Applications for Cohort 3 are now closed! Check back for our Summer 2024 Cohort.
The Washington, D.C. area has a thriving comedy scene. As in most places, the majority of stand comedy shows in DC are primarily made up of male comedians. Open mics can be very intimidating environments -- in addition to the expected nerves of trying new material for strangers, female-identifying individuals (particularly those of color, trans women, religious minorities, those with disabilities, and others) may be (understandably) daunted by going alone to a bar at night with few other non-male comics around to perform material from a minority perspective. As the saying goes, "you have to see it to be it," and comedy mics as they exist today send implicit messages about who belongs on stage and who does not.
Grassroots believes that women and non-binary folx belong on stage and that amplifying the diverse voices of the DMV is critical. Spring of 2023, Grassroots created and launched a new incubator program for women and non-binary folx -- it was so much fun that we did it again, and now we're in our third round! We look for new comics, from those who have never been on stage to those who have been performing for up to one year. The group meets for weekly workshops, getting the opportunity to network with other comedians (peers who are new in the space as well as more seasoned comics), explore joke structure and formats, and – most of all – to build community and workshop material. The Incubator will culminate in a showcase in DC.
INSTRUCTORS (past): Dana Fleitman is the primary instructor. Guest instructors included Chelsea Shorte, Blaire Postman, Elizabeth Norman, Kasha Patel, Yasmin Elhady, Natalie McGill (joining virtually), and more!
On the fence about applying? Here's what the some of the graduates of our first cohorts had to say:
"I'd be thinking about trying stand-up comedy for over a year before I joined the incubator program but had struggled to find open mics and have the confidence to perform for the first time. The incubator program, and Dana's amazing coaching, allowed me to explore this form in community with other women and non-binary comics who gave me the feedback and support I needed to dive in head first." -- Veena Muraleetharan, Cohort 1
If you are not sure if you should do this class, DO IT. Even if you don't end up doing stand-up regularly, you will learn and grow a ton around self-confidence, presentation, public speaking, and finding and using your voice, and you'll meet some awesome, smart, lovely people in the process. This is a warm, supportive environment in which to try something new and to do a very brave thing in a way that is accessible and manageable. There is 0 downside to giving this a try if you're even remotely called to it." -- Lisa Kays, Cohort 2
This comedy incubator was an amazing chance to develop my voice as a comic and hear from some really smart, funny women and non-binary folks! Everyone had such a unique and special perspective that’s sorely needed in comedy and I can’t wait to see them grow in the DC comedy scene!" - Swetha Ramesh, Cohort 2
"The Grassroots Comedy incubator program provided me with a solid foundation to begin my stand-up journey. It really provided me with a leg up that I don't believe I could get anywhere else. I always felt supported and like I was being rooted for, which I believe to be essential when you're taking on a craft as personal and vulnerable like stand-up comedy. I have endless gratitude for Dana and her supportive and giving spirit. I also couldn't have dreamed for a better experience than the one I got at the showcase!" - Khadija Mehter, Cohort 1 (TA for Cohort 2)
"I can't stress how positive this experience was for me enough. In a city that runs on anxiety and ambition, it really was wonderful to explore something fun and feel nurtured and supported in doing it. It sounds dramatic, but as an ADHD academic, I had grown to despise writing, and I thought of my brain as my own worst enemy. It was also a truly transformative experience because I got to reframe how I feel about the way my brain works AND how I feel about writing. Just spending time with incredibly kind and funny people helped me appreciate my perspective and all I have to offer in ways I hadn't before." -- Rosalie Rubio, Cohort 1 (TA for Cohort 2)
"I've been interested in trying standup for years, but felt really intimidated by all the barriers to entry and the baggage that comes with performing in a male-dominated space. This program helped make those barriers way less scary, all while providing a space full of badass, hilarious, and supportive ladies that developed into a community much more quickly than I would have thought possible. I plan to keep doing comedy and it's pretty much all thanks to this class and this cohort, and would recommend it to anyone who is on the fence."
-- Maddie Pickens, Cohort 1