- Category: Arts and Culture
Eight women, three acts, two hours. Are you ready? The Short & Girlie Show have been doing their thing for ten years! The collective are about to do a tour to celebrate working together for so long. g3 got chatting to them.
g3: 10 years! That's a long time for you girls to be working together. Is it a laugh a minute?
Short & Girlie Show: "YES!" chorus all the Girlies. "Genuinely, it is," adds producer and compere Ali, "We come from Brighton, London, Bristol and Bromley so before each show we spend an hour catching up and playing improv games. Everyone gets hysterics at least once!"
"Fortunately our compere keeps us in line!" says Christine, one of the original line-up.
"We can't wait to spend 14 nights together," banters Other Ali (not to be confused with founding member Ali).
"We've all become really good friends." adds Kate, Short & Girlie (SAG) and wife to Ali.
g3: What have been some of the highlights over the years?
SAG: At this point everyone chips in, finishes off each other's sentences and talks in one big happy babble, "Performing at several SAGS wedding receptions. Hosting the main stage at L Fest. Doing a three-week run at the Ovalhouse in London in the early days."
"Performing on stage the night Kate and Ali conceived their daughter" says Mitch, and everyone gives a collective "Aah!"
The babble continues, "Hen party improv workshops. Performing in a cinema where we used the screen to play a film clip and do a comedy voiceover. Re-enacting the story of how Hannah's (the company's musical director) parents got together!"
Hannah explains, "I didn't know the full story until that night!"
It is clear the SAGs have numerous examples over their ten happy years together.
g3: How did the group come together?
SAG: "Most of us newer members came from audition workshops in London and Brighton," says Samantha. "And the casting couch!" sniggers Lara!
"The attraction of being a SAG is doing acting and singing without having to rehearse or learn lines!" concludes Christine. And the Girlies agree.
g3: And the idea of an improvisation show?
SAG: "Short & Girlie Productions started in 1999 producing theatre by new female writers," explains Ali, "We then moved into improv ten years ago because it's cheaper to produce! But more importantly, we became obsessed with performing good quality improv". The Girlies go on to discuss how over the years they have all seen sub-standard troupes.
g3: How has the comedy circuit changed in that decade? Do you see a lot more females around?
SAG: Ali acknowledges there are more females in comedy, "We first performed at the same venue where Hazel O'Keefe's Laughing Cows started, the Vespa Lounge in London, and went on to perform nights at Ingo's Club Wotever events at RVT and Central Station. We now have dates with both these producers on our tour, and it is great to see how they have expanded across the UK and beyond."
"There are definitely a lot more opportunities for us to perform," agrees Mitch, "nights like Lesbilicious Comedy. 10 years ago we would be scratching around to find a venue and make it gay for the night, but now we get requests from venues like She Soho to do our comedy at their place."
"Seeing more females in comedy inspires others to perform," points out Other Ali.
Ali adds, "Some of it is about trying to convince comedy bookers that a female comic is not a "risk" but an asset, it means the night will be that bit more diverse."
"Although there are more women doing comedy, only 17% of the stand-ups in Edinburgh this year were female", ponders Lara. The Girlies go on to discuss how things are slowly changing, particularly with great festivals like Women in Comedy and the work Funny Women do.
g3: Have there been any high dramas?
SAG: Producer Ali immediately jumps in, "The night where several SAGS suddenly became ill and we were left with only two improvisers! You can have lots of fun with two, but it's more fun with at least three women..." The Girlies all laugh.
Then Kate recounts the night they got kicked out of a venue by a power-crazed bar manager.
g3: Come on, you're holding back. You can tell us more...
SAG: With a bit of prompting, they reveal it was The Vespa Lounge, now extinct, in London.
"We ran across the road to First Out who took us in, even though they didn't have a performance licence." recalls Christine.
"And more recently we were playing to a mainly straight audience," recounts Other Ali. The others nod, knowing what's coming next, "We got chatting to a gay couple so we could re-enact how they met. At one point a fella shouted "If you want a normal couple, talk to me and the wife"... The Girlies chat more about that night, it was a packed gig, Funny Women Brighton Nights, that the SAGs headlined. He soon realised his mistake and was mercilessly teased for the rest of the night!
g3: Are you all looking forward to being on the road?
SAG: "YES" they once again chorus!
"We have never really toured" points out Ali, "We've done some lovely festivals across the country. And the furthest we travelled was a one-night gig in Newcastle for Lesbilicious Comedy a few years ago."
"We booked a minibus from Brighton" continues Hannah, "and picked up SAGs along the way."
"I know what's coming!" laughs Christine,
"One SAG who shall remain nameless" continues Ali, at which point the Girlies all turn to Christine, "had been on a first-date the night before and was over an hour late for the pick-up. She was also hungover!" teases Ali to a now sheepish-looking Christine.
"This was the same trip where another SAG bought her new WAG along and they were very 'enamoured' with each other," says Kate, "for most of the journey!!". It's Hannah's time to look sheepish now!
"Snogs and sickbags – we didn't know where to look!" teases Ali.
g3: And now?
SAGS: That first-date turned into marriage last year, the Girlies even performed at their wedding reception! And apparently the other couple are still at it!
The conversation then turns back to the tour, starting this Friday in Bristol.
"We are really looking forward to two of the SAGS doing a solo spot on tour" remarks Samantha, "Hannah Brackenbury sings her own comedy songs and has been described as Victoria Wood and Tim Minchin's lesbian love child! Lara A King is an award-winning stand-up with sharp humour and very clever silliness."
g3 has had a great couple of hours with the SAGs, and you will too on their forthcoming Spreading the Love Tour.
Check out how and where you can get a date with the Short & Girlies here www.shortandgirlie.com/uk-tour