Originally Posted Online: April 24, 2013, 9:53 am
Last Updated: April 24, 2013, 10:58 pm

Girls' night features eight female comics

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By Jonathan Turner, jturner@qconline.com

An all-female comedy show Friday night at The Speakeasy, Rock Island, will feature (clockwise from lower left) Heather Nobiling, Heidi Redmond, Nikki Gillette, Janice Chapman and Amie Butterfield.

Heather Nobiling and Heidi Redmond have serious day jobs -- Ms. Nobiling is a surgical technician with Trinity and Ms. Redmond is a personal trainer in Clinton and a North Scott gifted and talented teacher.

But the two 37-year-old single mothers love to cut loose with the funny on stage at Rock Island's Speakeasy, and will be among eight female comics performing in the new show, "That Time of the Month," on Friday night.

"One reason I wanted to do this show was there are more female names coming into notoriety, but for the most part when you think of stand-up comics, you think of men," Ms. Nobiling, a member of The Blacklist adult improv troupe, recently said. "In the region, there's been no all-female comedy shows, and I wanted to incorporate the women I've met."

"There are guys out there, and people in general who like to say women aren't funny or as funny as men, and it's just not true," she said. "Are there unfunny women? Yes, but there are also unfunny men."

Friday's show -- featuring four stand-up comics and four improv performers from a new Blacklist group -- will give many funny women an opportunity to showcase their talents, Ms. Nobiling said. There also will be a special male guest (stand-up comic Chris Starman) and a gimmick at the end of the show.

"It's interesting for me because of my job as a teacher," said Ms. Redmond, who's been rehearsing with a new 10-member, long-form improv group since October (they haven't had public performances yet). "When I get up there, I'm a completely different person."

"This is a chance for me to get up there and do whatever," she said. "I still have that audience, but I don't have that pressure to be perfect. People are just here for a good time."

The Blacklist (which formed in November 2010) is an 18-and-over, uncensored improv comedy alternative to ComedySportz, which formerly occupied The Speakeasy space next to Circa '21. Blacklist founder George Strader loves the all-female show concept.

"The female comedic voice often goes unheard in our local comedy scene," he recently said. "I resent the stigma that women are not funny. The chauvinistic opinion that a woman cannot be as funny or hilarious or as genius as a man in the world of comedy is asinine. I, for one, have witnessed countless all-female ensembles in Chicago destroy the stage with powerhouse performances.

"I, for one, cannot wait to see this performance and more to come from this fantastic ensemble led by Heather," Mr. Strader said. "This show to me is so important because my mission in returning to the Quad-Cities was to challenge audiences to open their minds to newer and more daring forms of entertainment. I am happy to say that the Blacklist is continuing to push the envelope and Heather Nobiling is a shining example of fearlessness in action."

Ms. Nobiling -- who lives in Sherrard with her two boys, 15 and 8 -- is the lone female member of Blacklist so far. She did theater in high school and acts in Genesius Guild.The new improv group Ms. Redmond is part of uses a monologue first (based on audience suggestion) and scenes take place based on that.

Ms. Redmond, who has an 18-year-old daughter, said as with male comics, women draw from their work and personal lives as sources of humor, but have their own perspective (with plenty of female-specific humor). And as the hit film "Bridesmaids" proved, women can be as dirty and gross as men, the two said.

"Improv just lends itself to being dirty," Ms. Nobiling said. "Since we are the only uncensored improv group in the Quad-Cities, people come here and they don't want to see what they see across the street (at ComedySportz). They want the dirty, and we're as dirty as our audience makes us."

"I've never been embarrassed on stage by anything I've done," she added. "It's just so much fun. It's playing with great people. We have amazingly talented people in this group and her group too."

Based on the turnout Friday, Ms. Nobiling hopes to offer a similar show in the future. She emphasized that owning a uterus is not required to attend.

If you go

-- What: "That Time of the Month" comedy show.
-- When: 8 p.m. Friday.
-- Where: The Speakeasy, 1818 3rd Ave., Rock Island.
-- Tickets: $10, available at the Circa ’21 ticket office, 1828 3rd Ave., or 309-786-7733, ext. 2. Must be 18 or over to attend.