By Katie Conway, Contributor
If you’re like any of us here at WICF, you’re probably still missing that wonderful time of year where we celebrate women in the comedy industry and showcase their awesome talents at our annual Women in Comedy Festival. But wait a minute – did you know there are even more fantastic places around Boston that have up-and-coming open mics and comedy shows run by and starring women? Yes, you heard that right! And WICF Daily got the chance to interview three of these amazing female showrunners – who they are, what their shows are about, and some advice for anyone else trying to break into the comedy industry.
Here to talk about the challenges of being a woman in comedy, her love of giraffes, and her new female-centric comedy show Ladylike at ImprovBoston is the amazing Caitlin Arcand!
Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? How did you get started in comedy?
Hello! I’m Caitlin Arcand and I’m from a super tiny town called Hopedale, MA. I graduated with 72 kids in my grade. But now I’m a big city girl and go back and forth between Boston and New York. I come from a pretty long theater background, I’ve been performing since I was a kid. When I was about 17, I started doing these comedy cabaret shows and they would always give me these super funny songs to sing. I loved it! Flash forward a few years and I joined the cast of Dinner Detective Boston, which is pretty much an improv/sketch comedy show. Most of the cast members were comedians, and they kept telling me “Oh, you should try stand up.” I was terrified, but I actually had been writing stand up for awhile. I don’t think I intended to actually use it, but the material was there. Finally, I decided to bite the bullet and take a stand up class at ImprovBoston and the rest is history.
Who are some of your comedic inspirations?
I’m a huge fan of Louis C.K., Jim Breuer, Daniel Tosh and of course Joan Rivers was amazing. Writing- and character-wise, I like to watch a lot of Lucille Ball and Chris Farley.
I understand you’re going to be running the female-centric comedy show Ladylike at ImprovBoston in Cambridge this fall. Can you tell us a little more about that? How are you preparing for this as a showrunner? How does one become involved in this show?
I am so excited for this show to get started! Ladylike is going to premiere at the Boston Comedy Arts Festival on September 10th, and it’s a female-dominated comedy show and open mic. The show includes four featured female comics, one of which is a comic brand new to the scene. Then we open up the floor for three-minute open mic spots. Though it’s a female-focused show, men are also allowed to participate in the open mic portion. I think it’s a good way to spread awareness and get the whole community involved in highlighting women in comedy, instead of just alienating ourselves. To promote, we did a super fun video and photoshoot with some female comedians. To get involved in the show, definitely come to the show! I usually tend to book people for featured spots that I see participate in the open mic. But of course if you have any questions or want more info, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Any really funny/inspiring/horrifying stories you can give us from previous shows you have worked and/or performed in?
A few weeks ago I did a set at the Comedy Studio and there was a packed line up. Tons of pro comics and the room was filled to capacity. All of us comics had to squeeze into a tiny corner to make room for the audience. I was super nervous because that’s the kind of show you can’t mess up. If you bomb, you can wreck the mood of the entire room. All the comedians in the back were saying that they weren’t going to try anything new and just stick with what they know, but for some reason my brain was telling me I had to tell a new joke. For some reason I just had to talk about the deformed animals on the unmarked Megabus to New York that night. It was a huge risk to take since I had never told the joke before and only had five minutes. It’s never a smart idea, but apparently it worked out because the audience loved it. It even made it into my new tape that was recorded that night. Definitely a super relieving and exciting moment when you hear those laughs, especially on a new joke.
What are some of the challenges you face as a comedian? What are some of the rewards?
Of course being a woman in comedy can be difficult sometimes, especially being a young woman in comedy. There are comments, doubtful audiences and of course the one creepy guy at the bar every show. I’ve been told quite a few times by other comedians that I didn’t know anything because I was young or didn’t have enough experience to succeed. But that’s all just talk. You just gotta hold your head high and move on with your set. There’s no greater feeling than crushing a show. One of the biggest rewards I think is hearing people comment on your set after the show. To think I created something that brought people amusement is pretty cool.
Where can fans of yours see you perform? Where can they follow you on social media?
I think I’m gonna have a pretty big season in Boston this fall, which I’m excited about. I’ll be hosting Ladylike and I typically do a few shows at The Comedy Studio and ImprovBoston. Then of course other local shows and whatever I have in New York! I’m obsessed with social media, so you can usually find out what I’m doing at www.caitlinarcand.com or @caitlinarcand on Twitter and Instagram.
Tell us a joke!
Today I overheard a mother at Target introduce her daughter as Efferoccini. Ma’am, did you give birth to a baby or an Olive Garden entrée?
WICF is an organization that stands for creating more opportunities for women in a field that has often been predominantly male. Do you have any advice for other women who are considering a career in comedy?
Stand your ground, do your thing and don’t let anybody tell you what to do. We’ve all heard “Women aren’t funny” or “Women can’t make it in comedy.” Not true! Women are hilarious. You got bumped to the bottom of the open mic list? Fine, kill that bottom spot. Your jokes will speak for themselves regardless of your gender. Whether you’re performing for a room full of women or you’re the only woman in the room, own the stage. So many times female comedians get on stage and people automatically assume it’s not going to go well. But let me tell you, there’s nothing more satisfying than destroying in a room that doubted you.
Give us the inside scoop: Any comedians on the rise you think we should be on the lookout for?
I love so many local comedians, but I have to say Carrie Ross and Srilatha Rajamani make me laugh so hard no matter how many times I hear their jokes.
Any other advice you can give to aspiring comedians in the Boston area? How can they stand out? How can they improve upon their craft?
Get out there, go see shows, perform at open mics! A big part of getting booked on shows is knowing other people in the scene, so it’s definitely a good idea to get out there and network as much as possible. However, in such a small city it’s easy to get wrapped up in making friends and lose sight of your comedy goals. So definitely stay focused on what you want. Writing is also huge. Your friends can tell you you’re hilarious, but if you have nothing planned to say on stage it’s not gonna go well. Take a little time every week to write, even if you never end up using the material. You never know what you’re gonna come up with.
Aside from comedy, do you have any other hobbies/interests/a super secret double life?
I kinda do have a double life, that’s not even a joke. I’m actually a really big nerd. I study psychology at Harvard, and I’m super into psychological research. People always look at me like I’m crazy when I say I’m a psychology major and a comedian, but hey – it makes for good material.
Final Question: What is your favorite animal? Please elaborate.
I love giraffes. I’m obsessed with giraffes. I fed a giraffe leaves once and it was the best day of my life. Also obsessed with dogs. I follow more dogs on Instagram than I do people. I once zoned out during an outdoor show because I saw a dog in the audience.