Noelle Hoffman has dreamed of being a comedian ever since she watched Lucille Ball on the "I Love Lucy" show as a child.
“I’ve always been class clown, it was a very natural progression,” Hoffman, 27, said about her interest in comedy.
Hoffman and her four friends started a comedic group, Small Town Wonders. They debuted their skits Friday at Chicago’s second-annual women’s funny festival in Lake View.
These ladies are not only helping narrow the gender gap between female and male comedians, but they are also promoting more laughter, and that can have health benefits, according to studies.
A good laugh can stimulate many organs, relieve stress, soothe tension, and even boost your immune system, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Laughing can also burn calories, said researchers at the University of Kentucky. Ten minutes of laughter can burn as many calories as some 30-minute workouts, the researchers said.
William Fry, professor of psychiatry at Stanford University, said in the study that one minute of laughter is equal to 10 minutes on the rowing machine.
While laughter may be good for you, not everyone agrees on what’s funny. A survey conducted by The University of California in San Diego in 2009 revealed that an overwhelming number of survey participants replied that males are funnier than females.
However, when the survey asked participants to rate comedic cartoon captions written by both male and female comedians, both sexes were rated as funny. Women seem to have a more equal opportunity humor, finding males and females equally funny, while men preferred the male comedians, according to the survey.
“I think people are starting to open up their minds as far as what’s funny,” comedian Angela Oliver, 29, said. “There are other women out there like me, and I don’t have to feel weird about not fitting in to a gender stereotype.”
The local sketch comedians don’t want to only be funny to female audience members. They are hoping that more men will come around.
“We don’t want to be funny for a girl, we want to be funny for anybody,” said Small Town Wonders group member 24-year-old Lisa Duke.
Events like the women’s funny festival help get female comedians more exposure. The event featured over 200 female comedic shows and nearly 10,000 patrons.
“I think other women should know that it’s not a boys' club anymore,” Hoffman said. “If they are interested they should jump in. It’s a great way to meet other women.”
“It’s one of the most supportive groups you can be in,” Duke added.