Sunday, December 19, 1982

"Femprov is the warmest, most personable improv group in the city."
Flashes and flops: improv lives on 
by Steven Winn • SF Chronicle

A Monday night, several weeks later, 9:30 PM. Femprov, the Bay Area's only all-women improv troupe, is doing a set at Cobb's Pub on Chestnut Street. Formed in 1979 out of a frustration with the subservient roles women were assigned in earlier improv troupes, the group was popular initially as a novelty. Now the following is widespread, and deservedly so. Femprov is the warmest, most personable improv group in the city. 

The connection between the members is evident, in the responsiveness to each other's drift —or grammatical miscues —in a bit.  Ego seems to be nonexistent.

A movie trailer parody for "Nice Girls After Dark," is apt and droll. There's a gooey, loopy love-song number addressed to a male member of the audience, rich in a kind of mad cap hyper-sexuality "What I love is that women are supporting each other," one member drawls satirically in another bit. "Sexist" or "feminist" behavior, by conventional definition, is adopted by the members and shrugged off at the same time. Wit fails at times, but the bond to the audience is strong.

"When I did standup," says member Pat Daniels, "I did jokes about not getting dates. A lot of men, and women for that matter, think you have to compromise your femininity in order to be funny. Improv lets you get away from that. We can do a scene where four other women are actually supporting what you're doing instead of competing with each other —and the audience —to run themselves down."

Adds Terry Sand, "What a lot of actors are doing is 'indicating' emotions. In improv, you don't have time to get set to do that. Whatever comes up, that's what you have to go with."

Friday, March 12, 1982

Susan Healy of Femprov directs Les Cafero, left, Rico Ramos, Sandy Van, Nancy MacLean, 
T.C Nurov, and Janice Heiss in a round-robin of Story Story at Femprov's improvisational workshop 
held every Saturday afternoon at Cobb's Pub in the Marina. 
For $4 you, too, and have them rolling in the aisles 
by Ken Wong  • Examiner staff writer

San Francisco is a mecca for comedians. They come from all over the country to a town where comics drive cabs by day and perform in cabarets by night. All dream of being another Robin Williams.
It's a return to the 1950s when the hungry i was incubating newcomers Woody Allen, Lenny Bruce and Mort Sahl.

And now, for $4, you, too, can learn to be a comedian. Each Saturday afternoon Femprov offers a three-hour improvisational comedy workshop at Cobbs Pub, a saloon at Chestnut and Steiner streets in the Marina.
Femprov is an improvisational comedy group similar to the Screaming Memes and the National Theatre of the Deranged, both entertaining in spots around town. 

To improvise is to invent, compose or recite without preparation. The actors come onstage, ask the audience for suggestions – a profession, situation, emotion, conflict – and wing it from there.

On a recent Saturday, 15 people went through the wringer, in teams of two and three. Two women were to concoct a scene involving a stewardess and tennis. They pantomimed, pretending to bang a wall. They talked the dialogue went nowhere.
Susan Healy, today's leader, signaled them to stop and said "You must be pooped with all that swinging. You really hit the ball that often? And where is the scene? Are you playing tennis inside a plane? You've kept the dialog flowing. But it's not witty and it doesn't develop the characters."
Four other Femprov members also critiqued the neophytes. They told them what they did right and where they went wrong. 

Next, six people trotted onstage to do a spontaneous relay narration, an exercise in which one person picks up where another leaves off. Healy cued the speakers like a choir director.
It was a little like playing push-button on the radio, where by random pushing, you accidentally glue together some funny, incongruous lines.
Such as: "President Reagan said the poor and the hungry should try …" "… compulsive eating and discover alternative ways to nurture yourself and take charge of your life…"

The youngest person at the workshop was Rico Ramos, 21, an usher at Cinema 21. "I've been coming since it started," he said. "It's great. I have a captive audience."
Ramos, who came here from the Philippines when he was three, is all showbiz: "I love to entertain." 
Sometimes he entertains during intermissions at Cinema 21. He was with "Teens in Theater" while in high school and in "California, Can you Beat It?," a Mayor's Youth Program musical.

