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:

Jeremiah BCAF Favorites

Wrestling Team

The hardest part about being a festival producer is that I hardly get to see any shows during the actual festival. As a comedy nerd, that just sucks.

This year I’m hoping to sneak into a handful before the curtain comes down on Sunday.

Here are a few gems I’m looking forward to:

Briami Sound Machine – Thursday, 8:30pm
“Briami Sound Machine is the best band in the world.” – Briami Sound Machine. I agree.

Losdosdudes – Friday, 7:30pm
This two person show is going to be high energy, emotionally-driven, strange, and hilarious.

Wrestling Team – Saturday, 8:30pm
Last year Wrestling Team (PICTURED ABOVE) put on the eye-popping show Rockefeller Centaur. They’re bringing a new production that they promise to be just as beautifully weird and hilarious.

Beige – Saturday, 9pm
This is a house sketch team from the Upright Citizens Brigade. As part of the selection committee for the festival, their submission video had me rolling.

Kiss Punch Poem – Sunday, 7:30pm
This group mixes improv with poetry and the result is mindblowing!

Rock on.
Jeremiah Jordan
BCAF Co-Producer

Beanpot Veterans at BCAF!


Beanpot Veterans return to their roots and perform at BCAF!

Throughout the year, ImprovBoston hosts a number of special event and festivals. Many are familiar with GEEK WEEK, where nerds get to nerd out in Star Wars or Magik or Unicorn-Fairy-Princess-Werewolf themed improv shows. But the festival I'm most excited to be part of (BESIDES BCAF!) is the ImprovBoston College Comedy Festival and Beanpot.

Many IB cast members got their first taste of celebrity during Beanpot, myself included. Getting laughs for the first time from strangers, instead of college suitemates. Feeling tense as last year’s champion team struts into the green room. Highfiving the team that your team became best-friend-teams with. It feels like summer camp!

In 2005, the first Beanpot was only fiery competition. Players got to know each other, but rivalries & disappointment was still a major theme of the weekend. A theme I wanted to change when I became co-producer for the 2012 Beanpot.

Rebranded the College Comedy Festival and Beanpot, the competition remains, but we made it our mission to create a weekend of opportunity for college improvisers across New England. This year each team also had the opportunity to have an un-scored show and members of the groups were mixed up for workshops lead by ImprovBoston cast members. Watching the college improv world be built with hallway highfives & laughs even after loss, was a proud moment as both a producer and as part of the ImprovBoston family.

And it’s because of this comradery, that the College Comedy Festival has become an incredible bridge for performers. This year’s BCAF is sprinkled with Beanpot veterans. Some are cast members here at ImprovBoston. Another group has come to the festival 2 years in a row from Chicago. It’s just like Thanksgiving!

Beanpot veterans you can see at BCAF:

LosDosDudes: Cole Orloff & Pat Coakley (UMass’ Mission IMPROVable)
Bearcats: Natalie Baseman (UMass’ Mission IMPROVable)
Face Off: Ari Stern & Shawn Musgrave (BU’s Liquid Fun)
Hidden Falls: Misch Whitaker (UMass’ Mission IMPROVable)
IB Family Show: Emily Holland (ME!) & Melanie Hardy (Clark’s Peapod Squad), Christine Toohey & Burch Simon (BU’s Liquid Fun)

AND! In addition to these beloved veterans, you can see a current college group from Harvard University. Three Letter Acronym is the first and only Harold team at Harvard. (Go see them & then tell them to come to the Beanpot CCF this year!)


Emily Holland
Beanpot Co-Producer
BCAF Volunteer

Brendan BCAF Favorites

Boston Comedy Arts Fest Header

The Boston Comedy Arts Festival kicks off tomorrow night and we couldn't be more excited!

This is the fourth year ImprovBoston has produced and hosted this festival and it has gotten bigger, better, and more amazing every year. Formerly the Boston Improv Festival, the Boston Comedy Arts Festival now better emphasizes and celebrates the diversity of comedic talent - improv, sketch, and stand-up - that have always been an integral part of our Theater. This year we have an outstanding schedule of acts, some veteran performers and old friends of ImprovBoston, and others we'll be seeing for the first time. We hope you see as many shows as possible over the next six nights, but if you're overwhelmed by the awesomeness of our schedule and don't know where to start, let me tell you about some shows I can't wait to see...

Friday 9pm ImprovBoston Main Theater

I have seen Trike four times and they are incredible. This two-man team of Peter McNerny and Nick Kanellis from NYC's Magnet Theater are not only creative and clever with their characters and scenarios, they are also very good actors who pay great attention to detail. Their accents, personalities, as well as object and environment work, are master classes in improv performance. They weave their characters in and out of their scenes so seamlessly, I easily get lost in the story they tell and am always delighted in how they bring it all together. For anyone who is new to comedy, they are simply a great and entertaining group to see. For improv nerds, they are a tandem to study.

This particular show promises to be one of the best. Also in this slot are Big Bennessy, from LA, and The Feeko Brothers, from Philadelphia.. Big Bennessy brings high-energy, captivating improv, while The Feeko Brothers perform very clever and well-executed sketch comedy.

Brick, Onassis, 10£ Ally
Saturday 7:30pm ImprovBoston Main Theater

This is a great combination of acts, all from NYC, in one show. Brick is a very talented improv team out of the Magnet Theater. They are sharp, able to create unique situations, and always able to make clever connections with characters and themes - just a very fun team to watch. Onassis is an outstanding sketch troupe, originally from the Upright Citizens Brigade, but now making noise nationally. They are very funny and very polished. And 10£ Ally round off the show with exceptional musical improv. There are only three of them, but they inhabit many characters and even switch off playing them, sometimes with one actor singing as three different people. And through it all, they never miss a detail. On top of that, the songs they create are catchy and witty.

Saturday 10pm Brattle Theater

Take every out-of-left-field and/or irreverent sketch you've ever seen from Monty Python, Kids in the Hall, and Mr. Show, blend them together in a mosh pit, and you get MURDERFIST. That's all I really need to say. They performed at last year's Boston Improv Festival and they came the closest I've ever seen to a sketch act burning down the stage without actually setting it on fire. They are loud, they are fast, they are strange, and they do it all perfectly. Don't ask questions. Just get lost in the frantic weirdness and their razor-sharp execution of it. Also, Sketch Writers, be sure to attend their workshop "How to Make a Million Dollars Doing Only Sketch Comedy", Sunday at 10am at ImprovBoston's Main Theater.

Also on this bill: ImprovBoston's Mainstage - our best veteran improvisers perform ImprovBoston's unique free form show that has won acclaim at all sorts of national festivals, including standing ovations at the past two Del Close Marathons - and stand up from Boris Khaykin and Al Park.

Of course, this is just one man's opinion on a small sampling of great acts you can witness at the Boston Comedy Arts Festival. Check out our full schedule, come be a part of our unique and wonderful community of actors, writers, and comedians, and join in our celebration of comedy!

Brendan Mulhern
BCAF Co-Producer


Subscribe to Blog