The all-female comedy festival, All Jane No Dick, is well under way, having opened last night with a local showcase at Helium Comedy Club. JoAnn Schinderle, Amy Miller, Whitney Streed and a host of other comics who performed last night are Portland-based favorites, but the festival, organized by the nonprofit Curious Comedy Theater (5225 NE MLK Jr. Blvd.), highlights nationally and internationally recognized acts as well. The aim, according to the festival’s official statement, is to recognize diverse, quality comics in an industry in which women represent just one every five spots on high-profile comedy festival bills, one in five chairs in the writing room, and one in five television appearances. “Industry representatives explain this discrepancy by claiming quality women comedians are hard to find,” notes the festival organizers. “All Jane No Dick was created to help bridge the gap between women comedians, audiences, and industry decision-makers.”
Though the festival is a push back against the rampant sexism in the industry, one male rights activist in particular sees the festival as just that—sexist. In an effort to bring attention to his cause, the man, who has since become known as the Lone Woof, posted fliers along Alberta Street that urged men and women alike to protest the festival. While his efforts and sentiments are equal parts perplexing and misinformed, the conversation that has since evolved from his actions are far more worthwhile. A “YesAllJane” hashtag has erupted on Twitter, exposing the less-discussed aspect of an industry that has since its inception been a boys club. “Because I heard a guy ask a comedian friend if she was at a show to perform or to blow everyone in the audience. #YesAllJane,” tweets local comedian Dan Weber. “It was me!!” responds festival participant Amy Miller.
Comedian Gabe Dinger also adds to the Twitter conversation, “I got a gig that I found out had been taken from a female comic. The guy didn’t want an all-woman show. He called it ‘diversity.’ #YesAllJane.” All Jane No Dick’s proves to be that all-woman show, spotlighting quality female and female-identifying comics—with diversity and no apologies.
The festivities continue Thursday night with two shows at Curious Comedy Theater (CCT) and one at Alberta Street Pub. Head to Curious Comedy Theatre at 7:30 p.m. to catch Phoebe Robinson, Kate Berlant and Friends hosted by Stacey Hallal, who is also the festival’s artistic director. Comics include Elicia Sanchez, DeAnne Smith, Kristine Levine, Mo Welch, Kyle Mizono, Kate Berlant, and Phoebe Robinson. Later that evening at 9:30 p.m. at CCT, Beth Stelling and Friends, is hosted by Virginia Jones. Comics include Danielle Radford, Rye Silverman, Kelsie Huff, Subhah Agarwal, Emily Maya Mills, Maggie Maye, Beth Stelling, Aparna Nancherla. Down the street at the same time, Alberta Street Pub hosts Picture This!, a more interactive show in which area artists draw realtime sketches of the comic’s stand-up routine that is simultaneously projected behind her. Hosted by Andie Main, comics include Brandie Posey, Kimberly Clark, JoAnn Schinderle, Brooke Van Poppelen, Kate Berlant, Sara Schaefer, and Daria O’Neil.
Friday’s events include another double-header for Curious Comedy Theater. The first show, once again beginning at 7:30 p.m., is hosted by Bri Pruett and includes performances by Rye Silverman, Subhah Agarwal, Emily Maya Mills, Kelsie Huff, Maggie Maye, Aparna Nancherla, and Beth Stelling. The later show, hosted by Amy Miller, includes bits by Caroline Bassett, Jan Davidson, Danielle Radford, Kimberly Clark, Candy Lawrence, Brooke Van Poppelen, Kate Berlant, and Sara Schaefer. Tickets for these events are available at the door.
The festivities continue through Sunday, Oct. 19, and include workshops on creating compelling characters, improving improvisational performance skills, and writing for television, as well as host of more stand-up by extremely funny women. See the official festival schedule for details.
– Mary Locke