by TORI JAMES, Staff Writer
From Wiig to Schumer to Poehler and Fey, women today have been a dominating factor in the world of comedy. However, the typecast of women not being comedic figures is still commonly experienced.
At Manhattan College, we see the power of funny females firsthand in our own improv team Scatterbomb.
Out of the eleven members in Scatterbomb, there are three females; senior Carolyn Egan and sophomores Angela Benevenia and Madi Blecki. Despite being the minority in a male dominated group, Scatterbomb has helped open doors for these girls to thrive in the community of comedy.
“Everyone’s very supportive, especially because in improv you never know what’s going to happen,” Egan said. “I hear of a lot of other improv troupes where if a girl went on stage to do something one of the guys would objectify them or make them do something they don’t want to, but that has never been the case with our team.”
Destroying the idea that women aren’t as funny as men, these Scatter-ladies have done nothing less than impress their teammates and their Manhattan College peers.
“One time a guy approached me after a show and said ‘I didn’t think women could be funny until I saw you perform’ and it really shocked me,” Egan said. “None of the guys in Scatterbomb make me feel that way, if anything they treat me like I’m more funny than I actually am.”
The common gender stereotype of females being quiet, reserved and too polite to say anything inappropriate has always hindered women’s ability to be portrayed as comedic characters, whether that be on television or in improv where they have constantly been made the butt of all jokes. Nowadays, the game has changed as we see an influx of females flourishing in the business.
“I feel like people will always think women aren’t as funny as men, but that’s not even true anymore,” Benevenia said. “For so long women in comedy were constantly trying to validate themselves and prove that they were funny, but now it isn’t a competition because everyone knows they already are.”
Recent statistics have shown that women make up 14.3% of comedic performers. Even the amount of women in late night writer’s rooms is substantially lower than the amount of men due to the assumption that men cannot be funny around women and vice versa.
“I remember a really long time ago a boy once said to me, ‘you’re secretly really funny!’ Like it was a surprise or something, no one expected it because I was a girl,” said Blecki. “It shocks me people think this way because we can be funny just as men can be funny.”
However, improv comedy has proven to be different, especially in Scatterbomb where the members approach each scene as a blank slate and are able to decide which gender they are going to portray themselves as.
“When you’re improvising it’s hard to discern gender because everybody is a blank brain, then by using language and action we create forms and you can be whatever you want,” said fellow member of Scatterbomb RJ Liberto. “Look at Carolyn, I think she may have played a girl on stage three or four times, usually she’s a crazy old man! They come onto the scene being whatever they need to be, they’re not a girl or a guy, they’re a person until their ‘role’ is established.”
Improv comedy also demands a great relationship among all team members, considering the success of every scene relies on their ability to work together; and having such a reliance on a strong group dynamic, teamwork is essential for the members of Scatterbomb, no matter what gender.
“You have to trust in the people you work with or else they will revert and the scene will not be funny, and that makes for bad improv,” said Benevenia. “That’s why building trust and having respect for all of your teammates is so important.”
“Last year we did a scene that I thought was set up as a veterinary office so I walked on holding a cat, but it really ended up being a movie theatre. It automatically made for a difficult situation, but my scene partner (Gavin Sass) was able to go with it; and even from that everyone was able to build a character off of this crazy concept and it ended up being one of the best scenes we’ve ever done,” said Egan. “I was being insane the whole time and they easily could have just bailed on me, but everyone was going with it; and that’s what makes good improv – everyone on stage being supportive when you’re going insane.”
Scatterbomb, as well as several other improv troupes, work today to defy the image that women cannot be funny – opening up doors in the comedy world for Amy’s and Tina’s everywhere.
“Improv taught me that in order to succeed while performing or even in everyday life you need to say, ‘I’m going to say this and this is my opinion and if you don’t like it, too bad,’” Egan said. “You have to be loud in order to be heard.”