Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Mehran Show: Bitch spotlights women at Mottley's tonight

The Mehran Show: Bitch at Mottley's
It’s a well trod story in the comedy world, how women have often had to work just a bit harder than men – sometimes much harder – to get the same results. There’s a scene in Fran Solomita’s documentary on Boston comedy When Stand Up Stood Out where Janeane Garofalo talks about female comics getting booked. The attitude, she explained, was that, we had a woman on last week, we can’t have a woman on this week. Gender was a specialty, like a prop comic.

To some extent, that still happens. “I get that in any show, if you add two or more chicks it's becomes labeled a chick night, add three blacks comics it's black night,” says San Francisco native and current Boston comic Chantal Carrere. “I think it is what is and it's my job to be seen regardless.”

“Most shows are sausage fest,” she adds. “All men, and they don't say, ‘Hey come to the all mens show.”

Which brings us to tonight’s Mehran Show at Mottley’s. The name of the show is Bitch, and it’s an all female lineup. Usually, Mehran picks a kind of silly theme, like Boozebag (the comics get drunk) or Dude Looks Like A Lady (male comics in drag). This one is a bit more pointed.

Mehran has been in the Boston comedy scene for a bit over three years. In that time, he has been drawn to a lot of female comics. And he’s noticed they’re not included in the social scene that is the supportive tissue surrounding the scene.

“What I'd discovered in my own personal experience was that I wasn't seeing women taken into the fold the way men take each other into the fold,” he says. “I was noticing that women who showed/show tremendous potential, be they natural performers or writers, weren't getting acknowledged or invited to writing groups or asked to perform on shows booked by other comics. Meanwhile, I watched male comics come into the scene, show half the natural funny and get carried out on the shoulders of other male comics like they were Sean Astin in Rudy.”

Bitch, then, is a way to bring that to light. And also bring lightness to it. “I like alcohol and I put on Boozebag,” says Mehran. “I like weed and I put on Weed, I like men in dresses and I did Dude Looks Like A Lady. Funny bitches are better for me than black tar heroin and I packed a show with some of my favorites ever.”

That list includes Carrere, Myka Fox, Shane Webb, Erin Judge, Bethany Van Delft, Jessica Delfino, Maria Ciampa, Phoebe Robinson, and Sarah Heggan. And while they focus on the comedy, Mehran can bring up the gender issue.

“I think I have a bit of a luxury to be biting and bitter about it on their behest. It's like that saying-- you never want to be your own broker. This is my opportunity to fight and say the bitter stuff so they don't have to. They can maintain their dignity and I get to be publicly incredulous. It's a win-win.”

What makes an issue like this difficult is that it comes down to perhaps the single most subjective criteria – are you funny? Not everyone will find you funny, regardless of gender, and that’s hard to argue. The only way to dispute it is to get out onstage and make a crowd laugh.

“I think at the end of the day you must be funny and I am so I get paid,” says Carrere. “If I was some chick trying to play off her looks or cheap female jokes then yes, I might have a different answer but I have been blessed.”

Sometimes, that means breaking a bit of new ground. “I am in the Boston Comedy Festival and I just realized not one women has ever won,” says Carrere. “I plan on changing that this year.”

No comments: