Marcia Belsky co-wrote and stars as Offred in “Handmaid’s Tale: The Musical,” a parody of the Margaret Atwood novel and Hulu series. For Bentzen Ball, the cast will be performing the show at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 27. In addition to “Handmaid’s Tale,” Belsky co-hosts a podcast called “Misandry,” runs the Headless Women Project, fronts a band and and performs standup.

The Lily chatted with Bentzen Ball comedians via text and phone calls ahead of the festival, which runs Oct. 25-28.

September 21 2018, 12:00 p.m.

Lena Felton

Hi, Marcia. Lena from The Lily here. Happy to be texting with you today.

Marcia Belsky

Hi Lena! How’s it going

Lena Felton

Pretty well. Just did some thumb exercises to prep for our interview. How about you?

Marcia Belsky

Hahaha I have the strongest thumbs in the land

I am ready

Lena Felton

Perfect.

So, we’re all super excited for Bentzen Ball. And you’ll be starring in “Handmaid’s Tale: The Musical,” which you co-wrote, at the Kennedy Center.

That’s a pretty big deal. I mean, “Hamilton” was just there.

Marcia Belsky

Yeah that is crazy! We were really excited

We’ve been running the show since January - my writing partner Melissa Stokoski and I set a date with a venue and gave ourselves 2 months to write it

Lena Felton

Whoa, that must’ve been intense.

Marcia Belsky

Haha it was. But we knew we needed to have something so it was exciting. We didn’t even have our accompanist / music arranger Fernanda Douglas yet (who is a genius)

Since then we’ve workshopped it through a bunch of shows - so to now be at the Kennedy Center is incredible, a dream come true

Lena Felton

I can imagine. In those two months, did the writing come naturally? Did you know you wanted to set your version in 2028 Brooklyn from the start?

Marcia Belsky

Yeah! We had the basic idea, but it really came together through this panic of “no that’s hack we can’t put that on stage” and “oh f--- the song needs to be better than that”

Oh no can I say f---

My bad

Lena Felton

Ha, it’s all good. But yes, PG-rated texting language would be ideal going forward.

Marcia Belsky

Haha ok for sure!

So, yeah we had the basic idea: that we wanted a modern parody and that, thinking of how everything at this point has become a musical, what would stop them from making Handmaids Tale into a campy romp

So then we decided that’s what we would do

Lena Felton

Amazing. What’s your favorite number from the show?

Marcia Belsky

My favorite number has got to be “Phish, the Band I Used to Love” which is a parody of “Red and Black” by Les Miserable

Extremely Hot Nick is one of the “good men” who has been helping with the rebellion through a series of Jam sessions

But then tragedy strikes Phish the Band and we see Extremely Hot Nick, Offred’s love interest, sing his feelings eventually going into “Do You Hear Phish The Band Sing?” also from Les Mis

The rest is original music but writing that song was the mot fun thing of my life and watching it performed is a joy

Lena Felton

It does sound extremely fun.

Marcia Belsky

Other than that I love our opening number “Moving to New York” that parodies that broadway trope of a girl with a generic drea mmoving to the big city

Only she becomes a Handmaid

Lena Felton

Ah, of course.

So many parodies going on.

Marcia Belsky

Haha thank you! Yes a parody within a parody

Lena Felton

So wild. What would the hit number in a musical about your life be?

Marcia Belsky

Hahaha oh god good question

I feel like the musical about my life would be some sort of pop musical where they use the music of a random pop star that has nothing to do with the story

So it would be my life but Avril Lavigne songs that don’t really relate to the plot but really make you think ... about life in general

Lena Felton

Oh, totally. “Complicated” is always applicable to the larger questions in life.

Marcia Belsky

Yeah it would be “Complicated” and then show me in my apartment debating whether or not to get a bagel or to make an English muffin from my fridge

Lena Felton

Hahaha, exactly.

Okay, can I be honest about something?

Marcia Belsky

No!!

Yes

But I am scared

Lena Felton

Well I’m just wondering about the logistics of your life.

Like, you’re a standup comedian, you co-host a podcast, you write, you front a band, you have “Handmaid’s Tale”

How do you possibly have the time?

Marcia Belsky

That’s nice! Yeah that does seem like a lot of stuff

I also quit my 40 hour receptionist job recently too which was thrilling

But I will probably temp again soon haha

I don’t know how the balance works out honestly, I feel like I still spend a lot of time on Twitter and watching TV

Lena Felton

Well hey, it’s good to have balance.

Who’s your favorite Twitter personality?

Marcia Belsky

I love a lot of twitter people, I love Megan Amran she is so funny

I love jaboukie he makes me laugh and I respect his work for short kings

Lena Felton

Really I just asked that question because I want to follow more funny people on Twitter.

Marcia Belsky

Natalie Walker is the funniest person alive her videos are incredible and writing is so good

And I love Catherine Cohen live and on Twitter

Lena Felton

Perfect, going to follow all of those people after we stop texting.

Marcia Belsky

Hahaha you will love them I hope!!

Lena Felton

And who are you excited to see at Bentzen Ball?

Marcia Belsky

WOW so many people!!! When I saw the line up I was like holy s---

Lena Felton

Yeah, it’s insane right? So many funny folks all in one place.

Marcia Belsky

Michelle Buteau is truly one of my favorites

Rhea Butcher I’ve never seen live so I want to! I follow them online too they're funny

Lena Felton

My co-worker Nneka just texted with Michelle… she’s just as funny via text, too

Marcia Belsky

Jonathan Van Ness I have been a fan of for so long since Gay of Thrones

She’s so funny

And Tig of course

Lena Felton

Of course, of course

Lena Felton

And it must be pretty cool to be part of an all-female and nonbinary lineup.

Marcia Belsky

Yeah that’s always nice bc you don’t have to disclaimer with audiences like “brace yourself for the feminism!!”

Lena Felton

Hahaha

I know you’ve written/talked extensively about what being a feminist means to you

But how would you distill it via text?

Feel free to include emojis.

Marcia Belsky

Being a feminist to me is about revenge

I am all for equality but I live for revenge!!!!!

No, to me it’s nice because slowly I started just making the jokes I wanted and stopped worrying about the men who always told me I had a stick up my a--, not getting it

I like to make women laugh about stuff that we talk about when men both are and aren’t around and that makes some men uncomfortable but not all so it’s just been freeing to just … not worry

Marcia Belsky

Can I say “stick up my a--”

Lena Felton

It’s okay, thank you for your candid honesty

And I’m so glad you feel like you can make the jokes you want.

I see we’re already out of time, but any funny jokes via text you can think of right now before I let you go?

Marcia Belsky

Hahhaa ok pressure is on!!!!!!!

Lena Felton

Your comedic livelihood rests on this moment

(Just kidding)

Marcia Belsky

I just want to say that I’m excited to come to DC, that it’s a dream come true, and that I will not stop until all people, living or dead, are women

Also would like to say that if any men think I am sexist I am not I have 2.5 male friends, a male co worker and my dog is male so please come see the show

Lena Felton

Hahaha great. Thanks so much Marcia. Can’t wait to see you at Bentzen Ball.

Marcia Belsky

Thank you!!!!

Can’t wait

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