- left to right Angel Hamilton, Melissa McGinnis, Meghan Welch, Julie Drake and Georgina Adjaye
Fans of stand-up comedy will have the opportunity to start the new year off strong on Jan. 26 with Ladies Night of Comedy, a show featuring a lineup of several up-and-coming female comics. They perform at The Paramount Room, 701 W. Sheridan Ave.
The night’s performers include Julie Drake, Meghan Welch, Georgina Adjaye and Melissa McGinnis. Angel Hamilton hosts.
Like many in this largely male-dominated field, these comedians balance busy work schedules and personal lives in order to follow their dreams of performing.
For instance, Drake decided to pursue her longtime goal to do stand-up comedy at the age of 39, after raising two children as a single mother. She started with an open mic night at The Loony Bin Comedy Club, 8503 N. Rockwell Ave., and her set went well.
“I was definitely afraid because if you get up there, it’s all you up there,” she said. “It’s purely your words, your act, and so if you bomb, there’s really nowhere to hide.”
Now with three years of comedy experience under her belt, she’s a standout in the Oklahoma City comedy scene. She noted that many of her fellow comics are younger, so she brings a unique perspective to her jokes.
She has only done a couple of all-female showcases before, and they were held in Tulsa. She said she often feels an added element of pressure to be not only funny, but also funny as a woman.
“I have had many people come up to me after shows,” she said, “and just point-blank [tell] me, ‘I didn’t think you were going to be funny. I didn’t think women were funny. But you were great.’”
Meanwhile, Welch is based in Wichita, Kansas, and travels fairly extensively to do comedy in several surrounding states. She is also a single mother who started on open mic nights about three and a half years ago, after her son grew old enough.
“I wasn’t really doing anything particular with my life,” Welch joked. “So it was like, might as well start doing this.”
She calls herself a storyteller, her jokes usually emerging as funny long-form tales. She has also performed in female showcases before but pointed out that they were usually for some type of fundraiser. Ladies Night of Comedy is more of a traditional talent showcase.
“I love the idea of all-women’s shows because I like hanging out with women comics,” she said. “I like hanging out with the men too. Don’t get me wrong. It’s just nice when you can give women a platform like this, and it’s just a night celebrating funny people.”
Despite the exclusive lineup, Welch said the show won’t just be about “women stuff.”
“That’s not how it is,” she said. “It’s still relatable, and it’s still fun.”
Adjaye said she is the most rookie of the lineup since she just started doing stand-up about a year ago at Ice Event Center & Grill, 1148 NE 36th St. She said she hopes the show will inspire even more female comedians to get on stage.
“You see a lot of male comics, and they just dominate,” Adjaye said. “And I think we have a lot of funny females. So I think with us doing this Ladies Night of Comedy, that will maybe encourage someone else to maybe step up.”
Adjaye also emphasized the diversity of the night’s featured comics.
“I think [the audience] should expect to laugh and expect to see four different ladies get up there and talk about their experiences with different situations,” she said. “You know, I am the only African-American lady on this lineup, so some stuff that I might have experienced, somebody else might not experience.”
McGinnis is the fourth featured comedian of the evening. A fan of George Carlin, she has been performing for roughly seven years and called comedy addictive.
“It gets in your blood and you just want to do it all the time,” McGinnis said.
She said she believes the night of comedy will be empowering and a strong demonstration of female talent in the area.
“There are four women comedians, and it’s being hosted by a female comic, but there are tons of female comedians in the Oklahoma City area, in the Tulsa area, in Oklahoma,” she said. “We could have a show like this and not use the same comedians for a good six months or so.”
McGinnis also said she believes the show will serve as an inspiring example of cooperation and encouragement within the comedy community.
“Women coming together to support each other, with our same hobbies and our passions,” she said, “and getting up on stage and coming together and doing a show is a great thing. I think it should happen on a regular basis.”
As host of the show, Hamilton brings five years of comedy experience and agreed the platform for female comics is important.
“I think it’s important for women to have a night of comedy like this show to highlight and laugh about the daily struggles of being a woman,” she said via email. “From raising children to attempting to date via Tinder, being a woman can be a hilarious struggle.”
The event’s organizers are local comedian Lenny Vanhorn and his business partner, James Connaughton. Vanhorn acknowledged that comedy is generally a “boys’ club” and he wanted to put together a show that was new and different.
“All I know is every one of these ladies are extremely talented, and why not have them on a show of their own?” Vanhorn said via email. “I don’t have any political agenda for this, nor am I looking for a pat on the back for being a decent person. I just see talented human beings!”
Vanhorn selected the comedians after working with many of them or seeing them perform in the region. He complimented the ability of both Drake and Welch to use their personal experiences as single mothers as foundations for their jokes. He also said he has worked with Adjaye at previous shows at Ice Event Center.
“She’s a little newer than the other ladies,” Vanhorn said of Adjaye, “but she has an outstanding authenticity about her.”
Vanhorn said McGinnis has a unique edge the audience should enjoy, while Hamilton will bring energy to her role as host.
The show is for audience members 18 years and older.
The Paramount Room bar will be open for guests age 21 and older.