Five women storm the stage. Over the loudspeaker Philadelphia-bred rapper Khia sings of her neck and her back and two specific parts of her nether regions while the ladies hump the air and pound the walls—one even does a handstand. They’re Super Human, and before they even get to the improv they’re amazing.
The troupe actually has ten members, all female—and I have to admit that’s why I wanted to write about them to begin with. A huge group of women “yes, and”-ing each other on a weekly basis . . . how cool. It’s “GIRL POWER,” writ large. But to think of these women only in those terms diminishes what they do and how funny they are. In fact, not wanting to be thought of just as an all-female troupe is part of what inspired their name.
“We didn’t want to have a name that spoke to our femininity, like ‘Vagina Gals’ or ‘Boob Troupe,’ because we are more than just an all-female group,” says Christina Boucher. “We are a group of talented humans that happen to be women, and we wanted a name that had some badass swagger to it.”
Each week the members come armed with a theme and a set of special instructions they take turns dreaming up; chaos is begat of order—the themes are organized in a spreadsheet. Tonight’s is 60s glam, so they’re decked out in vintage clothing and instructed (I find out later) to let the tumult of the era inspire their performances. Boucher’s gone the extra mile by wearing a bouffant wig. (Other recent themes: the Donner party and Blue Man Group, for which they all wore bald caps.)
Every show is different, and every sketch within it is informed by either the theme or an audience suggestion—and sometimes by both. In an early sketch Irene Marquette plays a good old-fashioned battered housewife having her hair done by Jo Scott as a feisty self-starter. Sarah Ashley takes a seat as director in the group’s most literal sketch, while each of the other comics performs a different monologue in the voice of a Charlotte’s Web character (Boucher’s shrill, judgmental goose made me blow beer out of my nose).
What is most remarkable about Super Human is the performers’ chemistry. The amount of fun they have gives the impression that they’d be doing exactly this even if they didn’t have an audience, a bunch of best friends messing around at a slumber party. And it’s definitely the more the merrier. “The group is a pretty functional ten-headed megamonster,” explains Devin Bockrath. “We love each other and have this tribal—dare I call it feminine—celebration and support of one another.”