Jest for girls: Comedy class teaches teens to stand-up

Jest for girls: Comedy class teaches teens to stand-up
Photo by Jason Speakman

Girls just want to have funny!

A free comedy workshop aims to turn teenage girls into seasoned stand-up performers. The organizer of the one-day class “Gold Comedy for Girls,” at the Experiment Comedy Gallery in Williamsburg on Dec. 4, wants the teens to bring a fresh perspective to the comedy world, so the workshop is open to girls of every stripe.

“The great thing about comedy is that you don’t have to change who you are,” said Park Slope comedian Lynn Harris. “If you are shy or quiet and awkward that’s great — that’s your persona. Anything you think that makes you not fit in is your comedy power. I teach how to double down on that.”

At the all-day workshop, Harris will teach girls aged 13–19 how to write their own jokes, turning their childhood struggles into comedy. She will also teach the juvenile jesters how to take the stage, with advice on timing and delivering a punchline.

At a trial-run workshop last month, Harris said she was impressed by the comedic chops the students displayed, with jokes about siblings and stuffed animals.

“They were funny. One girl joked about thinking her little sister’s beanie babies would eat her,” she said. “It wasn’t just funny anecdotes — their jokes were written with rigor and perfect timing.”

Harris said she created the workshop to expand the number of female voices in comedy.

“I just wanted to bring more women and more awareness,” she said. “It’s a great position for power — comedy is power, and it needs more people of color, more visibility, different perspectives, because the more point of views, the more jokes and everyone needs that voice.”

Harris, a veteran comedian, was also inspired by the challenges she has faced during her decade behind the microphone. Female comedians still have to prove to audiences that they can be as funny as men, she said.

“If you’re a woman comedian very often you’ll be the only woman in an all-male lineup,” said Harris. “Then when you’re introduced on stage you have eight minutes to prove you’re funny. I have to prove that women are funny — I can’t just be a comic.”

This is the second time Harris has led the workshop, and she hopes to expand the class to an online platform that can reach a wider audience.

“I’m really at the beginning stages of this and it’s one small piece of what I’m building,” she said. “Workshops are very important because we are definitely building a business — because girls, we mean business.”

The workshop is free, but space is limited. Potential class members can sign up at the Gold Comedy website.

“Comedy for Girls” at the Experiment Comedy Gallery [272 Grand St. between Roebling and Havemeyer streets in Williamsburg, www.goldcomedyforgirls.com]. Dec. 4 at 9:30 am. Free with registration.

Giving her best shot: A student at the “Gold Comedy for Girls” class reads the jokes she wrote during the workshop.
Bayley Claro