Santa Cruz Good Times

Oct 04th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Fringe Females

ae1Funny and fierce comediennes on a mission to split sides at the Santa Cruz Fringe Festival

From thespians to burlesque dancers, spoken wordsmiths to circus performers, the second annual Santa Cruz Fringe Festival will push the envelope with 200 short art performances of all shapes and sizes from July 11-20. Roughly 40 acts will delight and bedazzle at a collection of downtown venues, including Motion Pacific, The Tannery and Center Stage, throughout the week.

Designed in such a way that spectators can potentially see multiple performances each day, the Fringe Festival is affordable fun for all to enjoy. With so many acts to choose from, it might be hard to know where to start. But if you love to laugh, you won’t want to miss these two funny and fierce comediennes:

Sandra Risser
The name of Sandra Risser’s show sums up her comedic style: "If You Miss Your Ex, Reload and Fire Again!"

Her routines cover everything from unfortunate stories about her ex-husband to a nod at her unorthodox youth in Iowa amidst the “free love” era of the ’60s and ’70s. Risser may be 72 years old, but her show’s message is timeless.

She found comedy in a roundabout way. After working as a “corporate whatever,” and owning her own business for a while, she took up competitive body building in her 40s and grew fond of the stage.

Eventually, she enrolled in comedy classes, learned to write jokes, and now she says laughter is her drug of choice. “I just do comedy whenever I can,” says Risser, who has been performing on and off for the last nine years.

She’s a veteran of the fringe festival circuit, having performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, the Brighton Fringe Festival in England, and the Rogue Festival, here in California.

Risser is known for her knee-slapping one-liners and self-deprecating tales from her unruly youth through her middle-aged escapades. She has been married twice and even dated a mercenary accused of murdering his wife and kids.

“I’ve probably been single more years than I’ve been married—so I’ve known a lot of people,” she jokes. “People often ask me after my shows if the stories are real. … Every one of the stories, albeit a little exaggerated, are about people I actually knew.”

ae1-2Comic Sandra Risser’s “If You Miss Your Ex, Reload and Fire Again!” is destined to generate laughs in this year’s Fringe Festival.Aside from talking about her own relationships, she often quotes celebrities and classic shows like Rodney Dangerfield’s “Take My Wife Please,” and tosses in statistics about marriage from around the world.

“People have always made fun of marriage,” she says. “I think men [do so] more than women, so I kind of want to balance that scale a bit.”

Dana Sumner-Pritchard
Coming of age in a image-obsessed society when your cup size keeps increasing for 13 years is no walk in the park. Dana Sumner-Pritchard, a 23-year-old comedy playwright from Santa Rosa, experienced just that. And she’ll share her hilarious experiences in a show called “Boobs and Hope,” July 13-20 at the Tannery World Dance and Cultural Center.

From her own “boobs” developing as young as 12, to uncomfortable shopping trips, and more serious image questions, Sumner-Pritchard has plenty of tales to make audiences laugh and cringe. The show focuses on her personal journey into adulthood as a bigger-than-average girl.

Sumner-Pritchard says she got the idea for “Boobs and Hope” at the end of her college career at Drew University in New Jersey.

“I was struggling, trying to figure out what my place was in theatre,” she writes in an email to GT. “I'd been told more than once that my size made it hard to cast me in roles I was otherwise suited for. So, like any theatre major and writing minor would, I started writing about that. I saw a lot of shows about body image (which is almost exclusively solo shows), and they were really angry and absolutely no fun at all. Nobody was uplifted or excited about themselves afterwards, it was very focused on the performer. Comedy is about the audience, making them laugh, exciting them. And I thought that it was time someone had some fun talking about their body. And heck, my boobs are pretty glorious, why not make them the star?”

Early in “Boobs and Hope,” Sumner-Pritchard shares a dream she had recently. “Mandy Patinkin won a Tony and spent the whole time telling me I had to lose weight,” she says. “So I kicked him in the shins. I believe I referred to him as ‘Inigo Montoy-ass.’” Later in the show, she will also recount the entire plot of "Pollyanna." “I do a mean Hayley Mills,” she adds.

“I didn't have an eating disorder, I didn't realize I was beautiful when a boy said so, I don't have all the answers to loving yourself,” admits Sumner-Pritchard. “But I do have relatable experiences and a good time in store. It’s like no other body image show you've ever seen. I promise.” 

Top photo caption: Size matters, as Dana Sumner-Pritchard proves in “Boobs and Hope.” Catch the show July 13-20 at the Tannery World Dance and Cultural Center.

For the complete Fringe Festival lineup, schedule, and tickets, visit

Comments (1)Add Comment
I'm seeing this show!
written by Margot Channing, July 10, 2013
The idea of this show appeals to be for a lot of reasons, but mainly because I'm a woman who also had body issues growing up. Sumner-Pritchard sounds like she has a good head on her shoulders, and I will be seeing this show, maybe more than once!

Write comment
smaller | bigger


Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share


Making a Scene

As it celebrates its 30th year, Santa Cruz County’s Open Studios is one of the most successful in the country—and a make-or-break event for many local artists


A Ritual & Initiation

The Pope has come and gone, but his loving presence ignited new hope and goodness in many. While he was in NYC, China’s ruler arrived in Washington D.C. East (China) and West (Rome), meeting in the middle, under Libra, balancing sign of Right Relations. The Pope arrived at Fall Equinox. Things initiated at Fall Equinox are birthed at Winter Solstice. The Pope’s presence was a ritual, an initiation rite—like the Dalai Lama’s visits—offering prayers, teachings and blessings. Rituals anchor God’s plan into the world, initiating us to new realities, new rules. The Pope’s presence brings forth the Soul of the United States, its light piercing the veils of materialism. The Pope’s visit changed things. New questions arise, new reasons for living. A new wave of emerging life fills the air. Like a cocoon shifting, wings becoming visible. The winds are different now. Calling us to higher vision, moral values, virtues that reaffirm and offer hope for humanity. A changing of the guard has occurred. Appropriately, this is the week of the Jewish Festival of Sukkoth (’til Oct. 4), when we build temporary homes (little huts in nature), entering into a harvest of prayer and thanksgiving, understanding our fragile and impermanent existences. We are summoned to reflect upon our lives, our humanity, our nature, our spirit and each other. Offering gratitude, becoming a magnet for others. We observe. We see the needs. We love more.


The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program


Film, Times & Events: Week of October 2

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments


Extra Pop

Assembly’s pop-up space goes into regular rotation, Cabrillo wine dinner, and a visit to Mozaic


What’s your biggest pet peeve?

When people say they’re “going down” somewhere, and they’re actually traveling north. Julia Ragen, Santa Cruz, Psychologist


Downhill Cellars

An easy-drinking Chardonnay from Downhill Cellars


If whales have a message for humans, what might it be?

“Do not come in the water and join us.” Howard Hall, Santa Cruz, Retired