BTF Philly is a comedy festival created in 2016 out of a frustration that stages in Philadelphia were still predominantly white, cis, straight and male. We decided to create a place to celebrate the talented and hilarious women (both cis and trans) and non-binary comedians who make up a significant part of the local comedy scene. We originally called the festival The Bechdel Test Fest, an homage to Alison Bechdel’s famous comic in Dykes to Watch Out For that coined the phrase “bechdel test” in pop culture.
As the festival enters its fourth year, we realized the specifics of the bechdel test–“women talking to each other about something other than a man”–is pretty limiting when you consider all identities that can be marginalized. BUT the core of the idea is still important to us: Changing the Conversation. It’s found in the “talking about anything other than a man” part.
Even when those of us with marginalized identities are on stage, we still sometimes cater our comedy toward the white-cis-straight-male gaze, sometimes literally for our own safety, and sometimes because society has taught us that our experiences aren’t “broad” enough to be relatable. BTF Philly is a place where you can come do your kind of comedy. We are a safe space for the set of your dreams: we’ve had everything from coat hanger jokes to a tight five about bottom surgery. Come have the conversation you want to have. We exist to prove that the world wants to hear your voice.
We started at Christ Church neighborhood house in 2016, and this year we’re closing out the fest at World Cafe Live! The 2019 festival will be chock full of improv, sketch, standup, variety, clowning, burlesque, and anything under the sun that our amazing performers come up with. Submissions will be opening soon, so if you’ve got an act for BTF Philly get ready and watch this space!
On behalf of myself and the other organizers: Jess Snow, Beth Eisenberg, Alyssa Truszkowski, Sarah Carter, and Megan Chialastri, thanks so much for supporting this festival, as a performer or an audience member, and thank you for helping us support this amazing comedy community.