Funny Girls is stirring up Grand Rapids with parody songs and period jokes. As the only all-female comedy group in Grand Rapids, this collective of funny self-identifying women are redefining what it means to be a female comedian. I joked around with Eirann Betka, one member of Funny Girls, and found out more on what it means to be a Funny Girl.
In 2015, Eirann Betka recognized the lack of female comedians participating in the Grand Rapids Improv Festival. “I called up some of the funniest women I know and we sat around my kitchen and brainstormed,” Betka said. That year, Funny Girls performed their first show at the GRIF. They read and mocked their old diary passages for the first time that night, and the rest is history.
“We realized that we have strength in numbers. We have variety in numbers. We have a lot of ladies PMSing at the same time in numbers,” Betka explained. The women that make up the Funny Girls range in age, passions, careers, and skills, yet bond over body parts and incredibly raw senses of humor. “We can’t speak for everyone, because we don’t represent everyone.” Eirann acknowledged that while they all may be different, they only represent the white, struggling middle-class, and are looking to be inclusive and do it meaningfully.
The Funny Girls crack jokes all around Grand Rapids that aren’t offensive or discriminatory, but instead challenge social norms. “I prefer punch-up instead of punch-down comedy. We don’t go for marginalized, oppressed groups, but rather the groups that are oppressing them,” Eirann stated. “We listen first, and then respond – not react.” They use the power of satire by poking at the political system and protesting systemic sexism.
This year, the Funny Girls have stood for female empowerment at the Grand Rapids Feminist Film Festival, the Grand Rapids rally in support of the Women’s March, and hosted a Galentine’s Day to celebrate female friendships. Being a woman is hard, but being surrounded by funny, fearless, friendly females makes the hard times funnier.
As for future initiatives, Funny Girls wants to reach out to the youth by inspiring kids through comedy. Funny Girls hopes to bring girls to that place of empowerment that comedy instills. By reading their old diaries in front of strangers, the ladies reflect on how terribly awkward and genuinely funny the teenage years were. Instead of feeling uncomfortable through the pathways of puberty, these comedians hope to encourage young girls to embrace the challenges of tampons, the first kisses (braces and all), and the discovery of their sexualities.
Fans-to-be can find Funny Girls splitting sides at the Fuse Box in Grand Rapids every month. Their website boasts that “women have a place in comedy. An important place. A place filled with boobs and faces and sometimes double chins, but always filled with laughter.” At every show, The Funny Girls create an open environment where everyone feels like a gal pal. To become their friends and laugh riotously at their antics and skits, check out their website and follow Funny Girls on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. And if you do see them around town, thank them for their contribution to comedy – badass femininity in all its forms and faces.
Written by Allison Donahue
Photo credit: Funny Girls Facebook