Girls will be girlz
'Funny Girlz' perform this weekend at the Herbst
by Adam Sandel
A Muslim, a Jew, a lesbian, and a dwarf walk into a bar — that's no joke, it's actually happening on Saturday night. But instead of a bar, these ladies will walk into the Herbst Theatre for the 8th Annual Funny Girlz comedy concert. Never before has the lineup of lady comics been more culturally or physically diverse.
The Muslim in question is Shazia Mirza, the British-born Pakistani comic who made her Funny Girlz debut in 2003. The London-based Mirza has toured the world with her act and has been profiled (in a good way) by The Oxygen Channel, the BBC, 60 Minutes, The New York Times, and Danish, French, German and Swedish television.
The Jew would be comedy veteran Carol Leifer, who's logged 25 appearances on Late Night with David Letterman and three years as an Emmy-nominated writer/producer on Seinfeld. Her most memorable episodes include "The Rye" (about the frantic quest for a loaf of rye bread) and "The Lip Reader," starring Marlee Matlin.
Although it's not easy to find a lesbian in San Francisco, the show's lesbian hostess is comedian Lisa Geduldig, who also produces this evening of estrogen-fueled laughs. In addition to producing the annual Kung Pao Kosher Comedy and George Bush Going-Away Parties, last year Geduldig brought the legendary Charo to San Francisco. Contrary to rumors, they're just good friends.
Making her Funny Girlz debut is 3'6" Tanyalee Davis, described as "the Ferrari of comedy — low to the ground and kind of racy." A native of Winnipeg, Canada, Davis was performing children's theatre in college when she went to see a co-star perform at a comedy club.
"He sucked," she says, "and I thought I could do better." After a successful first night as a stand-up, Davis invited her family and neighbors to her second performance. "It totally threw me, and I sucked. But a couple of years later, I was getting paid to do it."
The diminutive Davis has a knack for physical comedy and off-color humor. "I do a lot of bar gigs so I do some raunchy comedy," she explains. "But I'm kind of a smartass and a potty mouth anyway."
Given her stature, Davis has no shortage of comic inspiration. "Crazy stuff happens to me on a daily basis," she says. "Being a little person, a woman, and being married to a guy who's six feet tall, there's lots of material there."
Her husband of eight years is a poker dealer at the Mirage in Las Vegas, where the couple has lived for the past two years, "because it's not LA," she says. Having done a regular gig at the Sahara Hotel, Davis has also performed extensively throughout England, Scotland and Wales.
"US audiences get over the disability issue a lot quicker, but it takes UK audiences longer to get used to it," she explains. "People turn away and feel like they shouldn't be looking at me, let alone laughing." But the British media has taken Davis to heart, featuring her in the documentary film Abnormally Funny People on Sky TV. BBC Comedy is also considering a project with Davis.
She has also appeared at events focusing on the disabled, a label that Davis neither embraces nor denies: "Everyone tells me I'm disabled, and I do get handicapped parking, so there are a lot of perks to it."
This year's show should indeed prove that funny girlz come in all races, shapes and sizes.
The 8th Annual Funny Girlz, Sat., May 20, 8 p.m. Herbst Theater, 401 Van Ness Ave., SF. Tickets ($22.50-$27.50): (415) 392-4400, or www.cityboxoffice.com. Info: www.koshercomedy.com or (415) 522-3737.