TV Picks: Once upon a time, women were not considered to be the right gender for comedy. Times have changed.
Premiering April 7 on Oxygen, new docuseries “Funny Girls” will combine up-and-comers onstage performances with their backstage lives and family relationships, which can often influence the very jokes they tell during their sets. Familiar faces like Margaret Cho, Janeane Garofalo, Bill Burr, Horatio Sanz, and Loni Love will appear throughout the series as guest mentors for the six budding comediennes.
Watch the trailer for the boundary-pushing series—which stars Scout Durwood, Calise Hawkins, Yamaneika Saunders, Nicole Aimee Schreiber, Stephanie Simbari, and Ester Steinberg—below:
“These six multicultural, sassy women bring real, bold humor to the male-dominated comedy industry,” said Rod Aissa, Executive Vice President of Original Programming and Development, Oxygen Media. “Their courageous, risk-taking personalities and inspiring journeys to follow their true comedic passion in life will resonate with Oxygen’s young female audience.”
“Funny Girls” goes backstage at some of LA’s underground comedy clubs to show what goes into creating a standup performance. The women work day jobs to pay the bills while they hustle to get on an open mic at night, honing their sets and learning from comedy greats. The cast will be mentored by well-respected comedians including Margaret Cho, Bill Burr, Loni Love, Janeane Garofalo and Horatio Sanz who appear as guest stars.
MEET THE FUNNY GIRLS:
Scout Durwood, also known as “Lady Scoutington,” is an acclaimed comedienne and cabaret singer who was recently named one of The Huffington Post’s “20 Burlesque Stars to Know,” Funny Not Slutty’s “10 Women Who Rock Comedy” and Stand Up Talk’s “Five Awesome Women’s Musical Comedy Acts.” Originally from Mission Hills, Kansas, Scout worked as a cabaret singer in New York City before heading to Los Angeles to pursue a career in mainstream comedy. As a stand-up comic, Scout has toured nationally and is known for her unique blend of storytelling, music and whimsy, spreading laughter and joy wherever she and her ukulele may roam. Scout is the author of four solo shows, including the one-woman musical, “Hi, How Can I Help You?” which debuted at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. She is a Moth StorySLAM Champion whose work has been featured on MTV, “The Howard Stern Show” and “The Mindy Project.” Scout recently recorded her debut comedy EP which she hopes to release this spring.
Calise Hawkins is a comedian and writer who hails from Jersey City, New Jersey. Mother to her 8-year-old daughter, Asha, Calise has appeared on numerous television shows including “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell,” “Shortcoms,” “Stand Up in Stilettos” and “Parental Discretion.” As a writer, Calise’s work has appeared on several major television networks as well as the Whoopi Goldberg pilot, “Spoil Me Mad.” In 2012, Calise was part of the prestigious “Just For Laughs Montreal New Faces Showcase.” Calise has opened for such notable comedians as Chris Rock, Tracy Morgan, Finesse Mitchell, J.B. Smoove, Jay Pharoah, Anthony Anderson and Damon Wayans. She can often be seen at Broadway Comedy Club, Greenwich Village Comedy Club and Stand Up New York. Calise’s style of comedy is painfully revealing and has been called “refreshingly honest.”
Yamaneika Saunders has been captivating audiences across the country with her dynamic stage presence for over a decade. Born and raised in Aberdeen, Maryland, Yamaneika has since tackled both the New York and Los Angeles comedy scenes by combining her high energy improv skills with a unique and vulnerable perspective on life. This combination forces her to go beyond the typical humor expected of stand-up comics and allows her to connect with audiences of all kinds. A recent semi-finalist on “Last Comic Standing” and cast member of Comedy Central’s “In Security,” Yamaneika has worked with many well-known comics from Paul Mooney to Caroline Rhea. Yamaneika says what everyone is thinking but is afraid to say out loud and describes her comedy as “in your face and aggressive,” especially during her weekly podcast, “Rantin’ and Ravin,’” produced by Stand Up NY Labs. She hopes that by sharing her personal truths on air and on stage, her comedy can be used as a ministry to bring comfort to others.
NICOLE AIMEE SCHREIBER
Nicole Aimee Schreiber grew up outside of Detroit with “a life of constant disappointment to her overachieving Jewish mother.” Despite being voted Class Clown for high school senior superlatives, Nicole did not pursue comedy immediately and graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Pre-Med and Art History. Nicole went on to work in international sales and marketing in the fashion industry before working in advertising, focusing on social media marketing. However, Nicole felt like something was missing, so she left her successful career and gravitated towards the world of acting, improv and standup comedy to satiate her need for knowledge, attention and rejection. Now a part time quirky café waitress by day and joke slinging comedian by night, Nicole writes jokes about her own life and how she feels about herself and others.
New York native Stephanie Simbari, a comic, actress and bonafide yogini, is making a name for herself from coast to coast. She can be seen performing regularly at The Comedy Store in Los Angeles and is currently opening for notable comedians Whitney Cummings and Ben Gleib. In 2013, Stephanie was a lead actress in “Coldwater,” an independent film that debuted at the South by Southwest Film Festival and also appeared in the indie thriller, “Liars All.” Stephanie is the co-creator of multiple sketches that appeared on “Last Call with Carson Daly” and co-hosted Glamour.com’s webseries “Why Do Guys: Comic-Con” in San Diego. Her comedy has been highlighted in LATFusa.com, Wildfang.com and in Golly Magazine. Stephanie’s style is fun, self-reflective and honest. She often performs stream of consciousness, exploring her life and relationships in a raw and unfiltered way. Her ultimate career goal is to headline a scripted comedy on television, host her own talk show, perform on stages across the world and empower women to do and be everything they could possibly dream.
Ester Steinberg, a comedy writer and performer based in Los Angeles, started her career performing stand-up on high school lunch tables in Tampa, Florida. While attending New York University, she took full advantage of the city’s thriving comedy scene and quickly became a regular at Caroline’s New Talent Night. Before long, she was touring nationwide. Now at the ripe age of 24, she writes and stars in “Becoming LA,” a web series showcasing her talent for sketch and improv through an array of crazy characters. Ester performs at the Laugh Factory, Comedy Store, Improv and has trained at the infamous Groundlings theater. She hosts her own monthly show at the Kibitz Room at Canter’s frequented by comedians such as Bill Burr, TJ Miller, and Natasha Leggero. Ester has been featured in Time Out New York and most recently performed at the prestigious Bridgetown Comedy Festival in Portland. Her style of comedy is smart and witty with immense energy, theatrical character act-outs and edgy one-liners.
For more “Funny Girls” content, fans can visit the official show site to see exclusive video (including full comedy sets by each cast member), behind-the-scenes photos, interactive polls, interviews and bios. Fans may also watch a series of jokes from the cast on Oxygen’s Vine, check out the official Facebook page, and join the conversation on Twitter or Instagram using hashtag #FunnyGirls.
“Funny Girls” is produced by Brownstone Entertainment with Jason Sands, Bob Gillan and Drew Brown serving as Executive Producers.