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.”
“While attending the festival you get the sense that the Philadelphia women's comedy scene is immensely talented while simultaneously feeling completely connected through community,” Eisenberg adds.
Rounding out the co-organizers areCaitlin VivianandJessica Snow, two respected names in the city’s improv circuit. Hailing from the performance land where literally anything can happen, they promise a variety of entertainment at this year’s event.
“If you want to see stand-up, costumes, dance numbers, improvised comedy or maybe a clown or two, this is going to blow you away,” Vivian says.
The first part of the Bechdel Test Fest will kick off on Friday, March 3 at 7 p.m. and run through 10:30. It will continue on Saturday, March 4 at 1 p.m. and again run through 10:30 p.m.. Tickets are $15 for Friday and $25 for Saturday, with a special $35 two-day pass also available. In addition, special discounted passes for individual performers will be available at the venue on the day of that performer’s stage time.