“Nasty”, “Crooked”, “Crazy”, “Wacky”, “Sneaky”. Each of these adjectives have been used by Trump to describe women either during his campaign or in the first year of his “Presidency”. The 14th Street Y in New York City decided to take Trump’s boorish behavior and words, and reclaim them as their own. Laura Beatrix Newmark, the Producer of the #NastyWomen event, says that the idea of “Female Resistance Comedy” arose from a genuine interest for utilizing comedy as both a uniting tool, and a resistance tool. The black box at the 14th Street Y has been a force in downtown arts and theater, and they’re not shying away from resisting in the Trump era.
When you think about the current late-night comedy scene on cable television, there’s no question “resistance” is a common thread. Jimmy Kimmel, who was previously not known for his outspoken politics, has repeatedly slammed the GOP for their malicious attempts to repeal healthcare, and their inability (or incompetence) to fund CHIP for low-income children for months on end.
But, another common thread is the gender diversity (or lack thereof) from the late night hosts. From Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers, to Trevor Noah, Jordan Klepper and Jimmy Kimmel, to even John Oliver and Bill Maher, the “comedy as resistance” scene is largely dominated by men. Samantha Bee and Chelsea Handler (before she devoted herself to activism full-time) are the few exceptions to this rule. But that’s where #NastyWomen – A Night Of Female Resistance Comedy comes in.
Hosted by Alise Morales of Betches The SUP on Thursday, January 18th, two days before the 2018 Women’s March, the producers and comics sought to create a space where audience members, emerging female comics, and the 14th Street Y Staff could empower each other through laughter, camaraderie, and tangible activism.
Before the program began, Millennial Politics had the privilege of hosting an “Activism Happy Hour” where audience members could create signs and brainstorm ideas for the upcoming Women’s March. And once the program began, it was loud, proud, and in-your-face feminist comedy.
The run-down of hilarious female comics included:
Jena Friedman, an actor, writer, and filmmaker who has worked as a field producer for The Daily Show, and who has written for the Late Show with David Letterman. Her critically acclaimed stand up special, “American Cunt”, is available on Seeso and Amazon, and she has a special airing on Adult Swim on February 18th.
Aparna Nancherla, a comedian and actor whose credits include Crashing, Master of None, Love and Inside Amy Schumer. Nancherla was also named one of “The 50 Funniest People Right Now” by Rolling Stone.
Janelle James, a comedian that can be seen on NBC Seeso’s Night Train with Wyatt Cenac, @Midnight on Comedy Central, Crashing on HBO, and Uproarious on Fuse. James was named one of the “Top 50 Most Funny People In Brooklyn” in 2016, and has been featured in the New York Times for her outstanding performance ability.
Emmy Blotnick, a comedian and writer who is currently the Head Writer of The President Show on Comedy Central. Blotnick was named one of Comedy Central’s “Comics To Watch” and Time Out NY’s “Women of Comedy”.
And last, but certainly not least, Sasheer Zamata, a comedian, actress, and writer who was a cast member on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” for four seasons. She’s appeared on People Of Earth, Transparent, Inside Amy Schumer, Bojack Horseman, Night Train with Wyatt Cenac, and voiced the role of Maise in Nickelodeon’s “Albert And Sally in Call Of Duty: Infinite Warfare”. Zamata is also currently serving as the ACLU’s Celebrity Ambassador for Women’s Rights, and her standup comedy special Pizza Mind is available to watch on Amazon.
The program ran a little over two hours, and included sets from each of the above comedians, an audience interactive game from the ladies at Betches, and a talk-back panel afterwards with the comedians. The producers, hosts, and comedians all expressed a strong desire to ensure this is not a one-and-done affair; keep an eye out for more to come in the #NastyWomen’s series.