John McKeever is a Philadelphia comedian who co-hosts the Bird Text Comedy Show at Helium Comedy Club with Tommy Pope and Luke Cunningham. He was recently featured in this ESPN Commercial. He only felt like answering nine of ten questions…
I started going to open mics here and there a couple of years ago but never steady. I started going all the time about a year ago because I’ve always really enjoyed the process of writing jokes and then working them out on stage for a possible laugh. I just didn’t want to get too old and regret never pursuing it full time. I also don’t think I’m fit to lead a normal 9-5 life.
How would you describe your style as a comedian? What influences and factors do you think contribute to that?
I guess I would just say my style is conversational. I’m just not a great at writing one-liners, I think that’s a really unique talent. Some people can do both really well, like Chip Chantry or Luke Cunningham, which boggles my mind. I like to just get on stage with an idea and work it out with different crowds and different tags without ever committing to a permanent structure. I just make sure I get from A to B without rambling too much. I think having a loose structure keeps me, personally, from being too rigid on stage like an actor trying to remember his lines. I also have a terrible memory.
Do you have a favorite show or venue you like to perform at? What about it makes it fun or special for you?
I like Helium and the Raven’s open mic is the best. Noche’s open mic is a lot of fun sometimes too but it’s more of a bar atmosphere so it’s harder to just tell people to stop talking, especially when they came to a bar to do just that. Jack and Paul do a good job with it though. The Hey Everybody show @ the Shubin is a great show because there’s always a cool crowd and great performers.
Do you have a single favorite moment in Philly comedy or one that stands out?
There’s so many but when Aaron Hertzog said onstage at the Raven “I’m going to tickle your throat clits with my word dick”, Darryl’s “Hatchet” bit and anytime I see the Feeko’s perform are on the top of my list. There is great show almost every night in Philly, which makes it really exciting to be a part of this scene.
Do you have any sort of creative process that you use with your writing or your performance? Or a sort of method that you use to develop comedic material?
I give my wife a topic, I tie her arms and feet to one of those big circus spinning wheels and as long as she gives me good tags or punchlines, I don’t fire the paintball gun.
Do you have any favorite performers in the Philly scene? Why are they your favorites?
There’s so many and for so many different reasons. Like I said earlier I think Luke Cunningham and Chip Chantry are both great performers, excellent writers and really great influences to those just starting out. I love Tommy Pope & Steve Gerben’s storytelling, it’s so funny it and invites everyone in and usually gets so intense that you become scared for their well being. Hesky has a great observational style. He’s so relatable and never not funny. Then you have people like Aaron Hertzog and Brendan Kennedy who are always trying something new with total confidence and making it work for them. Sean Quinn is new to the area but he’s just a natural. Darryl’s bits are probably my favorite. His commitment is just unreal. When I tell a joke and I feel heat, I bail but when Darryl tells a joke it’s like “I’m not going anywhere and you fuckers are gonna think this is funny wether you like it or not” and then it kills. There’s so many others that I’m probably leaving out.
Do you have any bad experiences doing comedy that you can share? A particularly bad bombing or even an entire show gone haywire?
I bombed at a show in Port Richmond one time and the whole time this guy was heckling me. At one point I made an AIDS reference and the guy yells “way too personal!”, which was weird because throughout the whole show I was hoping he had AIDS.
What do you think the Philly comedy scene needs to continue to grow?
Everybody works really well together and there is a ton of support. That’s the kind of thing that makes this comedy scene so great. If we keep supporting each other and going telling people about all the great shows in Philly, it will become a monster. It already is. Also, and I don’t like this anymore than anybody else does, but we have to make a decision between Darryl and Chris.
Do you have any personal goals for the future as you continue to perform comedy?
I just want to grow as a writer and a performer. My biggest goal is to become a writer who fucks stand-up on the side.