Exploitation of Females in Improv
Females in improv should only be limited by their ability to successfully communicate their creativity with their scene partner and audience in an understandable, competent manner. Except when someone chooses to sabotage that communication because of their gender.
When improvising, anyone can be anyone. Boys can play girls, girls can play boys. Hindus can play Christians, construction workers can play lawyers. As long as you communicate your character clearly, you are not held back by being a woman in improv. That is, until someone decides to leverage your gender just to get a laugh.
I cannot count how many times I’ve gotten on stage making an extensive effort to be a male character, only to have my scene partner say something like “Oh honey, you know I don’t like when you act like that. Now get back in the kitchen.” It’s like feminism never made it to improv.
Even worse is when I’m established as a male character, get halfway through the scene, and then have someone walk into it and make a comment about me ‘actually’ being a girl. They get their ‘laugh’ and then they walk right back off. That’s just poor improvising, whether you’re female or male. Not only does it throw off the improvisers, but it completely ignores the reality of the scene and breaks down the relationship between the characters until the only thing left to do is sweep. It’s selfish, unintelligent, and hurtful. I work too hard as a female improviser to be reduced to a slap-stick joke because of my gender. In all improv, successfully communicating with your scene partner is important, and this is no exception. Offenders need to be told how it feels, as a woman in improv, to be treated that way. Hopefully, if that person values you as a person, friend, or colleague, they’ll also value you as a female improviser.