Saturday, April 26, 2014

With a Name Like Femprov… It Has To Be Good

An informational booklet created to educate those less familiar with our history and accomplishments.
Distributed to attendees of the Femprov Festival’s  Femprov panel at the Tides Theatre,
San Francisco - Saturday, April 26, 2014.

Download the Enlightening Coloring Book

Monday, March 24, 2014

Jumping through all the proper hoops

 Visit the site
Visit site
The National Improv Network site curated by Nick Armstrong and Bill Binder since 2013. Their vision: Everyone knows what excellent improv is and wants to see it. Every performer has the opportunity to be treated as a professional artist.

Femprov's bio from our Troupe page 
Now eligible for instant submission to Festivals. 
Femprov, the original all female improv group based in San Francisco, trail-blazed for the better part of a decade performing innovative improv and making the way a bit easier for comediennes that were to follow. Femprov, was not a feminist group. Femprov had no political agendas. Simply a group of talented improv players willing to apply the 'trust and support' principle to its greatest extent. 
What resulted was a ten year run in comedy clubs, City events, and theatrical venues in San Francisco, the Bay Area, and LA. Femprov performed improvised musical theater paradises, lounge lizard dedications, interactive video pieces, original games, and games originating from improv history. 
The original Femprov-ets launched its' members into careers in radio, TV, motivational speaking, sports announcing for the Giants, character-based musical parody, international improv gigs, performances, and workshops, video experimentation, web-site and graphic design, teaching improvisational techniques to children and adults with special needs, and corporate team-building, not to mention, spawning two winning contestants in the first and second annual Miss Haight Ashbury Beauty Pageant sponsored by The Other Cafe. 
Femprov was honored with a special Cabaret Gold Award and the All Gold Comedy Award. They were also chosen to perform in the California Lottery Kick-Off Event in San Francisco as human lotto balls. Femprov was the first improv troupe to perform at Comedy Day In The Park. They also worked with a construction manager to design the stage and transform Cobb's Pub from a local bar to a very successful Comedy Club. Femprov often shared their stage with invited guest improvisers including Robin Williams who loved to workout with the troupe. Femprov performed most recently at the SF Improv Festival celebrating Barbara Scott's OCIC Award. 
The members of Femprov remain forever connected with precious memories that established their well-deserved place in San Francisco's comedy history.

I did not correct Terry's misspelling of parodies, as I enjoy the idea that we 'improvised musical theater paradises'.

Friday, January 20, 2012

When Women Weren't Funny…

Proposed cover for interactive book
On the heels of converting analog photographs (from original negatives), newspaper reviews and press, and all manner of Femprov ephemera into 21st century digital versions, it seems logical to  honor the collection with a new-fangled interactive iBook. The process is ongoing and this blog works as a gathering place for our dear gaggle of gals to hash out the facts, aggregate the memories, celebrate accomplishments, illuminate the times for those less fortunate to have lived through that wild and wooly frontier. The outcome from the collective Femprov-mind will inform and build the final publication… and dispel the doom of repeating the past.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Honored to be Honoring Barbara Scott

An improviser for over 25 years, Barbara Scott is a member of BATS Improv and a founding member of True Fiction Magazine. She has led master improv classes at Stanford University, BATS Improv, Full Circle Productions, the AFTRA Conservatory, SF Opera Center, Dell’Arte School of Physical Theatre, The Funny Women Fest in Chicago, and at many international improv festivals.
This exceptional career, in addition to her specialization in and work with song improvisation and her incredible skills as a performer, makes Barbara Scott the San Francisco Improv Festival’s first-ever OCIC Award recipient.
The OCIC Award is the San Francisco Improv Festival’s annual recognition for outstanding achievement in improvisational theater. OCIC awardees participate in an evening celebrating their work in improvisational theater after an awards presentation during the San Francisco Improv Festival, held every August at the Eureka Theater.  This years’ line-up included surprise guests that have worked with Barbara throughout her career including Femprov and Tonal Chaos as well as interviewer & improv aficionado William Hall (BATS Improv, Fratelli Bologna).
Backstage at the Eureka Theatre waiting to surprise Barbara and improvise our This is Your Life slideshow
left to right: Pat Daniels, Debi Durst, Sandee Althouse, Terry Sand, Jeannene Hansen

