Moving Feminism Forward with the World’s Best Babysitter
The way to my heart is through sketches that see adults being irreverant around kids. Is it a little overdone? Sure, but I know what I like. That doesn’t mean I’ll cover it here, though, because we pride ourselves on being a bit more cutting edge here at Splitsider. Fortunately, SJ&Ginny Comedy has created a series that fits neatly into my weird little comfort zone, while making some very important, very funny statements about the Feminist movement.
How did each of you get started in comedy?
Ginny: I got my start in comedy by doing standup in Denver back in 2011 and 2012. Then, I moved to New York and started doing improv and that’s how I met SJ.
SJ: I started doing sketch comedy when I was in college at Cornell, and then I moved to NYC and started doing improv at the PIT because I saw some really amazing shows at the Magnet Theatre and was really inspired. Then, after improv, Ginny and I met at the PIT and started an improv troupe called Das Goodwerk and we performed for two years together. Then, Ginny started her own storytelling show called The Shame Game, and I eventually came onboard and co-hosted with her. It became a larger variety show that we called The Shame Game Show. The theme of the show was divulging your most shameful story, and Ginny and I started doing lots of different sketches throughout the whole show, weird bits and shit like that.
Where is The Shame Game held?
SJ: The Shame Game is no more. We did it for a year and it was great but, as time went on, we realized the part of the show we liked the most was writing the sketches every month.
Ginny: We would write new scripts every month and then would have to abandon them the next month [for the next show] so, after a year of that, we were like “We’re sitting on pages and pages of material that we haven’t done more than once, and we want to go back through that and see if there’s anything we liked in there.” So, instead of doing The Shame Game, we wrote a play that we’ve been doing this year. It’s a 40-minute show called Great Gig.
Where is that held?
Ginny: We started workshopping it at The Annoyance in the fall and we had two dates at The PIT. Right now we don’t have any future dates, but we’re looking at different options and places to take it.
How did Feminist Babysitter come about?
Ginny: So, Feminist Babysitter was inspired by my real day job as a nanny taking care of two kids. I really like being a nanny, but when you’re around just kids there’s no supervision and I started to find myself getting into really intense conversations with the kids about Communism and all these other topics and the 11-year old girl was like, “Okay, I’m going to go read Harry Potter now.” There’s that tension of watching after children and wanting to be the best role model for them that you can be, and tell them a little bit about real life and shape their minds a little bit.
SJ: I think there’s also that tendency to overshare because no one’s watching you.
Ginny: And kids don’t get it. You start talking about your life to them. The girl who I’m nannying now is all up in my social life and knows all about my friends and every single one of my friend’s boyfriends. “Who’s pregnant? Who’s gay?” It’s like, I’m not going to not address it when they ask me if being gay is okay. “Let’s talk about that.”
You’re shaping young minds.
Ginny: This character is a very heightened version of how I see myself interacting with these kids. The baby–shout out to baby Ahri!– is much younger than the actual kid who I nanny for, for comedic effect.
SJ: We got the idea to do this because Ginny was telling me all about these crazy things that the kids say and what she’s not sure she’s allowed to say. And she was like, “I really want to do a character sketch.” And I was like “Well, perfect. We have a baby available. My sister-in-law was already trying to convince me to put her daughter Ahri in a video, so we were able to schedule that and include it in the series.”
I think part of the thing that drew me to the series, beyond it being very funny, was its commentary on militantly feminist people. In the comedy space right now, do you think that sort of tremendously outspoken approach is needed in order for women to be fully represented in the community?
Ginny: I can only speak for myself and my experiences. I think that, over the course of this year, these issues have become more important to me and I’ve become more awoken. So, I think where you are talking about someone who is a “militant feminist,” who is trying to take every single conversation and gear it towards the feminist cause, that’s not actually a militant person, it’s just someone who is seeing the world for how it is. The character and I are similar in how earnest we are about these issues. Speaking earnestly about these issues while also playing this heightened version has been a really new experience for me. And anything can be funny because the character is so silly, but I think there’s also a lot of truth in that.
SJ: I think whenever someone is really passionate about one thing, whether it’s feminism, or they’re a neat freak, whenever someone is really passionate about one specific trait, that’s where the comedy comes. So it could be any character trait if they really lean into that. It’s just so funny when someone is so passionate about something. As to looking at the world from a feminist perspective and seeing everything from the eyes of women’s rights, I think that is a fantastic thing. I think that’s what more people, not just women but also men, need to do to better understand equality, both sexual equality and racial equality. It’s a much larger topic, obviously, but critically thinking about what we say is something everyone needs to do. So Feminist Babysitter is a lampoon but we also totally back the shit out of her.
Ginny: Going back to that feeling of earnestness in expressing these beliefs, there’s a little bit of a weird feeling with kids because you never know what they’re going to turn around and repeat, so you’ve got to try to pass along this knowledge to them and hope that at least some of it sticks. We’re all going to mess up a little bit with our kids.
Both of those are really fantastic answers, thank you. As a straight white dude, I feel so out of the know about anything and everything, and I’m trying to catch up. So, it’s interesting to hear two women’s perspectives on sexism, how prevalent it is is in our community, and how the response to it has affected not only what’s happening on stage or on screen, but also real life thought and progress.
Ginny: It’s a very interesting moment in comedy right now.
SJ: I think, on the coasts, people are more with it, and the truth is that if you’re not with these things then it makes you kind of behind the times. It makes you not relevant. What’s relevant right now is diversity, is understanding women’s perspectives, people of color. It’s an amazing time right now.
Ginny: I was really excited for the video to come out in light of the recent movement because I’m a part of the UCB women’s community out here, Nuva. So many actresses and female performers, artists, painters are in childcare or work as teaching artists. There’s also a lot of young moms or just regular moms. We knew it would strike a chord with that community. Within the community we’ve been getting some really great feedback. Like, “Yaaaaas.”
It’s not only smart and funny, but, like you said, it’s also very “of the moment.”
Ginny: When I first moved to New York in early 2012 to now everything seems so different, it’s a very exciting time. The reception to the video has been so nice and overwhelming, it’s encouraging. You know how it is, you work all day on your project and you hope somebody likes it, but when you feel like you’re doing something that has the support of people, that feels fucking great.
Here are your three reasons to watch.
- Baby Ahri
Episode #1: Play Time
It’s hard for seasoned comedians to make salient cultural commentary without coming off as heavy handed. The fact that two moonlighters achieved that feat so effortlessly is impressive, and noteworthy.
Episode #2: Park Time
The writing is great, but you could watch this thing on mute and still love it. Thanks for that, Baby Ahri.
Episode #3: Bath Time
Feminist Babysitter is immediately accessible and immediately funny, because it’s immediately understandable.
Luke is a writer/director for CollegeHumor and a watcher of many web videos. Send him yours @LKellyClyne.