Callye Bolster ’19 Starts All-Female Comedy Troupe at Bowdoin


Excerpts from Purity Pact’s May 6, 2017, sketch comedy show

Callye Bolster ’19 initially came to Bowdoin thinking she wanted to major in government and eventually pursue a career in politics or policy. She said recently, in a self-deprecating voice, “I need to make a difference! But then I realized I had no work ethic.”

In all seriousness, Bolster added she has been impressed, particularly during last year’s presidential election, by the influence of comedy on American politics. “It’s a very good way of getting messages across,” she said. “I enjoy [doing comedy] so much and it also can have a degree of impact.”

In her first year at Bowdoin, Bolster didn’t miss a single improv or comedy show, and in her sophomore year, she joined a student comedy club. Then she decided to start an all-female comedy troupe.

Bolster launched Purity Pact this spring, and the group had its first sketch comedy show on May 6. Eleven students, including Bolster, performed: Summers Askew ’20, Madeline Bustamante ’17, Sophie de Bruijn ’18, Tess Hall ’19, Lila Hitzig ’20, Jodi Kraushar ’17, Anne Parrish ’19, Molly Prouty ’19, Hannah Rafkin ’17, and Ellie Schwartz ’19.

De Bruijn said she joined Purity Pact because comedy at Bowdoin and beyond “tends to be a boy’s club.” She added, “Even in co-ed groups, the men typically outnumber the women, and, at times, it can feel that women are tokenized in coed groups.” With Purity Pact, she said the comedians in the group created a space for women on campus that was both productive and supportive. And, of course, very fun.

But while its point is to make people laugh, the group is direct about its political nature, according to de Bruijn. “Because we are an all women’s group, our comedy is inherently political. Any time a group of women has a platform, and no men are involved, it is political. And we certainly don’t shy away from that,” she said. “Our feminism is integral to group dynamic and our creative process. But, perhaps, as opposed to other groups, that isn’t the point of our work. At the end of the day, our goal is to be funny.”

This past semester, Bolster declared her major in gender and women’s studies and her minor in Africana studies. She said she believes humor in part comes from “not always being heard and developing a critical eye toward dominant voices.”

With Purity Pact, she continued, “I wanted to create a space that signaled to first years that Bowdoin is a place where women’s voices are heard and appreciated.”

De Brujin, who’s been performing improv at Bowdoin for two years, said working with the women of Purity Pact this semester helped her become even more daring on stage. “It’s easy to take risks when you’re surrounded by so much support,” she noted.

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