Feminism

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Women of Influence winners thank their mothers, daughters and coworkers

Posted By on Thu, Mar 5, 2020 at 10:43 AM

Women of Influence - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • Women of Influence
When Southern Arizona’s most influential female leaders think back on their success, they think about their mothers, daughters, co-workers and industry colleagues who helped them achieve their dreams.

These women shared their gratitude with those they love most at the annual Women of Influence Awards, hosted by Inside Tucson Business and its parent company, Tucson Local Media.

Nearly 600 guests packed into the ballroom of Desert Diamond Casinos & Entertainment, Sahuarita Wednesday evening to celebrate just a handful of accomplished women who make a difference in their communities every day.

From 18 different categories spanning all types of professions, three female nominees were invited to the formal dinner with their friends and family. One was ultimately chosen to be the winner of their category by a panel of three judges.

The event’s keynote speaker, Joan Bonvicini, is a former University of Arizona women’s basketball coach who led her team to the 1996 Women’s National Invitation Tournament Championship, was named the 1998 Pac-10 Coach of the Year, and was inducted into the Pima County Sports Hall of Fame and the UA Sports Hall of Fame.

Bonvicini encouraged the audience to think about the people in their lives who helped them find inspiration and success.

She reflected on growing up in the 1960s and ’70s, when female sports were not widely accepted by society as they are today. Her parents knew she was a talented athlete, and found a support system of coaches and players to help challenge her and build her into the successful athlete she became.

“The four most important words you can ever say to someone is ‘I believe in you,’” Bonvicini said. “Whether you say those words as a coach to a player, a parent to a child, to your spouse or partner, or to your co-worker or employee. Those four words can make a huge difference.”

Many of the night’s winners took Bonvicini’s advice, using their moments in the spotlight to thank their own support systems, particularly the women who influenced their lives and careers.

Kate Marquez, executive director of the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance, won the Arts and Culture Champion Award and had her mother, Diana, accept the award on her behalf. Kate sent a message to the crowd saying her mother inspired her to pursue a career in service and fostered her passion for the arts.

Founder and Medical Director of Tula Wellness and Aesthetics, Dr. Arianna Sholes-Douglas, won the Business Owner of the Year Award and said her mother was her own “woman of influence.” Her business focuses on women’s health and beauty, and Sholes-Douglas incorporates integrative and functional medical therapies into her practice.

“Thank you, especially to my [Women Presidents’ Organization] sisters, because you believe in me,” Sholes-Douglas said. “And I didn’t feel deserving, but I appreciate that you believe that I am deserving.”

Minority Business Owner Award winner Samreen Khan also thanked her mother, who came from Toronto to support her.

“I feel like I’m in the best century possible, the 21st century, where I’ve got every possible opportunity, and I feel like I’m in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, that has allowed me to become what I am today,” Khan said.

Lani Baker, Vice President of Finance at Holualoa Companies, won the Real Estate Champion Award and spoke about the importance of women empowerment.

“I’ve been lucky enough to have many influential women to look up to, but most importantly, my mom,” she said. “It’s important for all of us to continue to promote and help women advance and thrive in our community, and particularly, for us women to continue to have each others’ backs.”

The Women of Influence Awards’ highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award, was given to Peggy Johnson, executive director of The Loft Cinema on West Speedway Boulevard.

Johnson was one of a small group of investors who bought The Loft in 2002, when it was in danger of closing for good. Since then, she has worked to transform the theater from a privately-owned business to a nonprofit cultural center that features foreign, independent and documentary films.

The Loft also hosts many community and educational events throughout the year with film industry professionals and scholars. During her speech, Johnson said The Loft works with 150 different community organizations each year.

“The reason I was given this award is because of The Loft,” Johnson said. “The Loft is an amazing community asset. Wherever your friends are in the world, they don’t have anything like The Loft. They may have a movie theater that’s great, but The Loft is clearly unique in everything that it does.”

She thanked her family members, including her son JJ, who is the Loft’s marketing director, and Jeff Yanc, their long-time program manager.

“You will be hearing about The Loft’s plans to expand and all the things that we plan to do, but I’m super proud of what we’ve accomplished so far,” Johnson said.

