'Funny Girlz' returns to the Herbst Theater
by Jason Victor Serinus
The 9th Annual Funny Girlz: A Smorgasbord of Women Comedians delivers a belly laugh's worth of riotous women comics to Herbst Theater this Saturday. The evening, a benefit for GirlVentures, features an only-in-San Francisco line-up of African-American, Latina, Jewish, lesbian, and straight comics, plus one drag queen. It also includes a special appearance by Luenell, co-star of the film Borat, who has promised to bring down the house as a way of making amends for abandoning the peaceful plains of Oakland for the untamed wilds of Los Angeles.
Stand-up comic/comedy producer Lisa Geduldig founded Funny Girlz in 1999. In an interview that addressed some serious subjects with a surprisingly straight face, Geduldig explained, "Six years after founding Kung Pao Kosher Comedy, I started taking inventory of how many women were getting booked into comedy clubs. Cobb's and The Punchline only have women two or three times a year. It's a shame that male comedy producers don't think of producing a more diverse line-up. The face of comedy is not just male."
The problem does not stem from a lack of good female comics, she asserts. Staring at a long list of women comedians she has booked over the years, she cites months of frustrating e-mail exchanges with the producers of Comedy in the Park, whose line-up often includes 56 men and 4 women.
"They complained they had once hired a woman who did some off-color material, so that must have clouded their perspective on all women. I guess women comics are supposed to be dainty. You know, funny is funny. It's ridiculous that you even have to think about this stuff. Can you imagine billing something as Men's Comedy Night?"
Sunday's line-up includes hostess Geduldig, who will kick off the evening with a generous helping of Jewish gay lesbian political jokes that may make note of the Fourth Annual George W. Bush Going Away Party she's producing in Herbst on October 13. In addition to Luenell, the evening features Marga Gomez, "a Latina Lily Tomlin"; Amy Boyd, "Bay Area cop by day, lesbian comic by night"; Sherry Glaser, star and author of Off-Broadway's longest running one-woman show, Family Secrets; and Juanita More, the drag queen/lip-sync legend who has raised over a million dollars for various community nonprofits while serving as "cultural attache of the shadows."
Amy Boyd started off being a full-time stand-up comic. "But because once an actress, always a waitress," she told me, "I ended up being a cop in a movie. It's the other lesbian profession I always wanted to try. So the next thing you know, voila, I'm a cop. I've also worked in a lesbian bar and done some delivery work. If I just teach PE and do some massage work, I will have completed the grand slam of lesbian professions."
Funny Girlz 's audience started out 99% lesbian, but has slowly grown more diverse. "Just because we're all women doesn't mean we're going to talk about tampons all the time," says Geduldig. On the hand, she acknowledges without a shred of remorse that she doesn't have a single prostate joke in her repertoire. But that doesn't mean that the other women on the line-up won't. Don't be afraid to attend simply because you've got a penis. You've got Amy Boyd to protect you.
Funny Girlz takes over Herbst Theater Sat., May 19, at 8 p.m. Tickets and info: (415) 392-4400, www.koshercomedy.com.