That Time of the Month celebrates its 3rd birthday!

First impressions aside, That Time of the Month is actually a late night show hosted by a woman that your heart has long desired, but broadcast networks have never delivered! Once a month, Meghan Ross showcases all types of talented comedic acts including music, stand-up, characters, sketches, and general weirdness from women beings, with improvised commercials in between.

Before relocating to Austin, Meghan produced the show in New York for 2 years with co-creator Liisa Murray, featuring past special guests Aparna Nancherla (Corporate), Jo Firestone (The Tonight Show), and Akilah Hughes (Genius Kitchen). She adapted the show at ColdTowne Theater shortly following her move.

That Time of the Month 3-Year Anniversary Show is on Saturday, March 17th at 11pm and features performances from Andie Flores (Muy Excited), improvised commercials from Say Uncle (The Say), a Strong Female Lead(er) interview with Tiffany Lopez (OH TIFF!), stand-up from Avery Moore (Moontower Comedy), plus free champagne along with treats and giveaways from sponsors Zucchini Kill Bakery, Adamo Nail Bar, and OH TIFF! GET TICKETS HERE!

We spoke to That Time of the Month host and producer Meghan Ross about the past 3 years of That Time of the Month!

What was the inspiration behind That Time of the Month?

My fellow improv teammate and sisterwife from another misterwife, Liisa Murray, and I started scheming for our own variety show in New York. We came up with the insane premise of hypothetical TV network executives giving two women their own late night show (there are no women late night hosts on broadcast networks – Full Frontal with Samantha Bee premiered a year after our show, and that was on cable). Since these “TV network execs” clearly didn’t trust us to do a good job, we called each episode a pilot, and at the end of each show, we’d receive ridiculous notes from them on what we should change about ourselves and the show (written by us – shoutout to internalized sexism!).

In between our self-deprecating womonologue jokes that poked fun at stereotypes placed on us, we featured comedic and musical performances from humans who happen to be women, along with late night-style couch interviews. It was important for us to provide more stage time to women, since then, and still today, you often see a lack of diversity in casting and show lineups – both in the comedy scene and in the TV and film industry.

How has the show evolved or changed over the last three years?

Shortly after I moved to Austin, the 2016 Elections happened, so I took some time off from comedy to sit shiva for the country, and to get my shit together for the next iteration of the show. That’s when I decided to incorporate a Strong Female Lead(er) segment, where I interview an activist or entrepreneur doing kickass work in the community. It’s been one of my favorite additions, and I’ve met some incredibly inspiring ladies that have helped restore my sanity and faith in humanity.

Hosting the show solo versus leaning on my co-host Liisa for emotional support and general Stevie Nicks witchy vibes was also a new challenge, but it’s forced me to gain confidence in my ability to run a show by myself in a new city. Or at least pretend I’m confident for 60 minutes.

Also, for the first year and a half, Liisa and I would start the show by dancing to a song (for a while it was Whitney Houston’s “I’m Every Woman”) for the entire length of it (upwards of 5-6 minutes). We’d end up out of breath for our monologue, and when we kept running over our 60-minute slot, we’d be like, “Well, what unnecessary thing could we possibly cut to save time?” and proceed to include the entire dance intro for 20 episodes. It was inspired by how Abbi and Ilana used to start their Broad City Live show at UCB (gotta point out that this was pre-TV show, post-web series, because I’m a recovering comedy snob), since they looked like they were having so much damn fun together, and we wanted to convey that up top. I’ve retired that bit, and accepted that no one wants to see me dance alone on stage for that long.

Any memorable moments or stories?

During the third pilot episode, which was also my birthday show, our late night desk (a cheap folding table from the props closet) collapsed on one side right after one of us said, “Legalize pot,” causing everything to go flying into a puddle of champagne. It was the funniest, dumbest visual ever for our low-budget show and the best comedic timing I’d ever witnessed.

About a year after that, I got the brilliant idea to host a dog wedding on the show, and since no one could really tell us no, we did it. During the desk bit segment, we had a barkelorette party for the dogs, because dog toys look a lot like sex toys. We had a real ordained minister, comedian Lauren Brickman, lead the ceremony and we married off comedian Lily Du’s puppy Jacuzzi to singer Jessica Rowboat’s dog Frodo. The dogparents even read beautiful vows on behalf of their doggos, and afterwards, Jacuzzi ate a doggie cupcake to consummate the whole thing. It was pretty weird of me to force these dogs (neither of which are mine) to marry, but even weirder was when I ended up fostering and adopting my dog Dreidel just a week after the wedding. Second best comedic timing.

