On Melrose, there’s no shortage of restaurants, shops and nail salons, but sometimes, particularly these days, you just a need a laugh. With the exception of The Groundlings and Sal’s Comedy Hole, there haven’t been many places to see and perform comedy on our stretch of Melrose— until now. Lisa Sundstedt, a comedian, actress and renowned “Madam of Comedy” is changing all that with her new Pretty, Funny Women studio at 7456 Melrose Ave.
Pretty, Funny Women Studio opened in the former Zephyr Theatre lobby at the end of May and is the new hot spot for all things comedy. The studio provides classes, specialty workshops, shows, space rental, and open mic opportunities. Pretty, Funny Women began as an industry showcase of the same name in 1995 that ran at the Hollywood Improv for more than ten years. In 2005, Lisa started teaching stand up, and was able to mentor thousands of women through her classes—even helping to manage some of their careers. Opening a brick and mortar studio was the natural next step.
According to Lisa, the name Pretty, Funny Women came from an incredibly unhelpful man telling her that, “pretty women can’t be funny.” She says many people, in and out of the comedy world, reiterate this stupid sentiment and it’s both untrue and detrimental to female comedians trying to get their start. It’s also been said that it takes the audience ten minutes to get over a pretty face. Lisa has made it her life mission to show these people just how wrong they are. Any female comedian knows how tough open mics can be with comic after comic making often gross and/or derogatory comments, and god help you if you sit in the front row. The comic before you will make their whole five-minute set about what they think of your appearance. Spoiler alert, even when it’s “complimentary,” it’s not.
That’s why this space is so important, because it gives women and non-binary folks a place to go and work out jokes for a supportive group of their peers. A spot costs $5 and everyone who signs up gets their time. This is something comedians want, as many places will have you sit around for hours with no guarantee that you’ll ever get to go up and do your thing. Non-jerk men are also allowed.
Since 2005, Lisa has taught more than one thousand women how to do standup. Her class teaches joke formats, a variety of prompts and lists, all with the goal of getting your creative juices flowing. The class also allows you the space to be yourself and try different styles of comedy out while you find your own voice and tone. As it is an all-female (or female identifying) class, it’s a safe environment where you can try something new as you get your start in the industry. The mix of people taking the class ranges from up-and-coming comics to people just trying to find the humor in their lives.
In the past, the Pretty, Funny Women industry showcase has seen the likes of Chelsea Handler, Sherri Shepherd, Tig Nataro, Maria Bamford, Natasha Leggero, and Heather McDonald, to name a few. The showcase has launched the careers of thousands of female comedians, many of whom go on to tour, do TV specials and even become influencers. Lisa says she loves this career because there are no rules. If you work hard and never give up on yourself, you will find your place. She leads by example through her own standup career, teaching and through her podcast. She’s truly a gem, and she’s pretty damn funny too.