From Joan Rivers to Rosie O’Donnell, from Phyllis Diller to Leslie Jones, women have made a significant impact on stand-up comedy. While nationally recognized names are continuing to command stages, TV screens and movies, hilarious women continue this path even at the local level. On March 3 and 4, this impact will be felt in Philadelphia as the Bechdel Test Fest, a comedy festival for both women and trans comedians, descends upon the Christ Church Neighborhood House for a second successful year.
The festival came into being through an online group of female improv comedians in 2014, who had created a community around the idea. The name is derived from the Bechdel Test, which measures whether or not a work of fiction features at least two female characters having a conversation about a topic other than men. The modern-day test traces its roots to a 1985 edition of Alison Bechdel’s comic strip "Dykes to Watch Out For."
Rachel Fogletto, who has produced a number of all-female comedy shows throughout the city, including the monthly "Broad Humor" at Ray’s Happy Birthday Bar in South Philadelphia, is excited to be one of the event’s five co-organizers. “Our scene has a plethora of insanely talented femme comedians and Bechdel Test Fest will make sure you never forget it,” Fogletto says.
Fellow comedians and co-organizers Mo Manklang Kingston and Beth Eisenberg couldn’t agree more. They are excited to see the Bechdel Test Fest enter its second year with a bang.
“Last year, with our packed house and talented performers, we made a statement — there is a huge pool of hilarious women in Philly,” Kingston says. “This year we are even bigger with two days of comedy, featuring more than 60 acts and 130 performers.”