My Aunt Dawn, who was like another mother to me, passed away suddenly this past May. I thought about cancelling the May show, but realized she would have wanted me to still do it (not via some Field of Dreams voice, but more because she’s that kind of selfless person and was very supportive of my comedy). I dedicated the show to her and tried to include as many details in her memory, like baking funfetti cookie sandwiches for the audience, which were her specialty, and making a show playlist of her favorite songs. I wrote about her for my monologue as I was flying back to Austin, but didn’t have time to prepare a written desk bit. I decided since it was right around Mother’s Day, I would do an improvised “Call Your Mom” segment where I ask if anyone would be willing to call their mother on speaker at midnight in the middle of a late night show. Improvisor Laura de la Fuente volunteered, and her amazing mom answered the phone and casually chatted with us (in front of our audience) while rushing to catch a plane, and indulged us with an embarrassing story about Laura that had everyone in tears from laughing so hard. After experiencing a family tragedy, that episode really helped me use humor to cope.

What are you looking forward to – creatively speaking – in the next year of the show?

I’ve started partnering with women-owned businesses to showcase and promote women entrepreneurs and business owners in the Austin community, and in return, they generously provide the audience with treats and prizes. I’m also investing a lot of my time and resources to growing the show in 2018, turning it into more than just a side hustle. If given the opportunity, I’d love to make some real TV network executives uncomfortable with my presence.

 

BettyFest Interview with Patio Talk: A Legendary Improv Troupe who Happen to be Female

BettyFest was founded in 2014 by Patio Talk (Chrissy Shackelford, Juliet Prather, Amy Wright, and Kasey Borger), a comedy team based in New York City that originally formed at ColdTowne Theater in Austin, TX. Their members have been trained at UCB NY, iO Chicago, and of course, ColdTowne. We sat down with the ladies of Patio Talk to learn more about how they came together as a troupe, why they started BettyFest, and what their hopes and dreams are for the future of women in comedy.

AND SAVE THE DATE: BettyFest is an all-night-long event happening on Friday, 10/14 at 6pm at Spiderhouse Ballroom, featuring all-female improv and sketch troupes. All ticket sales will be donated to SafePlace, so be sure you buy yours now: http://bit.ly/2b5PEYY

How did Patio Talk become a troupe? Can you give a little history on how it all started?

Juliet Prather: We were all obsessed with how the others played so we made a Cagematch team just to have fun and get a chance to play together. It felt like magic so we decided to never ever break up. I guess it’s important to note that unfortunately at the time none of us had gotten to really play with just women or had seen only women performing together that much, so we think that was a big part of what brought us together and what made Patio Talk feel (and still feel) so special.

Kasey Borger: We really came together like any cagematch team, we just really enjoyed each other’s style of play, respected the heck out of each other and wanted to have some fun. We didn’t intentionally set out to be a team of only women, but when we did we realized it actually played a big role in how we played together and probably the fact that we didn’t get to see that or be a part of it often made it feel so magical.

Chrissy Shackleford: We met up and decided to submit to cagematch. We met up at Spiderhouse cafe to come up with a name and landed on Patio Talk because we liked the format of opening with everyone on stage character matching. Our first rehearsal (or one of the firsts) was at Juliet’s place. We just sorta goofed around and did some scenes and I remember it feeling so fun and easy and I was so legitimately amused by everything everyone else was doing and that’s something that is really rare that we just stumbled upon – this insane on stage chemistry we all have together.

Amy Wright: We talked about the form at Spiderhouse and wanted to do something very easy and fun that was as freeing as a montague without it just being a montague. My favorite moment from one of our initial cagematch runs began with Chrissy as a single mom hosting a sad Christmas and ended with us all going to the mall to see our deadbeat dad playing Santa. We respect and love each other offstage and it translates into onstage chemistry that’s hard to find just anywhere.

Where did the idea for BettyFest come from?

KB & JP: There are so many nights when you can show up to a comedy theater and see a lineup of all male performers and no one bats an eye, because that’s just the norm. We wanted to create a night that made it seem like seeing a lineup of all women performers was just as normal. That idea inspired the original tag line “a night of comedy by comedians who happen to be female”. We wanted to make it seem like that was something you could just accidentally waltz into as an audience member and enjoy just as much, because guess what, you can and you should. We thought, wouldn’t it be ridiculous if a comedy event read “A Night of Comedy by Comedians Who Happen to be Male?” It’s completely unnecessary because it’s pretty much what someone would unconsciously expect to see at a comedy theater. We wanted to sort of point out the ridiculousness of it. Who cares if the performers are all women? Women rock lol. Our idea was to showcase some of the most talented comedians we knew and, whoops, they all happened to be female. We wanted to make sure that, yes, it was about women but not just “lol a night of women”, but a night of very talented women who are comedians first and foremost.

KB: One thing that really stuck with us was when a teacher came to see a cagematch show that happened to be two teams of women up against each other and commented that he noticed the energy in the room was different when it was a night of all women performing. That was important to hear for me because it illuminated how rare of a night this was that not only was it taken note of that it was all women, but it also truly felt different than other nights at ColdTowne. We wanted to bring that same energy again in a bigger way.

