All-female improv troupe passes Bechdel Test
April 21, 2015
NYU is home to many comedy troupes — including decades-old teams like Dangerbox and Hammerkatz — but the newest team, Bechdel Test, is unique in that it is the first and only team made up entirely of women.
The president and founder of the group, Tisch senior Meghan Sullivan transferred to NYU after she was a part of an all-female comedy group at Muhlenberg College. When she started at NYU, Sullivan was shocked to find out that the university did not have an all-female troupe, so she decided to start her own.
Sullivan said she enjoys being a part of an all-female group, and is proud to take steps toward increasing the prevalence of women in comedy. While Sullivan recognizes women’s comedic power, she also is well-aware of the challenges that women still face in the industry.
“Women are hilarious and comedy groups are fun to be a part of,” Sullivan said. “I guess I am tired of waiting for female humor to become mainstream. I created this group because women are funny and they bring a unique voice to the comedy world.”
In doing so, Sullivan said she strives to combat the problems that female comedians currently face.
“There is a stigma around female jokes that they have to be one thing or another, well they do not,” she said. “Bechdel Test is bold brand of comedy that is run by women.”
As an improv team, Bechdel Test does not prepare anything for their shows. Instead, they ask the audience for suggestions to inspire games and then perform comedic scene off the top of their heads.
A highlight of the show occurred during a game in which Bechdel Test took a homonym at their show on April 17 as their suggestion, and improvised several short scenes revolving around this word. The subsequent scenes then came together to form a larger story, which was an intriguing process to watch. During each scene, improvisers created a cavalcade of off-beat characters including people who used their sorrows for inspiration in the weight room, a reality show for talented people with disabilities and advertising for a new toy that would release a disease and kill children.
The improvisational component made the show feel fast and fun, and the variety of humor kept the show interesting. The humor vacillated between being rowdy and intellectual, while consistently balancing being witty and bawdy, all of which the audience responded to well.
The improv comedians’ next performance will be on April 24 at the Comedy Prom, with fellow NYU comedy groups Free Beer, Home Improvement, Dirt Circle, Dangerbox, Pasadena Golf Club, and After School Special.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, April 21 print edition. Email Talia Milavetz at [email protected]