I Love Your Style: Jessica Delfino

jessica delfino stripped stories

Jessica Delfino at Stripped Stories - Photo: Francine Daveta

I Love Your Style
Jessica Delfino

By Giulia Rozzi

Style is an extension of your persona. When you’re onstage exposing that persona, what you wear can say a lot about who you are. I think lady comics have some killer style, in this new column I’ll pick one fabulously fashionable funny female to invite us into her closet to discuss her style inspirations and maybe even offer up some garb for grabs.

This week’s style spotlight: JESSICA DELFINO!

Oh the wonderful Jessica Delfino. No one else can make a rape whistle sound so rockin’ while also being publicly denounced by the Catholic League. Amazing! And she does it all in hip, colorful, dazzling style. This ECNY winner for Best Musical Act has appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America, The Sundance Channel, Fox News’ Red Eye, and she’s played the Montreal Comedy Festival, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and The Dublin Comedy Festival. Described as “The Joan Baez of the Vagina Song” by Blender Magazine’s Rob Tannenbaum, Delfino has the impressive ability to use naughty words in the most intelligent way, and with the most delightfully catchy beat. (If you have yet to see the adorable, brilliant I Wanna Be Famous video by Jessica & Nick Fox-Gieg, watch it NOW!) Jessica Delfino gets people to laugh, toe-tap, and think. A smart, sassy, hilarious, force-to-be-reckon-with, glittery, gorgeous girl? Now that’s fashionable!

I love your style!

Thanks!!!

How do you think your style reflects who you are/what does your style say about you?

It allows me to express how I feel on any particular day. It can say, “Get out of my way, jerk hole, I’m a rock star!” Or a more classy, “I am feeling very thoughtful and introverted”. I like to name my outfits, like, what I’m wearing today is called, “SuperBitch” because it caters to and blends the meeting, rehearsal and two shows I have today, and I look and feel good, like an ass-kicking fox.

Is your onstage wardrobe different than your day-to-day clothes?

I try to make them work together. I want to look good but stay functional. Some days I’m at auditions and meetings all day and I don’t have time to go home to change before shows. I don’t want to have to cart a suitcase around with me, lest I look like I’m on my way to my job as a stewardess or a stripper. Both of which are A+ jobs. But I am neither. Anymore.

What’s your favorite onstage outfit?

I like this striped jacked plaid-ish skirt combo I have which is potentially seizure-inducing and guaranteed to keep most creep wads and turd captains from messing with me before or after my shows.

Jessica Delfino TimeOut

This "seizure inducing" look got Delfino named one of TimeOut Magazine's "Most Stylish New Yorkers"- Photo: TimeOut

What’s your favorite off-stage outfit?

I like leggings and a soft cotton shirt paired with a flowing knee length skirt and pointy witch shoes, a cute jacket over it all. Sort of “funky librarian,” if you will.

Ukelele Jessica Delfino

The funky librarian look.

What are your style inspirations and/or favorite designers?

Models on toy and cereal boxes, random mannequins, gay men, Obama’s daughters and children in general—kids’ clothes are always so great, covered in sequins and glitter with bows and fun patterns—some of my favorite clothes items are rare finds of kids’ clothes in giant sizes. Designers, take note and please start making kids clothes and shoes in my size. Designers I love include Pat Field and Cynthia Rowley. I love how their clothes are almost prostitutical but yet so undeniably lovable. I also love Malene Birger. She’s Danish, an artist, really, who’s medium is fabric. She’s just on a totally other level.

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Gorgeous Ladies Of Historical Comedy: Mercy Otis Warren

Mercy Otis WarrenGorgeous Ladies of Historical Comedy
Mercy Otis Warren
By Nicole Drespel

WELCOME to Gorgeous Ladies of Historical Comedy. According to the annual Presidential Proclamation, March is Women’s History Month. To celebrate, over the next five weeks, G.L.O.C. NICOLE DRESPEL will shine spotlight on a few of her favorite funny women from the olden days. This week: America’s first female playwright, MERCY OTIS WARREN.

