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April 26, 2016

WICF Interviews: Jessica Delfino, the Mind Behind that Great Big NYC Comedy Photo Shoot
by WomenInComedy - 0

Jessica Delfino (left) put the call out and hundreds of female comedians came to
photo shoot in NYC. All photos © Mindy Tucker
Interviewed by Michelle Barbera

A couple of weeks ago, comedian Jessica Delfino enlisted prominent New York City comedy photographer Mindy Tucker to do a massive shoot of every female-identifying comedian in New York who answered the call. Delfino created a Facebook event to get the word out and gauge interest. Hundreds responded, resulting in a huge group photo and video shoot in a suitably big and de rigeur hip Brooklyn club (and what looks like a lot of fun being had).

I interviewed Jessica and asked her about the shoot and her recommendations for seeing live comedy made by women in New York City.

WICF: Do you have plans to organize shoots in other cities or have you been approached about doing so? Would you be interesting in seeing that happen?
JESSICA: I have thought about organizing other shoots in other cities and I have been approached about it. Once the dust settles, I will have to confer with Mindy about this and get her thoughts on it, but having an excuse to go to other cities, meeting comedy cohorts and gathering them up to shoot their group portrait sounds like a ton of fun to me.

WICF: About what percentage of the comedians at the event did you know beforehand?
JESSICA: It's hard to say. I thought I knew a lot of comedians but honestly, many people who came through the door were new faces for me, and I checked a lot of people in, personally. Some people I recognized their names but not faces, or vice versa. But I knew many of the women there that day and collected/gave a lot of hugs. I'm going to say I knew, or knew of, about maybe two-thirds of them.

Creatively costumed comedians at the shoot. Photo © Mindy Tucker

WICF: Do you think festivals and mainstream comedy clubs are lagging behind independent shows and upstart networks and comedy sites?
JESSICA: I think there are opportunities for women who are already established at festivals and certain clubs, but some of the talented, lesser-known women are probably not as likely to get the prime stage time at festivals and clubs.

WICF: How did you find the space for the shoot?
JESSICA: Marianne Ways arranged the space for us. It was at Littlefield, a venue in Brooklyn that features a lot of great comedy shows.

The whole, triumphant group. Photo @ Mindy Tucker

WICF: What made you laugh the hardest at the shoot?
JESSICA: There were a lot of laughs watching the video vignettes. But honestly, I didn't have a ton of time to chit chat, I was running around handling organizing details of the event. I also liked seeing Selena Coppock in the bikini top she promised to wear, and a lot of people's outfits were in general, pretty funny. Rebecca Trent's get-up was pretty hilarious. Our theme was "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and it was perfect.

WICF: Can you talk a little about some of the cool shows and comedy nights run by women in New York that the world should know about?
JESSICA: Wow, there are too many to list them all. Kara Buller and I are just starting up a new show called All God's Creatures. Katie Compa runs Dudes Being Dudes Being Dudes which is a hilarious show where female comedians do stand up in drag. Lauren Maul runs Bitchcraft with Selena Coppock which is a great show that also involves elements of music and cabaret. Mo Fathelbab, who is a big supporter of women in comedy, just introduced me to the show Just Pussy which is fronted by Melissa Rocha and Eve Peyser. It's an all-woman line up and it's pretty great. Lynn Bixenspan runs Relationshit, a comedy storytelling show. Caroline Castiglia runs an all female-produced talk show called Right Now. Marianne Ways books Night Train,  Rebecca Trent runs Creek and The Cave, I run The Unicorn, Trish Nelson runs Banter Girl, a female-fronted production company that supports female work. Kambri Crews runs QED. Nuva Ring is an email-based, female-comedy only discussion group run by Nive Kulkarni. Coree Spencer is the creator and director of CinderBlock Fest which is a festival that aims to level the female playing field in comedy, and I'm leaving out about 400 others.

Most women I know are either working on a solo or collaborative show, just did one or are planning to do one at some point. Killy Dwyer is doing a solo comedy tour and documentary with her husband, and Jessica Watkins did a walking comedy tour across the USA which is so cool. So basically, if you ask anyone at the shoot what they are working on, they all have an answer. Female comedians are busy. We come up with funny ideas and we get shit done.

Mindy Tucker also took these lively individual portrait shots of the comedians at the shoot. Photo © Mindy Tucker

WICF: I'm guessing many creative connections were made at the event. Any plans for other events coming up?
JESSICA: Annually I produce the NY Funny Songs Fest, a three-day comedy music festival , May 19th - 21st. I'm also working on a show about being pregnant that will run in July at Joe's Pub, called Before My Water Breaks. I honestly have no idea of any of the collaborations that might have come about at the photo, but I did hear that a few old comedian rivalries were extinguished, and that alone made it totally worth it for me.

WICF: Mindy Tucker's work is amazing. What is a photo shoot with Mindy like?
JESSICA:Mindy is very calm and focused on her work. She's like a photography ninja. She doesn't talk a lot, but the directions she gives are very sharp and make good sense. Her eye is spot on, and she knows what's what. She notices details and arranges things the way they should be at the speed of light. Sharon Spell once said something like, "Mindy's photos don't do us justice, they do us mercy". There's also a huge appreciation for her in the comedy community. Her work is really enjoyed and celebrated. There's even such a thing as "Getting a Mindy", that is, having your photo/headshot taken by Mindy. How cool is that?


This all sounds very cool to us at WICF. Out fingers are crossed for a Boston shoot. Be sure to check out Jessica Delfino's live show recommendations when you're in New York, as well as the wide variety of comedy these and many other women are producing online and onscreen.

People Were Pumped! Photo @ Mindy Tucker


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