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La Cima principal wins at Women of Influence 2020

Posted By on Thu, Mar 5, 2020 at 10:41 AM

Julie Valenzuela won the Administrative Champion award at the 2020 Women of Influence awards on March 4. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • Julie Valenzuela won the Administrative Champion award at the 2020 Women of Influence awards on March 4.
Julie Valenzuela's commitment to the Amphitheater school district is as strong as her commitment to education itself. It is this passion for local that led to her holding multiple education positions, from teacher to administration to where she is now: principal of La Cima Middle School. This passion also resulted in her winning the award for Administrative Champion at Tucson Local Media and Inside Tucson Business' 2020 Women of Influence awards ceremony, held at Desert Diamond Casinos & Entertainment, Sahuarita on Wednesday, March 4.

Valenzuela is an Amphi High School graduate herself, and said one of the reasons she wanted to return to the district to teach is because of the closeness of Amphi. Her two sons even attended Coronado K-8 before graduating from Canyon del Oro High School. Because it’s a smaller district, she says it’s like a family.

“We get to know everyone really well and everybody gets along,” Valenzuela said. “We only have 21 schools, and we all work together very closely. A lot of people working at Amphi actually graduated from Amphi, and it’s because of our great schools, hardworking teachers and amazing support from the administration.”

However, education is Valenzuela’s second career. She said she never thought she'd be a principal, and grew up wanting to be a secretary. Upon graduation from Amphi, she worked at an accounting firm as a secretary, and then as a bookkeeper. But she returned to school to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from the University of Arizona, and a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University.

Valenzuela then worked as a teacher at Prince Elementary School for 15 years before becoming an instructional coach for the district for two years. She then served as an assistant principal at both the middle and high school levels, before becoming principal of La Cima in 2017.

“Up until the year before I became an administrator, I still didn’t think I’d be an administrator,” she said. “After coaching, I was planning on going back into the classroom, because I learned so many amazing things from all the teachers in our district. So, I was planning on going back into the classroom and using all those great things I learned from other teachers. But then a door opened, and here I am.”

Valenzuela admits it’s difficult for her to talk about herself and her successes, and even kept her acceptance speech short upon winning Administrative Champion. However, she did thank her co-workers: La Cima’s counselor Suzanne Graun who nominated her for the award, and Gayle Taylor, her assistant principal.

“I really love the people I work with at the school,” Valenzuela said. “I love the students and the staff, and it just makes it easy to work when you have people that you respect. It’s easy to go to bat for them and make it a place for them to feel comfortable.”

Valenzuela also attributes her success to having an “open door policy” with her staff and students, wanting them to feel comfortable coming to talk with her.

“I try to be there for my staff and listen and do whatever I can to help them if at all possible, all while keeping in mind that everything we do is in the best interest of the kids,” Valenzuela said.

She says her core educational belief is that "all students can learn." They may learn differently and at different times, but “the sky is the limit” in regard to their learning. In addition, all students should feel welcome and cared about.

“It’s all about working to have strong relationships with kids,” Valenzuela said. “Because if you have strong relationships with kids, that’s half the battle. And once those relationships are strong, kids will be very responsive to learning.”

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Thursday, February 27, 2020

Laughing Stock: On genders, sex, switches and surprises

Posted By on Thu, Feb 27, 2020 at 9:29 AM

Find out who you are to others and to yourself, onstage and off, with workshops by Shannon Stott at the Cactus Flower Comedy Festival. - STEVE ROGERS PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Steve Rogers Photography
  • Find out who you are to others and to yourself, onstage and off, with workshops by Shannon Stott at the Cactus Flower Comedy Festival.
Cactus Flower blooms Feb. 27-30

Created and performed entirely by funny female, binary and gender-nonconforming humans, the four-day Cactus Flower Comedy Festival will spark loads of laughs in anyone who is not looking for a lot of dick jokes.

The event, which takes place at Tucson Improv Movement's TIM Comedy Theatre, offers storytelling, stand-up, improv and sketch shows to watch, and workshops to exercise your own sense of humor and improve listening and communications skills. All shows are $5 or $7. An all-festival pass is $30, and workshops are $40 each. Reservations are via squareup.com.

Workshop leader Shannon Stott says she has seen improv change lives on and off the stage. She has performed and taught improv for 20 years and now regularly highlights that crossover.

