laughtherfest

Comedians Marlena Rodriguez and Emily Maya Mills joined Bloomers, Simply Chaos and other groups in a joint evening performance. | Courtesy of Sarah Litwin

With jokes ranging from the OZ email flyer protest to the upcoming “rapture” that is the United States presidential election, Bloomers’ annual LaughtHERfest show was a crowd-pleasing hit.

Before the performance began on Saturday, LaughtHERfest producer and College junior Gena Basha read out a list of sexist comments that people had left on YouTube videos of female comedians.

“Now, let’s show the world how kick-ass women in comedy actually are,” she said to the audience.

Comedian and actress Emily Maya Mills opened the show by discussing subjects from “feeling depressed at a party” to the recent OZ email flyer protest to the audience’s loud approval. The show continued with an all-female comedy troupe from Brown University Skorts and Brown senior Chelsea Fernando.

Most of Fernando’s set centered around the word “creepy” and its effectiveness in “shutting boys down.” She said after the show that she was a little worried about how the joke would be received because she usually includes it in longer performances and had not rehearsed it as frequently as some of her other sets. The set also included reflections on her experiences as a person of color that Fernando was worried might come off as “too nitpicky.”

But on Saturday night in Irvine Auditorium, Fernando’s wry comments on gender equity were a hit.

“I thought her jokes really rang true to life. It felt super genuine,” College sophomore James Hiebert said. College freshman Daniel Gonzalez , who thought Fernando’s set was the best of the whole day, said that her jokes made him consider the experiences of women in way that he had not done before.

Other audience favorites include Rodriguez, who, as part of her set, listed her insecurities as though she was a sports commentator introducing basketball players.

The event began in the morning with a panel of female comedians and continued in the afternoon with two workshops — one on TV screenwriting led by comedian and writer Marlena Rodriguez, and another on stand-up and improvisation led by Mills. Rodriguez and Mills then joined Bloomers, stand-up comedy group Simply Chaos and groups from Brown as well as Rhode Island School of Design for an evening performance in Irvine Auditorium.

Among the audience at this year’s LaughtHERfest performance were 12 comedy groups from other schools such as Lehigh University and Temple University.

“This is something we’re proud of. We wanted [LaughtHERfest] to be something really cool for other women in comedy to be able to experience, and I think we achieved that,” chair of Bloomers and College senior Trudel Pare said.

Founded in 1978, Bloomers is the nation’s first collegiate all-women’s comedy sketch group. They are well-established at Penn, which is a privilege that not many other female comedy groups enjoy, Basha said. To that end, a core mission of LaughtHERfest is to provide a platform and community for female comedians who may not have access to one on their own campuses.

Basha pointed to the students from Brown who set up the university’s first and only all female comedy sketch group, Skorts, after attending last year’s LaughtHERfest.

She added, “This is the kind of thing that is so important and why we want to continue inviting other schools to this event.”

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