Living in the first year of the 21st century, it's tempting to think women have proved themselves equal to men in every field imaginable. Right now in Afghanistan female pilots are dropping bombs for the first time. But according to Melissa Nichols and Niki Key, founders of Houston's newest female comedy troupe, Lip Schtick Donnas (and, we must admit, employees of the Houston Press), stand-up is stuck in the dark ages.
"Just look at the feature lineup at the Laff Stop," says Nichols. "About one in nine comedians featured are women."
She has a point. Three out of five comedians featured on the women's humor site Whatsshethinking.com are also of the male persuasion.
That's not to say the Laff Stop hasn't opened avenues for female comedians. Key and Nichols are both products of its monthly women's open mike, Brassy Broads. But Nichols and Key think women need less restrictive venues to expand their acts and attract new talent.
"If you get up on that main stage and do a shit joke, when you get off that stage [Laff Stop owner] Mark Babbitt is going to be standing there going, 'I cannot believe you did a shit joke on my stage,' " Nichols says. "One, because it's a B-room thing to do, and two, because he just doesn't like it."
So, to mix up the atmosphere and coax Houston's amateur female comics from the woodwork, the two women are headed to Rudyard's, where snootiness is prohibited and the Laff Stop's two-drink minimum is, well, laughable.
"People that go to Rudyard's aren't going to stop giving their business to Rudyard's because they were offended," notes Nichols. "And the chances of them getting offended are much slimmer than a bunch of people from River Oaks."
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So far LSD has over a dozen women signed up for three upcoming shows -- including Slim Bloodworth, a Louisiana/ Texas half-breed with a gauntlet of lesbian jokes so raw she once cleared a comedy club in Santa Fe.
"Most people sit at home and they watch Comedy Central or HBO, and they see stand-up comedian women on TV, and yes those are funny," Bloodworth says. "But when you go to a live comedy show and see the spontaneity and pure energy that comes out of that, it puts TV under water."
Why would a man want to sit through potshots about his football obsession and sexual self-centeredness? "If a man wants to know what a woman truly thinks," says Key, "go to a comedy show and see about five women comedians, and they will all tell you their soul, their heart and their brain, and you'll be able to see inside something that you would never have been able to before."
But beware, men: Just because you get to hear what's in a woman's soul, that doesn't mean you're going to like everything you hear. The creative freedom at Rudyard's is likely to result in more than the usual number of bruised male egos leaving the Waugh bar on Tuesday nights.