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

All Together Now

Every member of Femprov ever.
Top Row: Carol Roberts, Teresa Roberts, Barbara Scott, Terry Sand, Debi Durst, Linda Hill
Bottom Row: Sandee Althouse, Pat Daniels, Jeannene Hansen, Denise Schultz, Susan Healy
Femprov always had a revolving roster that snagged most of the best improvisational talent residing in the Bay Area. Solo careers beckoned and the group grew and shrank depending on availability for a myriad of performing dates and bookings. Starting with founding members Terry, Susan, Teresa and Pat, Carol was invited to join in the fun with the founders. Jeannene graduated from official photographer to performing member. Susan and Carol were having their successes with stand-up bookings, so Linda Hill joined the group to help out and shortly found her own solo career blossoming. Debi Durst, Barbara Scott and Denise Schultz ably filled the gaps left in the group from departures to LA and points beyond. Sandee Althouse was a staple of the line-up near the end, and some still blame her for Femprov's premature demise. Kidding!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Mirth • Music • Memories

Barbara Scott narrates a Femprov slideshow
Old friends showed up to pay respects and play
Other improvisor friends join Femprov to perform Concerto at Denise's Celebration
John Elk directs Concerto
More remembrances from friends and family @

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Her laughter always filled the room

Denise Schultz-Sharkey
9/27/1955 - 3/4/2008
There was no better sound than her knowing laugh. The one that let you know she thought whatever you were saying was funny, which coming from her was no faint praise. She knew her funny. The same laugh, which also signaled she knew where you were going with 'it', you could hear coming with her breath, just a nanosecond before the laughter left her throat and hit your ears. She always got the joke, even the feeble or unformed ones. Years of improv had trained her to anticipate it at the threshold, before it dashed through the door and caught you unawares. Actually her talent was inherent. Improv may have honed the quick wit she was blessed with, but her level of skill was certainly natural born. To put an even finer point on it, most of the time, she probably knew the punchline of my stories before I did... and had a capper ready, to plop like a cherry on top! Quite a gracious fit for an improviser, waiting politely for your delivery, so she could counter with her own perfected bon mot. What a thrill she was to work with, what a joy that she was just as giving off stage. Here's the thing, most performers are a bit self-centered & selfish. (a bit?) It's part of the job description. Denise was above all that. Not only did she have funny down cold, but she coaxed the funny out of you in that playful way of hers. She was always up for a little of the old back and forth, the wordplay, even a sarcastic remark or two. (or two?) All in the service of letting the big laughs rip and fill the room. Denise was always my best audience and I flatter myself to think I truly tickled her with my silliness from time to time. I know the music of her giggle, her throaty guffaw, and even the supportive snicker will not fade away soon. I hold them too dear.
- Jeannene Hansen, fellow improviser, friend and cohort

More remembrances from friends and family @

Saturday, May 30, 1987

Never Say Never

Noe Valley Ministry, post final show
Barbara Scott, Pat Daniels, Debi Durst, Jeannene Hansen, Terry Sand, Denise Schultz, Sandee Althouse
The very last show (or so we thought) at the Noe Valley Ministry was a very happy affair and a great show. Bittersweet, but time to hang up our mantle of 'longest running improv group in the City' at our peak. Seven years after the very beginning…

Friday, August 1, 1986

San Francisco's Femprov plays O.T. Price's Sunday night.

Femprov Comedy troupe relies on improvisation 

by Jamie S. Cackler • Santa Cruz Sentinel

"We very seldom let the audience get the best of us," says Jeannene Hansen of Femprov. The six-member, all-female improvisational comedy troupe plays the dangerous improv game of letting the audience call the shots.

They get a skit going then ask the audience to name a situation, an emotion or some unlikely twist for the plot to take. "We ask them to name a position, and there's always some bozo who thinks he's really funny and yells out 'missionary,'" Hansen said. "So one of us will drop down and start praying." 

After nearly seven years, it's probably as much experience as quick thinking that rescues the band of women from such audience-generated jams.
Femprov, which performs at O.T. Price's Comedy Night Sunday, began in 1979 when San Francisco's Holy City Zoo began its "Women's Comedy Night." The threesome of Susan Healy, Teresa Roberts and Terry Sand soon grew to six. After a few personnel changes the group stabilized with six members, now including cofounder Sand, Pat Daniels, Debi Durst, Hansen, Denise Schultz and Barbara Scott a former member of the popular Screaming Memes.

Though all female, "we never intended to be a feminist or separatist —believe me," Scott said.
"It's female humor just because it's females doing it. It's just an image when we walk on stage," said Hansen adding "We thought about adding a token guy, but then we'd have to change our name."

Still Hansen said, members of the audience see what they want to see. "We get women who want us to be right-on sisters. They take that away from the show. They get what they want out of it." On the other hand, she said, "Some guys come to see T&A, see some girls jumpin' around on the stage. Everyone interprets it differently."
Occasionally, Scott said they run into groups of people who make very wrong assumptions. "For instance, at one show there was this group of men who assumed that we were all lesbians, because we were all women working together," Scott said.
"Which is totally incorrect," chimed in Debi Durst, the wife of SF comic Will Durst.
"We asked the audience to name character relationships for a game and the men called out "Two women loving each other," Scott said. "You can always get a laugh out of a dirty joke or sexual reference, but we try to put ourselves beyond that."

