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Lighten up
The Marie Curie Sketch for Women's History Month. L-R: Kelsey Cramer, Leslie Vincent, Shannon Troy Jones, and Heather Meyer. Photography by Brooke Nelson.

"Sometimes women's history is treated like all the women are on a pedestal - sacred and precious and delicate."
- Heather Meyer

by Kathy Magnuson

We take women so seriously sometimes. Especially in March, that month of the year when we laud our history as a gender. That's the view of Heather Meyer, creator of the annual sketch, "The Historical Comedybration (with fabulous prizes)."

Meyer wanted to create a comedic show that celebrates women's history. She didn't want to lecture - she wanted to offer a good time. The goal was not to put women down, nor to put them on a pedestal "where it is all so sacred," she says.

When this local and national comedy playwright, screenwriter and performer wanted to create a show that would require women in all the roles, she worked through the usual holiday ideas - "because they are fun" she says - yet was reminded that the characters are mostly men: Santa, Rudolph, Frosty, etc. "We don't usually think of Women's History as a holiday, but it is a whole month!"

"Sometimes women's history is treated like all the women are on a pedestal - sacred and precious and delicate.

"Wow! There is a woman scientist!" Meyer says. "It was my chance to make a show about women in history, but it doesn't mean we have to make them out to be perfect and pristine." Each version of the show, since she created it in 2013, has been different. Sketches have included trivia, obstacle courses and truth-or-dare contests.

This spring's version featured only Minnesota women, including Linda Christenson, the Minnesota State Fair butter carver; Mary Tyler Moore, who played the Minneapolis-based TV character Mary Richards; the singing Andrew Sisters; Sharon Sayles-Belton, the first African American and first female mayor of Minneapolis; and actress and singer Judy Garland.

"When the name is 'women's history' it sounds like school and educational. You need something else to know it is fun," Meyer says, hence the fabulous prizes and the hybrid name. "It's history with a twist - it's more celebratory."

Her "fabulous prizes" are "as fabulous as my low budget can get, and they get more fabulous every year." Prizes have included boxes of Girl Scout cookies and packages of Gold Medal Flour (for a sketch about Olympian Jackie Joyner Kersey) and Minnesota Lynx bobble heads.

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Meyer finds humor gives perspective, and laughter is the release that allows you to simplify and defuse anxiety, whether in the office, at a meeting, or on stage. "When you turn your brain on and reduce emotions it's a biological response to help you highlight the truth of the matter. You realize, 'we are just planning a party. We are not doing brain surgery.' It's a great way to step back and say, 'this is hilarious. I am yelling at someone.'"

Her motto? "Let's have prizes. Let's make it a party. I think we could benefit from more parties."

Are there situations where you could lighten up?

FFI: heathermeyer.squarespace.com and www.comedybration.com

Where do you see women connecting and making change in your world? Send me your story, magnuson@womenspress.com

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