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Take Four: A list of Philly funny women you need to know

Rachel Fogletto

Mary Radzinski

Shannon Devido


Check out part one of this two-part series on women in Philadelphia's comedy scene.


Do you think Philadelphia's comedy scene is welcoming for women? Are there particular challenges? 

I think it's fairly decent. I know that's a popular theme right now -- women in comedy -- but I think it's the same in a lot of ways for both men and women. If you're funny, opportunities will present themselves. The idea of waiting around for an opportunity to fly in the door, whether it be with a club, a festival or a particular show, is extremely limiting. You are going to get farther -- and be much more satisfied by putting the work in -- if you don't expect that the opportunities are always going to come to you.

I think Philly is a good place to create your own opportunities. If you feel things aren't moving as quickly as you'd like, try starting a monthly show, networking, submitting to every festival you can find, or working on your web presence and social media.

Is Philadelphia a city that women comedians should have on their radars? 

Things have definitely changed since I started. There are far more females performing stand-up in Philly today than when I started, but I'm pretty sure it's that way all over the country. The Philly stand-up scene has become more dynamic and more supportive over the last few years. I think Philly should certainly be on the radar of any comic -- male or female -- who's looking for a substantial comedy scene that is supportive without coddling. 

You opened for Iliza Shlesinger this year. (I saw you and it was awesome!)

Thank you so much. It's funny: Iliza brings her dog Blanche everywhere -- including back to the greenroom. Thankfully, it was a goddam doll. It was a great experience. Most of the shows sold out and it really is amazing to perform for a sold out room at Helium.

One line I remember liking from your stand-up was, "When people ask if I have kids, I say, 'Not anymore.'"

I use stand-up to talk about my views. I'm just trying to create awareness of the woes of the childless thirty-something -- mostly because that is where I'm at currently. That joke was the result of a very real exchange. I actually responded to a stranger with that line when asked about having kids. I wasn't trying to be jarring -- I'd just rather bite the bullet and nip the conversation in the bud than engage in polite small talk. In the same way that guy comics talk about what's going on in their worlds on stage, so do I. It's not something I put much thought into. It's natural. I just include my own experiences, interests and observations. A lot of my material is probably stuff that all women deal with, at one point or another.

Tell me about your award-winning Twitter account. 

I love Twitter. I love having to whittle something down to 140 characters. It's rewarding in the way that finishing a crossword is rewarding. Actually, my "Not anymore" joke made its way into the world as a tweet. I have quite a few stage jokes that started their life on Twitter. Please feel free to check them out...No, seriously. @maryradzinski.

Catch Mary performing at Helium Comedy Club or at independent shows around the city; upcoming dates on her website: maryradzinski.com


How did you get into comedy? 
The simple answer is  thatI think almost everything is funny...almost. The more real answer is that I was having a difficult time in life and watching comedy helped me a lot. During that time, I realized that I do have that ability and I could possibly help somebody through comedy. I might just be helping me at this point, but I'm somebody so that counts.

Is Philly's comedy scene welcoming to women? 
I think Philly in general is a great place for a comedian to start. There's always comedy going on just about every night. For women there are opportunities in the city. The challenge for me is open mics. Often there are a few women and a bunch of men, which is fine. However, there's almost always a point where I'm like, I've heard enough penis jokes for my life. That's just me though.

Is Philly a city that women comedians should have on their radar?
I'd say we are a good launching pad. I'm taking a sketch writing class at Philly Improv Theater and women are in the majority. That impressed me and most of us had some kind of comedy background.

Top moment as a performer so far?
Getting into the World Series of Comedy competitions around the country last year. Also, having my family -- specifically my mom -- come out and support me every time she can. I took her out in a snowstorm probably too soon after a surgery to see me perform because she knew not many people would show up and she wanted me to be supported. Should I be admitting that? I drove and she didn't have to walk much. Listen, she wanted to be there.   

Any comedy role models, mentors or shout-outs? 
LaTice is a comedian in South Jersey. I met her at a random comedy show at The Free Library a month or two before I did my first open mic. She inspired me to go for it and we continue to support each other.  

As far as opportunity and skill building, Hillary Rea at Tell Me A Story has been wonderful with the storytelling component and also at creating story pitches. I feel I've become a better performer since taking many of her workshops. Rachel Fogletto (Comedy-Gasm; Funny Females) is just a pretty rad woman, producing multiple monthly shows in the city and keeping them fresh and interesting. She's surely a woman any local female or human comedian should connect with along the way.

Check out Cecily Alexandria's upcoming performance dates on her Facebook page.


