Hit comedy show Girls Only begins second run at DCPA
Linda Klein is always open to inspiration.
“I’m prepared to be inspired just walking through life,” said the Park Hill resident, a popular improv actor and comedy writer. “Ideas come at me all the time, and I don’t dismiss them; I value every one. I never doubted something great would happen.”
That “something great” turned out to be Girls Only: the Secret Comedy of Women, Klein’s hit comedy show opening its second run at the Garner Galleria Theatre Jan. 16 to March 9.
Girls Only is a two-woman variety show that celebrates the truth, humor and silliness of being female. A mix of sketch comedy, improvisation, audience participation and media, the show covers the major moments in women’s lives, “from the ‘tween years’ right before boys, to all facets of womanhood,” Klein said.
Klein and her comedy partner, Barbara Gehring, wrote Girls Only based on their junior high diaries. “We read them to each other one afternoon and we laughed to tears,” said Klein.
She said the show reminds people of their innocence. “The energy is like a girlhood reunion. We wrote it from our hearts and our experiences. This is not the dark side. It’s innocent, fun, playful and nice. So much comedy is negative or mean, but there’s no negative here. We put a smile on everything.”
Klein loves watching audience members laugh. “The 13-year-old girls cover their mouths, while the grandmothers throw up their hands. There’s something ageless about the show. They’re all women just like me. I thought I was a big dork in junior high but it turns out we all thought that.”
Girls Only began as an improvised show, and then had a six-week run at the Avenue Theater in 2008. Klein and Gehring’s big break came when the DCPA asked for the show that same year and it ran until 2010. Since 2009, Girls Only has played in Des Moines, Winnipeg, Charlotte, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh and Houston.
Klein grew up in Idaho Springs. “It was a gift to grow up in a small mountain town,” she says.
She moved to Park Hill in 1994 and married her husband, Paul, on the front porch of their home in 2001. She is an active member of Montview Presbyterian Church. “We love Park Hill because our neighbors are the best,” Klein said. “We’ve thought about moving but you can’t buy good neighbors, you know? I walk to church, the library and the coffee shop. Whenever I’m out, I see people I know.”
Klein’s career includes more than 15 years of comedy in Denver. Her shows include 50 productions with A.C.E. Entertainment, a comedy troupe she co-founded with Gehring and Matthew Taylor in 1998. A.C.E. wrote and produced original comedy for corporate entertainment, including meetings, conferences and sales events. “We still worked in theaters for love, but we made a living at the corporate work. We even got to travel overseas.”
One of Klein’s favorite corporate conference bits was “the Mabels.” “We were on the agenda as ‘senior advisors.’ We came in as three old biddies—all named Mabel—and set up three rickety chairs and a very rickety table. We put a jar on the table and charged a nickel to answer questions. The improv aspect stimulated interaction that is unexpected in a corporate setting. I love that 85-year-old version of myself because I don’t edit myself. I hope I’m like that when I get old.”
Klein characterizes her comedy as “smart” and “real:” “It’s intellectually engaging. We believe in truth in comedy—it’s not too fanciful; it’s real and relatable. We pay attention to what’s going on in our lives and set the inspiration switch to ‘on.’ I’m constantly aware and I’m curious to a fault; my friends ask me to stop asking questions.”
Having a hit show has changed Klein’s life in unexpected ways. “Barb and I are part of a team now, instead of being in charge of everything. We were auditioning women to play our roles and when they read our scripts I thought, ‘You’re lying, that’s OUR lives!’ It was jarring at first. But well worth the struggle because we partner with the best professionals in the business.”
Klein said her success revealed her hidden talents. “More of our work is off-stage now, doing PR and maintaining our brand. We found out we were good at these things even though we had no training. It’s a bit sad for me that it’s shifted to more of a desk job. But I do like it.”
One of Klein’s joys is making her parents proud. “My folks attended my original ‘productions’ in my bedroom, so now they are through the roof, they’re so excited. They get treated like royalty around the theater. I’ve given them something I wanted to give.”