Upcoming Shows

  • October 30, 2014 8:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
  • October 30, 2014 9:00 pmThe Comedy Attic
  • October 31, 2014 8:00 amNationally Touring Headline Comedians @ Helium
  • October 31, 2014 7:00 pmThe Comedy Works
  • October 31, 2014 8:00 pmThe N Crowd
  • October 31, 2014 8:00 pmCrazy Cow Comedy
  • October 31, 2014 8:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
  • October 31, 2014 9:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
  • November 1, 2014Nationally Touring Headline Comedians @ Heliun
  • November 1, 2014Nationally Touring Headline Comedians @ Helium
  • November 1, 2014 7:30 pmComedy Sportz Philadelphia
  • November 1, 2014 8:00 pmCrazy Cow Comedy
  • November 1, 2014 9:30 pmThe Comedy Works
  • November 1, 2014 10:00 pmComedy Sportz Philadelphia
  • November 1, 2014 10:30 pmImprov Comedy: PHIT House Teams
  • November 5, 2014 8:00 pmComedy Masters
  • November 6, 2014 8:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
  • November 6, 2014 9:00 pmThe Comedy Attic
  • November 7, 2014 8:00 amNationally Touring Headline Comedians @ Helium
  • November 7, 2014 7:00 pmThe Comedy Works
  • November 7, 2014 8:00 pmThe N Crowd
  • November 7, 2014 8:00 pmCrazy Cow Comedy
  • November 7, 2014 8:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
  • November 7, 2014 9:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
  • November 8, 2014Nationally Touring Headline Comedians @ Helium
AEC v1.0.4

Ten Questions With…Karen Coleman

Karen Coleman is a member of new Philly Improv Theater House Team codenamed Shadowfax. She also produces a web comic, Wednesday Night Danger Club.

How and why did you get into comedy? I needed comedy as a creative outlet. As a teenager I did a lot of community theater. When I was 19, I auditioned for an improv show at my Community College which ended up performing regularly and I fell in love with it. I then moved to NYC to study illustration at Parsons and took as many improv classes that I could. I just started working on a new web comic as another way to express myself comedically.

How would you describe your style as a comedian? What influences and factors do you think contribute to that? I’ve always thought of myself as an artist and I haven’t really thought about myself as a comedian until recently. It’s hard to think of myself as having a style. I have always been influenced by strong female performers and there are a lot of funny, talented women improvisers in Philadelphia. I want people that I think are funny to laugh at me. Hey, can I talk about my web comic? www.wednesdaynightdangerclub.com

Do you have a favorite show or venue you like to perform at? What about it makes it fun or special for you? The few times I was able to perform at the UCB theater in New York, it felt amazing to stand where amazing people stood. And I’m excited to be a part of the Philly Improv Theater and do shows at the Shubin, the energy at that theater is practically tangible.

Do you have a single favorite moment in Philly comedy or one that stands out? It is difficult for me to choose a single moment. I’m going to say it’s the time we were having Incubator in the park and a random man started crying because we were too loud.

Do you have any sort of creative process that you use with your writing or your performance? It’s hard to perform, and its hard to live your life, when you are in your head about what people are thinking about you or if you think your ideas are stupid. It’s important to be present and in the moment not only for improv scenes but also in general. I need to remind myself of that sometimes to clear my head, especially when it comes to performing.

What is it about improv (or stand-up, or sketch, whatever you do…) that draws you to it? I am drawn to writing my web comic, www.wednesdaynightdangerclub.com, which is heavily influenced by my experience with improv. I love the process of starting with nothing and creating something, and connecting seemingly random ideas to make them meaningful. I love using my energy to build characters and how sometimes I can surprise myself when I didn’t even know what I was going to say until after I said it.

Do you have any favorite performers in the Philly scene? Why are they your favorites? I do! I love and am inspired by my teammates on  – soon to be announced PHIT house team name –  and my favorite performers are the ones that look like they are having fun and make it look easy.

Do you have any bad experiences doing comedy that you can share? A particularly bad bombing or even an entire show gone haywire? I have had moments where I have been disappointed in my performance or scenes just felt awkward and terrible, but fortunately I do not.

What do you think the Philly comedy scene needs to continue to grow? Chia seeds.

Do you have any personal goals for the future as you continue to perform comedy? Personally, I’m only in this for the money. I’m hoping for a reality show. (Greater confidence in my choices, soak up as much knowledge as I can, perform as much as I can.) I also want the future to bring more readers of my web comic. www.wednesdaynightdangerclub.com

Ten Questions With…Scott Hinners

Scott Hinners is a member of new Philly Improv Theater House Team codenamed Shadowfax. They make their debut tonight at the Shubin Theater.

