Headlining the second annual festival is comic Susan Messing, who’s appeared on Comedy Central and was once named “the funniest woman in Chicago” by Chicago Magazine. She presents her two-woman improv show Messing with a Friend with Chesterland’s Dana Quercioli.
Before the fest kicks off Sept. 19 at Mahall’s 20 Lanes, Messing provided some insights.
Q. Why do you prefer improv to stand-up comedy?
A. You can create something out of nothing, and then you leave it all on the stage. The beauty and the horror of this art is if you hate it, you’ll never see it again, but if you love it, well, you’ll never see it again. You take that risk every time.
Q. What can the audience expect from your Mass Hysteria show?
A. This is long-form, so we’ll get just one suggestion and see what happens. At the end, we’ll have turned a bunch of disparate, weird scenes into what really looks like a one-act play.
Q. What’s it like to be a female comic in a male-driven industry?
A. Ten years ago, if you’d asked me that, I’d be annoyed, like, “We’re going forward, what do you need to know?” But lately, it feels like it’s three steps forward, one step back. We’re going ahead, but we’re always getting a little pushback.
Q. Why is a fest like this one so important?
A. For women in comedy, it’s rare that we’re not on each other’s sides. With a bunch of other women, we always feel heard, as opposed to being the only woman in a room full of male comics, where we’re supposed to feel like a fly on the wall, like we’re lucky to be there. Women comics are going to plow through. The only way to prove it is to get onstage.
theater & dance
8:00 AM EST
September 17, 2019