The Hysterics Bring Community Back to Virtual Performance

By Madeline Redding

“I realized I was gay like a good edible, I felt it a little bit and then I was like, ‘oh shit’” - Maggie Letvin

Comedy shows invoke a certain amount of fear in me. I sit near the back so the comedian can’t see me, I avoid perception at all costs. So you can imagine my fear when president of The Hysterics, Ambi Narula, asked all the Zoom participants to keep their camera and mics on during their comedy show Friday night.

I followed their scary instructions, and I was surprised and shocked at how comforting it was to hear people laugh and cheer throughout the night.

The show consisted of a series of standup sets from almost all of their members and concluded with a headliner set by DC comedian Jenny Cavallero. They covered an array of hard-hitting topics such as the point of birth control, “straight” gay moms, coping with RBG’s death by using dating apps, the struggles of masturbating as a woman, and the potential of being Adam Sandler’s bastard child.

I haven’t been to a virtual comedy show before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. These comedians, however, brought so much energy and fun to a notoriously isolating format. Their relatable and fun edge to women’s issues and queer topics filled a void in my cold post-covid heart. Hearing people laugh along with their mics off brought a sense of community to my quiet campus apartment. The Hysterics crafted a wonderful show and it is a testament to effective virtual performance.

The Hysterics was founded in May 2019 during finals week by Ambi Narula and Jordan Resnick with the intention of being an all-female comedy group. This definition has since expanded to include all women and all non-binary people. They found a comedy mentor Nikki Glaser, who invited The Hysterics to open for one of her DC shows. Narula networked with many comedians during the summer after it was founded to get insight and advice from professionals that she then translated into support for The Hysterics.

The Hysterics promotes themselves as being a group that any person could audition for. You don’t have to be an expert comedian or know how to perfectly craft a joke; they will teach you everything you need to know. There are many freshmen on their roster this year, which would be hard if the new members were expected to perfect their own content alone. The Hysterics, however, are a well-bonded team. Members will bring a story or idea to a meeting, and after workshopping the idea together they will help each other write and develop the joke.

In addition to their well-oiled collaborative dynamic artistically, they also are a wonderful group of friends. In our discussion, each person explained their journey to finding The Hysterics and how the experience has been for them so far. Each person seemed to build off each other’s energies in an incredibly exciting way, which I believe is the foundation of their unique sincerity as an ensemble.

The Friday show wraps up the schedule for The Hysterics this semester, but they are excited to continue their work next semester and bring a whole new slate of content and experiences for us to laugh along to. If you’re looking for a fun, supportive community for you to explore your talents as a comedic artist, feel free to audition this upcoming semester.

The members who performed during the Friday night show are: Ambi Narula, Maggie Letvin, Julia Parker, Anna Artazova, Caroline Campbell, Ami Oberg, and Olivia Janik.

You can find more information about The Hysterics including shows and audition info on their instagram page, @hystericsumd.