Forget Victoria’s Secret; it’s Linda Klein and Barbara Gehring who know the real secrets, at least to making ladies laugh! The unrealistic beauty standard peddled by such media is just one of the many everyday tribulations of womanhood the two mine for humor in their Girls Only: The Secret Comedy Of Women.
The Secret Comedy Of Women has been touring the country on and off since its Denver premiere in 2008. Gehring and Klein, who co-wrote and co-star, begin the evening clad in bras and panties as they poke fun at the notorious catalog, and their every-woman sincerity and witty snipes quickly have the audience on their side.
Adding to the girly atmosphere is a pepto-pink girl’s bedroom set and an early song called “My Bra,” one of the many musical numbers that join sketches, short clips, and improvised bits to make up this female-centric variety show.
Both Klein and Gehring have extensive improv training, and their off-stage friendship was evident in their relaxed chemistry; they often seemed to be having about as much fun as the audience! Not that the audience is entirely off the hook in this engaging mix; show attendees were called upon to serve as the guest of honor at an impromptu shower, pull items out of a memory box, or even asked to briefly surrender their purses!
The few men in attendance were also amicably poked fun at throughout: one fellow who braved the front row even had a sanitary pad clipped to his tie as part of a “Craft Corner” segment, in which Gehring and Klein, dressed as presumably menopausal granny types, showcased a variety of alternative uses for “feminine products.”
The comedians’ willingness to talk frankly about the usually-taboo matter of menstruation allowed them to access an often untapped source of humor. Other alternative uses the two cooked up for pads and tampons included budget Swiffer alternatives, impromptu Halloween costumes, and replacement wine corks!
When so much of theatre is still male-dominated, it’s definitely refreshing to see a show geared towards women almost exclusively; the theatrical equivalent of a chick flick, if you will. A theme of female empowerment was also often evident amidst the humor, such as in a shadow puppet-show that highlighted female innovators and womens’ social progress over the years.
Other segments include one in which the performers gave us a brief course in sex education (What’s the correct response when a boy tells you he likes your hair? According to Gehring: “don’t get me pregnant!”) and a finale that had the comedians once again in their skivvies for an inventive dance number that highlighted the difficulty of putting on pantyhose.
This was one among a few moments where the show seemed a little more geared toward Gehring and Kleins’ generation than my own (You will never catch me in pantyhose if I can help it!), though it was hilarious nonetheless. Though the show also sometimes veered a little too silly for my tastes, its simplicity should make it accessible and enjoyable to experienced audience members and non-theatre goers alike. In any case, I certainly admire Klein and Gehring for their sheer chutzpah as much as for their talent; it takes a lot of bravery to be as bold, vulgar, and flagrantly feminine as they can!
The Secret Comedy Of Women definitely isn’t one to miss if you’re a gal of just about any age who just wants to have some good old-fashioned fun—or a man with an exceptionally good sense of humor! The show will be playing Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday matinees and Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at Boca Raton’s Mizner Park Cultural Center until this February 23!