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She-Devil Comedy Festival is funny as hell

Women get all the laughs at this annual comedienne competition.

Kate Wolff takes the stage at the She-Devil Comedy Festival, which runs Oct. 22-26Provided

“When you become a parent, it totally changes how you think about things,” comedian Kate Wolff explains from the stage. “I can't do dangerous things the same, ‘cause if I die, he doesn't have a mom. So, what I do is — I take him with me.”

The laughs that erupted in the audience help win Wolff fourth place in last year’s She-Devil Comedy Festival, established in 2012 by Steve Hofstetter and Jacob Morvay, former owners of the Laughing Devil Comedy Club in Long Island City. Inspiration came from a series of shows featuring female comedians called “She-Devils.” “People loved it,” Hofstetter explains. “We realized that a lot of people want to see more female comedians.”

Set up as a competition, with $2,000 in prize money and guaranteed work, the She-Devil Comedy Festival opens with a 60-comedian first round, with each performing two 4-minute sets. Through a series of rounds, the group is distilled to six finalists according to professionalism, stage presence, originality and strength of writing. No material can be repeated from round to round.

The competitive structure of the festival indeed adds new challenges. “You are being judged on specific criteria as opposed to being just funny,” last year’s winner, Pat Brown, explains. “You don't have the luxury of interacting with an audience, getting a feel for them, or letting them get to know you.”

“A competition is odd and artificial,” Hofstetter admits. “But it does help us see who is great under pressure, and who has a wealth of material.” For all the benefits, however, Wolff points out a potential danger: “If you want to be ‘better’ than someone else, I think you end up missing the point — which is to just create good art.”

Perhaps the most important goal of the She Devil Comedy Festival, however, is the opportunity it gives female comics to showcase their talents in an industry dominated by men. “The power is on the side of the male comedians, who choose their openers and features,” Brown explains. “A lot of the time, women comics don't get these opportunities unless they’re attractive to the male headliner.”

As such, supporting the festival goes further than the proceeds donated to FORCE (the only national nonprofit organization devoted to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer). “The more support women get, the more we feel comfortable to excel in an industry we choose to get into,” Wolff advocates. “I think society, in general, needs to become more supportive of women embracing themselves and boldly going after their dreams.”

If you go


She-Devil Comedy Festival
Oct. 22-26
Multiple venues in Manhattan
$20, www.nextroundinc.com/shedevilfestival

 

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