The most important thing, she says, is “to listen to yourself and answer yourself honestly. Your body tells you so much information, and because of society's eyes (a.k.a. the audience) we often don't listen. The consequences can be painful.

That self-awareness makes all the difference in relationships. "Understanding what your relationship is to anyone will inform your scene," Stott says. "Much of the feedback I get sounds like ‘I didn't know I was doing that’. When you are unaware, choices are often made for you, on stage and off.”

Regarding festivals focused on women and non-gender-conforming performers, Stott says, “We must have safe places to practice being strong, outspoken, leading, being loud, silly, emotional and ourselves. Once you experience being heard and seen, you can recognize and internalize it so you can seek it out, on and off stage.”

The CFCF kicks off at 7:30 pm. Thursday, Feb. 27, with F*sT! (Female Storytellers) sharing their best of 2019. It’s likely to be the Fest’s first sell-out. The 9 p.m. show opens with improv duo Allreddy, featuring standup comedian Allana Erickson. Omega creates a long-form Harold, then Baby Fish Mouth Omega performs original sketches.

The 7:30 show Friday, Feb. 28, opens with duo team, I Was Promised Magic. Gretchen Wirges and Ally Tanzillo follow as Ex-Boyfriend. Then comes Phoenix’s RatQween, spontaneously formed at a recent Phoenix festival for female/non-binary/gender non-conforming people.

At 9 p.m., TIM’s premier team, Soapbox, create scenes inspired by true anecdotes from the lives of community leader and former mayoral candidate Randy Dorman and the Fest’s two nationally recognized workshop leaders, Stott and Jill Bernard. A founding member of Minneapolis’ HUGE Theatre, Bernard has been a principal in that city’s ComedySportz franchise since 1993. She has taught improv all over the US, Europe and South America.

Following the Soapbox, at 10:30 p.m., Nicole Riesgo hosts Beginners and Veterans, a standup showcase featuring Rebecca Tingley, creator of the Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby comedy panel, and her frequent co-host, Cami Anderson. Also performing is Steena Salido, co-creator of Tucson's popular standup show Cunts Being Cunts Talking about Cunts and the all-Spanish-Language standup and improv show, Carcajadas, that features TIM’s Como Se Dice team. The rest of the bill comprises comedians who completed TIM’s standup class led by Mo Urban, founder or co-founder of five comedy series in Tucson. Graduates are multiple Moth award-winning storyteller Molly McCloy, TIM Company improviser Holly Hilton, and high-energy newcomer Brandi Dierinzo.

On Saturday at 6, TIM indie teams Three-Headed Monster, #PurseWine and Rough Around the Curves lead up to Unscrewed Theater’s From the Top musical improv team. At 7:30, Urban hosts an especially diverse CFCF Stand Up Comedy Showcase, featuring Jackie Kibler, Andrea Carmichael, Andrea Salazar, Savannah Hernandez and Bethany Evans.

The 7:30 p.m. show features Como Se Dice, TIM’s premier all-female team The Riveters and Jill Bernard performing her one-woman show, Drum Machine. It’s described as a “sweepingly epic, unscripted musical featuring multiple characters.” It’s been featured in more than 40 improv festivals.

Stott and Bernard each lead two workshops on Saturday and Sunday.

The Switch switches to Skybar

Fans of The Switch, where comedians riff off-the-cuff on suggestions texted in by the audience, must remember to head to Skybar at 8:45 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 27. The event has moved following a long run on Mondays at The Hut. The lineup for the debut includes Phoencians Anwar Newton and Erick Biez.

Standups sing, now


Both Tucson’s improv companies have musical teams, and there’s the child of Musical Mayhem known as One Rehearsal Short. Young, brash, awkward and twisted genius Jeremy Segal now has created Show Tune ShowCase, in which seven favorite Tucson Comedians sing show tunes in their sets. We hold our breath for voices we didn’t know existed, but Mo Urban’s always knocks us out in her rock duo. Others in this debut include Joe Tullar, Steena Salido, Tim Maggard, Eli W.T., Jesus Otamendi and Chris Quinn. It’s $5 at 7 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 29 at The Screening Room.

Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby


Rebecca Tingley’s no-holds-barred panel of comedy experts returns to Club Congress at 8 p.m., Tuesday March 3. The show pokes fun at taboos, silliness, awkward moments and other somewhat less than graphic aspects of the act, (because, after all, we all know the actual mechanics). Panelists and guests include Cami Anderson, Paul Fox and Charles Ludwig.

