by Taylor StewartPhoto by Erin Holsonback
Do you have an uncle that thinks that women aren’t funny? You need to de-uncle him right now. Or maybe invite him to BettyFest.
Austin has experienced a surge in female comedy performers and it is no coincidence that the scene has grown stronger and more dynamic because of it. Cue the perfect moment to highlight all the undeniable talent this city has to offer in the style it does best…a festival! This July, Patio Talk, an improv troupe comprised of ColdTowne Theater graduates Juliet Prather, Amy Wright, Kasey Borger, produced BettyFest for the second year in a row. Juliet describes the festival as “a little bit of a sarcastic celebration of vaginas being able to make people laugh.”
Every Wednesday for four weeks, they gathered the fiercest comedians in Austin and brought them together under the tagline “A Night of Comedy by Comedians Who Happen to be Female.” An apt description, as the members of Patio Talk have never been ‘funny women’ as much as they have just been funny. Seriously funny. So funny that every single one of them moved to New York City by the end of 2015. Before trading their breakfast tacos for bagels (comedians can only spend $2 on breakfast), they poured fuel into the Austin comedy rocket ship, pushed the big, red ‘LAUNCH’ button and walked away with deuces in the air.
Featuring a lady-themed photo booth (winged maxi-pads and tiaras, anyone?), the audience was primed with pink champagne and treated to an evening of laughs that was both self-deprecating and self-affirming. Stand-up powerhouses Kath Barbadoro, Abby Rosenquist, Maggie Maye, Katie Stone, and Ella Gale anchored the shows.
BettyFest also featured established and up-and-coming improv performers from different comedy theaters, including Kingz, Loverboy, SheSheSheShe, Toxic Chakra (ColdTowne), Crepes Suzette (The New Movement) and Physics Curse (The Hideout). Patio Talk headlined the show with their unique format, beginning with friends drinking al fresco and ending scene work that is often absurd, yet emotionally grounded. Their real-life friendship is apparent in their special chemistry that shines through on stage and makes everyone watching feel like they just witnessed something wonderfully weird and special.
When asked about how she feels about being a female and a comedian, original Patio Talk member and BettyFest producer Chrissy Shackleford says “I love being both. Here’s a quote from Steve Martin that sums up how I feel: “Be so good they can’t ignore you.” So next time you’re at a family dinner and Uncle Dirk starts complaining about un-funny women again, just turn on the television and make him watch one of the members of Patio Talk or any other female comedian that got their start in Austin. I guarantee they’ll be there. And Dirk will be laughing.”
Taylor Stewart is a comedian from Austin, Texas. You can see her every Wednesday night at ColdTowne Theater with the BettyFest-certified improv group Loverboy.