CS: Agree with everything said, one thing that was important to us was that on the actual night of the show there was really no mention of “ISN’T IT CRAZY THAT WE’RE ALL WOMEN?” or “HERE’S A NIGHT TO CELEBRATE WOMEN IN COMEDY!” It was just a killer show with big laughs.

AW: Also a large part of it was an effort to encourage more female-identifying teams to perform at ColdTowne. We wanted to motivate women who might not have played otherwise/women who might be new to the community/women who might have been a bit intimidated by the typically male-dominated scene to play together. We hoped BettyFest would inspire these teams to continue playing together after the show.

What was the first BettyFest like?

JP: So fun!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was good.

KB: It was the best!!!! The turnout and support really blew us away for being such a new run of shows. One thing that was so cool was to see women look around them in their classes or in their theaters and create teams of people they thought were talented, respected the heck out of, wanted to have a good time with and whoops! they were also all women. It was just great to see right in front of us a bunch of teams of women whereas our experience coming up in the theater was watching mostly teams of all men. This is not to say these teams wouldn’t have already come together or were already together, it was just really great to look at the submissions and see how many talented women there have always been in the community and then see them teaming up.

As far as actually creating the festival, we treated it very seriously and put a lot of work into the marketing and making a show that would sell out every night. We learned a lot from that and took what we did for the first show into the second and improved on that. It was a great learning experience, personally.

And as far as just the logistics of the show, it was the exact same as the second iteration and, if I’m not mistaken, this third iteration– with a stand-up and two improv teams comprised of all women.

CS: Dude, it was dope. It was the first time I had seen a show sell out so fast that we had to turn away basically a whole second audience the night of the show – which was a great marketing tool – because if you’re already at the theater and the show sold out then hey why don’t you just buy a ticket for next week’s show! Which was so rewarding because we all worked our asses off to produce that festival. We put so much time, effort, creativity, and money into marketing the shows and it was such a joy to see the theater straight up lit for the fest.

AW: It was so moving to see the support from the community. Everyone got hyped up and involved. We learned so much from the first year and, like Kasey said, we really tried to step it up for the second year. The photobooth idea we borrowed from Waterbed and it really made it feel like an event. It was also a great marketing tool because people started sharing BettyFest photos on Facebook and Instagram. It was sweet to see a bunch of people with profile pictures of them holding maxi pads and champagne for a while.

What do you hope for in terms of the future of BettyFest?

KB: I hope no boy identifying boys are ever allowed!!!!!! Lol jk! But seriously, I just hope that it keeps on truckin’ and everybody keeps on having a good time with it. It’s our lil bb and something that is still so important to us. It’s great and exciting to see it blown out so much this year and in such capable hands. Maybe my true hope is that it actually becomes so completely redundant because of how many nights a week women are playing in comedy theaters that it becomes a relic of comedy’s past??!!??? Idk I guess I have a lot of hopes and dreams.

CS: I’d love to start burning penises at the 10th annual BettyFest. I think it’s great that it’s moving over to a bigger venue – since that was the biggest problem we faced that very first year – high demand and not enough seats. I guess I hope that in its future it still means as much to everyone involved as it meant for us creating it.

AW: I hope to see BettyFest end sexism in comedy by the year 2035. If this does not happen, I’ll assume it’s bc no penises were burned or even singed just a little bit. I hope that more and more teams form and begin rehearsing in order to submit for BettyFest and then they eventually take over the scene and destroy all barriers and live full, happy lives.

What are you all up to now? Any plans on making a surprise appearance this year? 🙂

JP: We’re all doing the UCB thing and working on our own stuff, but we still play a lot together which is rad. I feel really lucky to have Patio Talk, and I think BettyFest was a big huge influence on the entire team and the love we have for each other. But no, no surprise appearances planned. Unless that was a sneaky invitation ??? Hehe.

KB: I am incredibly famous now and you can catch me in the hit TV show “Seinfeld” or signing autographs for my current autobiography ”Still Kasey After All These Beers”. If we do all make an appearance it will literally be a surprise to us all!!!

CS: I’m moving from Brooklyn to Queens soon so understandably that’s pretty emotionally taxing for me. I mean, I’m taking my brand from Lena Dunham to Leah Remini, for crying out loud. Other than that I’m still grinding away, I teach at UCB now and my “solo” comedy show just got picked up for a run at UCB Chelsea starting this fall which includes surprise performances from Kasey, Amy, AND Juliet….so basically Patio Talk will live forever.

AW: I’m filming a partly improvised film in Connecticut and then heading back to NY to continue with UCB classes. PATIO TALK FOREVER. TEXAS FOREVER. CLEAR EYES, FULL BEERS, STILL KASEY.

