Robin Maxfield came to stand-up comedy through storytelling, a skill she’ll get to show off this afternoon at Club Passim as part of the Women In Comedy Festival. She’s also a mother, which is why she has organized the Haha Mama Mother’s Day Show for the past several years. This year, there will be two Haha Mama shows (1PM and 7PM at Laugh Boston) featuring Bonnie McFarlane, Andrea Henry, Kerri Louise, Jane Condon, Bethany Van Delft, Roz Browne, and more. Maxfield talks about storytelling, the WICF, and more below as part of a series of interviews about the festival.
You have a bigger presence at the WICF this year. What are your thoughts on the festival, how it’s put together, and various acts on the schedule?
It’s wonderful to be able to collaborate with the producers at WICF. The festival is so jam packed with great events that it’s hard to choose which to go to and when you’re producing there’s even less time.
You come from a storytelling background – what’s the difference between stand-up and storytelling, in your experience?
These two worlds are not only merging more but they are developing respect for each other. Stand-up has structure that is measured by getting people to laugh as often as possible with the least words, storytelling allows a comic a longer set up and often a bigger payoff with a huge laugh. Really good stand-ups will have a story arc to their set, a theme that builds.
You’ve been doing the “Haha Mama” Mother’s Day Show for a few years. For the uninitiated, what can people expect from that night?
They can expect to be comfortably seated in the newest and most beautiful comedy club in Boston laughing at a hilarious line up of women comics talking about motherhood- a universal topic wrought with chaos, confusion and emotional roller coasters. Birth belongs exclusively to women, no one can deny us that. In fact, no one would be here without a woman somewhere being willing to carry them to term and then letting them live, whether they know her or not.
We’ve talked about “mom comedy” before. Focusing your material on one particular type of material can help your establish a comic identity that might provide opportunities, on one hand, to relate to an audience, but on the other, also limit other opportunities. Is that a battle you’ve faced?
The first time we did the haha mama show there was a mom who brought her 19 year old son along. I raced up to him and asked him if he found the comedy relatable and he said “It was awesome, I was cracking up!” I said “Really? even the menstrual cycle and blow job jokes?” He said “absolutely!” From then on I continued to ask the men of all ages including a group of gay men what they thought and it turns out EVERYONE loves Mom humor because almost everyone has a mom. My own theory too is that people like to see confident women expressing themselves freely, they not only laugh but they learn. It’s like having a window into a Girls’ Night Out, they don’t hold back because women find their strength in numbers. Male comics compete, females tend to collaborate, support and strengthen each other, at least that’s what I’ve witnessed.
You’ve got a great line-up for the show, as well. Anyone you’re particularly excited to see?
I’m super excited about our headliner, Bonnie McFarlane. I saw Jane Condon at last year’s festival and I was falling over laughing so hard so I can’t wait to see her again. Everyone in the show is super strong and we had so many talented women that we have a different line up for each show so you can go to both!
What’s next after the festival?
I’m thrilled to be continuing with the monthly Boston Comedy Chicks http://bostoncomedychicks.com at Doyles and we have excited plans to livestream the show on the Internet as well as continue running our workshops for female comics to work on their material.