Starting Saturday night at Dallas Comedy House, audiences will get their first chance to see the newest all-female sketch show, Self-Aware? I Hardly Know Her. The show is a high-energy character study filtered through a comedic lens, a non-stop revolving door of costume changes, original characters and razor-sharp jokes.
“A lot of the sketch shows DCH produces are more narrative pieces,” says Maggie Rieth Austin, who makes her directorial debut with this show. “This is not that. It is a collection of characters and sketches with no overarching storyline or premise. I like to think of it as a fireworks show of comedy: every couple minutes you're hit with something new and hilarious, and the whole time you can't look away because you don't know what's coming next.”
The departure from needing to be tethered to one overarching story for the show, such as DCH’s previous works like Trump’d the Musical or Law & Order: Svusical, allows the show’s cast, Dallas female comedy group One of Us is Carol, the freedom to put complete focus on creating the funniest scene. Without having to continually push forward a plot, the sketches can be rooted in any subject for any amount of time. It’s an advantage the cast uses skillfully to their benefit.
The members of One of Us is Carol — Ashley Bright, Sallie Bowen, Bonnie Criss, Madison Frihart, Emily Gee, Jonda Robinson and Jade Smith — came together after Bright reached out about the prospect of creating a new production.
“We met and figured out a basic idea of what we wanted the writing and performing process to look like,” Criss says. “From the beginning we’ve all had a vision of what we wanted the show to look like, and I think it’s exceeded our expectations. I’m a huge fan of physical comedy, so I envisioned awkward falls, and dancing, and choreographed mishaps. I wanted it to be a compilation of I Love Lucy episodes.”
Smith says the mindset of working with such a versatile all-female cast and director was different from shows she had done in the past.
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“Every member of this cast has been entrenched in different performance arenas like improv, sketch, stand-up and theater,” Smith says. “Our backgrounds helped us cover all the bases. This show pulls out all the stops with physicality, theatrics and raunch in an unconventional way. It’s no secret that comedy — hell, the whole entertainment world — is a male-dominated field. Between us, we know what’s it’s like to have our ideas snuffed out or to be given praise that undercut our abilities, like 'You’re funny for a woman.'”
With Self-Aware? I Hardly Know Her, the cast and crew will have the opportunity to not only silence any backhanded praise but create a space where future aspiring female performers can work as well.
“I think the Dallas comedy scene is in a place where anyone can make anything happen,” Rieth Austin says. “If you have a good idea and are willing to hustle, there are theaters and venues across the city looking for unique programming. I know at Dallas Comedy House, almost half of the performers on their roster are women, which is great and not the case in all cities. So, probably everyone should come support this show written by, directed by and starring women to keep the door open for the future, right? That's the natural conclusion and plug for this show?”
Self-Aware? I Hardly Know Her will run from Saturday, Sept. 22 through Oct. 13 at Dallas Comedy House.