Betsaida LeBron and Melissa McGillicuddy: Champions for female comics
Co-founders of Sacramento FemmeFest
If you’re a regular at the Comedy Spot in Midtown, you’ve likely seen Melissa McGillicuddy’s stand-up, or have watched Betsaida LeBron perform in any number of regular improv shows. They’re also the co-founders of Sacramento FemmeFest, a three-day festival featuring an all-female lineup of comedy performers. LeBron and McGillicuddy share a bit of their inspiration with SN&R in advance of next week’s shows.
Tell me a little bit about FemmeFest and how it started.
LeBron: FemmeFest … started in 2019. [It] is a weekend of comedy that’s all-female performers. It’s improv, it’s sketch, it’s stand-up, some musical comedy, but all comedy and all female performers. So we really were looking for an opportunity to highlight all the really great female comics that were in the area, as well as those that were from outside of Sacramento, to bring them in and to showcase all of that talent. This is something that other big cities are doing. San Francisco has an all-female improv festival, and they’ve been doing that for a few years and I’m part of helping them figure out who’s going to perform there. And in talking to Brian Crall, who owns the Sacramento Comedy Spot, we’re just like, “This is something that needs to come to Sacramento.” So I reached out to Melissa to really help picking out stand-up, because improv is definitely my forte.
What makes a good FemmeFest stand-up?
McGillicuddy: I know it sounds silly, but people that are funny.
Do you look for a diversity of viewpoints from the women who perform?
M.M.: Yes, definitely, that’s something that we consider and take into account. But to piggyback off the first question you had … we just thought, how had this not been done before, so we wanted to kind of seize the opportunity to be able the first to do that … in Sacramento.
B.L.: We’ve had people say, “This is the first one? How has this never happened before?” Last year, we weren’t sure how it was going to be received or how it was going to go, and it was incredibly well-received. And we heard what people were saying and so we took a lot of that feedback and are putting it into what we’re doing this year and the acts that they liked and the kinds of [performances] they said that they wanted, and just trying to make it even bigger and better this year.
There are a few performers from out of the area?
M.M.: Probably about 50-50?
B.L.: We have some Sacramento, Bay Area, L.A., Stockton. If you’re a regular at the Comedy Spot, you’re going to be seeing a lot of different acts that you wouldn’t normally see perform here, because we do have folks coming from out of town. So it’s an opportunity to see different performers.
Is there anything else you’d like people to know about FemmeFest?
B.L.: What I really love about FemmeFest is that we really made the decision … that every show is a mix of improv, stand-up and sketch … so no matter what show you go to, it’s going to be strong, hilarious, unique women with their own perspective, and you’re also going to see how they do [that] through different forms of comedy.
M.M.: It kind of forces you to experience all those different forms.