Dallas Comedy Festival 2018: Top Standup Acts by Female Comedians

Dallas Comedy Festival (DCF) is an annual celebration of improv, sketch, and stand-up comedy. DCF recruits top-notch comedy acts from all over the U.S. for one week packed full of shows, workshops, and parties. The festival, now in its ninth year, took place last week March 27-31, 2018 in Deep Ellum at the Dallas Comedy House and the Independent Bar & Kitchen on Main Street. Headliners included Saturday Night Live cast member Sasheer Zamata and Chicago-based improv troupe 3Peat.

This was my first year attending DCF and my first time attending any comedy festival in the past three years, so with that said, I am not very informed about the comedy scene in Dallas… or any other city for that matter! I briefly researched the acts for DCF and made a list of comedians I wanted to see perform. I was able to attend DCF the last three nights and I compiled my top four favorite standup acts by female comedians, from the shows I was able to attend as press for those nights.

Lily Callaway

Local Dallas standup Lily Callaway takes the Regal Room stage at the Independent Bar & Kitchen. / Credit: ChinLin Pan/Geek Gals

As soon as she came on stage, Lily Callaway made a joke about her name and race. Because no one expects to see an Indian woman with a Caucasian name, right? She snowballs that joke and goes on to say that she may adopt a white boy and name him “Osama.” A minute into her act and I’m already laughing my ass off. Callaway segued to explain that she has “a redneck mother-in-law” and mimics the Southern lady accent. Apparently, her mother-in-law hates her more for being vegan than for being Indian. To wrap up her act, Callaway talked about being a “wo-manager” at work and highlighted the differences in the issues that women and men face in the workplace.

Amanda Kay Holstien

Texas comedian based in New York, Amanda Kay Holstien performed at her at the Regal Room stage at the Independent Bar & Kitchen. / Credit: ChinLin Pan/Geek Gals

Amanda Kay Holstien is not only a comedian but also a poet. She wrote a trap poem just for us Dallas peeps. I couldn’t remember the lines but I can tell you it was CATCHY. Holstien had that cool feminist-AF vibe going on. Maybe it was her dope rose glasses, but I felt like I could relate to so much of what she was saying. She started off informing ladies that there IS a difference between pregnancy tests you get at the Dollar General store and other stores. She poked fun at a guy she used to date who was half-white, half-black. The guy had asked her to call him the n-word in bed and she responded, “I can’t say that! You’re half-white, you can’t use that word!” She wrapped up her act complaining about the typical things men do in the dating scene and just when you think she was done shitting on men, she flipped the script and started to shit on women too!

Catherine McCafferty

LA-based standup comedian Catherine McCafferty performed at her on the Hotel Indigo stage at Dallas Comedy House. / Credit: ChinLin Pan/Geek Gals

Catherine McCafferty’s standup act was 100% sarcasm and 10% funny facial expressions (yes, I know that math doesn’t add up). I bet this chick would be a great team member for a charades game. But I digress. McCafferty’s humor centers around darker topics like lost love or death. She started off with a lighthearted joke about how she thinks of herself as “the first draft of a Disney princess” when it comes to being a good girlfriend. My favorite part of her act was when she recounts going back to the Midwest where her family is from and explaining to conservative family members that she is dating a women for the first time. She mocks her family’s reaction by mimicking their facial impressions processing her saying “I’m dating a woman.” This bit lasted at least 30 seconds and I felt my stomach tighten up in knots because I was laughing so hard. She ended her act with a personal story about her and her brother being at their father’s deathbed last year and how she tried to lighten up the mood by playing an Ed Sheeran song on her phone.

Marissa Nieto

Local Dallas comedian Marissa Nieto took the Hotel Indigo stage at Dallas Comedy House. / Credit: ChinLin Pan/Geek Gals

Local Dallas comedian, originally from California, Marissa Nieto was blunt and sassy and that’s my favorite combo of personality traits in a gal. Nieto kicked off her act comparing her income to that of a goat’s. She tried out goat yoga recently and paid $35 for it. She then realized she makes less per hour than a goat does. She goes on to talk about her job and how when she was hired, she had to get fingerprints taken and she found out from HR that she had non-traceable fingerprints: “I could’ve lived a life of crime, guys!”

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