The Only Girl In The Group

This is a guest post by Meghan O’Neill. Meghan is a comedian in New York.

Fraidy Cat promotional poster
Hi. It’s Meghan.

I’m a comedian. I mostly work in sketch comedy and I once belonged to a sketch group where I was…get ready for it…THE ONLY GIRL IN THE GROUP!

Unheard of, I know. Shocking even. Those brave men, finally stepping out from the shadow society bullied them into. Banding together to shout from the rooftops, “Penis joke1! Penis joke 2! Fart joke 2a! Penis joke 3!” All I could do was play their girlfriend to the best of my abilities without fucking it up too much.

Actually, this recount is probably the furthest thing from the reality of my former situation. I was in a sketch group with four really funny men. Four really funny, talented men who encouraged me, listened to me and understood the power of a really funny woman onstage.

That being said, I did play a lot of wives, girlfriends and old ladies. A lot of old ladies.

The real injustice of this is that a lot of the time, I was the author of those sketches. I was writing myself as the part of the patient wife or the bitchy girlfriend or the silent, sexy old lady and giving the spotlight to some other male person. On a good day, you’d call that generous. On a really good day, you’d call that stupid! Why would any writer/actor give up their best parts?!

It may have something to do with growing up and the number of sketch comedy female role models fitting on one hand and the thumb still being unused…just a theory.

Eventually, the group broke up. At the end of it all, I still had a lot of material. Some of my best material that I always held back on putting in one of the other shows because it somehow didn’t fit or there wasn’t room. Lots of reasons. Too many reasons.

I was out on my own and knew I had enough material to put together a solo show, and nobody left to hide behind. But there was one big problem. I was terrified of going it alone. So I did what any good writer would do. I made my fear the theme and show title!

It’s called ‘Fraidy Cat: A (sort of) Solo Show and it’s appearing Nov. 2nd as a part of the Ars Nova Ant Fest. You can, and should get tickets to come and see it.

Why should you see it? Because the best things in life are usually a combination of two amazing things. Examples: Griffins, pizza bagels, baby Shiloh and now, ‘Fraidy Cat: A (sort of) Solo Show. ‘Fraidy Cat combines the silliness of a sketch show with the wit of a solo show into what can only be described as a (sort of) solo show. And like the pizza bagel, this new hybrid was born of one woman’s deep, dark, shaming secret. Why is Meghan terrified of being alone onstage? Did 57 men really die that day in Vietnam? Do these deep discounts at liquor den come at too high a price? And does being vegan give Zooey Deschanel super healing powers? ‘Fraidy Cat reveals answers to all this in 30 minutes of sketches, songs and monologues. It’s so much fun you may never be able to enjoy a “regular” solo or sketch show ever again, just like you can now only drink Diet Coke with lime or date centaurs.

There’s singing, there’s dancing, there’s an impression of Zooey Deschanel. It’s fun, it’s weird, it’s written AND directed by women! Get out there and put your money where your mouth is by supporting ladies in comedy. It’s really great, I promise.

Thanks,
Meghan

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7 Responses to The Only Girl In The Group

  1. norbizness says:

    Jill Talley’s DVD commentary on this episode of Mr. Show (the first 3-4 minutes) sounds eerily similar to this post; she’s been in sketch since the mid-80s (starting off with Bob Odenkirk, Robert Smigel, and Conan O’Brien back in the day in Chicago).

    The quote is “if you guys wrote a good female character, you’d probably end up playing them yourselves” to which David Cross replied “No, no… we’d get Scott Thompson as a guest star.”

  2. mk says:

    Before shows, one of the other women in my college improv group used to joke, “Okay, I’ll be the babysitter, the mom and the girlfriend–you be the wife, the little girl and the talking doll.” Except she wasn’t really joking. When I was a frosh the group was just about fifty/fifty, but by the time I graduated I was one of only two women.

    To be fair, I did a lot of gender bending (as we all did) in scenes, and it would be hard to say that the dudes in the group forced us into traditional female roles, because hey, nobody’s making you jump on stage for a particular scene, and while a lot of your character comes from suggestions your scene partners make, you also have a lot of agency when it comes to character development.

    Still, I think there’s a lot to be said for all-female or female-driven troupes. Many of the most talented improvisers I know are women, and while I love all the guys I’ve improvised with or been involved in theatrical productions with, I’ve always really, really loved getting to work with a female director and other female improvisers.

  3. andie says:

    norbizness:
    Jill Talley’s DVD commentary on this episode of Mr. Show (the first 3-4 minutes) sounds eerily similar to this post; she’s been in sketch since the mid-80s (starting off with Bob Odenkirk, Robert Smigel, and Conan O’Brien back in the day in Chicago).

    The quote is “if you guys wrote a good female character, you’d probably end up playing them yourselves” to which David Cross replied “No, no… we’d get Scott Thompson as a guest star.”

    But Dave made the best looking woman..

  4. I wonder if things have regressed a bit. I’ve been watching most of the first few seasons of Saturday Night Live and have been impressed at how prominent are the female stars.

    Jane Curtin, Gildna Radner, and Laraine Newman each bought their own unique flair to the role, plus characters they developed themselves. Newman was more of a character actor, but still played a large role.

  5. Bridget says:

    Kudos to you for facing your fears and creating your own show. I’ve done one-woman shows before, they are a great thing to have in your repertoire (and you can rehearse without worrying about anyone else’s schedule conflicts)!

  6. HannahK says:

    Congratulations on your show Meghan, and high fives to you for taking ownership of your situation and creating a better one for yourself. I think as long as we comedians with vaginas let themselves be swept along by the tides of culture, we’re only going to experience the changes that our audiences think we’re ready for. It’s up to us to write better material for ourselves, find cool people to perform with, and teach our audiences that comedy doesn’t always have to be a straight masculine thing.
    In other words, keep up the good work. :)

  7. I’m in a sketch group too (the only girl), but I’ve been really good at keeping a feminist spin on our comedy. Here’s our latest video on free bleeding. ;)

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