How and why did you get into comedy? Watching Stand-Up Stand-Up on Comedy Central in the early 90s was when I first thought that making comedy would be the best thing in the world to do. I studied Theater at Oberlin College and loved watching improv there but I was too busy with shows (and also intimidated) to join a group. When I moved to Philly, I thought joining an improv group would be a good way to stay in practice as an actor between theater shows. Unknowingly, I auditioned for a never-to-form group alongside Matt Holmes. Months later he contacted me after meeting Alexis Simpson and Chris Conklin and Rare Bird Show soon formed.
How would you describe your style as a comedian? What influences and factors do you think contribute to that? Ninja-style. In that I dress in black, hide in the shadows and decapitate whomever wrongs the emperor…. Um, performing with Rare Bird Show for over 7 years has been the biggest influence. I’ve played many a straight man to the absurd. Big, clear characters have always been a goal and I always look for variety in a show so the audience sees different characters, stage pictures, pacing and scene structure.
Do you have a favorite show or venue you like to perform at? What about it makes it fun or special for you? The next venue is the best venue.
Do you have a single favorite moment in Philly comedy or one that stands out? Oh geez. Any time I was actually able to make Matt Holmes bust up in the middle of a scene. I hold that close to my heart. When I realized how big the Philly scene has become and how the quality of shows has sky-rocketed.
Do you have any sort of creative process that you use with your writing or your performance? I look to find variety in the scene work.
What is it about improv (or stand-up, or sketch, whatever you do…) that draws you to it? Going on stage in front of people and making stuff up takes a lot of gumption. It’s an incredible adrenaline rush wherein you have to learn to trust your instincts and your scene partners while ignoring your fears and doubts. It’s good training, Sir! And it’s fun.
Do you have any favorite performers in the Philly scene? Why are they your favorites? So many. And recently there are so many new performers that are bringing a lot to the scene. If I start naming, the list will be too long. (If you’re reading this, you’re on the list. Unless you don’t perform. Then you’re on my favorite non-performer list.)
Do you have any bad experiences doing comedy that you can share? A particularly bad bombing or even an entire show gone haywire? First time I tried to improvise was when I was nine on my front porch with a friend. We were dressed as clowns trying to do a simple clown play of some sort and we bombed in front of the rest of the block. Boo. Little Johnny’s mom from across the street suggested we rehearse more before charging $0.10 a head. She was right. Early on there were some terrible shows, like the one Fringe show in the basement of the Ethical Society that missed it’s black out by 20 minutes. It was so hot in the room and terrible and miserable and I’m sorry still for that audience. Recently, a co-worker of mine realized she was at that particular Rare Bird Show performance and since she had improv experience even considered calling it for us. Wow. But wonky performances still happen and you hold them lightly, learn from them and move on.
What do you think the Philly comedy scene needs to continue to grow? Garbage truck loads of money. From new, clean garbage trucks. I don’t want those crisp bills smelling like your kitchen and bathroom trash. A central theater/rehearsal/class space for PHIT would be great so if there are any millionaires out there with the desire to have their name on a theater, and you have a new, clean garbage truck, you know what to do.
Do you have any personal goals for the future as you continue to perform comedy? Be on stage more.