I’m so excited about this week’s subject that President Obama should issue a proclamation to keep me from writing this entire post in capital letters! I’m going to try to exercise restraint. But first, here are some more exclamation points: Revolutionary! Playwright! Patriot! Friend of Abigail Adams!

Mercy Otis Warren was born in 1728 to a Mayflower descendant and farmer/judge/merchant/political activist.  (People had a lot of jobs back then.) Nobody thought to send girls to school, so Mercy got the leftovers from her brothers’ tutors and became a total smartypants on her own. Years later, she’d make epistolary contact with the most important minds of the time: George Washington. Thomas Jefferson. John Adams. Do not get into a Founding Fathers namedropping competition with Mercy Otis Warren. She will kick your ass.

It’s taking all of my restraint not to totally nerd out about Warren’s Badass Revolutionary cred. I’m like, bursting with Sons of Liberty and Committees of Correspondence excitement. (Somebody give me a book deal. Pitch: Light on research. Heavy on enthusiasm. There can be pictures.) And then there’s her loving and supportive marriage to fellow patriot James Warren. Swoon. But I know you’re here for the comedy, so let’s get to it.

Beginning in 1772, Warren wrote several plays and poems about the British government in the colonies. For safety reasons, she published anonymously. Warren had high standards for everyone and low tolerance for bad behavior, eventually gaining her the nickname the “Conscience of the Revolution.” Tories and fickle Patriots were targeted as often as the British. But it wasn’t about judgment. Warren used satire to highlight what was wrong, in the hopes of making things right.

The year we signed the Declaration, Warren published The Blockheads. British soldiers and Loyalists had just evacuated Boston and were en route to Canada. (Even two-hundred years ago, that country was kind of a punchline.) Most of the dialogue is just whining. That’s a clever way of highlighting America’s success and drawing more readers to their cause. Every complaint is a disguised American triumph. The first scene is a round table of soldiers listing their personal trials in excruciating detail.

Shallow: Hard crusts and rustic bones have never till now become my diet. They do not suit my digestion. My teeth are worn to stumps, and my lips are swelled…My jaw bone has been set a dozen times, dislocated by chewing hard pork, as tough as an old swine’s ass.

Following this, Warren took a break for about three years. At the encouragement of her husband she eventually produced another play in 1779. The Motley Assembly focused on the frivolous preoccupations of Tory society. Everyone yearns for the days of British occupation because they threw better parties. While each character is silly, they’re also capable of making cutting remarks about one another. Gossip is something Warren was criticizing but it’s also the device through which her best observations are made. In the scene below, two American officers discuss the Loyalist women they’ve been visiting. Captain Aid has just run into a woman named Tab, who was “brawling like a bedlamite” against Captain Careless. He asks his friend to explain why:

Careless:…It is unnecessary to repeat the conversation. Suffice it to say it was upon the old topic, which they handled with so much rancor, and indecency, sparing none of us; and so very lavish of their encomiums, on the British officers, that, I confess, I felt not a little vexed; and in revenge as well as to divert the conversation, proposed their making each two shirts a week for the continental soldiers.
Aid: Did you by heaven? Well how was it received?
Careless: As I intended. Faith!  It operated so violently on Tab that I expected nothing short of an hysteric fit. Her efforts to contain her rage must have been excessive, if one may judge by her horribly distorted countenance.
Aid: Why I dare swear, Careless, it was her natural look, which you took for such a horrible distortion.

After the war, Warren focused less on being funny. She eventually went on to write one of the earliest histories of the Revolution. It was very Pro-Thomas Jefferson and very Not-As-Pro-John Adams which was kind of awkward because they went way back.  Adams wrote her a strongly worded letter in 1805 (he wrote a lot of those). In response, a 77 year-old Mercy Otis Warren told him to get over himself.  It wasn’t personal, it was about history. No one—not even a friend, mentor, and former President—was invulnerable to the Conscience of the Revolution.

Notes:
Play transcripts provided by Richard Seltzer, 2002.

Further reading:

Philbrick, Norman, ed. Trumpets Sounding: Propaganda Plays of the American Revolution. Ayer Publishing, 1976.

