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Comedy show creates space for women and non-binary performers

Carolina Coffee Shop Outdoor Dining.jpeg

Courtesy of Carolina Coffee Shop

For UNC senior and comedian Renna Voss, laughter is tangible emotion. 

That's part of the reason she said she was so excited to co-host "I Just Said That," a comedy show for women and non-binary performers, last Friday at 6 p.m. in 1922 by Carolina Coffee Shop.

The show featured Voss and her co-host Julia Finke, as well as about a dozen performers, each with five minute sets. The show is a yearly tradition dating back to 2017. 

Finke and Voss co-hosted the show last year and they expected to warm up the crowd and introduce the different sets in this year's show. 

“The reason we keep doing it is because female and genderqueer comedians are pretty underrepresented in the [comedy industry] in general,” Finke said. “We wanted to create a space for people who have either loved stand up or have never done it before, but have always wanted to try it.”

On April 3 and 10, previous and prospective performers got together for writing workshops in preparation for the show. Some people offered tips and others bounced jokes off each other, navigating different ways to approach their individual sets.

Roshni Ammanamanchi attended "I Just Said That" for the first time in 2022 as an audience member. Even though she thought it was a really cool idea, she said she was too nervous to sign up with a set.

In 2023, her senior year, she decided that she wanted to go out with a bang. She said she wanted to do something she was passionate about — comedy — and signing up for "I Just Said That" was the perfect opportunity.

After performing a set made up of mostly improvisation in 2023, this year, Ammanamanchi performed something more streamlined, drawing inspiration from narrative TV writers such as "The Mindy Project's" Mindy Kaling and "Fleabag's" Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

For Ammanamanchi, "I Just Said That" was a chance to enter the comedic field through a welcoming and nurturing environment.

“You don’t have to go Hollywood to do [stand-up comedy],” she said. “It’s the most accessible thing to express yourself.”

Ammanamanchi said that she learned a lot about how to make her set her own by watching each performer bring their own stage presence and humor to the show.

In a male-dominated art form, it is often difficult for women and non-binary performers to gain recognition and attention. She said that people like the show's performers deserve more of the spotlight. 

“The world is sick of people like Matt Rife,” Ammanamanchi said. “I hope that these people like myself, we go out and do this as a hobby or as a profession because these people are so, so funny."

Voss is a member of False Profits, a UNC comedy troupe. She said that "I Just Said That" was handed down to her through False Profits with the goal of creating a space for underrepresented comedians.

Standup is centered around being loud and projecting your voice, and Voss said the show aims to address the frustration from women and non-binary comedians who feel like the voices of men are given more attention. 

“Sometimes it’s frankly just a little bit hard to get a word in,” Voss said

It is through her peers in comedy that Voss draws inspiration for shows like "I Just Said That." She said she loves learning from the people around her and the different media she interacts with.

With the stress of finals looming in the future, Voss said that she is excited to be surrounded by people who want to make each other laugh. 

“You can expect a really positive energy in the room,” Voss said.

@dthlifestyle | lifestyle@dailytarheel.com

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