Even More Laughs!


Friday, Feb. 28, standup with Andrew Rivers (see last week’s Laughing Stock), 8 p.m., The O ($15, $30 VIP, via Eventbrite.com; $30, door); Patrick Deguire featuring Zach Pugh, 8 and 10:30 p.m., Laffs Comedy Caffe ($12.50, $17.50); and Last Friday - Last Laughs featuring Roxy Merrari, Ali Musa, Phoenix comic Noni Shaney, Battle at the Roast Room winner Allana Erickson, Michael Barnett, Stephanie Lyonga, Jeremy Segal and Eden Nault. Family-friendly improv with Not Burnt Out Just Unscrewed (NBOJU) at 7:30 p.m.($5 kids and $8 adults),and Free Form Friday Fight Night 9 p.m., Unscrewed Theater (free).

Saturday, Feb. 29, Standup with Patrick Deguire featuring Zack Pugh, 7 and 9:30 p.m., Laff’s Comedy Caffe ($12.50, $17.50). Family-friendly improv with (NBOJU) at 7:30 p.m., Unscrewed Theater ($5 and $8)

Free Open Mics

Sunday, March 1, 6:30 p.m., The O, and 8 p.m., Chuckleheads in Bisbee.
Monday, March 2, 6:45 p.m., The Surly Wench; 9 p.m., Kava Bar.
Tuesday, March 3, 6:45 p.m., Neighborhood Comedy. The Music Box Lounge.
Wednesday, March 4, 7 p.m., The Screening Room; 8:30 p.m., The Rock.
Thursday, March 5, 8 p.m., Laffs Comedy Caffe and 8:30 p.m., Rockabilly Grill.

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Thursday, December 5, 2019

Laughing Stock: We need clones

Posted By on Thu, Dec 5, 2019 at 1:00 AM

This is black belt comic Anna Valenzuela who’s performing at The O on Saturday, Dec. 7, at the same time Cristel Alonzo is performing at the Rialto. We need clones. - ANNAVALENZUELA.COM
  • annavalenzuela.com
  • This is black belt comic Anna Valenzuela who’s performing at The O on Saturday, Dec. 7, at the same time Cristel Alonzo is performing at the Rialto. We need clones.
CBCTAC presents Anna Valenzuela

“Latinas make 54 cents to every white male dollar, which is why I have to take a roll of toilet paper from every business I enter for rest of my life.”

So tweeted Anna Valenzuela recently, making us spew our coffee while holding up a mirror to the privilege in our white feminism. We can expect a whole set of such darkly colorful insights, delivered with authentic warmth and much laughter, at 8 p.m., Saturday, December 7 at The O. Tickets are $5 via Eventbrite.

A legit black belt in karate, Valenzuela slayed the field with snaps on a recent Comedy Central Roast Battle. She appears regularly at the Comedy Store and The Improv and was a favorite at Second City’s Los Angeles Diversity in Comedy Festival. She also hosts two podcasts: 12 Questions, an in-depth look at sobriety, and Bruja-ja, where three Latinas dish on all things Latinx.

A Los Angelean, Valenzuela will be the first touring headliner featured in the cheekily titled comedy show series Cunts Being Cunts Taking About Cunts. Organizers Mo Urban and Steena Salido have lately shortened it to CBCTAC in print, presumably for convenience, because: Why else?

The show opens with an improv set by AllReddy, comprising Allana Erickson-Lopez of Unscrewed Theatre and Katherine Morter. The lineup also includes Phoenician Alice Valpey and Tucson comics Andrea Salazar, Chinna Garza, Em Bowen and Kathie Hedrick.

As at every CBCTAC show, feminine hygiene products will be collected for Project Period, a program of the YWCA of Southern Arizona.

Cristela Alonzo visits with her idol, Dolores Huerta - CRISTELAALONZO
  • cristelaalonzo
  • Cristela Alonzo visits with her idol, Dolores Huerta
Cristela Alonzo: My Affordable Care Act

Cristela Alonza performs at 8 p.m., Saturday, December 7, at the Rialto Theatre. Tickets are $19 to $36 at rialtotheatre.com.

