Gilda Radner Continues to Break the Mold

The Ladies of Laughter Comedy Fest: Celebrating Funny Jewish Women

Jewish women inspire me. We are strong, creative, and undeniably funny. A prime example of this is the legacy of Gilda Radner, a comedic powerhouse whose impact extends far beyond her time on “Saturday Night Live.” Radner continues to inspire generations of comedians, especially Jewish women navigating the challenges of the entertainment industry. Her influence is not only evident in the laughter she elicited but also in the doors she opened for those who followed. It’s a power that deserves celebration.
      I did the research. I looked and could not find it anywhere. There has never been a comedy festival anywhere in the world that celebrates Jewish Women. As a Jewish woman who has been performing comedy for the last 20+ years, this is not surprising to me. It is not often that women in general, let alone Jewish women, have been applauded for this form of entertainment.
    As a relatively newer employee of the Jewish Federation of the Greater San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys, I am often asked to take my life experience to make the work I do stronger and more helpful to the community I serve. How better to do that and celebrate Women’s Month (March) than to create a festival that would celebrate the accomplishments of Jewish female comedians?
    And so the “Ladies of Laughter Comedy Fest: Celebrating Funny Jewish Women” is born. This festival will take place March 7-10 at the world famous Ice House in Pasadena. It will feature Improv, Sketch Comedy, Stand-Up and workshops. The entire Festival culminates with a night honoring a person who has ”Broken the Mold”.
      The Ladies of Laughter Comedy Fest (LOL Comedy Fest) stands as a testament to the vibrancy and diversity within the world of comedy. This celebration not only brings together a plethora of talented comedians, but also focuses on the remarkable legacy of funny Jewish women, with a special emphasis on honoring Gilda Radner—a woman who definitely broke the mold and paved the way for Jewish women in entertainment.
    To appreciate the impact of Gilda Radner, it is essential to understand the historical challenges faced by Jewish women in the entertainment industry. Traditionally, women, and particularly those of Jewish descent, encountered numerous stereotypes and barriers. However, Gilda Radner’s arrival marked a turning point.
     From the quirky Roseanne Roseannadanna to the endearing Lisa Loopner, Radner’s characters were vibrant and relatable, transcending gender and cultural expectations. Her ability to embody a range of personalities showcased her versatility, proving that women could excel in comedy across a spectrum of roles. Radner’s characters were not just funny; they were revolutionary in their own right, breaking down stereotypes and paving the way for future generations of comedians, particularly women, to fearlessly navigate the comedic landscape. Through her indelible creations, Gilda Radner left a legacy that extends far beyond laughter, symbolizing the power of authenticity and humor in dismantling societal constraints.
     The LOL Comedy Fest provides a stage for diverse voices to be heard and celebrated. As we applaud the funny Jewish women who grace the festival, we take time to honor the trailblazing spirit of Gilda Radner. In celebrating these comedians, we honor not only their individual talents but also the collective strength that arises when barriers are dismantled, and laughter knows no bounds.
    For more information on this new festival, please visit Ladies of Laughter Comedy Fest | Jewish Federation of the Greater San Gabriel & Pomona Valleys ( Here is a basic outline of all the events you can look forward to:
Thursday 3/7/24-Improv and Sketch
Hosted By Janice Markham

7:30 PM Becca Bus – Hop on the Becca Bus, for an improv performance by a group entirely made up of people named Rebecca. There are more of us than you realize…

Headliner-Messing with Bex – After critically-acclaimed runs, founding Annoyance member Susan Messing brings her hit show, “Messing With A Friend” back to Southern California. This time pairing with the esteemed Rebecca (Bex) Sohn. Bex and Susan are long time friends and are excited to bring their hilarity to the Ice House.

Headliner-Pure and Weary – Katherine Biskupic and Leah Friers make up Pure & Weary, a comedy duo based in Los Angeles. Their comedy videos have been featured on Vulture, Funny or Die, UPROXX, USA Today, WhoHaHa and the iO Comedy Network. They perform in Los Angeles at the Second City and Comedy Central stages. They love the snow and still don’t know how to pronounce, ‘acai.’

