The Creators and Stars of ‘Baroness von Sketch Show’ Arrive in the States

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“The feminist Canadian sketch comedy series Baroness von Sketch Show has made a splash on the CBC and graces American airwaves on IFC tonight at 10:00pm. The half-hour show is written by and starring Meredith MacNeill and Second City alumni Carolyn Taylor, Aurora Browne, and Jennifer Whalen. Hilarious, smart, and original, the sketches vary in length and never fail to entertain. I talked to the talented bunch about the vibe of their writers’ room, their most humiliating moments as performers, and pigeons.”

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How Heather Fink Made Her First Feature Film ‘Inside You’

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“After years of performing standup comedy and making funny videos, Heather Fink struck out on her own as a writer/director. Paying the bills by day as a boom operator and sound utility, Fink got to work dreaming up her first feature film. The end product – Inside You – is a hilarious romantic comedy about Ryan (Marshall Stratton) and Stephanie (Fink), a long-term couple that switches bodies after the use of a magical (and frightening) sex toy. The pair set out in their new bodies to discover the wonders of the opposite sex and gain insight about their relationship in the process. Fink takes the Freaky Friday trope and turns it on its head, creating clever protagonists who avoid easy gender stereotypes and play against audience expectation. I talked to Fink about making movies, feminist agendas, and growing up funny.”

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On the ‘Vagical Mystery Tour’ with Lizz Winstead

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Photo: Mindy Tucker

“Lizz Winstead (co-creator and former head writer of The Daily Show) has put her passion for politics to work. After founding Lady Parts Justice League, “the first not safe for work, rapid response reproductive rights messaging hub that uses comedy, culture and digital media to sound an alarm about the terrifying erosion of reproductive access so people will get off their asses and reclaim their rights,” Winstead decided to take the show on the road. In May, LPJ launched the Vagical Mystery Tour, a 16-city national tour to bring comedy, music and activism to cities with some of the strictest birth control and abortion laws including Witchita, Indianapolis, Omaha, Birmingham, and Louisville. Guest comedians such as Aparna Nancherla, Gina Yashere, Maysoon Zayid, Helen Hong, Alonzo Bodden, Joyelle Johnson and more perform sets followed by a talkback after the show. At each talkback, local abortion providers and activists make the needs of their clinic known, giving an opportunity for the audience to step up and volunteer. The comedians also jump in on the outreach, pulling weeds, fixing fences, and raising morale at the clinics. I talked to Winstead about reproductive rights, the horrors of the Senate GOP healthcare bill, and bringing comedy to the deep South.”

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How ‘Teachers’ Finds the Fun in a Sometimes Thankless Job

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“Watch out, the Katydids are on the scene. Six improvisors from Chicago, all with names derived from Katherine (Caitlin Barlow, Katy Colloton, Cate Freedman, Kate Lambert, Katie O’Brien, and Katie Thomas) have released the second season of their hilarious TVLand comedy series Teachers. If you’ve ever worked as a teacher or sat in a classroom, the heightened personalities and antics of these elementary school teachers will feel frighteningly familiar. Executive produced by Alison Brie, the show is almost exclusively created by women. The writers, directors, and producers are mostly women which makes for some truly original plotlines. The Katydids take on breastfeeding, slut-shaming, girls in STEM, and sexism in politics. The show is hilarious, unique, and smart, providing an excellent reminder of why women should have greater representation in writers rooms. I talked to Katie O’Brien and Katy Colloton about the making of season two, the response from real life teachers, and bananas.”

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Dressing the Women in Blue

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Officer Pat Johnson with her child, in Los Angeles 1971. Cal Montney/Getty Images

“On a Friday afternoon in a small suburb of western Cleveland, Sergeant Tanya Sirl was finishing her shift when she spotted a burglary suspect on the run. Wearing her standard police uniform, she pursued the suspect on foot, leaping over a chain link fence in the process. She succeeded in detaining him, but not before ripping open the seam of her pants. “My pants got caught on the fence because the crotch was so low,” said Sgt. Sirl. “It ripped them from appetite to asshole. Everyone got to see my hot pink thong.” She made her way back to the station holding her pants together with one hand, and writing up her report with the other.”

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Wanda Sykes on Standup, Parenthood, and This Nightmare Election

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“In her dazzling new one-hour comedy special, What Happened…Ms. Sykes? airing tomorrow night on EPIX, comedian Wanda Sykes is quirky as ever. Though familiar in style, her new material on motherhood, aging, and breast cancer reflects how much life has changed since the days of The Chris Rock Show and Pootie Tang. Since quitting her job at the NSA in her thirties, she’s won Emmy awards, written a book, started a family, hosted the White House Correspondents dinner, advocated for the LGBT community, starred in her own late night talk show, and lifted millions of people up with her comedy. What a life! Ms. Sykes took some time to talk to me about her insights on work, love, politics, and parenthood.”

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