Join us for a party to celebrate the launch of TheGLOC.net on March 31st from 6-8pm at 92Y Tribeca (200 Hudson Street @ Canal)! Tickets: http://bit.ly/h4IfPF

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A (Southern) Charmed Interview with Jane Borden

Jane Borden, Gorgeous Ladies of Comedy, G.L.O.C.

Jane Borden

Recently published author & G.L.O.C. JANE BORDEN took time out of her busy touring schedule promoting her book I Totally Meant To Do That for a gorgeous interview with G.L.O.C. Jane spoke with me from her family home in Greensboro, NC about the Southern sense of humor, her history with comedy in New York and what she hopes to see in the future from women in comedy.

Congratulations on all the success with your book! Did you expect the response to be this huge?

I didn’t know what to expect. It’s really fun. I’m on tour right now so it’s a lot of reunions with people I haven’t seen in years.

What’s been the strangest part of being back home in the midst of all that’s going on?

A photographer from the Greensboro News & Record came and took a picture of me in my parent’s living room. That was really surreal.

You grew up in the south, how would you describe the Southern sense of humor?

Oh, interesting… I guess there are a couple of kinds. There is the kind that my aunt has and some of my friends from college where, because they are these very proper ladies with the manners and being sweet, nice, never cracking and that sort of thing, that the humor comes from whenever you break that character. When we were kids my aunt used to—and she is the one who is so proper—she used to pull up her dress, show us all her different undergarments, turn around and go, “Boo booptee doo!” and we would just lose it. When you’re so put together a lot of the humor comes from when you come undone. That’s a very specific kind [to my family], I wouldn’t want to generalize.

Where do you think you got your sense of humor?

The south is still very patriarchal, particularly the kind of south that I grew up in, and girls were just never as important socially. I have a lot of memories of, in particular high school and college, the guys having all the power because they threw the parties. I have a lot of memories of talking to guys and feeling as if I was being dismissed. It became this challenge where as soon as I could get them to laugh I knew I had them. I would watch the looks on their faces change from kind of being, “Uh huh, uh huh”—kind of looking over my shoulder—and then I would make them laugh and I would watch them become engaged and be like, “Oh! she’s interesting” or worth my time, or whatever. And it’s so twisted, I began to get this perverse thrill out of it like, “Ha! I gotcha!” The reason I say perverse is because they shouldn’t be worth my time, you know what I mean? But they were also kind of the only guys I knew—the crowd I grew up in. When I got to New York obviously I got away from that and people began to appreciate me without having to work so hard for it. But that’s definitely part of where it came from, to be treated as an equal I had to make them laugh.

What did you want to be when you were a kid?

I never really had a plan in my life, which I guess is why I’m 33 and just now figuring out what I want to do [laughs]. I mean, my parents and my aunt and uncle always wanted me to be a lawyer and they kind of said it so frequently that I guess I considered it.

What did you study in college?

I was a Religious Studies major. I knew I wasn’t going to use a Liberal Arts education in any truly applicable way so I just chose the one that I thought was most interesting.

Who inspired you to go into comedy as a career?

I went to see an improv comedy show at The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre when it was on 22nd street. It was probably ASSSSCAT or it may have been Harold Night—this was probably 1999—and I just couldn’t believe it. Watching improv was like the most fun thing I’d ever done in my life. I just wanted to sign up for classes. I had never performed, I had never wanted to be a humor writer or an actor any of that. I just started taking improv classes and it grew from there. A) I loved it and B) I was like OK I’m kinda good at this—I wonder… would someone pay me to be funny?

What was your first improv or sketch group and what did you take away from that experience?

My first improv group was called Magic Susie and it was a group that I put together from people I liked who were all taking Level 3 at the time. We got our own run of shows at that place Freaks Local 413. What did I learn from it? I guess not to be so scared. God, I used to be so nervous that I couldn’t even think straight and you have to be able to think, you know, with improv.

Was it the trust in other people or the constant performing that helped nip the nerves?

Constantly performing, I think. Also being with people that I trusted, because I chose the team myself I felt comfortable with them. We had a blast.

Have your parents ever seen you perform in NY and what was their reaction?