Alonzo is comedy’s answer to Dolores Huerta, her idol. Her website, cristelaalonzo.com, devotes as much space to her causes as to her comedy. She writes, “I am a first-generation American born to an undocumented mother that taught me to love this country. I believe it is my duty to give back and fight so that everyone can get the same thing my family got: a chance.”

And then she quotes Huerta. “Every moment is an organizing opportunity, every person a potential activist, every minute a chance to change the world.”

Alonzo created her own bully pulpit five years ago with Cristela, a network sitcom that she wrote, produced and starred in herself. Soon after, she began guest-hosting the daytime roundtable show, The View. In 2017, she became the first Latina lead in a Pixar film, voicing the part of Cruz Ramirez in Cars 3. Lower Classy, her first standup special, is streaming on Netflix.

Last month a Simon & Shuster imprint published her book, Music to My Years: A Mixtape Memoir of Growing Up and Standing Up. The stories reveal her vulnerability and her challenges, like the tap shoes she made for herself with bottle caps, and how standup comedy helped her process her grief when her mother died.

When not doing comedy, Alonzo devotes her time to activism around immigration, universal healthcare, social justice, HIV AIDS awareness and prevention, reproductive rights, Special Olympics and LUPE, La Union del Pueblo Entero, founded by Huerta with César Chávez. She’s on their board.

From the struggles she sees in others and in her own life, Alonzo crafts comedy that welcomes us into her world with the light of her humanity.

Mishka Shubaly at The Wench

Comedy at the Wench breaks its open-mic format at 7 p.m. Monday, December 9, to bring us comedian and pan-genius Mishka Shubaly.

Best known as a writer and musician, Shubaly has the wits and the wit to have turned a self-made disaster of a life into a livelihood. His childhood broke his heart, youth was a struggle and he was an alcoholic by the time he graduated college at 15. Yet at 22, he received the Dean’s Fellowship from the Master’s Writing Program at Columbia.

A dissolute life ensued, yielding six record albums, one with Brooklyn’s goth, post-punk band, Freshkills. Shubaly’s six Kindle Singles all have been best sellers. In 2016, Public Affairs published his memoir, I Swear I’ll Make It Up To You: A Life on the Low Road. He also teaches writing at the Yale Writers Conference. Luckily, he got sober at 32, inspired by marathon running.

The Wench show also features Jake Flores. Not to be reductive but we’re running out of space. Flores’ website URL says it all: feraljokes.com Reservations are $5, or $10 for preferred seating in the show room. These special shows at The Surly Wench have been selling out, so we recommend reservations via donate@wenchcomedy.com on PayPal or @wenchcomedy on Venmo.

Arroyo Café Radio

David Fitzsimmons is having a busy weekend. Last week we wrote about his project for fellow old folks, Still Standing up. Featuring five comedians over 60, the show makes fun of things only old people know about. Take that, millennial smarty-pantses.

To recap, Still Standing Up is at 6 p.m., Sunday, December 8, at Laffs Comedy Caffe. Reservations are $10 via Eventbrite.com.

On December 7, though, at 1 p.m., Fitzsimmons hosts another epic production of his annual Arroyo Café Holiday Radio Show at the Rialto Theatre. More than 20 local celebrities perform a loosely scripted radio play around musical guests and other entertainments and surprises, Including Wilbur Wildcat.

It’s all staged in an old-time radio show format with an iconic reconstruction of a ‘40s microphone. Comedians in the cast include KXCI’s Bridgitte Thum, Mike Sterner, Josiah Osego, Elliot Glicksman, Jay Taylor, Priscilla Fernandez, David Membrila and Bobby Rich. Tickets are $20 via Eventbrite.com. Proceeds benefit three local organizations that help immigrants and Arizona Public Media, which broadcasts the show on Christmas Eve.

