Good Girls Aren’t Funny: an original talk by Holly Mandel
Every woman out there knows exactly what being the “Good Girl” means.
We have all seen her on TV and in movies, on stage and on billboards, in millions of ways where being “the Good Girl” always wins and is always rewarded. It means playing it safe, doing it right, getting it perfect, and pleasing everyone around you. It means being attractive, desirable, and happily following the rules and roles set up for you. Sort of like being a human Golden Retriever.
And THAT has very little to do with comedy.
Improvisation (specifically), and performance and creativity (generally), are about taking risks, exposing one’s self, being vulnerable, ‘out there’, on the edge. Being real, willing to make mistakes, look ugly or silly or lost. Not merely bearing the unknown but embracing it, inviting it. It requires honesty, courage, and freedom. And it means not caring one iota about getting it ‘perfect’.
Where does this “Good Girl” come from and how awake are we to how she works in us?
Holly Mandel has worked for Comedy Central, Walt Disney Studios, and ABC Television and has been directing, teaching, and performing improv for over twenty years. From The Groundlings in LA to her own school in NYC, Improvolution. And despite everything she wishes weren’t the case, she can’t help but ask that burning question without a clear-cut answer: where are the women?
Now, more than ever before, we are learning about gender and the unconscious rules and roles assigned to them. Outdated and suffocating as they are, they still inform the majority of how we see and experience the world. Are the influences behind these discrepancies merely external, or are there also INTERNAL ones at play? If so, what are they? How can we see them more clearly in ourselves?
Is there something culturally and psychologically that is still an inner obstacle for women in comedy and the creative arts…as well as leadership across every field and in every facet of our lives?
Whether it’s stand-up, improv, sketch, or comedic roles in theater, TV, or film, Mandel has been aware that there does still seem to be something holding women back from their edge, something from within, that keeps us from reaching our highest potential and deepest aspirations. Something that shows up in offices, boardrooms, and think tanks as well. We know the obvious and blatant barriers, but this is something hidden, more insidious, and harder to catch.
That something is “the Good Girl.” And her time is up.
Women and men in all fields – including the performing arts but certainly not limited to it – are welcome to join the exploration and discussion around women’s development, where the “Good Girl” came from (culturally and psychologically), how she shows up today, and most importantly, how we are going to move beyond her.
This talk is followed by a Q&A discussion.
Holly started her improvisation training with one of the premiere improv and sketch comedy school’s in the United States, THE GROUNDLINGS in Los Angeles, working alongside some of the top names in comedy such as Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Will Forte, Kathy Griffin, Lisa Kudrow and SNL’s Mikey Day and Heidi Gardner.
After becoming a Main Company Member, she began teaching and directing, eventually becoming a Senior Instructor of the school and Main Company director. She created LA’s longest running longform show, THE CRAZY UNCLE JOE SHOW, still going strong after 16 years.
She then headed to New York City where she started her own improv school in 2002, Improvolution, bringing the character-based approach to thousands of students there.
She’s taught at UCLA, USC, and at Pace University in New York City, making her — you guessed it — a professor of improv. She has worked at Walt Disney Studios in Feature Development, ABC Television, and Comedy Central as a writer/producer.