All-female group livens NYU comedy community

Bechdel Test, NYU’s first and only all-female comedy troupe, put on its first show of the semester on Sept. 13 with much success.

The troupe is named after the evaluative rule that asks whether a piece of media features at least two women who speak to each other about something other than a man, and it shows that the group aims to bring a new dynamic to comedy.

Bechdel Test president and founder Meghan Sullivan created the group to bring strong female voices to the comedy world.

“I am tired of waiting for female humor to become mainstream,” Sullivan, a Tisch senior, said. “There is a stigma around female jokes that they have to be one thing or another — well they don’t. Bechdel Test is a bold brand of comedy that is run by women.”

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Their first show opened with a video of the girls spoofing the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge by pouring everything but ice water — iced coffee, sangria and flax milk, to name a few — onto themselves. The parody of the viral challenge showed audience members that Bechdel Test will wrangle any topic and turn it into comedy.

Seamlessly creating scenes using audience-suggested topics, Bechdel Test showcased their improv finesse with a blend of genuine humor and quick wit that made for an easygoing, enjoyable show.

The audience, receptive from the start to Bechdel Test’s clever, uncensored comedy, never failed to accompany each punch line with a burst of laughter.

“Bechdel Test does not have a particular brand of humor,” Sullivan said. “We hope to make you laugh and make jokes that you would not expect.”

The ladies of Bechdel Test come from various backgrounds, yet are still able to come together as friends and play off of one another’s comedic talents. Vice president and Tisch senior Anjali Desai said the troupe’s diversity fosters an interesting group dynamic.

“Each girl brings their own type of humor because everyone in our group has their own unique upbringing,” Desai said.

Although the four performers of Bechdel Test became interested in comedy through different channels, comedy is a bonding factor between them all. Sullivan comes from a conservative Irish family where she often had to fill the role of comic relief during fights. Desai comes from Indian parents who encouraged her creative growth. Treasurer Carly Silverman, a Tisch junior, comes from a witty Jewish family that introduced her to “The Simpsons,” “Seinfeld” and the Marx brothers at a young age. Secretary Rachel Clayton, a Tisch sophomore, jokingly credits her interest in comedy to her role as the ugly friend.

Bechdel Test is authentic and accessible. Each of the ladies complements one another nicely, whether they are performing a sketch together, working off each other’s jokes in an improv scene or even just speaking to the audience.

“I think Bechdel Test is setting a great example for more women to unapologetically step out into not only comedy but also any area of interest they happen to excel at,” CAS sophomore Alyssa Mullaly said.

Bechdel Test aims to expand their presence at NYU throughout the year.

“We hope to grow our group and become more prevalent in the NYU comedy scene,” the members said in an email. “We will incorporate experimental comedy, and we might incorporate stand-up comedy into our shows. We do not want to box ourselves into one type of comedy.”

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Sept. 15 print edition. Email Avery Chang at [email protected]

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