[laughs] Well they’ve seen it a couple of times and [the shows] were all right at the beginning and I was just terrible. I hated it because I didn’t know how to say to them “This isn’t how it always is!” And of course they came to a show once at the old UCB Theatre space. It was just a sea of 24-year-olds wearing corduroys and Chucks and my parents came in silk and tweed and the host was like, “Ok… who ARE you?” So that was a little embarrassing.

You’ve covered everything from spas to stand up for Time Out New York, how did that start?

First I got on the freelancer list for Saturday Night Live. That was exciting. I decided I wanted to start writing and a friend of a friend was starting up The L Magazine. I thought, well they’re not going to have any money so they can’t pay which means they can’t afford to have anyone qualified so maybe they’ll hire me… and I got a column! The magazine came out every two weeks and I had a column in it for more than a year about the culture of food in NY. It was a food column but it wasn’t about restaurants; it was a humorous column. They gave me free reign to do what I wanted. I really developed my voice there because I’d been writing sketches or monologues or stand up jokes but I hadn’t really written humor in a narrative kind of way. Those clips and the fact that I was so deeply entrenched in the comedy scene got me the job at Time Out.

What was the best piece of career advice you ever received?

Two things: don’t be afraid to work for free because you can really get a leg up that way, and go to every show, party, event and stay at the bar late. It’s all who you know. You’re not going to get anything just out of knowing someone, but if you have the talent and the drive and then also you have someone who’s going to open a door for you, you’re set.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to write a book?

Make sure you really have something to say. I knew that a book was… BIG. [laughs] And long. But I still wasn’t prepared for exactly how much work it would be and how many pages I had to fill. It’s a lot! I had a decade of time to mine stories and I still had a hard time finding enough to say. I mean, it comes. For example: people are asking me a lot right now, “what’s next? What’s the next book?” and I’m like, I don’t know and don’t expect it any time soon because I will be so wary of signing on to do something until I really have something to say. That’s kind of a general piece of advice. Nuts and bolts: write a proposal. If you’re writing a novel you have to write the whole thing. For a narrative, non-fiction you only have to write one-third of the book–you can find advice on how to do that anywhere on the internet—once you have a proposal you can start trying to get an agent. The book world is much more standardized than TV and film, which is a relief. I always feel like with TV and film it’s like I might as well just make a wish on a star [laughs]… you know? How does anything happen? The book world is easier to navigate.

Did you do any readings of your book on stage while you were writing it?

I did and I found that very helpful. There was one show in particular that Jen Nails used to do with David Silverman called Writers Working. They would have four or five writers come and you would read a piece and then the audience would give you notes. They would tell you what they loved or if they had an idea or a suggestion and then the hosts would collect them and send them to you in the mail. It was unreal; I just can’t even believe it existed. They’re not doing it anymore, but if someone else wants to start up something like that it’s a great thing to have in the community. So a lot of the stories in the book I workshopped there and then I would also tell stories at The Moth. That helped, too.

Jane Borden, Gorgeous Ladies of Comedy, G.L.O.C.

Jane works her book out on stage. Photo: Eric Michael Pearson

What do you hope people take away from this book?

That it takes a really long time to grow up. [laughs] I’ve been saying that contextually the book is about culture, class and being a fish out of water, but the root story of the book is about that decade after you get out of college and you run away from home. Then once you get away you kind of look back and understand and see home for the first time. That was a challenge for me—to find out what home meant—and that’s a lot of what this book was for me. The process of writing the book was an opportunity for me to understand home and to see and appreciate it in a new way. That was a wisdom that only comes with age and you’re really only granted that opportunity if you do leave home. I guess the take away is do leave home, but don’t forget where you come from.

What was your ultimate “New York” moment?

I say in the book that my quintessential New York moment was this one night that my friend Sean and I were by Port Authority in the middle of the night, because of course we’d been in an improv show or something. We were listening to my iPod and singing at the top of our lungs and it was this feeling of, “It’s 4 in the morning and I’m screaming and no one cares! We’re not disturbing anyone!” Isn’t this amazing you can do that in this city that just never stops? It’s kind of like everyone in NY is screaming at the same time [laughs], but it’s kind of fun to be a part of that. Immediately after I saw the reverse of it which was kind of gross and scary. I had this feeling of, “No one can hear me scream, isn’t that great?” and then I went “Oh my god—no one can hear me scream. That’s terrifying.” [laughs]

You’ve seen a lot of comedy, reviewed a lot of show, what women lately have caught your attention?

