Los Angeles July 8, 2010. “Cougars and Kittens” is a citywide stand up comedy competition which is picking up steam. Sexy and funny ladies tickle the funny bone and titillate other bones as well. It's the brain child of casting director- producer Sheila Thompson, herself a voluptuous cougar type. The finalists will eventually compete for theatrical and commercial representation, a role in a feature film, and $1000, among other prizes. The first round of performances takes place at the Gardenia Restaurant and Lounge in Hollywood, a cozy venue with style and a cabaret atmosphere. Gardenia also hosts music nights and becomes a supper club on the weekends.
Thompson had started another venture, “Comedy in the Raw” six years ago. She recalls that when she laughed, it always seemed to make the day for her fiancé. Tragically he passed away last year. At that point, laughter was her only salvation as well as being an homage to him. Another inspiration for starting this competition is her strong belief that women are not well represented in the world of comedy, particularly talking about “cougar” topics.
Tryouts were last November, and as a local actress comedienne myself, I went to the audition. I got the call in June, that I am officially a contestant--and in my case am now officially a cougar. (Before I performed, I, like every contestant, was asked whether I am a kitten or a cougar.) (Who wants to be a silly kitten when you can be a powerful and commanding big cat??? Rrrrrar!) So far, I have performed with group #3 out of 5 groups. Each group will perform three times in different night clubs in front of judges from different aspects of the entertainment industry. Top winners will be in the finals.
I found in my night that some of the ladies were definitely more “raw” than others. And a few were hilarious. The first place winner in group #3, Jodi Miller, had a side splitting routine about men being cats and women being dogs, as well as one with new terms for female auto-erotica. Last night, I thought I would stop by the Gardenia Lounge and see how group #4 was doing in their first round.
The co-hostesses included the witty and playful Annie McKnight who tag teamed with Dina-Nicki. Toni Abner was on hand to announce the winners. Dina-Nicki was the main hostess on my performance night too. She's a pistol who comes from “a lovely Greek dysfunctional family where she learned…to perform like a trained monkey”.
It was fun to note that group #4 included a singer. Sauce, one of the only non-profanity rappers (in contrast to the felines--many of whom proliferated profanity!)
The judges for the evening were Ed Meyers, a producer for the original Entertainment Tonight series and founder of FilmCompletion.com, and Robert Woods, actor and executive with Wilson/Woods Productions.
There were more performers and fewer audience friends than in group #3 night. This made for a slower start to the evening as the cats had to relax and learn to laugh with each other. As the evening progressed some very great entertainment emerged. Some of the very funny ladies who made me laugh included Mary Patterson Broome who envies gorgeous babes because they don't have to bother to develop a personality. I found Kim Kita's kittenish character to be charming. People like her because she's Asian. She only has to "shut up and smile." Vicky Mizel took more of an actor approach, in her white lab coat, she calmly explained her manic depressive personality. Paula Tejada, "the real housewife of the I.E." won't let her husband get fat because a relationship can only take one fattie, and she got there first. Julie Clark demonstrated how and why she was a sexy math teacher who drives teen boys crazy.
First place prize of the night was awarded to the lithe and lovely Jessica Jolly, a seasoned performer in command of her game. She ended her set with a very physical and enthralling demonstration of the difference between an '80s party and a '90s party.
Cougars and Kittens are good for women and helps us express ourselves and find our voices in sexuality. We have fought the good fight for feminism, and yet the media is often pushing back on us with male dominance/woman as object subtleties. This is much less likely to happen if all women develop their inner cougar!
Group #5 will perform on August 5
Gardenia Restaurant and Lounge
7066 Santa Monica Blvd.
Hollywood, Ca 90038
323 467 7444
$5 admission/2 drink minimum
Georja Umano is an actress/comedienne and animal advocate.