Brooklyn Punk Rock Comedy Show Declares: The Future is F*cking Female


Photo by Tamsi New

The Box, the Brooklyn feminist comedy panel/sketch show you didn’t know you needed is heading into their third season and kicking it up a notch. If there was ever a time for an intersectional feminist comedy show, now is that time. We all know that the future is {fucking} female, so let’s start building that future. Featuring stand ups, characters, and celebrity appearances  including a hot political burlesque performance and DJ Sha Savage. We talked with Kaitlin Fontana, creator of The Box about comedy, politics and of course, women.

The Interrobang: You’ve been working in comedy and television for 9 years – How have you seen it evolve and change since you started out?

Kaitlin Fontana: The personal, political, and comedic are closer than ever before, which means we’re freer to explore important and scary stuff in a funny way. The Box writers room motto is FUNNY + IMPORTANT. Now is the best time it’s ever been to be a woman in comedy. But, to totally misquote : Don’t fool yourself; it still sucks. We still get called nasty in public discourse. We still can’t sell a show to Adult Swim. The last late night room I worked in, I was the only woman there.  But it moves by degrees. Conversations about representation in writers’ rooms, behind the scenes, and on screen are happening more and more. I’ve watched women and POC fight from the back of the room to…closer to the front. I’ve been honored to be a small part of that.

The Interrobang: What inspired you to create The Box?

Kaitlin Fontana: When the “women in comedy” conversation came up for the fiftieth time in 2015 I thought, “We’re all talking about this, which is great. But then what?” So I created a show where the writers’ room is 100% female, and WOC are sought especially. Where the comedy is overtly feminist. My model was not existing comedy, but punk rock, specifically the Riot Grrrl movement in the 90s (I started out as a music journalist and Riot Grrrl broke up my abusive relationship with cock rock). Riot Grrrl proved you could make political art that was cool without sacrificing the message.

I put out a packet call, and got 87 responses–for a show where no one was going to be paid! That shows how hungry women are to make comedy on their own terms. From that, I made a room of 10 funny, awesome writers. We only have female DPs, PAs, producers, actors. It’s absolutely a clubhouse, and I love it.

The Interrobang: You’ve written for TV shows (A&E’s Black and White, VH1, MTV, CTV’s The Party). Do you see a difference between the culture of mainstream entertainment and that of the alt-comedy scene?

Kaitlin Fontana: It gets closer all the time. Which feels great, because it’s more reflective of the myriad of weird and beautiful comedy voices that are out there. It used to feel like you were either doing little shows with your friends, or you were being hired on big shows like SNL, and nothing between. Now, there is a wealth of places for people to make what they make the way they want to make it, that can only help comedy get better and funnier–and more diverse (though that word is about as useful as “unlikeable” at this point). But! We still need more female execs, the power structures at the top are still too male and white, and being “the only one” in the room is still a frequent occurrence.

The Interrobang:  Tell us about the fundraiser show. We see a lot of fundraisers right now, why go for The Box?

Kaitlin Fontana: This show will help us make more comedy on our own terms, and it will help us shoot a test pilot towards making The Box a saleable show with a paid staff of awesome, badass women. And look: I’m under no illusion that donating to a feminist comedy show is more important than donating to the ACLU or Planned Parenthood or to your local, hopefully female representatives when they run, especially right now. But I also know that comedy and art can save your life–or at least make your life worth living. It certainly saved me when I was younger. I hope to do the same for others. Plus, 10% of our ticket sales will go to NNAF, which helps women in underrepresented areas access abortion care.

The Interrobang: You’re Canadian. How do you feel about the current state of affairs in America? Does your Canadianness give you a unique view?

Kaitlin Fontana: Oh no, my dirty secret is out! I wouldn’t say unique view. I’d say “smug sense of self-satisfaction,” which is a nice change of pace. Canada had a shit-acular conservative government for a decade while you had Obama. Now, we have a better government with a handsome, charming, Yoga-doing, feminist, Prime Minister with great hair. Take that! Yes, he’s a little too into pipelines and power brokering, but the hot ones are always a little fucked up. Do I have a golden parachute that lands me back in the socialist dreamland of my birth? Sure. But I have chosen to live here. I’m an immigrant. I’m invested in this country. I want to work here and live here, and I don’t want it to suck. Don’t fuck this up, America. I can’t vote here; this clusterfuck isn’t my fault, but I will help fix it. Also–when shit really goes down, I’m 100% creating an abortion underground railroad with snack stations along the way.

The Interrobang: What do you envision for the future of The Box?

The live shows are very important. They create a community of women who get together, commiserate, get angry, then laugh, drink, and do something. Ultimately, I want the show to live somewhere where more people can find it and enjoy it–and for it to make the journey to TV. I’m working on making that a reality, through this fundraiser and other means. Back when this started, the goal was creating something to get women jobs in comedy. It’s a promise I made to myself and my staff, and I’m going to keep working on it as long as I can. And let’s face it, the misogyny meter around here will continue to shoot way past 11, and we want to continue to be here to wrestle with that. In the meantime, more opportunities to use our giant penis and vagina costumes will suffice. They were expensive.

The Box & Friends: Fundraiser Show

Saturday, March 4th at 8pm

Hell Phone, 247 Varet Street, Brooklyn, NY, 11206

Tickets: $20 gofundme.com/TheBoxAndFriends

Twitter: @WeAreTheBox
Facebook: /WeAreTheBoxShow
YouTube: bit.ly/TheBoxYouTube

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