Every woman out there knows exactly what being the “good girl” means.

We have all seen her on TV and in movies, in millions of ways where being “the good girl” always wins and is always rewarded. It means playing it safe, doing it right, getting it perfect, and pleasing everyone around you. And THAT has very little to do with comedy.

Comedy (specifically) but also performance (generally) is about taking risks, exposing one’s self, being vulnerable, being ‘out there’, being edgy and real, willing to make mistakes, look ugly or silly or insecure, and not caring one iota about getting it ‘perfect’.

Where does this “Good Girl” come from and how awake are we to how she works in us?

Holly Mandel has been directing, teaching, and performing improv for over fifteen years, as well as having worked at Comedy Central, Disney Pictures and ABC television. And despite everything she wishes weren’t the case, she can’t help but wonder what IS woman’s role in comedy? If the opportunities we now have are equal to men’s, is this it? Is this what we have to bring to the table? Or is there more? And if so, WHY aren’t we bringing it?

Is there something culturally and psychologically that might still be an obstacle for women in comedy, the creative arts...and even leadership?

Whether it’s stand-up, improv, sketch, or comedic roles in theater, TV, or film, Mandel has been aware that there does seem to still be something that holds women back from their edge, their highest potential and deepest aspirations.

That something is “The Good Girl.” And her time is up.

Women and men in all fields – including the performing arts but certainly not limited to it – are welcome to join the exploration and discussion around women’s development, where the GOOD GIRL came from
(culturally and psychologically), how she shows up today, and most importantly, how we are going to move beyond her.

Along with creating her original talk, GOOD GIRLS AREN’T FUNNY that she gives all over the US and abroad, she has also developed workshops for women, “Busting the Good Girl.” They are open to all women, in any field.


HOLLY: My hope is that both women and men see this talk and get INSPIRED. Get FIRED UP! Understand more clearly how we as women are constructed...certainly not the whole picture, but with enough information to get what all of these different voices ARE in us. Where they come from. What they WANT. What they TELL US. Most importantly, what they VALUE. Because this isn't about gender anymore. That was another battle with another mission. This battle is a battle about values. And culture, simply, does not value women. There's no bad guy, no villain. It just IS. Historically...and even in many, many places today we see that particular value being played out over and over: the lack of value for women. Sex trafficking. Gendercide. Too many examples to even begin to list... 

Even here, in the USA, in 2016, women are paid less. But guess what? We still stand for it. So it's not as black and white as we sometimes like to make it. Values are hard to see and hard to address. It's easier to make it about gender...men versus women. But that's not the case. I have a LOT of women in my life (often relatives from back home in Missouri...a red state mind you... ) who have a VERY different idea of how my life SHOULD be. And I have a LOT of male friends in LA and NYC (coincidentally blue states....hmmm...) who value me and other women for very different reasons. So it's not a gender issue as much for me as about what we are VALUED for.

So...HOW do we change that? How do we address the fact that both sexes for the most part value women for things MANY of us want to change? Valued for being a fellow human being. Period. Valued for our ideas simply because they're OURS. Valued for our contributions regardless of what our sex is. NOT valued merely for how we look, how attractive we are, how nice and supportive and self-less we are. On and on, blah blah blah. To some women, that is what they want. For many of us, it's the same as being suffocated! We cannot stand it. And so we're doing something about it. Because if WE don't, who will???

This talk and these workshops are meant to start that conversation. And keep it growing. To help explain where I think the GOOD GIRL started, see where she holds us back, WHY she holds us back, and most importantly see there is more in us than that. There's a VERY free, VERY bold, VERY valuable person in there too who is here to create. To express. To expand. To participate. To lead. And I want to give THAT part in every woman permission to fucking go for it, help other women break free and go for it, and help our awesome post-modern guys understand how they can help us...and themselves...too.