I love Morgan Murphy, I think she’s really fantastic. Kristen Schaal, obviously, is great. I like Sara Schaefer. I just think it’s so great right now that women who are doing comedy right now are being honest, or being themselves. They’re not trying to be something that they think will be marketable. They’re not being forced to consider that because they’re women they have to overcome some hump. They don’t feel as if they can’t talk about their specifically feminine experiences and that’s really an amazing thing because, specifically feminine experiences, are funny. We’re seeing that it’s not only women who are laughing at them, everyone is laughing at them.

Do you feel like there needs to be a shift on a larger scale in what people find funny in order for women to become more of a staple in the comedy system?

I don’t know. I think we’re heading in that direction generally speaking. The great thing about comedy is that it’s a meritocracy. People either laugh or they don’t and one of the “rules” of comedy, one of the ways that you can try to be funny or try to gauge whether or not something will be funny is whether or not it’s honest and specific. Right? Comedy is about specifics. The specifics of your life, of any situation and so the more that people are themselves on stage the better their humor is. When you say does there have to be a shift in what people laugh at, you know, what people laugh at is truth and originality and specifics of human experience. And so what we’re seeing is that holds true regardless of gender. So I mean the answer is for people to just continue being themselves do what they think is funny.

What would you like to see from the future of women in comedy?

More! More in positions of power because any time that a woman is in a position of power more women will join underneath her. That’s just how it works. That’s just how the world works and when a woman is calling the shots she’s choosing things she thinks are funny. And when a woman is doing the writing then the product will naturally attract more women in the audience and that will breed a feminine sense of humor and that will prove that the feminine sense of humor is funny. I think also the more women that are there the more diversity there will be among us and we’ll no longer be considered “female” comedians we will be considered, like, the “hipster” comedian or the “pixie” comedian or the “type A, Manhattan” comedian, you know what I mean? We’ll get designations that men have always had. When we’re categorized as “women” instead of by the nature of our personality, I don’t think it’s always because people are trying to hold us down—I don’t think it’s always sexist—I think it just has to do with numbers. That is the most defining characteristic for a lot of us and once there are more and more of us we’ll get to have those same specifics.

Jane, thank you for taking the time to speak with me! Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I’m really honored that you asked me to be a part of this. I think this is super exciting! I’m so glad G.L.O.C. is happening and that it exists. I think there was a time when women were reluctant to be associated with groups that were specifically “female comedian” groups precisely because of what we were just talking about or [laughs] what I was just talking at you about. Women don’t want to be considered a “female” comedian they just want to be a comedian and because of that they shied away from building communities of women and I think that was the wrong way. I think that’s changing which is good because those things don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

You can catch Jane reading an excerpt from her book at the G.L.O.C. Launch Party on Thursday, March 31st. Pick up a copy of Jane’s book, I Totally Meant To Do That, at a local book store or on Amazon.com and find out more about Jane at Janeborden.com.

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Kickstart Your Week With A Stop At The CAKE SHOP!

Kickstarter features the creative talents of the ladies who form CAKE SHOP. SHAMIKAH CHRISTINA MARTINEZ and TRACEY PETRILLO, have a Kickstarter campaign to take things to the next level. Let’s hear more about their project and experience with Kickstarter.

comedy, sketch, kickstarter, shamikah christina martinez, tracey petrillo, charactersSay we’re venture capitalists looking to invest in an amazing new 22-minute show…Can you give us your best elevator pitch for Cake Shop?

Shamikah: Cake Shop is the Cheers for the most eccentric characters in downtown Manhattan. Every one knows their names, because they are bizarre and unforgettable. The characters are strong and audacious with a female duo driving the cast. This isn’t a lady “comedy” rooted in chasing guys around for a baby or a wedding. It’s a mix of sketch comedy, improvisation, and a lot of wigs and mustaches. We set it to a soundtrack of music from local bands. It’s a place where indie comedy and indie music coexist. And no one is trying to get married.