More on Patio Talk from the archives.

Interview with Title Fine: We Got Game’s Laura de la Fuente

Title Fine: We Got Game is ColdTowne’s newest MainStage production. Featuring an all-female cast of eight players and one coach who play game-based improv in the off season, the cast is entirely composed of women who played sports in high school or college. We interviewed some of the cast to talk about their athletic experience and how they developed their characters for the show. We interviewed Laura de la Fuente of Express Yourself and all-lady super group SheSheSheShe to find out how she sported as a kid, and how she approaches her character, Madi “HAM” Bacon.

Laura de le Fuente, who plays Madi "HAM" Bacón,

Laura de le Fuente, who plays Madi “HAM” Bacón,

What sort of sports did you play as a kid? 
I played rec soccer in Plano, TX for eight years on a team that was really really dominant in our league for all eight years. We were called “The Phantoms”. And, before every game we would all put our hands in and say “ONE! TWO! THREE! (then whisper) *phantomssss*” Now that I think about it, that was a really creepy chant.  No wonder we won all the time.  That’s a good lesson – “Fear intimidates.”

I also played basketball and volleyball in middle school and softball as a freshman in high school. I did marching band in high school which is a hell of a workout in the Texas heat, so I’m adding this as a sport. I marched with the trombone, and I marched hard.

What is a favorite story from traveling with your squad? 
-While riding in the back of the bus trying to be a cool kid, the actual cool kids taught me how to make little baby feet in the foggy windows with your fists. I still make them whenever I’m in a car with foggy windows which I’m sure EVERYONE loves bc then when the fog subsides you have the cutest trail of little baby foot prints on your windows forever.

What drew you to this show? 
It’s a cast of bad-a** ladies led by a bad-a** lady coach. What more could you want?

How did you go about creating your character for the show? 

Laura de la Fuente as "HAM"

Laura de la Fuente as “HAM”

My character, Marisol (Madi) Bacón (but you can call me Ham), is loosely based on my softball coach in high-school who would say things  in a deliciously deep Texas accent like “Unhook the plow!” and “Five  minutes early is ten minutes too late!” Plus, I love how heartfelt she was about saying sports clichés like she was the first to ever say them, and her sincerity to loving softball as a way of life is something that’s in Ham for sure.

Do you think you’d be friends with your character in real life? 
Ham would make me laugh real deep, and I’d appreciate her sincerity with a fond heart, so yes.

Who do you think will like this show? 
Everyone.  Jesus, this cast is so funny and this show is so funny I seriously can’t think of a better way to spend every Saturday night at 8:30P in August and September than at ColdTowne Theater.

Recipes from the Garden

As seasoned hostesses, all the ladies of Gardenalia have a signature recipe that they delight in making and sharing with their fellow adherents. From cocktails to substantials, their recipes pair well with repressed feelings and overshares alike.

12916380_10156774399910204_8382063846891112251_oVivian’s Spring Fling Punch
Perfect for Weddings, Garden Parties, and non-Religious Wakes
– 2 liters sparkling water (if you haven’t tried carbonation yet, you’re in for a treat!)
– The juice of 10 lemons
– 2lbs sugar
– 1 oz pure cocaine powder 

Stir ingredients together in a crystal punch bowl.

Helpful hint: Do not give to children after 9pm as they will be impossible to put to sleep.

12439406_10156681644465548_1390907509237071307_nDorthy Bell’s Swiss Steak
Take 1 round of young steak, recently sacrificed, 1 ½ inches thick, pound well on both sides with the fervor of 100 women and knead into the meat as much flour and passion as it will hold, season with
salt and pepper.

Put into a hot frying pan, in which a large tablespoonful of butter has been melted, let brown a few moments on both sides, then place in roaster and pour enough hot water over it to halfcover. Simmer in oven until tender and serene, about two and one-half hours. Excellent gravy can be made with this.

Millie’s Farm Fresh Hard-Boiled Eggs12809698_10154656301533056_180461888952509044_n
Step 1) Buy chickens.
Step 2) Place chickens in coop.
Step 3) Wait six months.
4) Remove egg from coop.
4.5) Nuzzle chickens (optional)
5) Place in boiling water, wait 10 minutes.
6) Eat eggs.
7) Go pet chickens. They need it.

12400999_10154162932554623_7076393806822219034_nGeorgia Jefferson’s Friday Night
– 1oz Gin
– 1oz Gin
– 1oz Gin
– Pure silk scarf, white or jewel-toned

Don scarf. Pour liquid ingredients into Hernando County 1st place (Talent) trophy chalice. Add additional 1/2 cup of Gin, swirl in cup and listen to Andrew Lloyd Webber anthology on repeat.

Gardenalia plays every Saturday at 8:30pm through May 7th.  For tickets, click here.