Trish Blaine says that Richmond's comedy scene is underrated and there is a hidden level of talented people working hard. Her identity hasn't impacted her time on the stage "I take about my family, my farm life, my job, but very little about me," she says.
"My comedy is family oriented…as in I talk mainly about my family," she says. "I try to keep it as clean as possible just because it’s easier to get work that way."
For Mary Jane French, it's a different story. Comedy saved her life.
She channeled her depression on the stage and became more comfortable talking about being trans.
"That material stopped me from attempting suicide," she says. "For the first year of my transition, my comedy was very therapy based. It was a lot of me yelling."
Mary Jane started her journey into comedy during her senior year of high school but took pause when she first moved to Richmond.
"When I realized I needed to transition, I took a break from standup," she says. "I didn’t know what my name was. I wasn’t comfortable being introduced with the wrong name or pronoun."
Her first special, Bearded Woman, was recorded two weeks before she started hormone therapy and later became an EP. She says you can hear the evolution of her comedy in the second EP, Live at Gallery5. Since then, her material explores life and recovery after bottom surgery.
She has set out on a mission to dispel myths and break gender norms. "I talk very bluntly about what the recovery process in my body surgery... my goal isn’t to pass as a cis woman."
While her first joke may be about being trans to break the ice, her other material explores other life experiences. "I want to prove that my material is not just a gimmick. I’m funny without [talking about the transition.]"
Comedy RVA - A website publishing a calendar of open mic and standup nights.
Coalition Theater - Improv theater located in downtown Richmond home to the Richmond Comedy Coalition. The host house teams and special events.
Comedy Sportz - Family-friendly improv based in Richmond's west end.