The Painhole

Ben’s Pain-Hole for the Week of March 22nd


First of all I want to thank those of you who actually read all the way to the bottom of last week’s column and decided to click on that weird green portion that allows you to send me feedback. That is exactly what I want. I by no means consider myself an authority on any improv game. I want to use this column as a way for you as an audience member to get your improv improvments to me as the producer of the show. Many of you wrote back last week with very good suggestions for the game freeze and they have all been stored in my photographic memory bank (as well as my e mail list just incase I shold ingest substances that would make me forget). I thank each of you and respect all of your suggestions and will certainly try to impliment them next week as best I can. Now, on to this Week:

This Week I want to talk about something very near and dear to my heart-WOMEN. Before you click off this page, though, I want to talk more specificly about the women of FNI (no we’re not doing a PLAYBOY layout). Throughout my academic life, I have been told how women are not comfortable in a male-dominated environment. I was told that women shy away from any sort of confrontation with males and, indeed, become downright timid when faced with a roomfull of testosterone. I always found this rather hard to believe, especially considering: (1) I had dated some of the scariest women on earth, (2) My Psych/Sociology/Anthropology Professors always seemed to coming off a three-day crack binge, & (3) My personal fear of the softer side of Sears. But now, I’m starting to wonder. Why is FNI a male-dominated society?

Let me begin by saying a big “I dont know”. While I have a psychology degree, I am by no means a psychologist. I don’t pretend to understand human nature any more than I understand the migration patterns of certain mysterious Jewish Grandmothers that seem to head to Florida when their grandkids get to be a pain in the ass. That being said, I’m going to throw out a few things that I have noticed-

(1) Women don’t seem to raise their hands much to get on stage. There are noted exceptions, but it always seems like no matter how many women are in the room, only two or three of them want to get on stage consistantly. I know women are funny. I know women are intelligent. I know women are willing to risk personal embarassment just as much as men. So why aren’t you getting up on stage?

(2) Women are always ready with suggestions but seem to shy away from playing. This is a weird one. Why are you willing to control a scene, but not willing to play it?

(3) Women will get up for games like poets where white man’s society has told them its alright to shine, but not for things like world’s worst where society would frown on them. I really don’t get this one. If women truly want to be equal here in the USA, they must be willing to disgust just as many people as men. Whatever your moms told you about what it is that is polite to say and not polite to say in front of others is crap. Please be willing to get raunchy.

(4) The so-called leaders of FNI are unwilling or unable to call on women when they do raise their hands. I have seen so many women raising their hands desparately to get on stage only to be passed over by another guy with acne in a comic book tee shirt. This buggs the hell out of me and I make it my personal goal to get more women on stage when I’m calling on performers and challenge the other white males who run improvs to do the same.

(5) Finally, when women do get on stage, they sometimes cater to the lowest common denominator (i.e. men). Several women at provs have made quite a name for themselves in the past by using the stage to play out male fantasies by becoming the sex-object or the slave or whatever else this crazy society has dictated them to be. This is wrong. I’m not saying that women can’t play these roles at improvs but without some balance of intelligence in scenes involving women, they become stereotyped every time they get on stage. Why can’t the woman on stage be the astronaut instead of the blind date for the aformentioned acne-scarred comic tee wearing freak? That comes usually from audience suggestion. So again, I challenge you as audience members the next time a woman is on stage to treat her as an equal both in intelligence and improv ability (although in many cases she is far your superior) and give her a suggestion she can play without degrading herself and her gender.

I want to stress again that these are just things I have noticed. In most cases, I have no solution for the problems. I am not a Sociologist. I am a Producer of a hack audience participation show. You are women and men. You know what makes you feel comfortable and uncomfortable. TELL ME!! I want imrovs to be a place where everyone is comfortable on stage. If you are a woman, write back to me and tell me the obstacles (other than your nerves) that stop you from feeling comfortable about performing at improvs. If you are a man you can make suggestions too, but for god’s sake stop wearing that tee shirt, pull up your pants, and get some OXY 10. Its not that I don’t love you. I do. I just like watching women perform more than your no fashion-sense-having, twelve-sandwich-eating, wouldn’t know funny if it came up and shook you by the testes, facial-hair-having asses.

Not yet spelling women
with a “Y” but hoping
to see a bit more of
the fairer sex on stage,