Although there are six of them, a typical show includes only four at a time. "It's better that way, because we can accept more gigs, and each member gets more stage time. And every time you see the show it's different," Scott said.
The women claim there is no real leader among the revolving cast. "It's ensemble work —we each think everyone of us is funny," Scott said.
"That's what's so fun about watching us perform. If you get tired of watching one of us, you can just switch channels," Hansen added.

The flow of the show is influenced as much by who's in it as it is by the collective intellectual makeup of the audience and by what mood the performers are in.
"If the audience gives us dorky suggestions, they get a dorky show," Hansen said. "Sometimes, in a place like Santa Cruz, we get a sophisticated audience that wants a lot of political stuff. Others want a real dorky show. We can go either way."

While the nature of the act is flexible, there are some places it doesn't work as well. Television and northern Germany, for instance. 
Hansen said Femprov has appeared on some local television spots, and on a broadcast benefit telethon. Not a raving success, though. "Improv doesn't translate well on television. You can't see what's really going on. It's like magic —that doesn't work well on TV either," Hansen said.

As for Germany, Scott and Hansen toured Europe last year and managed to book a couple of shows in a Northern German town. "Jeannene and I took a couple of chances. It was very interesting, but we had to talk very slowly, it's slowed us down and that's not the nature of improv," Scott said.
And there were problems other than language. "We do this thing called an emo freeze," Hansen said "We freeze in the middle of a scene and ask the audience for an emotion. We found out that the people in northern Germany don't talk about their emotions, and that part of the act got dropped rather quickly."

O.T, Price's Entertainment roster • August 13, 1986

Thursday, March 29, 1984

Femprov, the Bay Area's longest running improvisational comedy group, play tonight in Pleasanton.

Femprov all female all funny 

by Sally Tockey • San Ramon Valley Herald

The jokes are on them. That's what makes Femprov what they are: five funny females who stand up to laughs wherever, whenever, however.
Don't misunderstand. Femprov's hardly a quintet of feminists waiting to snatch a chuckle, a cheer or a crowing with a routine about men. "We're just funny women who are out for the laughs,” says Terry Sand spokesman for the comediennes “Someone else can burn our bras.” Femprov, instead, relies on improvisation — a think-fast act-fast extemporaneous performing art. 

It works this way. 
Someone in the audience yells out a suggestion for a scene: two people meeting at an airport and they're angry or they're depressed or they’re…
"The audience keeps throwing out more emotions and we go from there …well, it's hard to explain the game," says Terry who met her comedic counterparts at an improvisational workshop in the City.
They —Terry, Susan Healy and Teresa Roberts —became Femprov when the Holy City Zoo nightclub started offering Women's Nights for both novice and established laugh collectors.

Now four years old and two members stronger, the quintet book regularly many Wednesdays at Cobb's pub in San Francisco's Marina District. Their resume also shows performances at the Venetian room in the Fairmont Hotel, the Great American Music Hall, the Women's Building, the San Francisco Jewish Community Center, Allen's Alley at the Boarding House.
Such television credits as the KGO Channel 7 Cerebral Palsy Telethon, Cable six presentation of “Women of the 80s" and “Womanvision,” a pilot project filmed by Alan Springer Associates, also greatly please their groupies. "I call them from Femprov junkies," reports Terry. "They've got to get their laughs in.

She says the female funnies, who all live in the City, always present a family-hour show sans the four-letter words widely practiced by others.
Their props—glasses, hats and facial expressions—simply supplement the routines practiced by the five, who are all close friends as well as coworkers. 
Terry laughs when questioned about their income. 
"Oh sure, we've made enough to put several illegitimate children through college… but we also all have to supplement our income with comedy."

Choosing a comedy career has other drawbacks, too. 
Late nights, shows on the road, the constant demand to "say something funny" may slow Femprov down a titch, but not for long. And there's always something humorous in those situations.
Like the time they played in Ukiah on the promise of room and board plus money. "Well, we thought we were going to be staying at the Holiday Inn or something like that," Terry relates. "But no, they took us to a nice place with an area for meditation and we slept there on couches. 
The next morning when we walked outside we saw women and kids doing tai chi —naked. The place was a nudist colony."

Luckily, Femprov faces few worries about comedians block, when witty words disappear. They support one another with a line, and expression, something that breaks through the dreaded total blank.
"And will probably be performing till were 90 years old or 70 or 60 with people saying 'poor women! Why don't they stop!"