Lots More Comedy

Friday, Dec. 6: Standup with Geoff Asmus featuring Brian Mollica at 7 and 9:30 p.m., Laffs Comedy Caffe ($12.50 and $17.50). Improv with Improv 201 and 301 Student showcases at 7:30 p.m. and The Soapbox featuring rugby captain Kristin Pope at 9 p.m. at TIM Comedy Theatre (TIM)($5). Family-friendly improv with Not Burnt Out Just Unscrewed (NBOJU) at 7:30 p.m., Unscrewed Theater ($5 and $8).
Saturday, Dec. 7: Standup with Michael Carbonara at 7 p.m. at Desert Diamond Casino ($27.50 to $47.50) Geoff Asmus featuring Brian Mollica at 7 and 9:30 p.m., at Laffs Comedy Caffe ($12.50 and $17.50). Improv with Ugly Sweater Improv and Pilot Season at 7:30 p.m., and the 101 Student Showcase and The Dating Scene at 9 p.m. at TIM ($5). Family-friendly improv with Not Burnt Out Just Unscrewed (NBOJU) at 7:30 p.m. and musical improv with From the Top at 9 p.m. at Unscrewed Theater ($5 and $8).
Monday, Dec. 9: Standup with John Waters at 8 p.m. at the Rialto Theatre ($33 to $110) and Mishka Shubaly with Jake Flores at The Surly Wench.

Free Open Mics

Sunday, Dec. 8, 6:30 p.m., The O, and 8 p.m., Chuckleheads in Bisbee.
Monday, Dec. 9, 7 p.m., Comedy at the Wench, The Surly Wench Pub.
Tuesday, Dec. 10, 6:45 p.m., Neighborhood Comedy at The Music Box Lounge.
Wednesday, Dec. 11, 7 p.m., The Screening Room and 8:30 p.m. at The Mint.
Thursday, Dec.12, 8 p.m., Laffs Comedy Caffe and 8:30 p.m., Rockabilly Grill.

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Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Ducey Signs Bill for Missing and Murdered Women and Girls Study

Posted By on Tue, Aug 13, 2019 at 2:24 PM

OFFICE OF GOVERNOR DOUG DUCEY
  • Office of Governor Doug Ducey
Earlier today, Governor Doug Ducey officially signed House Bill 2570, which intends to create a study committee to address the high number of Indigenous women and girls that are killed or go missing each year. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Jennifer Jermaine and passed unanimously in the House and Senate chambers earlier this year.

With Ducey's signature, the committee can begin working toward finding causes and solutions to these crimes, which starts with better collaboration and record-keeping between different law enforcement entities. Those solutions could lead to future legislation introduced to the Arizona legislature.

The committee will include members of state, local and tribal law enforcement, representatives from several Arizona tribes, family members of the murdered and missing women and girls and additional victim advocates.

“In some tribal communities American Indian women face murder rates 10 times the national rate, yet, there is little to no data to show what exactly is happening,” Senator Victoria Steele said in a press release. “We can’t allow our Native sisters to just disappear at this rate and not draw attention to it. Today, we are taking action by shedding light on this issue and finally giving it the attention it deserves.”

Ducey said this crisis has been endured by Indigenous communities "for far too long." He extended thanks to Sen. Steele and Rep. Jermaine for taking on the task of getting this bill passed.

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Monday, July 22, 2019

Taco Sauce talks their latest tour

Posted By on Mon, Jul 22, 2019 at 3:24 PM

COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
Local Garage rock/surf-punk rockers Taco Sauce just returned to their Old Pueblo home after a mini tour in the southwest. Ambur Wilkerson had the chance to ask them about the tour and upcoming projects.

Check out Taco Sauce tonight at Club Congress.

1. How's the tour going?

Isabella: So, a few weekends ago we went on the first leg of our mini tour in Las Cruces and El Paso and it was dope! We brought our friend Jenn and she pretty much acted as our photographer and tour manager and the four of us had a ton of fun.

Gabi: Yeah those first few tour dates gave us an idea of how people would react to us outside of Tucson and it was all very positive.

Maya: Loved the food and scenery. Had my first margarita at La Posts in Las Cruces.

2. Where have you been so far on the tour and where are you guys headed?

Gabi: We went to Las Cruces New Mexico (my hometown) and El Paso then we have a few Tucson dates, Phoenix on July 19 and Albuquerque on July 20.

3. What's been your favorite place to perform so far during the tour?

Gabi: We only did two so far since it's a mini tour but Little Toad in Las Cruces and Monarch in El Paso were both very hospitable with a pretty solid crowd who were happy to see us.

4. What's it's been like to go on tour with Seanloui and Maya from YUM?

Isabella: Seanloui is only on the Owls Club date but we play shows with him all the time because he's my best friend and we're very supportive of each other. Maya is a great travel companion. She's very levelheaded and brings a lot of calm to the group.

