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Interviews with Pro-Choice names in the media
Mel Heywood: Yes, I do! Sometimes, feminist comedy is just a woman being able to honestly speak the truth about her lifeóin a hilarious way. Sometimes it's grand, sweeping political statements about the world. There's room for everything. Feminist comedy means carving humor out of the everyday, originating FIRST from a place of anti-oppression & equality. Feminist comedy is born from fierce truth & love, and can be performed by anyone thoughtful enough to take on the challenge.
Katie Nguyen: I consider myself a feminist and a comedian. I wouldn't necessarily say that I have a "feminist act," as my humor tends to come from a more absurd, silly place where gender generally doesn't improve or weaken the structure or mental image of my material.To me, feminist comedy is that which refuses to rely on the audience's acceptance of heteronormative gender roles in order to relate and make a joke. It can challenge inequalities, make light of foolish stereotypes, or just discuss women and women's issues without feeling the need to offer a man's viewpoint (e.g. "Women be crazy, right?").
Bri Pruett: Yeah I do. So much of comedy is from a menís perspective, that any way my voice comes through tends to level the gender playing field in the comedic arts. Itís a lot easier to write from a womenís perspective because everywhere I go is uncharted territory; I think a lot of times boy-comics will write something and then find out some other dude has the same bit.
NPCO: What performers do you look to for inspiration about how comedy can be meaningful in people's lives?
Mel: There are so many seriously funny comedians right here in Portland who are producing excellent work & supporting each other, and that in & of itself is a HUGE inspiration to me. There are several women hosting weekly/monthly open mics and comedy showcases, and it is amazing. I think Portland Lady Comedy is the new Riot Grrrl. Seriously!
Mel: Of course! Humor is an amazing way to motivate people for positive change, and it's a great conversation starter.
I really enjoyed David Cross and Amber Tamblyn's "Gynotician" PSA. I was very impressed with how funny it was without coming off as preachy or self-righteous. The tongue-in-cheek humor really highlights outrageous legislation without communicating outrage.
Bri: Hell yes! Every time I speak from my perspective; it creates empathy for folks who havenít heard from me, and it probably makes someone else feel good about something theyíve always thought was embarrassing or shameful.
NPCO: What advice would you give to the public on becoming active in making difference?
Mel: Speak your truth, start conversations, listen for the quiet voices, have fun and be fearless.
Katie: - Seek information from a variety of sources, stay up to date
- Consider all the ways an issue can present itself and manifest in the lives of any and all people affected in any way. Exercise maximum thoughtfulness when forming opinions.
- Share information and resources (articles, websites, event info, data, media, etc.)
- Find local organizations that support your cause and ask them how you can help/volunteer.
- Realize we're all role models to someone. Strive to be the best role model you can.Bri: Your voice is important! However that manifests, thatís what you have to share. In fact itís your most powerful resource, making sure people hear from you.
Mel: Totally untrue in the modern era.Yes, there are definitely comedians out there still churning out backwards rape-joke garbage, but it feels like we are definitely in an age of 'comedy enlightenment'ósmart, fierce, funny people are taking to the stage in droves. THANK GOD.
NPCO: What's your experience with audience hostility?
Mel: I haven't gotten a lot of audience hostility at this point, but I'm not putting myself in situations where that would be likely to happen (a college fraternity, my Mormon family reunion, etc.). I perform for audiences comprised of women, queers, feminists, and allies. It rules. And if someone doesn't dig my jokes, I just assume their blood-sugar levels are low.
Bri: Iíve only had one heckle that creeped me out; that could be identified as hostile, it was at a sports bar in a part of town that was a bit unsavory. Mostly I try to stick to urban markets where the audiences are more accustomed to a lady being blunt about sex and other lady business, doesnít freak out the squares.
NPCO: Itís been said that if men were the ones who got pregnant, abortion would be far more accessible. What do you think?
Mel: Ha! Yes. As the hilarious Nasim Pedrad said on Saturday Night Live, "If men could get pregnant, abortion clinics would be like StarbucksÖ there would be two on every block, four in every airport, and the morning-after pill would come in different flavors like sea salt and cool ranch."
Bri: All I know is that my IUD is the greatest thing in the world, and every guy I sleep with tells me so.