Monday, January 22, 2018
Events

At the Girls Night Out comedy show, women have the last laugh

Comedy is no longer the male-dominated shtick it once was. Saturday Night Live's funniest cast members are women. Then there's A-listers like Amy Schumer, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. And female standups are headlining more cable specials and Web series than ever.

In the Tampa Bay area, funny ladies are commandeering the mic with gusto. Among the shows, the recurring Girls Night Out series spotlights three distinctive standup comics on Thursday at the Largo Cultural Center.

Featured in the lineup:

Juanita Lolita, a comedian who eschews blue material and is not afraid to reference her faith.

Trish Keating, a Largo High School grad who says her parents are tickled to see her name on the hometown theater's marquee, and who delivers witty, sarcastic material about dating and relationships.

Aniria (one name only, please), whose set revolves around her family and Latina background (she's half Puerto Rican and half Salvadoran), along with her personal insights, with accessible, snappy humor.

"I can't tell you how many times I've heard, 'you're funny for a girl,' " Aniria laments. "I attribute this to some of our old-fashioned values that have been instilled in our society about what subject matter is appropriate for a woman to discuss or how a woman is supposed to act."

For Lolita, her challenges include making clean humor cool again at a time when raunch has become the norm in standup.

"I am a clean female comedian, making it even worse on me," Lolita says. "Not only do people think women aren't funny, most believe that clean isn't funny either. I am out to prove otherwise."

Keating, a theater teacher at St. Petersburg High School, comments on the weirdness of the dating scene. "In 2016, I'm dealing with ghosting: Men who date you and then disappear — like in a Stephen King movie. They're not even worth wearing Spanx for."

Joan Rivers once gave Keating advice about making it in standup as a woman. She said, "It's tough out there for women. We gotta work harder than the men."

"I think all comics have to work hard regardless of their gender," Keating adds. "Unless you're Pauly Shore. Then apparently you just show up without bathing."

For comedian-moms like Aniria, teenagers offer a wealth of material. "I anticipate that my son's room will still smell like a pet store for some reason, and my daughter will still be prefacing her mean-girl comments with 'No offense, but . . .' "

The Girls Night Out comics also get a little topical.

"I'll continue to watch some of the comedy, I mean debates, and see who will get my vote," Aniria says. "And if it gets too complicated, I'll just vote for Miss Colombia."

Pinellas-based comedian and promoter Michael Murillo organized the show. Murillo, along with performing his own standup, coordinates and puts the word out about local comedian showcases throughout the bay area.

He says bringing more attention to female talent has become a priority, and the fact that the Girls Night Out shows are usually a success helps, too.

"I think they do a little better than their male counterparts because there aren't as many shows that feature them," Murillo says. "How often do you see a comedy show and all the performers are guys? It happens so often that we probably don't even think about it. But an all-female show is something of a special event. It just doesn't happen as often."

 
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