Built by ladies, celebrating ladies, the second annual Chicago Women’s Funny Fest draws comics from LA to PA who are prepared to lampoon whatever aspects of the feminine mystique they find particularly hysterical: boy problems (Crush), beauty regimens (ManiPedi, Portion Control), girlhood (the Improvised Baby-Sitters Club), sexual identity (Women of GayCo), smarts (Math for Girls), boobs (Stacked), sweetness (the Cupcakes, the Pop Tarts, Pirate Sugar), and gross (Heavy Flo, Wisesnatch, Just the Tip). Starting June 6, CWFF’s four days contain 80 acts of improv, storytelling, stand-up, sketch, music, variety, magic, monologues, mockumentaries, solos, and skits.
Opening night features the Pop Tarts, a Spice Girls spoof band, alongside improv trio the Cupcakes, who ordinarily perform with two dudes as part of Cake-n-Hatred (Thu 6/6, 8 PM). Highlights from the rest of the fest follow:
On Friday, CWFF creators Jill Valentine and Liz McArthur, members of the production team for the 2013 Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival, present Feminine Gentlemen, a sketch duo with “memorable characters, creative props, and unexpected plotlines” (Fri 6/7, 10 PM). Sporting a cast that’s half puppet (the other half consists of Katie Dufresne and Stacey Smith, who also perform in Snooty Pageant), Brouhaha improvises the opening and closing nights of a musical following a prompt from the audience (Fri 6/7, 8 PM). Philadelphia sketch group ManiPedi (named in part for the loss of feeling in the extremities caused by overimbibing) also makes videos on concepts like “Undercover Boss: North Pole Edition” or “Taco Bell Jar”—which is as ludicrous as it is morbid (Fri 6/7, 11 PM). Foul-mouthed Wisesnatch tests out advice both bad and good (Fri 6/7, 11 PM).
In the folk duet parody Gretchen & Regina, Emily Claiborne is the lesbian and Hillary Williams is the drunk (Sat 6/8, 9 PM). The ladies of the Cupid Players’ Cupid Has a Heart On present a goofy guide to relationships in satirical song-and-dance (Sat 6/8, 8 PM). Together for 14 years, Sirens produce smart, quirky takes on interpersonal relationships (roommates, stepsisters, etc) suggested by the audience (Sat 6/8, 9 PM). High-energy Kellye Howard was recently featured on the Oprah Winfrey Network show My Life Is a Joke; her stand-up routine explores laughter and loss (Sat 6/8, 8 PM).
Susan Messing, reputed to possess “one of the sharpest shit-detectors around,” is one of the Boys, an improv supergroup (Sun 6/9, 8 PM). In a solo set, superb director Angie McMahon recounts stories about being a mom (Sun 6/9, 5 PM). Armored with an outrageous catchphrase—”The tacos have thoughts”—Taco Tuesdays offer improv based on footage of their adventures speed-dating (Sun 6/9, 7 PM). Tara DeFrancisco takes the audience-input model and sends it to the moon: she performs a whole 30-minute set with a randomly selected audience member (Sun 6/9, 8 PM).