It was raining that Saturday, but Susan Williams and Diana Aragavritz drove up from Santa Cruz to make a noon workshop. "I've been coming for for four weeks," said Williams. "It's a long drive, but I'm hooked."
Maria Kamiya, 27, a San Francisco State University student, comes to the workshop because "it's fun and it helps to build self-confidence."
Arlene Mellon, 40, a freelance writer, agreed: "I was walking by one Saturday and saw the sign. There must have been a full moon that day. I walked in and found a platform to express myself creatively and humorously."

Of the 15 people attending the workshop, only three were men. Besides Ramos, there were Les Cafero and T. C. Nurov who works with the American Cancer Society.
"Men are welcome … we want more men … we're not just for women … tell them our workshop is a great place to meet women," said various Femprov members.

The group got together in December 1979. "We're just starting our third year," said Terry Sand. "We come from different parts of the country, met in a comedy workshop and it was a magic combination."
They have appeared here, in Los Angeles, at Stanford and in Monterey. 

"Improvisational comedy can be learned," Sand said "There are techniques. It's not that spontaneous."
Like jazz, there's a structure. It's how far out you can stretch before snapping. 
Daniels commented that it would take six months to learn how to be comfortable working together.
The others disagree. "There's no time schedule. It's up to the individuals," said Hansen.
But everyone agreed that it's a coordinated, ensemble effort. "You have to work together as a team," Healy said. "You're all in one boat, pulling together."
If one is stuck the others step in "It's like a rodeo. You fall off and a clown waves to keep the bull away," she added.

Improvisational comedy is risky. When you hit, it's hilarious, but it's a pie in the face if you miss. The measure of quality is longevity. "You don't last if the audiences don't respond," she said. Femprov will be playing at the Great American Music Hall and the Holy City Zoo in April.

Wednesday, January 27, 1982

They're wacky, dynamic and a guaranteed belly laugh. 
They're Femprov, an all-woman improvisational comedy troupe, who will appear Sunday at The Club inMonterey
That's a Laugh
Night Time • Coasting

After Femprov sings their opening number welcoming you to their show, they will catapult themselves into the audience to find ideas. Because it is based on audience participation, the show can never be the same.
The troupe began in December 1979 when Susan Healy, Teresa Roberts (no longer with them) and Terry Sand met in improvisational workshops. They formed Femprov after the Holy City Zoo started Women's Night. Pat Daniels, Carol Roberts and Jeannene Hansen joined the troupe later.
A reviewer for Metro Magazine said: "All of Femprov's material is extremely creative—from their take off on "Beat Poets" in the North Beach scence to interviewing off-the-wall applicants in an unemployment office to their cable TV show of "The Creative Cook" and "Gay Dating Game" not to forget the ingenious "Alien Fashion Show."

It's Your Choice
Charles Davis • Monterey Peninsula Herald Events Column

Femprov, a Bay Area improvisational comedy troupe, will be this Sunday night's comedy offering at The Club, in Monterey.
Founded in 1979 when San Francisco's Holy City Zoo night club began having Women's Night, Femprov is a five-woman teams that holds nothing—including feminism—sacred.
Improv comedy is seldom seen on the Peninsula. Unlike typical standup humor, improv relies on audience participation: Members of the group will call to to the audience for situations, occupations, et. then improvise an entire skit—hoping it is funny.
That's not to say the group doesn't have rehearsed routines, just that they are likely to alter them at whim. For example, S.F. critics have raved about their "Beat Poets" takeoff, as well as their "Alien Fashion Show," and "Dedication," a satirical Sinatra routine.
Femprov performs regularly in the S.F. Bay Area, The Club date will be the group's first Peninsula gig.

…a magic combination of personalities…

Saturday, January 23, 1982

Cobb's Pub "Dedication"

Jeannene Hansen, Pat Daniels, Terry Sand, Linda Hill perform Dedication at Cobb's Pub.
Cobb's Pub