Lansing’s occult-themed comedy show, Comedy Coven, is gearing up for its one-year anniversary next month. The group, which comprises local comedians Emily Syrja, Stephanie Onderchanin and Tricia Chamberlain, is presenting its 11th comedy variety show, "Comedy Coven XI: The Persistence of Mammary," Tuesday evening.
"We are really excited for this show," Onderchanin said. "The show that we'll be doing for the one-year (anniversary) in February is really great too."
The shows a series of justabout-monthly events that combine sketches and stand-up routines. The trio writes a few new sketches for each show and often invites friends to join them on stage. The group performed its first show at Syrja's house in February 2015.
"We started out by casually hanging out," said Syrja, "From those hangouts came the idea of putting on shows."
Since then, the low-key gatherings have grown into a semiregular series of shows with a growing following. Tuesday they take the stage at a venue that has become a sort of “home base,” the Robin Theatre. The theater, which opened in REO Town in August, has hosted Comedy Coven's past five shows.
As the group’s name suggests, much of its humor is built around a particular occult theme: witchcraft.
"A lot of sketches play off the idea that we're witches," said Onderchanin on the origin of the theme. "It was a joke about our personalities that we embraced."
"I think that it speaks to how, overall, our themes are more subversive,” Chamberlain added. “We're just a little off-beat."
The three were unanimous on how to describe their comedic style, if they had to pick just one word: "Weird."
While coven alludes to a band of witches, the group said it also implies a sense of sisterhood.
"Female friendship is often defined as if you are competing with each other, and we three women don't have that sense of competition," said Onderchanin. "As a group, we are greater than the sum of our parts. It's a harmonious, collaborative relationship."
The group’s name also plays off of gender perceptions and expectations.
"When a group of women becomes very powerful, there's this idea that they're somehow exclusive,” Onderchanin said. “We decided to own that and consider ourselves a coven."
The witty witches consider their comedy to be a little off-beat, and they welcome others who share a skewed perspective on the world.
"There are a lot of people who say they don't like comedy, or that they haven't found comedy for them." said Onderchanin. "As people who also didn't think there was comedy for them, we want to invite them to our show."
Comedy Coven XI: The Persistence of Mammary
7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19 $10/$7 adv. Robin Theatre 1105 S. Washington Ave., Lansing facebook.com/comedycoven