This past Saturday, while you were sleeping (in), hundreds of New York comedians flocked to Gowanus’ Littlefield bar to take a selfie. It wasn’t just any selfie though, and these weren’t just any comedians. In an effort pioneered by funny lady Jess Delfino (aka rape whistle choir director) and photographer Mindy Tucker (aka comedy historian), 200 of New York’s finest women in comedy came together for an afternoon of portraits, food, drinks and dancing.
Women from all walks of the comedy scene were in attendance: behind-the-scenes gurus Marianne Ways, Mindy Tucker and Annamaria Sofillas rubbed shoulders with weirdo comedy personalities like Sunita Mani and Megan Sass, alongside familiar faces in the alt- scene such as Elsa Waithe, Sharron Paul and Lane Moore. It was both a smorgasbord of local celebrity and a celebration of the comedians’ unchecked ambition to make their mark in the comedy scene, gender gaps be damned.
The central purpose of Saturday’s event was this photo above, taken by Tucker. If at first glance it doesn’t seem like a big deal, then look harder: it is one.
This photo offers a telling cross-section of New York comedy in 2016, and ought to dispel once and for all any rumors about the dearth of bankable, funny women. Brokelyn caught up with Delfino to get the skinny on just how this mass photo session came together, and what she thinks it represents.
Why did you want to do this event?
Because I’m crazy like that. I come up with extravagant ideas and I want to see if I can pull them off. And this was a simple idea that’s time had come. Why wouldn’t you want to take a photo of all the women in comedy you could get in one room?
Had you heard of anyone putting together an event like this in New York before?
How did you put out the call? Was it hard to get everyone together?
I made an invite and posted it on Facebook. I have self-esteem issues, so I didn’t expect anyone would even come. But within maybe the first hour or so, 100 people had RSVP’ed and I was like, ok, it’s a thing!
Were there performances or anything? How did the event break down?
When Mindy and I discussed it, the idea was just to take a picture. But she is Mindy and we share the extravagant ideas gene. She came up with a multi-media element of involving video and a dance list and Trish Nelson added food. Vicki Ferentinos and Williamsburg Pizza donated loads of delicious grub! And people brought other snacks and tampons and dressed up and it just organically grew into a party. There were no official performances, but there was conversation and humor and collaboration at every glance.
In talking to people, what was the vibe? Did it feel more like a networking event, more of a political stand, or like people were there purely for documentation purposes?
It felt like having a day drinking hang with over 200 of my best friends, or a sleepaway camp reunion. The vibe was incredible. Everyone was super warm and happy to be there. I heard of old battles that were put to rest and literally saw many new friendships spring up before my eyes. I was really busy organizing, I wish I’d gotten to chit chat more but trust me, I got a LOT of hugs.
When you look at the photograph of all these women, what’s your experience of it? Anything eye-catching about it?
We are friends, co-workers, family, community. We live and die for comedy and for each other. We’re like Marines but instead of protecting the world, we make fun of it. We got all your bases covered: tall short white Spanish Italian black Asian chunky nerdy characters stand-up musical moms transgendered fearful bold improvisers… we can do it all.
If you had to name a sitcom that starred all the women in that photo, what would it be?
You can’t tell from the name, but Sam is definitely a woman in comedy. Follow/hire her at: @ahoysamantha