Kathe Farris stood confidently in front of the microphone. As the self-proclaimed standup comedian and stay-at-home mom began to address the attendees at the Boston Comedy Chicks Showcase, I looked around at the impending line-up and the audience itself. It was an environment I was unfamiliar with: I had attended numerous comedy shows in the past, but none like the one I saw on February 11 at Doyle’s Cafe. As a subset of Boston’s annual Women in Comedy Festival, the Boston Comedy Chicks Showcases strive to represent female comedians in a primarily male-dominated field. Between jokes directed largely towards herself and her family, Harris reflected that Boston Comedy Chicks helps to “flip the ratio” that is represented at most comedy shows. While people of all genders are allowed to perform, women represent the majority of the acts.
Admittedly, when the Uber dropped my friends and me off at the venue in Jamaica Plain, we were unsure about what the night would entail. It had been a long week. Leftover slush lined the sidewalks. Bitter air made it impossible to stand outside for more than a few minutes. We shuffled into Doyle’s, mostly to escape the cold, and were met by an onslaught of burgers and beers. We thought we had come to the wrong place, and were about to cut our losses and sit at a booth underneath a fluorescent shamrock and order some chicken wings. Though masqueraded as the quintessential Irish pub, the showroom in the back provided an intimate, unique setting for a comedy show.
Seven comics performed, including Farris, the host that night. While that is a somewhat daunting number for a single show, the night progressed smoothly and allowed each comic to perform for an appropriate amount of time without overwhelming the audience. Phoebe Angle, a Boston comedy regular with wild hair to match her wild sense of humor, headlined the show. Jo Galvin, Brett Johnson, Danica Jayne, Awet Teame, Robert Pooley, Laura Severse, and Janet McNamara also performed.
As the comics took the stage, our “long weeks” dissipated. I was not bluffing when I said I had never seen a comedy show such as the one I saw on Saturday. Besides the obvious factor that more women were represented than in typical comedy shows, the lineup featured an array of performers who brought refreshing perspectives and varied levels of comic experience to the show. Pictures of John F. Kennedy dotted the walls of the showroom as comics relayed stories that ranged in content from Southeast Asian child-rearing beliefs to failed American Idol auditions. Though my friends and I were noticeably younger than many of the people in the audience that particular night, we never felt as if the show was targeted toward a specific demographic. We could appreciate the show because it was unambiguously funny.
The Boston Comedy Chicks Showcase performs monthly at Doyle’s Cafe and features a changing group of comics each show. To learn more about the shows and the other programs they offer, visit their website at bostoncomedychicks.com.
Text by Maggie McNulty
Photos by Noah Chiet