Female Comics of Hawaii Take the Stage
The Hollywood press has proudly declared a "golden age of funny women," with the mainstream breakout success of female comedians like Amy Schumer prompting think pieces about "the last gasps of mainstream sexism." But whether it's a golden age or a "cubic zirconium age," it's actually nothing new.
Funny women have always been around, whether or not audiences (or at least men) were paying attention. And a local troupe of lady comics is preparing for two upcoming shows to prove it.
The Female Comics of Hawaii, said to be the only all-female comedy group in Hawaii, was founded in 2011. "The Oahu comedy scene exploded" that year, according to troupe leader Erika Swartzkopf, and since then they have already staged two dozen successful stand-up comedy shows on three islands. Today, she says, they're firing on all cylinders.
In September, the group organized the inagural Wahine Comedy Festival, drawing a sold-out crowd to see an all-female line-up at the ARTS at Marks Garage. Emceed by Patrice Scott and including two guest performers from California, the two shows turned the spotlight on a dozen local Hawaii comics... including Swartzkopf.
She says her mission is to not only raise awareness of female comics, but to inspire and mentor new ones.
"Someday, maybe someday, reporters won't need to relentlessly ask me that question all the time: 'Are women really funny?'" Swartzkopf tells me. "Because they'll already know that they are, because there will be many more of them than there are now."
While the comedy festival was a huge undertaking, the Female Comics of Hawaii group is powering up for one more show this year at Nextdoor. Set for Saturday, Dec. 5, the 8 p.m. Chinatown showcase will feature eight funny women: Scott, Swartzkopf, Aimee-Jane Baxa, Mary Jane, Autumn, Porscha, Brandi Morgan, and Jasmine Bautista. It's an 18+ show, with a $10 cover, sponsored in part by Jonathan Wong's Pono Life Coaching.
"We are practicing right now and I anticipate a great crowd," Swartzkopf says.
After the start of the new year, a second show is set for Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016 at Downbeat Diner. After that, Swartzkopf is hoping to take her mission and message to the Garden Island.
"In May or early June, I plan to do a Kauai show at Trees Lounge in Kapaa," she says. "There really isn't any standup comedy on Kauai, which is why I am really excited to put something together."
The neighbor islands are an important part of the local comedy community, she says, and after hosting a show at Mulligan's in Wailea on Maui earlier this year, the Valley Isle will be due for another visit in 2017. In addition, has visions of hosting a Transgender Comedy Festival on Oahu someday.
Meanwhile, wheels are already spinning in anticipation of the second annual Wahine Comedy Festival next year.
"We have a big headliner from the mainland in mind for the 2016 Wahine Comedy Festival," Swartzkopf hints. "My hope is to have it at a bigger venue next year and grow it each year into something epic."
"While I intend to bring big-name female comics to Hawaii, my main goal here is to lift up female comics who live here," she adds. "Everyone in the show will be promoted, not just the headliner."
If you think you might have what it takes to be a female comic, or are at least looking to test the waters, there is a comedy open mic every Thursday night at Station Bar. "It is the best place to try out comedy for the first time or just come for laughs," Swartzkopf says.
For more information on the Female Comics of Hawaii group, visit the Facebook page. For Saturday's show at Nextdoor, check out the Facebook event page.