The Edinburgh Fringe is truly something that someone has to experience to fully understand. It is thousands of shows from people who believe in them with all their hearts. Most of the shows were created for the Fringe and all of them have the devotion of their creators who are more than likely also their performers, directors or producers. It is a place where someone’s crazy idea gets one month of stage time and can become something wonderful or flop, and it’s entirely on the performance to capture the attention of the audience.
I think the nature of this festival to include anyone and almost everyone with an idea leads to some pretty incredible performances and draws performers of all types. While I was there I saw the Neo-Futurists do thirty plays in sixty minutes and an immersive zombie experience and participated in a traditional Scottish Ceilidh (Kay-Lee).
And in this incredible festival of inclusion and ideas, there were an astonishing amount of female performers. One women comedy shows, all-female sketch groups and female performers were all over the flyers plastered on every wall and fence at the Fringe.
It was no surprise that these females existed in the world of performing arts. They are ever present and always available. But I felt that it was the first time that I didn’t have to look for them. I felt that it was the first time that a female stand-up wasn’t going to be introduced by the MC with “our first girl of the night” or any other distancing remark about her sexuality. It’s unfortunate that I was surprised by this, but amazing that it exists somewhere in the world even if it’s just for one month.
But more than just the pervasiveness of female performers, there wasn’t a palpable distance between any of the performers based on experience level. In my experience, experienced performers distance themselves from rising performers. The absence of this may be that all of these acts are relatively unknown. However, those who received acclaim during the festival were still grounded individuals that would happily to have a conversation about their work with anyone.
The success of your show at the Fringe is not guaranteed. It makes you throw off your securities and be open to any performance. Each show must prove itself every time it comes back to the Fringe.
If you don’t go to the Fringe because it is basically a summer camp for adults and you don’t go for the amazing theater (which you should). Go for the experience of feeling like one person pursuing an incredible dream with thousands of others and all being equal for one month.
To kick off our new Inspiring Women Series, we chose a woman who is a prominent figure at The Ohio State University in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies and Film Studies. Dr. Mizejewski’s classes focus on women in media, particularly film, and body politics. Professor Mizejewski recently released a novel titled, Pretty/Funny, which examines the politics of women in comedy, and focuses on the careers of Tina Fey, Ellen DeGeneres, Wanda Sykes and many more.
Below (or you can watch the interview on our YouTube channel) you will find our recent interview with Professor Mizejewski where she spoke to us about this book, the classes she teaches, body politics and upcoming projects in detail.
Sasheer Zamata recently joined the cast of Saturday Night Live as the “first black woman since Maya Rudolph”. With this casting addition – and long before – there are people constantly wondering, “Is it hard being a female comedian?”. Sasheer titles her website, “Sasheer Zamata: Funny Person”, distinctly leaving out any pronoun. The previous question implies that it should be difficult or different or an anomaly to be a female comedian. What separates female comedians from male comedians is this question and the lazy MC introduction: “We now have a girl coming up to the mic”.
It’s hard to be a comedian. Sasheer Zamata is a wonderful comedic talent and deserves to be on SNL. We should celebrate the fabulous comedian that she is and all the similarly talented African-American women that SNL can, and should, employ.
That being said, SNL desperately needed to hire an African-American female to their cast. There are and have been so many black, female icons in popular culture. Further, if a show intends on making contemporary criticism of our culture, there is a need for that cast to be as diverse as those that inhabit our nation. Let us also have fantastic comedians who do it. And we will be fortunate enough to watch Sasheer do it. Her character reel includes celebrities like Oprah, Rihanna, Nikki Minaj and Beyonce.
Further, Sasheer is a versatile character actress who has proved capable to perform as a distraught vegan chef who just wants to control her show or a overzealous Best Buy attendant who is a part of the latest technology and many more. She will certainly benefit the show on screen and off as she also has extensive writing credits, which include work with the Upright Citizens Brigade.
Sasheer is joined in the writing staff by two other writers, LaKendra Tookes and Leslie Jones, both of which have proved themselves capable in their lustrous careers thus far. The addition of these wonderful comedians will certainly expand the voice of SNL in a positive direction. We can not wait to see what is in store when they begin on Jan 18.