Christine Horvath launches the Babe Fund to support marginalized amateur comics

The Babe Roar founder will accept applications through the end of November, with grants issued beginning in January 2022

Andy Downing
Columbus Alive
Christine Horvath

Coming up in the Columbus comedy scene, Christine Horvath said she initially had a difficult time finding her place. “I don’t think there was anything that made me feel safe and protected,” said Horvath, who got her start in local comedy in 2011. “I didn’t have a place where I could totally be myself. … I was like, ‘OK, I guess I could create it if it doesn’t exist.’”

In December 2017, Horvath launched Babe Roar, a group meant to uplift and celebrate marginalized comedians, kicking off the venture with a quarterly series hosted at what was then Wholly Craft (since rebranded as Wild Cat Gift & Party). Shortly thereafter, Horvath launched a second quarterly show at the Clintonville nail salon Fuzz.

From the onset, Horvath said she noticed a different tone developing at these intimate events, which she described as “boutique shows,” the feel in the room impacted by everything from the cozy nature of the spaces, where the performers often stood at arm’s length from the crowd, to the audience itself, which she described as more accepting and accommodating than at traditional open mics. 

Gradually, performing in these spaces allowed Horvath to step more fully into herself, shifting her approach to comedy.

“I definitely did come into my voice after I started doing these kinds of shows,” Horvath said. “I stopped putting so much pressure on myself to be the kind of comic that I thought I wanted to be, and I allowed myself to be the kind of comic that I am, which feels comfortable for my life.”

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Now, Horvath is set to expand on the mission she started with Babe Roar, launching the Babe Fund, a series of micro-grants that will be issued to amateur comedians across the nation who are members of traditionally overlooked groups, including comedians of color, members of marginalized communities and the underprivileged. Grants will be issued in amounts up to $500 beginning in January 2022, and applications are being accepted beginning today (Monday, Nov. 1) and running through November 30. There is also a donation form available online here for anyone who wishes to contribute to the fund. 

Horvath gravitated to comedy from childhood, recalling how she would hole up in the family’s basement to watch reruns of “Saturday Night Live.”

“And I think at age 13 I taught myself how to do an impression of one of the characters on ‘SNL,’ and it was like, oh, that’s fun,” Horvath said. “I was just by myself in my parents’ basement, and I was like, 'This is the best. There’s nothing better than this.' I think that laughing has always been a coping mechanism for me, too, and being funny. I was always the fat girl in my class and in my group of friends, and of course it was the one cliche thing that made me feel like I had some sense of purpose or value, particularly in middle school where kids are just cruel and mean.”

Horvath’s hope for both Babe Roar and the Babe Fund is to help the next generation of marginalized comics have a slightly easier path, and she’s already optimistic about some of the developments that she’s seen even just in the four years since Babe Roar launched.

“When I first started, there weren’t a lot of women being booked as headliners, and one of the first things we did was start a campaign called ‘More Female Headliners,’ and I printed shirts and started a hashtag [campaign on social media],” said Horvath, who pointed to new-ish events such as Beef Ghost and Freaks and Beaks, both created by Amber Falter, as welcome developments within the local scene. “And not that I’m taking credit for it, but I think we’re entering into a world where we can look at comedy a bit differently, whether it’s from a gender perspective or from the spaces we put up shows.”

Over the last four years, Horvath said she has maintained her focus to push for better inclusion and representation in the comedy scene, in part, by keeping the teenage girl who once cracked herself up doing “SNL” impressions in the forefront of her thoughts.

“It sounds very cliche, but at the heart of it I want my quote-unquote ‘inner child’ to have what she never had, or more of what she wanted,” Horvath said. “The idea of a future where comedy lovers like me see people like themselves onstage, that’s what keeps me going every day.”