Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Comediennes Online: Interview with Jacki Schklar
Outside a handful of Facebook groups, online communities for female comedians (and their supporters) are hard to find. This week I caught up with Jacki Schklar, creator and publisher of one of the most established groups on the internet serving this purpose, www.funnynotslutty.com.
Since May 2008, FnS has been featuring videos, interviews and humor by women through monthly editions of the site. They also host a Ning community, a social network for comediennes and fans.
[Note: This interview was conducted via email.]
What was your motivation behind starting FnS?
I had to hunt and peck through tons of young male targeted humor to find humor geared for me, a mature female. Masturbation and tits don’t really make me laugh. It takes a lot more than that to entertain a woman in her sexual peak years, and if I want to see big breasts all I need to do is look down.
Do you run FnS entirely by yourself?
FnS is a growing community of networking and humor based creativity with dozens of contributors, becoming more expansive all the time. But I created the site and I am the webmaster/publisher.
What, would you say, are the ultimate goals of FnS?
Well, I’d love to be the chick’s cracked.com or Funny or Die.
It’s a funny haven for women to take a break and laugh. And it’s a catalyst for female artists and fans to converse and inspire one another.
As far as goals for the next few years, I’d like to incorporate a live streaming show and produce a video series concept I have that can incorporate content submitted by Funny not Slutties from all over. I hope to get the new collaborations started before the end of 2009. I need to finish up my productions How to Live and Eat like a Southern Jewish Princess and Footastic Theatre before I get the new series in gear.
How has FnS been received? Have any reactions surprised you?
It has been greatly received by the U.S. comedy population. Many comedians and comedy bloggers know about us and buzz around the site. The site is not comedy by women for female comedians though, it’s comedy by women for all women who want to laugh. So I have some work to do to get beyond “preaching to the choir.” But getting the attention of artists is a great start.
I don’t really know about surprises, but can say that I look at our metrics and enjoy it when we hit a “lottery,” get featured or listed somewhere and get hits from that. Or an awesome artist shows up in our membership. But the site is pretty much becoming what I am setting out for it. I guess the number of men who enjoy the site is a bit of a surprise.
I've got to ask about the title. Could you explain it a bit? Are you afraid it might be seen as "anti-woman," since calling sexually active women "sluts" is a way to stigmatize enjoying sex?
The name is a word play on the fact that when you get a bunch of ladies together on a site “showing off their stuff”, that might conjure up thoughts of porn. But we are not “slutty chicks,” we’re “funny chicks.” The word slutty has many meanings and it’s just a catchy and funny site name, not literal. If you don’t get it, the site is not for you.
I discovered the fabulous Jocelyn Jee through FnS- how do you find and decide which comedians to feature?
I get emails from producers, writers and talent asking me to consider their projects. I have a community called the Funny not Slutty Network on the site and will often find talent who has joined and like to give them priority. I have been delighted at many of the contributions and often pull from the community to post on the homepage. And sometimes I request a specific contribution and artists are happy to be included.
What's Atlanta and the South, in general, like for female comedians?
My background is corporate media production and journalism so I’m no expert on the entertainment industry. I know that in Atlanta the headlining female is extremely rare. But I can’t tell you why. I have interviewed Etta May and a few other female comics and they all have different opinions. I do feel that women need to concentrate on supporting one another before they point to the opposite sex at fault. The only reason why there is no “Old Girls Club” is because we have not created it. Women tend to be supportive of one another only when there is something in it for them. You don’t see much real altruistic bridge building between us. The top 4 referring private sites sending traffic to FnS, are all men’s. That is not a coincidence. The successful guys reach back to promote us, the a-lister women have not. Yet.
I ran across a comedy forum where people were mighty nasty about FnS- is that reaction common? How do you deal with disrespectful criticism?
I can count the incidences of negative criticism toward the site on one hand. But that forum was one of my top referrals that month. You have to have an antagonist to bond with the heroine. I wish my forums were a little more controversial, it would be great. So I have had little negative feedback but aspire to be big enough to attract more in the future.
Organizations like Bitch Magazine and the bloggers at Evil Slutopia have had certain difficulties and complications due to racy names- have you experienced this?
The first month or two I had over 50% smutty referring keywords, which I expected. But I’m pretty good with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) so that is down to under 10% most days, which is probably not much worse than what any adult content comedy site would attract. Leaving the slutty keyword referrals is ultimately not good for your stats, because it may send more page views but it lowers your visit time and pages per visit.
There are some instances where I could not be listed in an automated system, etc. because of the name being filtered but I think all in all the name works and I’m ok with paying that price. If you think that is bad, I also bought the domain unfunnycunt.com. This should really be a doozey.
Lastly- I've got to ask- who are your favorite upcoming comedians?
Can’t touch that one with a ten foot pole, would leave someone out or piss someone off…But I have tons of great talent on the site to check out. The artists who have been most commended by readers are Alice Jankowski, The Retributioners, and Nicole Terry.