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See Chicago's Top Comedic Talent At The Chicago Women's Funny Festival

By Gina Provenzano in Arts & Entertainment on Jun 18, 2015 7:05PM

Chicago Women's Funny Festival founders Liz McArthur and Jill Valentine. Photo from the festival's Facebook page.

2015 has already been a big year for women in comedy. From Amy Schumer pointing out ridiculous ageism, to Ellie Kemper's wide-eyed, yet savvy Kimmy Schmidt taking Manhattan while Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson survive Brooklyn, again and again funny women are taking the lead in breakthrough comedy.

This year's 4th Annual Chicago Women's Funny Festival feels like it's well timed to ride this latest wave of energy around female comics. Hundreds of performers will take the stage at Stage 773 to bring the laughs with a variety of performances, from stand up sets, to improv, sketch and everything in between, there's plenty for audiences to find funny. What started in 2012 as a humble way to highlight the many, yet often under represented women performers in Chicago has turned into a supportive celebration of ladies in the scene. In anticipation of the big weekend, we caught up with CWFF founder and Assistant Producer Liz McArthur to get the details.

CHICAGOIST: How do you feel the festival has evolved over the last four years?

LIZ MCARTHUR: Well the first year we had EVERYTHING, performance art, one act plays, weird dancing things etc. I want to say there was fire dancing or something but it seems like we would have gotten in trouble for something like that. So that definitely didn't happen... This year it's mostly improv, stand-up, sketch and one-woman shows. We haven't stopped accepting the weird stuff; it just hasn't been coming in as much.

C: What trends have you seen in female comedy in the last year? Have you seen an increase in submissions for a certain type of comedy form?

LIZ MCARTHUR: I think the trend IS females doing comedy and being really good at it and people taking note of that. Funny females are dominating TV and movies right now and that's only going to make it feel more welcoming for young women thinking they might be interested in doing comedy. (You are, gurl! Do it!)

We got the most applications EVER this year. Not for anything in particular, just overall. It was really great and overwhelming...and really great.

C: What kind of response have you gotten from the Chicago comedy scene?

LIZ MCARTHUR: I think the great thing about Chicago's comedy scene is how supportive everyone is. It doesn't feel competitive, it's inclusive. We found out a couple of years ago that ladies were setting up comedy nights in the backs of bars and in their apartments for groups to get together and help each other record their CWFF submission tapes. Which felt like a big hug from the community.

C: What piece of advice would you have for someone who wants to be in the festival next year?

LIZ MCARTHUR: Well, besides spending this next year getting out there and just DOING it everywhere you can and failing and getting back up to do it all again...I think the #1 important thing is a good quality submission tape. Make sure we can clearly hear and see you. Make sure the person taping you is not sitting in the back of the room. Also, I can't wait to meet you and have you in the festival!

For a full lineup of funny women and ticket information, visit