Making it up as we go along: Female-filled comedy troupe Girl(m)Prov forms their own forum for laughs

Maggie Cargill, in red shirt, performs during a Girl(m)Prov show at The Granada, 1020 Mass.

The show opens with a rousing roll call that sounds like a hip-hop version of the “A, my name is Alice” jump rope ditty.

While the all-female cast stomps, claps and chants, “Sha boo ya, sha sha, sha boo ya …,” each troupe member steps out and introduces herself to the audience:

“My name is Brittany. And I like pears. I drink straight whiskey. I have great hair!”

If it sounds like a slightly twisted cheerleading routine, well, that’s what Girl(m)Prov is all about — a crew of fearless female friends, cheering one another on in the male-dominated world of improvisational comedy.

“Improv is usually a boys club,” says Maggie Cargill, member of Girl(m)Prov and president of Stitch Tactics, a KU Student Senate-funded coed improvisational comedy group.

Maggie Cargill, left, and Havana Mahoney pretend to be dead giraffes during a recent improv comedy performance at The Granada, 1020 Mass. Cargill and Mahoney are both members of the all-female improv comedy group Girl(m)Prov.

“It’s a whole bunch of guys, and usually the girls on stage get bowled over. No matter how bold we tried to be, the guys always try to be bigger and better than the girls. Or we get shoved into traditional roles, like ‘you’re the wife’ or ‘you’re the mom.’ In GirlProv, we can be whatever we want, and everybody goes with it.”

Girl(m)Prov was founded in February by Kansas University students Demy Potter and Jackie Koester, who loved the fast-paced comic genre but wanted to break out in new directions.

“Most of us had already done short-form improv within the theater department and were itching to learn about long-form,” says Potter, who graduated in May and hopes to pursue her passion for improv in Chicago.

“Short-form is where there’s a game. It’s sort of like (the TV show) ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?'” Potter explains. “There’s an automatic gimmick with each game. With long-form, you get one suggestion from the audience and you do 30 minutes, based off of the suggestion. You have to find the gimmick. It’s not given to you

Brittany Barney, seated, reads her diary aloud to the disapproval of her mother, played by Demy Potter, who is secretly listening during a performance of “Dear Diary” at The Granada, 1020 Mass. Barney and Potter are members of the all-female comedy group Girl(m)Prov.