What kind of comedy do you specialize in? 

I'm a comedic actress in TV and film, but also do sketch, stand-up and improv.

How has your experience been as a comedian in Philly?

It's been wonderful. I love being a female comedian in Philly because I'm given the same opportunities as a guy. It's never even been a question. Plus the ladies that are in the scene are the most supportive and inspiring group of women. I'm incredibly honored to have been on stage with some of them.

You were involved in a lot of great projects this year -- tell me about them. 

This year I've gotten to be on the Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, had a role on Difficult People [a Hulu original comedy executive produced by Amy Poehler], and performed my sketch show at UCB-Chelsea. It's been a really fun year. It still doesn't seem real. 

What was it like meeting Amy Poehler? 

How does it feel to meet an angel? Surreal? Awesome? Yes. All of the above. 

Any particular comedian role models, mentors or shout-outs? 

How much room do you have? The few that come to mind are Aubrie Williams (Spierogie and Friends; sketch group ManiPedi) -- she is my favorite writing partner, improv team member, partner-in-crime and overall human. She supports everything I do 150 percent and is so incredibly talented. I'm also lucky enough to call Kristin Finger (education director, teacher and performer at Comedy Sportz) my sketch partner. She is a bright light in my life. She's so kind, so smart and so f*****g funny. They both inspire me daily. Oh, and Amy Poehler and Tina Fey for existing. 

See Shannon in her sketch duo Spirit Animal at the Adrienne Theater on Feb 19. Her sketch show Bent But Not Broken: A Disabled Sketch Show starts its run at UCB Chelsea on Feb. 25. More at shannondevido.com


What kind of comedy do you specialize in? 

I primarily do stand-up, though I have definitely dabbled in other comedic genres like storytelling and, once in a while, some dirty poetry. I run a monthly show every third Saturday -- Comedy-Gasm! -- which is over two-and-a-half years old, and I co-host Funny Females, a monthly all-female comedy show with Phyllis Voren, every fourth Monday at Ray's Happy Birthday Bar. [That show] is specifically all-women (cis and/or trans), and also reached its two-year mark this past fall.

Are there particular challenges for women on Philadelphia's comedy scene?

There are definitely challenges being a woman in any comedy scene, and Philly is no exception. Speaking personally from the mere three years I've been doing stand-up here, I can say that I've seen it get much better from when I started. I think female comics aren't given the same level of consideration for "potential." Pretty much everyone sucks when they first do [stand-up]. So a lot of times a female comic will start, and if her set doesn't go well, it's still commonly accepted that women aren't funny and that's why it was bad, whereas a guy may be told to keep at it. 

I do believe that is changing slowly but surely. If I see a girl go up that I've never seen before, I make it a point to try to interact with her. I know that helped me when I first started -- just having another comedian acknowledge me meant a lot.

I've seen a lot of conversations in the past few years get started locally and publicly about what it's like being a woman in comedy --"calling out" sexist behavior goes a long way in raising awareness. A lot of the battle is just getting male comedians to see that it exists.

What do you love about being a comedian in Philly?

I love the collaborations I've had and continue to have with other amazing female comedians in the city, including Funny Females; the feminist-comedy podcast "Wait, Wut" I co-hosted with Nikki Black and Hannah Harkness; and the Bechdel Test Fest. The more collaborations that happen, the more female comics get inspired and come out of the woodwork, ultimately making our presence in the scene stronger.
What has been your top moment as a performer so far? 

I never can pick favorites, but one of the best feelings is any time another lady will approach me after a set or a show and tell me that something I said spoke to them -- whether it's because they feel like they can't say it themselves or they're happy someone else relates to them. There are times in stand-up where you get in ruts and you ask yourself what the hell you're even doing. It's interactions like that that make me sure I'm doing the right thing.

Any particular comedy role models? 

Growing up I watched a lot of comedy on TV. As a kid, I adored I Love Lucy because I was something of a class clown....that's what they used to call it before ADHD came out. Lucy did a lot of slapstick which was not very cool for ladies to partake in. I remember one time this teacher told me I "acted like the boys" because I liked to horse around and play pranks and say inappropriate things to make people laugh... I've since emailed my most recent comedy videos to all of my grade school teachers. I haven't gotten a response yet.

See Rachel every third Saturday at Comedy-Gasm! at the Irish Pol in Old City, and every fourth Monday at Funny Females at Ray's Happy Birthday Bar. More show dates at rachelfogletto.com. 

MARTHA COONEY is a Philly-based writer. She is founder and director of StoryUP!, which inspires kids to build literacy skills through comedy and storytelling. 

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