It is no coincidence to me, none whatsoever, that comedy - mainly improv, but stand-up too - is where women are making a move. Taking ground. There's a perfect storm to comedy and improv specifically that is calling on women to take a stand in this other part of themselves and leave their GOOD GIRL in the dust. It's so exciting I can barely contain it because it's RIGHT HERE, happening all around. In 10 years we are going to look back and see how pivotal this moment is for us. It's time. We all feel it. It's happening. I just want to add major fucking fuel to that fire.


Well behaved women rarely make history.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt
What do you think the new woman will be? - Nellie Bly

She’ll be free. - Susan B Anthony
— 1896
There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”
— Madeleine Albright
When one woman does it, she’s called a Bitch.
When lots of women do it, it’s called change.”
— Holly Mandel

Upcoming Talks & Workshops



Good Girls Aren't Funny: talk & discussion

Friday, March 10, 7:30-10pm

The Groundlings G3 Theater
7280 Melrose Ave
LA, CA 90046

Cost: $10


Tuesday, March 11, 11am-12:30pm

West Los Angeles College
Monthly Creative Speakers Series


Busting the Good Girl Workshops*


Saturday, March 11, 11am-2pm

OMR Theater
6468 Santa Monica Blvd.
LA, CA 90038

Cost: $40 

Saturday, March 18, 11am-2pm

OMR Theater
6468 Santa Monica Blvd.
LA, CA 90038

Cost: $40 


Good Girls Aren't Funny: talk & discussion


Busting the Good Girl Workshops*



Good Girls Aren't Funny: talk & discussion



* read more about what the BUSTING THE GOOD GIRL WORKSHOPS are all about by clicking here


Holly honestly changed my life last night. There were so many topics that she would hit and light bulb after light bulb started going off in my head like, “oh yeah, I’ve been in that situation! Yes, there have been times when a male on my team didn’t even make eye contact with me when I’m addressing them, only to listen to the next person who’s saying the same thing I am...
— Shannon, NYC
This talk by Holly Mandel legit changed my life. For me, it is THE answer to understanding & negotiating the tricky mischief of gender dynamics- on stage and off. If I were Queen I’d make every woman, man, and child see this.
— Lindsey, LA
Thank you again for presenting your Good Girls Aren’t Funny talk at the Groundlings last night! It was really nice to see a presentation that tied together all of the “trends” and presented it in a way that women can really understand. Dots were connecting for me and things were starting to make sense in ways they just never had before.
— Ambar, LA
The workshop lasted only 4 classes but I got more out of those 4 classes than I’ve gotten out of years worth of class after class of performance/acting, etc. The support you receive as a woman and performer is incredible. I always knew that I had certain nerve, self esteem and confidence issues but wasn’t sure why. It turns out, many women have the same program running about who, what and how we “should be...
— Aavi, LA
It was so meant to be that I caught your lecture when I did. I’ve been on this very purposeful “soul searching” journey for the past few years, and there was a disconnect that was keeping me back… the “Good Girl” of course! It’s so easy to see the “Good Girl” as a good thing, and I was clinging on to her thinking her safe path would guide me when really she kept me back from real growth. I so appreciate the work you put into your lecture, it was very easy to understand and your delivery hilarious. I loved it so much I wanted to do the Good Girl Improv Workshop even though I was coming in as an actor and scarred by my past improv experience. Listening to the other girls and doing the exercises was scary, enlightening, and fun! I think I want to pursue more improv classes from that experience, especially if it’s your badass lady class! Just want to say THANK YOU, you inspired me and your work is very meaningful!
— Melanie, LA
Thank you so much for recognizing the things no one talks about and everyone feels. I hope I can take more of your classes in the future! Also, I respect you so much and it meant so much what you said to me at last class about my performing. I really owe most of that confidence to you b/c it’s been gone for awhile :)
— Natalie, NYC
Hi Holly, I just wanted to say thank you for an incredible talk and subsequent discussion! There were so many women in the room, yourself included, who impress me with their achievements, have made me laugh and inspired me with their comedy. To hear them speak about how they have struggled with the exact things you were talking about made me think that maybe I could also face my fears when it comes to performing comedy. By the end there was a real sense of sisterhood in the room- and not one that felt forced or cliché. Can’t wait for more discussions and workshops!
— Clemence, LONDON
100% of the things you said resonated with me. I think back to them daily. I wanted to say thank you. Thank you for putting words to feelings that I have had for years and years.
— Kasey, LONDON


