The “women aren’t funny” debate is tired; just ask All Jane No Dick’s Artistic Director Stacey Hallal. Starting on October 17, the four day long festival sets out to prove just that, that the argument isn’t about if women are funny, it’s about just how funny they are. The fest, in its second year, is a self-indulgent labor of love, created by the comedy veteran, creator and producer of both the fest and Portland’s first ever non-profit comedy club, Curious Comedy Theater.
“I just pick all my favorite comedians,” joked Hallal. Lucky for us, she has exquisite tastes.
“I want to keep it very small,” said Hallal. “I want you to be able to see every comic be amazing and unique and it can’t be too big for that to happen. We keep it small, only women and tightly curated.” When asked about facing criticism of separating the women from men, Hallal said simply, “My personal preference is to present the best—I’m focusing on women until they’re equally represented.”
While last years inaugural weekend was already a who’s who of break out comedians, this year has found the fest in it’s stride, featuring THE list of who you should be watching out for, and who’s about to break out. Featuring national headliners and local performers, the All Jane No Dick schedule is concentrated awesomeness. Here are just a few of the highlights.
I will never not include Cameron Esposito on a best of comedy post, so plan accordingly. If you’ve been living under an unfunny rock, and didn’t hear that Jay Leno called Cameron “the future of comedy,” then you’re hearing it from me. As one of last years stand-outs, and on the heels of representing queer women everywhere on national TV, Esposito returns to the fest this year as one of the headliners.
Esposito continues to take steps to completely eradicating the “women aren’t funny” argument. What gives me chills and makes me laugh while fighting the urge to sob openly while watching Esposito’s rise to success, is the overwhelming feeling that I am watching history being made. In an industry that is so ripe with talent, it is rare to be afforded an opportunity on a late night show. Even more rare is completely nailing a set, and what’s unheard of is Jay Leno himself saying “White men are on their way out! Lesbians rule!” Coming from an actual panel of experts, seems that statement might be prophetic.
Find her @CameronEsposito
Speaking of that unfunny rock, it was news to me that Orange is the New Black’s Lauren Lapkus got her start in comedy. Not only that, she has a rich history in the business and the YouTube videos to prove it. Curious how I missed the memo, I asked Lauren about her history in the business. Turns out, she’s in it for the long haul.
“I think I decided I wanted to be a comedian when I was in elementary school,” Lapkus said. “I was obsessed with SNL—Chris Farley and Adam Sandler in particular. I also grew up loving cartoons like Ren & Stimpy, Doug, and so many sitcoms. I spent a lot of quality time with my parents, I swear, but somehow I have seen every episode of every sitcom ever. Golden Girls, Three’s Company, Diff’rent Strokes, Full House—I loved them all.”
With her success in acting, seems comedy would be a thing of the past. But that is not the case. In fact, Lapkus is just hitting her comedic stride. “This is my first time [at All Jane No Dick] and I’m super excited to be a part of it, “ Lapkus said. “I love doing festivals. It’s fun to go to a new city and perform for a completely new audience who might not otherwise get to see all these great performers. And I love that this festival is all women! I did the Ladies are Funny Festival (LAFF) in Austin a few years ago with my friend Laura Willcox (our duo is called LapCox), and we loved getting to see so many amazing female performers.”
Don’t worry, she is still managing to squeeze in shooting the second season of Orange is the New Black. Beyond that, she landed a recurring role on the new season of House of Lies on Showtime and shot a movie this summer with Adam Sandler called The Familymoon which will be out in May. With all that success, and a hectic schedule to match, comedy is still in her blood.
“I definitely plan to continue doing comedy and I try to be at UCB as much as I can in LA (and NYC when I’m in town). My improv shows are so important to me and a lot of times the they are the best part of my week! I love live shows for so many reasons, one being that you can’t think beyond the present moment. I love losing myself within a show—it’s freeing. My ultimate goal is to have a wide range of roles I am proud of and a bunch of exciting projects of my own creation.”
Find her @LaurenLapkus