySportz are slated to participate.
The festival falls during Women's History Month and a portion of proceeds from each of its four shows (March 7, 14, 21 and 28) ticket sales will be donated to the Julian Center. Tickets are $15 for the 17-plus shows, and a $50 fest pass is available from indycomedysportz.com or 951-8499.
Co-founder Wilcher fielded a few questions from us this morning:
NUVO: Why'd you put this together?
Claire Wilcher: A few reasons. One - to play. We're not saving lives here, we're doing comedy.
Two - to collaborate. Our comedy scene is small, but growing. There are people here who are excited about it. We need to share the wealth and spread the love.
Three - to give myself a new challenge and involve my day job in some way.
Four - Really and truly, to play. To get together for informal fun times and try something new.
NUVO: What are women in comedy up against? Is it any different in Indy than elsewhere?
Wilcher: Well, you've got your Amy Poehlers and your Tina Feys who are huge players in the comedy game, and they've kinda become the symbol of "women are funny too, dammit!" And here in Indy, we can watch them on TV from the couch and fist pump for funny broads, but until we get up onstage and put our hearts and brains out there for people to see, then the idea of amazing lady comedy is this distant, magic Hollywood thing.
NUVO: How'd you manage to find a place for yourself in the scene?
Wilcher: When I first got involved in theatre here, I never said no to a gig, and I've made a ton of connections that way. ComedySportz has been super important, obviously, but for reasons beyond having ten years of improv under my belt now.
Through CSz, I've managed to become friends with people from ComedySportz cities around the world, and gotten a peek into the comedy scenes where they live. And the groups I've been a part of beyond short form at CSz - namely Three Dollar Bill Comedy - and my success with them show me that Indy does have a place for well-crafted comedy.
And honestly? Just having a lot of excitement and happiness about comedy, and not shutting up about it. I guess that's how I've found my place.
NUVO: What female comedians do you particularly like?
Wilcher: Mindy Kaling is super. She's has such a modern voice in her writing and kinda says what we're all thinking and wishing.
Melissa McCarthy: physical comedy phenom. She's fearless, especially in her sketch stuff.
Carol Burnett: because, duh.