Janine & Emily’s Girl Talk 2 at the Punchline

by Dana Sitar

This article was originally published at Baystages, whose review section is currently under construction.

On Monday, comediennes Janine Brito and Emily Heller returned to the stage at Punchline Comedy Club for Girl Talk 2, the second in the series of the all-female comedy shows that started with a performance last March.

Joining Janine and Emily this time around were San Francisco comics Mary Van Note and Natasha Muse, and New York comics Phoebe Robinson and Erin Judge. The room was filled, and the show was delightfully entertaining, far exceeding the expectations of any unknowing lay comedy fan about “girl comics”–somewhat the point, I believe, for this show’s existence.

The lineup boasted a diverse array of comedy styles, from San Francisco creepy to New York chill, from tranny puns to Jew jokes, breaking the boundaries of what some still expect from female comics.

The diversity lineup began with Natasha Muse, who kept up the pace, the comedy, and the comfort skillfully through her revelation that she is a transsexual and ensuing clever and sarcastic tranny jokes and subtle wordplay. Next was Phoebe Robinson, the night’s African-American female comic, fulfilling the quota with just a touch of racial humor. Phoebe’s pace was a lot sleepier than Natasha’s, her stories sometimes slow to arrive at the punchline, but consistently funny nonetheless.

Mary Van Note brought the creepy into the room. Her cat-eye glasses, pin curls, and pleated skirt are reminiscent of a 1950s housewife, but her TMI sex stories and just-over-the-line commentary ensure that everyone in the room will be just uncomfortable enough to enjoy the wave of relief that comes with her unpredictable punchlines. Erin Judge had the most classic New York female comic style: a strong, sarcastic tone, a don’t-take-shit-from-anyone attitude, and tightly-woven jokes that picked up the pace of the show and returned the energy to the crowd.

Without a doubt, it was the chemistry between Janine and Emily that made this show one the audience will remember. The two shared hosting spots, opening the show together with a brief routine, the rhythm of which combined with Janine’s Mr. Rogers cardigan and matching bow tie reminded me of a1950s sitcom–the edgier, post-Women’s Rights version. Both comics will be leaving the Bay Area for New York City soon, so it felt somewhat like a farewell show, the nostalgia and respect for the time Janine and Emily have put into San Francisco’s comedy scene thick in the audience, whether you had watched them from the beginning or were seeing them for the first time.

This feeling swelled to its peak with Janine’s performance. The woman displays the innocence of a twelve-year-old boy with a smile that doesn’t stop and a disarming southern-midwestern accent. She injects casual social commentary into deeply-personal stories of growing up gay in a Pentecostal family in Missouri, drawing the crowd in with her candor and hilarious conversational storytelling.

Emily closed the show with a satirical Jewish feminist attitude that is sure to play well in New York. She peers out at the crowd from beneath her brow over thick-rimmed glasses, delivering her jokes with a deliberate pace that makes you feel like she’s letting you in on a highly-classified secret, like you’re lucky she’s taking the time.

Although there is none on the calendar yet, the girls alluded to more Girl Talk in the future, and this crowd would certainly welcome them back. The uproar of applause following the show, and the hugs Janine and Emily were passing out at the end of the night make it clear that San Francisco will miss them when they’re gone.


Janine Brito, me, and Emily Heller

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