Peggy Boyce and the 2014 Ladies of Laughter Pro Winner, Alycia Cooper at Gotham Comedy Club in New York City.
Juggling "Ladies of Laughter"!
How did Peggy Boyce become the ring leader of the Ladies of Laughter Comedy Festival? That is the question I posed to her during a telephone interview.
It all started in Levittown NY in the first planed suburban community. As Peggy states, "All the houses were the same." In the suburban communities of the 1960 there were always lots of kids and young Peggy always felt a little bit like an outsider. However, she had an innate ability to make others laugh. "I could mimic parents and other kids very well and it served me well in making friends. My humor made me an insider at times when I did not feel like one."
The Boyce children went to Catholic from kindergarten through high school, which gave Ms. Boyce structure and discipline. The high school was very large and a bit intimidating, Peggy used her ability to make other laugh as a "Survival Mechanism." As the humor spilled out the teenage Peggy got quite the reputation as a "very funny girl". This led to the title of "Class Comic". Co-winner and good friend Jim O'Doherty eventually became a comedy writer and Producer on NBC's "Third Rock From The Sun."
After studying Communications in College, Peggy took a comedy course at the legendry Comic Strip in New York. After 6 weeks of classes you got to go up on stage and perform. Well, that was it, the moment she hit the stage Ms. Boyce new what she wanted to do with her life.
Peggy performed from the late 1980's to about 2000 in and around New York City. The turning point came in 1989 when she met Mary Jo Wobker, a producer/comic, who mentored many female comics. Performing with Mary Jo was "a party with people you like to perform with". After Mary Jo's sudden death in 1992, Peggy found comedy was not as much fun. Ms. Boyce remembers, "In many ways I lost my mojo when she left us. I was never able to find that special time again."
In honor of Mary Jo Wobker, Peggy stepped up and started producing female based comedy shows. The Mary Jo Comedy Awards was created as a stand-up competition where female comics could gain experience and even a bit of cash. Then in 1998, this competition evolved into "New Jersey's Funniest Female". Based on the success of "New Jersey's Funniest Female" corporate sponsorship became available and Peggy Boyce was able to take the competition international. Today it is known as the "Ladies of Laughter" and funny ladies from the USA, Canada, and the UK have applied to participate.
Each year winners get paid comedy bookings, cash and major publicity. The competition is opened to professional and amateur comediennes. Peggy states, "The producing seemed to come much more natural to me and I saw that I could make more of an impact in the comedy world doing more behind the scenes". The Ladies of Laughter has not only filled a void in the comedy community but has filled the void for Peggy when Mary Jo passed. Comedy became fun again for Ms. Peggy Boyce and she put time and energy into building the "Ladies of Laughter" Brand. The funny and talented Peggy finally found her niche in the very competitive world of comedy, "I feel like it is my calling so there is no struggle for me to be working on it. And it gives me so much joy to see how the Ladies on the Tour bring the best out of each other and in me".
Raised by a Police Officer Father and Avon Lady Mother, Ms. Boyce has always had the support of her family which includes two brothers and a sister. "They would like to see me buy each of them a house after I buy myself one, of course. They have always come to my shows-as a performer or a producer".
Peggy Boyce is a lucky lady being able to do what she loves, and this humble Lady of Laughter has given back to the New York City area first as a comedy teacher and then working for her charity of choice "Buddy Cares", an organization which provides free grooming for abandoned animals. In fact a percentage of the cover charge from Ladies of Laughter performances goes to "Buddy Cares".
This busy lady find time to indulge her passions for hiking, the beach, traveling, seeing lots of movies. Not to mention her special talent for Juggling, as a 10 year old Peggy taught herself to juggle and would spend hours alone perfecting different patterns with different types of objects.
Who knew that this talent would come in handy when building the "Ladies of Laughter" competition, festival, and tours? Peggy states, "I want to focus on growing the Ladies of Laughter brand through more competitions, theatre shows, workshops and anything else that helps women in the field".
Two more balls for Ms. Boyce to juggle in 2015. Peggy is starting her own speakers bureau/talent agency which will be representing a number of national speakers and comedians that focus on various issues relevant to college students and society in general, today, including Sexual Assault, Financial Literacy, Diversity and Leadership. The new company's website is www.boycelive.com Peggy says. "I'm excited to be working directly with speakers under my new company."
Secondly, "Ladies of Laughter" is expanding with a series of shows for college campuses that coincides with the Ladies of Laughter Funny & Fabulous Tour.
The best news is that Ms. Peggy Boyce is adding a new member to her family as she is adopting a recue dog in 2015. "I've been waiting to add a furry friend to my home for some time now and I think the time has finally come since I will be working primarily out of my home office most days, when I'm not traveling."
Ms. Peggy Boyce is starting to see the fruits of her labour, first as a stand-up comic, teacher, and producer. "I feel extremely lucky to come to the point in my life where I have my own company that is representative of all of my years of experience in marketing, comedy, public relations, speaking, teaching, and sales in the college market and the speakers bureau world. I have spent a lot of time working at creating and managing something that fills a need for women in comedy - Ladies of Laughter. Now, I'm looking forward to generating the same kind of excitement for my clients."
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