Rachel Talks Ladyprov


"Yes, I’m in two all-female improv teams." — Rachel Klein

In fact, the other day I suddenly realized that, at this particular moment, I'm only in all-female improv teams. One of them is all-female on purpose, one is all-female by accident (a bunch of dudes used to be in it, but they moved, or took a hiatus, or, you know, were run out of girl town—just kidding, we love boys!). The secret, though, is that both teams, the on-purpose and the by-accident, are great not because they’re full of ladies, but because the ladies on the teams have complementary strengths, similar outlooks and goals for the work of the team, and get along well as people.

Now, I could go off about how improv is a boys’ club, or ask you why you wouldn’t think twice if you saw an all-male team perform, but the truth is, I don’t really care if you do or don’t notice that my team is full of women, and I don’t even really think improv is a boys’ club. Sure, there are unique challenges for a female comedian (as there are unique challenges for a woman in most fields). Sure, there might be certain implicit expectations that an audience or a fellow performer might have when they see a woman on stage. But for me, the best way to meet those challenges is to simply get on stage. Play a man in a scene, not as a joke, but because, in this scene, you happen to be a man. Play a mom in a scene, not because you’re the only girl in the show and one of your male teammates calls you “Mom,” but because the scene calls for a mom.

The great thing about improv is that, at any given moment, you can be whatever—and whoever—you want to be. I invite you to come watch Bearcats on Thursday night and see what I mean for yourself.

Here’s some other shows you should make sure to check out, too (some of them have ladies, some don’t—whatever):

Bastards, Inc., Gorefest, 1.21 Jigowatts

Playing in the Wednesday night “30 Years of Comedy” celebration, Bastards, Inc. is flat-out one of the best teams I’ve EVER seen perform. They hosted a cult-favorite variety show in Boston for years until two of them hauled it out to New York City, and having them back together for BCAF is a real treat. The Bastards are basically a master class in patient play and balls-out commitment, plus they’re just straight-up hilarious. Also, the female Bastard, Erin McGee, is a Bearcat. ImprovBoston’s yearly Halloween musical is on the bill, too, so things might get messy (in a good way), and 1.21 Jiggowatts is a delight for fans of the franchise (read: everybody ever). The show is worth the price of admission just to see Rob Crean’s dead-on Marty McFly. (Bonus: Lorraine McFly? Also a Bearcat).

Briami Sound Machine

Yes, I am recommending a show that is literally on at the exact same time as my team. That’s how much I love this show. Brian Perry is a one-man tour-de-force. Be forewarned (or excited, which should really be your reaction): this show is highly interactive and the best kind of weird. At points you might find yourself wondering whether it’s actually improvised—it is. At other points you might find yourself wondering if Brian is actually going “there”—he is. The best part will be chatting him up at the bar after the show and discovering that he’s actually the nicest human on the planet.

Kiss, Punch, Poem

If you’re from out-of-town, consider extending your stay to check out Kiss, Punch Poem at 7:30 in the ImprovBoston Mainstage. These guys are incredible. Slam poets inspire improv scenes that both find the funny, and the heart, of each poem. This group creates a unique experience that reminds you just how artful comedy can be. The final, show-ending poem—completely improvised by one of the slam poets as a sort of “summary” of the events, characters, and themes of the show, might be the most virtuosic thing I’ve seen outside of a Cirque de Soleil show.

Rachel Klein is a writer, teacher, and improviser from Boston. If you're from around there, you can see her perform with her all-female Harold team Maxitor (@maxitorcomedy) on Thursday nights at ImprovBoston, and with her all-female team Bearcats (@Bear_Cats) at random other times. If you have internet access, you can read her improv blog, The House That Del Built, whenever and wherever you want.

Check out the Fireside Improv Chat about Gender, Episode #9: