Linda Hill • April 24, 2014

Historically, Improv groups had "the girl" (usually the one and only female member) who was more or less a token member to play the wife or secretary - or as in the old Papaya Juice bit, "Make Room for Daddy" winkwinknudgenudge

Hence, the birth of Femprov, which underscored the fact the women are FUNNY and not to be used as mere props for the boy's club jokes.  Not taking away from the fact that some of my most proud moments onstage with the boys were as inanimate objects - a refrigerator, using my arm for the door and opening mouth & eyes wide when open, closed shut when door closed, etc.

Femprov - as Pioneers
Femprov beyond all other Improv groups had the best musical improv "templates" of any I have seen before or since.  This includes the group here (in NYC) that does an entire improvised Broadway Show - after taking several titles from the audience. I only wish I could remember them all - but there was always a great opening musically; the one where we each had our own tune that we sang to some lucky guy in the audience, we were very musical as a group.

Femprov was and IS in my humble opinion - Video Pioneers. I have never seen any other group - anywhere - attempt to improvise/interact with video as it happened in any way close to what Femprov did.  Thinking especially of the Soap Opera - we did at the old Cobb's Pub - set up the camera in the side green room and acted out a soap opera while Debi went onstage, turned on the monitor and began puttering about the kitchen. As things came up we acknowledged her, etc. - it was super cool. Or pre-recorded video that we then interacted with ourselves - singing harmony, etc. - still I'm very proud of what we attempted to do with video and actually pulled off too!

Love the Nudist Colony story!!
I remember that gig so well - we opened for Jane Dornacker and we wound our way up to this place where they were putting us up as part of the deal.  I was in a car that Jane was driving - riding shotgun - scared out of my gullet as Jane - a long time mountain gal flew up these winding roads in the pitch black night - making this Kansas flatlander think I was on a roller coaster.  We settled into this A-frame cabin all over the floor after each had a turn with the flashlight finding the bathroom.
We wake up to a beautiful sunny day and walk out to all these naked people!  We were so stunned!  Bacon frying dude was more of an older Will Geer type fellow with a gray ponytail as I recall.  Also there was one gal there who had pierced nipples, and both thighs were tattooed on the sides with very elaborate beautiful floral tattoos - just as I was thinking what a slimming illusion it was creating on her body - Bacon man came up beside me, took a long look at the same woman and said, *I've never seen anyone more READY to be naked in all my life! Soup's on!" LOL!
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Beyond Yes, and…
It has become apparent that our contributions to the building of the undeniably fertile SF Comedy scene of the 80's are in danger of dissolving and being swallowed whole by the shifting sands of time and blithe ignorance of the past. Our collective 'herstory' is slipping away, either from our own fading brain cells or due to a new breed stomping on our sacred, yet ridiculously premature, burial grounds.

How about a game?
If I post a photo or two from the days of yore from time to time, would you have time to post any memories it may conjure in your still nimble minds… Collectively, we'll likely produce a fuller rendering of that time, a juicier tale of those long-gone days… perhaps a trigger for more stories to come. If there is a method to my madness, you are cordially invited to help document Femprov's methods and our shared madnesses in those formative years… before it's too late.

First memory-inducing images are of the Femprov founders onstage at the Holy City Zoo…

Women's Night at the Holy City Zoo circa 1980
Teresa Roberts, Susan Healy, Pat Daniels
Pat Daniels, Teresa Roberts, Terry Sand, Susan Healy

First rule, there are no rules. There are no grammar guidelines, stream-of-consciousness is welcome and encouraged, hyperbole is okey dokey, comment once, come back and comment again when the mood or fresh memory strikes…  play fast and loose with the timeline, we'll fact-check ourselves later, let 'er rip, get it down on paper for posterity, anything and everything, including haikus will qualify for this little game of Remember When.


  1. I was thrilled to be asked to photograph one of Femprov's first maiden voyages at the HCZ. Also a bit terrified about the inky darkness of the place's effect on exposure. Don't think I used flash, just the stage lights to freeze all that dancing and jumping on stage. Tripod, maybe.
    I think Susan formally asked me to document, probably because the earlier Women's Nights had gone well and Femprov was soon to become a legitimate enterprise. No Carol yet, so this was before posed PR photos were taken. Perhaps these were to be used for publicity… Your foresight is the reason these action photos exist. If I was paid– $35 was my exorbitant fee of the time, or likely I wasn't that business savvy yet. Have camera, will shoot. I took 14 shots in Femprov's 15 minute(?) set. My negatives include Ruby Cooper, Joyce(?), Joannie Rodgers and Carrie Snow and are marked as January 9, 1980. I shot Femprov's first PR group shots 20 days later –with Carol – on January 29. Things were moving quickly for our heroines way back then.

  2. Couple of questions:
    What does Pat's button say?
    Anyone recognize the pieces being performed?
    Another shot @ [ ] to help jog your memory.

    Aggravating version of why Women’s Night ‘failed’
    [ ]