Tracey: I’m not good at this, I would just wear a low cut blouse and giggle a lot, then slip them my reel….Sham? (She’d be the one doing the talking anyway.)

What is your process when it comes to approaching episodes for Cake Shop?

T:  I feel it all starts with pinpointing a specific type of person who’s behavior or point of view catches our eye.  Then it’s just building on who they are, what scenario should we put them in, and what happened that made them like this.  Once the loose outline of the person is created, they’re put in an environment and then the rest is free game.  It’s definitely scripted, but with plenty of room for rapid growth and even change.  We have a lot of fun figuring out the puzzle that is each of these lunatics!

S: Exactly. There are people around this neighborhood who are such characters that I wonder if they are really just comedians practicing in public. I like to watch them and take notes. I probably look like I’m stalking them. I am. It’s a lot of the if, this – then what game? If these 80-year-old ladies camp out in front of their stoop to gossip every single morning- then what else do they like to do? What else is important to them? And why don’t they care that they’re blocking the door?  Finding out the answers is a really fun part of the process.

Since Cake Shop is so female-centric, tell me who are the most influential women in your lives. And do they appear in the show in any way? Continue reading

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The GLOCdown: Kendra Cunningham

Welcome to THE GLOCdown: The best 30 seconds of stand-up, storytelling, characters or sketch from you, the G.L.O.C., brought to you weekly by ARIEL KARLIN.

Kendra Cunningham at Comix

Last week, LEAH GOTCSIK recapped the Women In Comedy Festival and clued us in that G.L.OC.S. KENDRA CUNNINGHAM and JESSIE BAADE may have gotten showcase spots at Just For Laughs as a result of the fest.  So of course, congratulations and funny video clips are in order!  Here’s a little sampling of Cunningham’s stand-up from a performance at Comix (too soon?) in 2008.
Watch the entire video here.
Want to be featured on the GLOCdown?  Send your 30-second clip (and only :30) along with a short bio to glocdown@thegloc.net.
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G.L.O.C.s Live!

Check out what these G.L.O.C.s are up to this week:

Rachel Cole, Singer/Songwriter Presents:
A Variety Show for the Hungry Heart


Tuesday, March 29th, 9pm
Le Poisson Rouge, 185 Bleecker St., NYC
Free
A monthly comedy show hosted by New York’s best loved and premier expert feminist singer/songwriter, Rachel Cole. The Ides of March has been a rough month. Rachel Cole, Singer/Songwriter, has decided to soothe her soul by inviting her favorite female comedians to perform on March 29th for a magical night of comedy, variety, and comedic variety.
Music by Rachel Cole, Singer/Songwriter
With Amy Albert, Naomi Ekperigin, Umberto Macdougal, Jackie Zebrowski and Beth Mirarchi & Rachel Tiemann

Totally J/K

Wednesday, March 30th, 8pm
UCB Theatre, 307 W. 26th St., NYC
$5
Totally J/K is a Clio award-winning variety show featuring the best stand-up comedians in New York City.
Hosted by Joe Mande & Noah Garfinkel
With Janeane Garofalo & more
Reservations: http://newyork.ucbtheatre.com/shows/2011

G.L.O.C. Launch Party

Thursday, March 31st, 6pm
92Y Tribeca, 200 Hudson St., NYC
$6
Come out for a night of comedy, raffle prizes, drinks and dancing to help celebrate the launch of TheGLOC.net!  G.L.O.C. is transitioning into a full-blown website and we want you there to help us celebrate.
With performances by Kristen Schaal, Jane Borden, Kambri Crews and comedy chanteuse Adira Amram & The Experience
Reservations: http://bit.ly/h4IfPF

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Aw, Snap!

Photo: Jason Falchook

G.L.O.C. REBECCA DRYSDALE fears the shear provided by Our Town‘s LORI MYERS in Gravid Water at New York’s Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre.

Catch Stephen Ruddy’s Gravid Water at UCBT NY with a new cast on March 28th at 8pm.

Tickets are $5: http://newyork.ucbtheatre.com/shows/656

TheGLOC.net launch party is only a few days away! Get your tickets: http://bit.ly/h4IfPF

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