10:00 PM Amusing Jews live podcast – Co-hosted by Jonathan Friedmann, an expert in the sociology of religion, and Joey Angel-Field, a graduate of the rabbinical school at the Academy for Jewish Religion California, the podcast serves those who find their Jewish identity in humor, intellectual curiosity, music, movies, cuisine and more.

Friday 3/8/24-Dinner at T Boyle’s Tavern
Support a locally owned Jewish Restaurant. Not exactly an authentic Shabbat dinner, but enjoyable pub fare and a lively atmosphere make this a Friday night treat.

Saturday 3/9/24-Stand-Up
Hosted By Jessica Winther
6:30 PM Luminary Circle Reception – Join our Luminary Circle and enjoy an evening of food and drink for supporting the first year of the festival. Mingle with the performers and talk about the things that make you laugh.

8:00 PM Becca Tham – Becca is an Asian-Jewish comedian, actor, and writer. She has been featured on stages at iO Theater, Annoyance Theatre, Second City, Zanies, Laugh Factory, and Lincoln Lodge. Her social media handle is @beccahasokhair because her hair is ok!

Or Mash – Or Mash is an Israeli born stand-up comedian, and actress. You may recognize her as one of the recurring cast members of the improv comedy show, Wild ‘N Out, on VH1. Her stand up is a raw, honest and unapologetic look at her own life. She offers a hilarious outsider’s take on modern American culture and society, from the perspective of a fearless Israeli immigrant.

Abby Schachner – Comedian writer, actress, and artist, Abby Schachner has a lot to say. Her point of view is poignant and important with a touch of whimsy. Hear her story in her own words, since the papers got it wrong.

Judy Carter – Stand-Up, writer, and Stress reduction expert Judy Carter is both laugh-out-loud funny AND thought-provoking. International best-selling author of “The Comedy Bible” and interviewed by Oprah Winfrey, Judy show us how to laugh in the face of stress. From performing as a magician at The Magic Castle, to NPR’s All Things Considered, Judy does it all and keeps you laughing while she does it.

Headliner: Cathy Ladman – The best way to get inside Cathy Ladman’s head is to see her live. As one of the country’s top comedians (Modern Family, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Mad Men, How to Get Away With Murder, Scandal, NCIS: LA, Charlie Wilson’s War, White Oleander, Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead, etc.), Ladman’s show draws laughter from exposing personal neuroses. She has appeared on “The Tonight Show” nine times and was the only female comic to appear on the last two of Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show Anniversary” shows. She’s made appearances on “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson,” did her own HBO “One Night Stand” comedy special, and was awarded the American Comedy Award for Best Female Stand Up Comic.

Sunday 3/10/24 Workshops and Night of Honor
Hosted by Nicole Blaine

10:00 AM Improv Workshop with Rebecca Sohn – Rebecca Sohn is an improviser-actor-writer living in Los Angeles. She has appeared in AP Bio on NBC, Teachers on TVLand and Shrink on NBC. She’s an alum of Chicago’s Annoyance Theatre, Second City and iO and has appeared in theatrical productions at Steppenwolf, Remy Bumppo and No Stakes Theatre Project. She wrote and toured three solo shows, Hope is a Four Letter Word, Live Bex Show and My Solo Show of All Duets starring Shirley Lame.

11:30 AM Music and Humor: Creative Writing workshop with Joshua Silverstein – Joshua Reuben Silverstein is an award winning actor, comic, writer, beatboxer, and educator. Throughout the country he has received admiration from creative geniuses ranging from Norman Lear to Prince. He is currently an artist in residence with the Jewish, female run storytelling NFP organization, The Braid, and extolls the virtues of female identifying performers and supports safe spaces and inclusivity.

1:00 PM Stand-Up workshop with Becca Tham – Becca mixes the art of improv and sketch to create strong stand-up inspiration. Learn the basics and start your set.

5:30 PM A night Honoring a person who has “Broken the Mold”. This year’s honoree is Gilda Radner, and includes a viewing of the film, Love Gilda. Director of the film, Lisa D’Apolito will do a Q and A after the film presentation.

Rebecca Russell is the Jewish Federation’s Program and Community Outreach Director a contributing writer to Jlife Magazine.



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