FEMINIST CRUSH's interview with Holly Mandel

Ep. 13 - Holly Mandel

Released Sep 16, 2016

Through comedy, feminist improviser and creator of goodgirlsarentfunny.com Holly Mandel empowers funny women to say HELL yes, and... "f*ck it!", to bust their inner good girls, and to "build their own sandboxes" in which to play (No boys necessary!).


Vanessa Fisher's Interview with Holly Mandel

Poetic Justice Dialogues Series is a hub for engaging important conversations with artists, activists, authors, and influential thought leaders around the world who bring unique and fresh perspectives to an array of pressing global issues. The conversations in this series range from political, to poetic, to philosophical in exploration, and aim to bring fresh thinking to a diverse array of topics by delving into the deeper layers of culture, art, economics, leadership, politics, activism, social media, gender, religion and spirituality in the 21st century.

Articles & Books to Check Out

'Animal: The Autobiography of a Female Body' by Sara Pascoe

Not only is it one of the funniest books I've ever read, it might also be one of the most poignant. Or much needed. Or timely. Or relevant. Or thought-provoking.

Take a funny and illuminating tour of the female body with award-winning comedian Sara Pascoe.

Women have so much going on, what with boobs and jealousy and menstruating and broodiness and sex and infidelity and pubes and wombs and jobs and memories and emotions and the past and the future and themselves and each other.

Here's a book that deals with all of it.

'All the Single Ladies': Book Review

“…The fact, then, that the median age for a woman’s first marriage has risen to 27 is a momentous turn of events. American women who eventually marry are now left with nearly a decade of single adulthood to forge their own paths professionally, romantically and socially. And this current period feels markedly different from prior moments when decisions to abstain from or delay marriage were intentional actions of feminist protest. Singlehood is no longer as restrictive for women as it once was. Women can work, they can borrow money, they can vote, buy houses, start businesses, travel the world and have children without ever formally attaching themselves to a man.”


ARTICLE: ‘Why Do We Teach Girls That It’s Cute To Be Scared?’

“…When a girl learns that the chance of skinning her knee is an acceptable reason not to attempt the fire pole, she learns to avoid activities outside her comfort zone. Soon many situations are considered too scary, when in fact they are simply exhilarating and unknown. Fear becomes a go-to feminine trait, something girls are expected to feel and express at will. By the time a girl reaches her tweens no one bats an eye when she screams at the sight of an insect.”


 ARTICLE: ‘Plight of the Funny Female’

“…For decades, this response stumped psychologists. When they would ask men and women what they looked for in their long-term partners, both genders would say they wanted someone “with a good sense of humor.” It was only when researchers pressed their subjects on what they meant, specifically, by “sense of humor,” that the sex difference became clear. Women want men who will tell jokes; men want women who will laugh at theirs.”


BOOK: “Marriage Shock” by Dalma Heyn

BOOK: “When Everything Changed” by Gail Collins

TED TALK: Your Brain on Improv by Charles Limb

The part of the brain that is activated during improv and creative functions is not the same part that is worried about right, wrong, good, bad, or playing by the rules.

BOOK: "The Confidence Code" by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman

"In The Confidence Code, Katy Kay and Claire Shipman shine a perceptive light on the crucial role that confidence plays in the ability of women to succeed. By cracking the code – explaining where confidence comes from and how to bolster it – they offer women practical advice and the vision of a more hopeful future for us." - Sheryl Sandberg




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