Now celebrating its one year anniversary, Denver's all-female sketch comedy group, Ladyface, has become a strong counterweight to the booming male stand-up scene, often hosting the boys from Grawlix and Fine Gentleman's Club in their sketch-comedy vignettes, and working the mic themselves as solo acts.
"They're both totally different, but I go with whichever's working," says Ladyface comic Kristin Rand. "Whether a character works better surrounded by a whole bunch of people in a sketch, or to use it somewhere when I'm on stage alone -- just whichever cabinet it goes in." Rand and the rest of Ladyface will be sticking with the latter this Saturday, when they perform all-new sketch comedy at Bender's Tavern.
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"When you're surrounded by really talented, funny people, it keeps your bar high, keeps you working harder."
Rand sat down with us recently in the green room of the Voodoo Comedy Playhouse, where she was headlining. Many other comics drifted in and out, cracking jokes and working out their sets with the soundman. Most have done some kind of sketch comedy in the past -- whether live or on film -- and many have had guest spots with Ladyface.
"We've had Andrew Orvedahl, Nathan Lund, Chris Charpentier and Adam Cayton-Holland. But we've never had a female guest. When you have five women writing, there's always a date sketch, where you need a man," Rand says. But Ladyface sketches also have a Kids in the Hall, gender-bending quality since the male guests often dress as women, while the ladies play the men.
Described by Rand as "the brainchild of the operation," Ladyface comic Mara Wiles is a veteran of the Impulse Theater Improv Comedy, who wrapped together her friends Timmi Lasley, Rand, Melanie Karnopp, and Chella Negro, all known Denver comics except for the latter, who is primarily recognized in the music scene. "All the Ladyface writers are so cool to work with because they can write anything. Myra writes very broad, very conceptual stories, while Chella will write for other people -- which is something I rarely do. My sketches are all very character driven -- one very weird, quirky character, that I play."
A thespian at the age of seven, Rand hails from the rural mountains of North Carolina, where her pediatrician doubled as a theater director and infected Rand with a life-long love of the stage. "I grew up every night watching Seinfeld, and every week watching Saturday Night Live. So that's one reason being in Ladyface is so cool, it's my own, all-girl, Denver Saturday Night Live."
Working her days as a nanny, Rand says she puts as much time into stand-up as she does to writing and performing sketchess: "I try to do standup three or four times a week, and we get together to work on sketches as Ladyface once or twice a week."
She acknowledges that Denver's sketch community is notably smaller than the standup scene, though she feels that the two are often linked together, with crossover opportunities popping up at every turn. "We have a family in the comedy scene," she says. "We get together after the shows and talk about them."
Rand also notes the high standards she and the others keep for their all-female sketch comedy group, as women in comedy can sometimes be derided as unworthy of their male counterparts. "The ratio of women to men in comedy is lower. And I think because women are a minority, the bar is a bit higher. But this is what I want to do with my life. This is not a hobby."
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Ladyface will be performing on Saturday, September 22, at Benders Tavern, located at 314 East 13th Avenue. Tickets are $5-$7.