Gabi: Maya is pretty much our rock already. She's so in tune with us on stage and in day to day life. And she's hilarious and badass so it's an honor.

5. How do you want audience members to feel after attending one of the shows?

Isabella: Energized, like they can fuck shit up and take on the world and catcallers and say fuck you to anyone you want to say fuck you to.

Maya: I want them to be in awe and to have had a good time but I don't want them to walk away feeling nothing. As long as it evokes a reaction I'm happy.

Gabi: Yeah I just want to get a reaction. I'd be just as thrilled to see people wanna fight me after hearing my lyrics, especially because a lot of our music targets misogynists and racists, but mainly I'm so excited to see how our music just gets people pumped and makes women feel empowered and validated.

6. What are some upcoming projects you're working on?

Gabi: We're in the studio with Ty Engle working on some new singles currently and also writing new songs, a few of which we're playing at tges6e upcoming shows. I'm also trying to finish scoring the short movie La Motochorra for one of my best friends so I'm very excited/exhausted right now.

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Friday, June 21, 2019

Laughing Stock: Jill Kimmel at the O and a Boy-Free Stage at Hotel McCoy

Posted By on Fri, Jun 21, 2019 at 1:18 PM

Autumn Horvat—comedian, host, booker, rabble-rouser—is at Hotel McCoy on Friday, June 28. - CLAY BRAASCH
  • Clay Braasch
  • Autumn Horvat—comedian, host, booker, rabble-rouser—is at Hotel McCoy on Friday, June 28.

A boy-free stage at Hotel McCoy

Tucson comedians tell no jokes on their private Facebook page. It’s all about stage time, except when interrupted every few weeks by the kind of dustup typical of that medium. Last week a flurry of emotional debate circled around how few local women are seen on local comedy stages. When comedian Autumn Horvat called out a particular local open mic on the matter, a feeding frenzy ensued. 

No one denied that local comedy lineups rarely include more than zero to one woman, but men defended the status quo objectively: Women are a small fraction of Tucson’s comedian population, and even they are frequently unavailable for shows. 

“I think that just going up as a woman is more of a challenge,” Horvat says. “I think people are conditioned to think men are funny, but women have to prove themselves. I feel like some men in our scene already have decided that we aren’t funny and they won’t listen to us.” 

Wait. Men don’t listen? 

“I also feel like men have an easier time getting started,” Horvat adds. “Other men will (mentor) them, take new male comics under their wings, pay attention to their sets and offer them tips.”

With women comics, she adds, that situation often feels like a dating dynamic. Also, some men apparently still have a problem relating to women who may be as smart and funny as them. We feel a facepalm coming on.

Chad Lehrman, a Tucson show promoter who also runs a local comedy series, is very aware of the issue. He already had planned a comedy show to address it: Comedians Who Are Not Boys, at 8 p.m. Friday, June 28 at Hotel McCoy.

He invited Horvat to book the comedians and host the show. “I just named it Comedians Who Aren’t Boys at the McCoy because it rhymed,” Lehrman says, not even wincing. “I wasn’t sure, but Autumn liked it.”

Asked if he thought women are more difficult to book, he answers with a firm and simple “no.” He notes, too, that there are more women than ever now on the national scene. “There’s more of everybody though,” he says, “Indians, Asians, gay comics and women.”

As part of the McCoy Hotel’s Last Friday, Last Laugh series, the Comedians Who Are Not Boys show is free. The bar is open and a food truck is available. Besides Horvat, who also hosts, the lineup includes Mo Urban of The C*nt Show and The Dating Game, and Priscilla Fernandez, host of the long-running Retro Game show at Hotel Congress. Others are Chinna Garza, Rebecca Tingley, Nicole Riesgo and Cierra Renee Miranda.

Jill Kimmel is just like us, at The O, Saturday, June 22. - JILL KIMMEL COMEDY
  • Jill Kimmel Comedy
  • Jill Kimmel is just like us, at The O, Saturday, June 22.

Jill “Yes, She’s Jimmy’s Sister” Kimmel comes to The O

Since we’re on the topic, Jill Kimmel has life stories to share about being a woman in comedy. She’s a mother of two teenage children, and the first to say that all by itself motherhood is a barrier to the open-mic training and travel required to be a comedian. 

