By Emily Drooby
Cristo Rey Brooklyn High School student Kaelyn Bishop would tell you, “I’m very shy and like I don’t speak in front of big crowds.”
But now, she’s standing up to practice stand-up as part of the school’s comedy club run by the non-profit “Stand Up! Girls.”
Kaelyn joined the group to grow, and after 8 weeks of classes, she did.
“It has helped me open up more,” she explained. “It has helped me speak up more. Like, I am not as afraid to speak up to the crowds as I was before.”
That’s the goal of Stand Up! Girls: teaching young women from underserved communities the communications skills they need to succeed in life and at work, especially in male-dominated offices.
The organization was inspired by president Holly Weiss’s experience as a woman in the legal field.
“You see huge changes,” she said. “I mean, just during the show, very very scared the day before the show, and they’re prepping. Then they get up and do it, and it’s this supercharged confidence. Like, ‘I just did something I never thought I could do, and I did it well.”
“It has been so amazing to see them come out of their shell or just foster what was already there,” said teacher Katie Brennan. “And just having them in the classroom as well, I have seen so much growth, just believing in themselves and knowing what they’re capable of.”
Founded in 2018, the club is offered for free at Cristo Rey and several other New York City schools. Students learn from and work with a professional comedian.
At Cristo Rey, students practice with Dara Jemmott, where all of their hard work leads up to their final performance.
“I have had teachers come up and say, ‘I can’t believe that that student got up there and did that, because I can’t get them to speak in my class,” Dara said.
This course is teaching comedy, but most importantly, confidence.
To learn more about Stand Up! Girls visit their website: www.standupgirlsnyc.org