“If I didn’t have my parents (to take care of the children), I don’t think I would have been able to start doing comedy, to go out on the road and do it full time,” Kimmel says.

A Phoenix native, Kimmel performs at The O, 2000 N. Oracle Road, at 8 p.m. Saturday, June 22. Tickets are $10 on Eventbrite or at the door.

Asked to describe her own comedy, she quickly denies political content but doesn’t turn down a comparison to Roseanne Barr. 

“She always was the overweight housewife talking about her relationships and raising kids and being married and how horrible it was,” Kimmel says. “I’m not talking about politics, I’m not insulting people, I’m talking about myself, my life. Every time I go somewhere I haven’t been, people tell me I’m not going to be young enough, cool enough, sexy enough. But no matter where I go, people relate to a 40-year-old woman who’s divorced, back in the dating pool, has children in school, has lost weight, gained weight.... It’s just a lot of stuff that’s very relatable. (People) go ‘Yeah, that happened to me. Oh my God!’ I love that!”

Kimmel has worked with Jimmy Fallon, Norm Macdonald and Jeffrey Ross. She’s performed at Stand Up Live, the Improv comedy club and The Comedy Store, among other well-known venues. She creates the weekly segment “What A Mouth” on the “Lu Valentino Show.”

Kimmel suggests that women who don’t get booked enough should start their own shows. She names Tucson comics Mo Urban and Roxy Merrari as examples who have not only benefitted from their own shows but have used them to lift up other women comedians. Autumn Horvat, for example, got her start on Merrari’s Comedy at the Wench series.

For others, she advises, “Just be seen more and network more. I find that the women … booked on shows are the ones who hustle. They’re out there, they’re working and networking. They’re nice and they’re funny.”  

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Thursday, March 7, 2019

Laughing Stock: Faith and the Funny

Posted By on Thu, Mar 7, 2019 at 3:57 PM

“The Country Comic” Chonda Pierce makes lemonade at The Fox March 12 - REBECCA HUTCHISON STEPHENS
  • Rebecca Hutchison Stephens
  • “The Country Comic” Chonda Pierce makes lemonade at The Fox March 12
Modern Woman Tells All

We are trying not to refer to Carol Leifer as a Michaelangela of comedy, but there it is. She started her standup career in college in the 1970s, when that was not at all the done thing. Most recently, she’s been a writer for our favorite TV shows: Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Modern Family and Saturday Night Live. An actor and producer as well, she’s also written books with compelling titles: How to Succeed in Business Without Really Crying and the irresistible-as-chocolate When You Lie About Your Age, The Terrorists Win.

At 10:30 a.m., Sunday, March 10, Leifer shares stories from her incredible career as well as her thoughts on women’s issues, her Jewish roots, LGBT perspectives and her four rescue dogs at a benefit for Women’s Philanthropy of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona. The event is at the Westin La Paloma Hotel and reservations are $40 for those who already have donated at least $180 to the JFSA. Surely you know someone? Visit jfsa.org/connections-2019 for details.

Think Positive

Billboard Magazine has called Chonda Pierce “the country comic,” so even though Larry the Cable Guy is cancelled at Casino del Sol Saturday, the week shouldn’t be a total loss. Pierce performs at 7 p.m., Tuesday, March 12, at the Fox Tucson Theatre. Tickets are $21.20 to $52 via awakeningevents.com.

Like most of the Awakening stable, Pierce is Christian; her website has a tab for “Prayer.” It’s given her a bright outlook, though, in the way of lemons making lemonade. Her first film, Chonda Pierce: Laughing In The Dark, was based on her struggle to overcome depression. While it may not be every comedy fan’s taste, her positivity has made her the top-selling female comedian, per RIAA data.

A preacher’s daughter, Pierce got her start in show business playing the role of Minnie Pearl at Nashville’s Opryland theme park. She so loved telling jokes as Minnie Pearl she decided to make it her career. According to her website bio, “she credits her southern upbringing both for her warped sense of humor and her solid roots.”

Speaking of Women

March 28 through 30 are set for this year’s all-female, multi-genre Cactus Flower Comedy Festival. Details about selected standups, storytellers and improvisers are still being sorted, but festival hosts the Tucson Improv Movement will feature their popular female teams the Riveters, the bilingual Como Se Dice and female members of Throwdown. 

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