How and why did you get into comedy? I don’t look at is getting into comedy as much as finding different outlets to get the random ideas in my head to others for public enjoyment/scrutiny. More specifically, I was drawn into improv during high school with a great teacher and phenomenal group of improvisors. Improv feels like the purest form of comedy and I can’t get enough of it.

How would you describe your style as a comedian? What influences and factors do you think contribute to that? I like to think of myself as more observational and deeply appreciate when things are very clever. I find myself to be an analytical person in my everyday life which is probably the cause of the conceptual approach i take to comedy.

Do you have a favorite show or venue you like to perform at? What about it makes it fun or special for you? No favorites, but improv begs to be on intimate stages where there’s little to no space between performers and audience.

Do you have a single favorite moment in Philly comedy or one that stands out? This question is kind of like picking your favorite Lego piece. One piece doesn’t really hold up against the sum of the whole. Like when you build a giant Lego space fortress and you tell your sister not to touch it, but then she does, but says it was an accident and now those cool orange glowy saws are missing and even if you said those saws are your favorite piece they don’t matter as much as when they were being used by your Lego space patrol to ward of invading robots. So I’d have to say no.

Do you have any sort of creative process that you use with your writing or your performance? Writing is more conceptual for me – I like to periodically write down premises or ideas and revisit them. With Improv I think most people, myself included, are more random and find the fun of going with the first thought and seeing it through.

What is it about improv (or stand-up, or sketch, whatever you do…) that draws you to it? I mentioned earlier that I find Improv to be a very pure form of comedy. It is likely the purest form. So I’m drawn to this idea that comedy can be unearthed from our collective brains and put out there for others to see, before it has time to be refined and analyzed and watered down. Improv feels much more like real life, which i think is its universal appeal. Its a force I want to be a part of, as both performer and audience.

Do you have any favorite performers in the Philly scene? Why are they your favorites? Philly has lots of talented performers, each with their own skills and wonderful peculiarities.

Do you have any bad experiences doing comedy that you can share? A particularly bad bombing or even an entire show gone haywire? Negatory. Perhaps another benefit of improv is the ability to transform “bad comedy” into something we can all laugh at.

What do you think the Philly comedy scene needs to continue to grow? Thats a real tough issue to tackle. Economic theory would suggest there’s just not enough Raw resources in Philly as they tend to migrate towards New York. Demand doesn’t seem very high either here (Everyone’s spending money on their favorite sports team). I think if the Phillies suddenly vanished and there was a strong marketing push, we’d see a big growth in the comedy sector.

Do you have any personal goals for the future as you continue to perform comedy? No real goals. Not looking to pursue it as a career, just as a great creative outlet and a way of life.

Ten Questions With…Jen Curcio

Jen Curcio is a member of new Philly Improv Theater House Team codenamed Brandybuck. She is also a member of improv family The Hendersons.

How and why did you get into comedy? When I was a little kid I used to watch “In Living Color” and “Saturday Night Live” and say, “that’s what I want to do when I grow up.” As a kid I was fascinated by funny people like Jim Carrey, Cheri Oteri and Mike Myers. I was also painfully shy, and cracking jokes was a way for me to break the ice.

How would you describe your style as a comedian? What influences and factors do you think contribute to that? I try to make bold character choices and be physical. People watching is a great influence. It’s important to have a mental library of characteristics of people.

Do you have a favorite show or venue you like to perform at? What about it makes it fun or special for you? I have 2 favorite venues. The Shubin because there is a great energy there, for both the audience and performers. And Tabu because it is such an intimate setting.

Do you have a single favorite moment in Philly comedy or one that stands out? The Really Big Show at The F Harold. To put it in context, Amie Roe was the only consistent improviser in the show and 1 person from the back line would initiate a 3 minute scene with her.  It was an amazing performance by Amie Roe. She made up 18 different characters. The participants on the back line were great too with rapid fire initiations.

Do you have any sort of creative process that you use with your writing or your performance? I have only dabbled in sketch writing. When I do write I like to think of the characters I am writing engaged in an improv scene. As for the creative process in improv, I really don’t do anything besides listen to upbeat music and stay away from people who are bummers.

What is it about improv (or stand-up, or sketch, whatever you do…) that draws you to it? Improv is just plain fun. Plus I like making people laugh.

Do you have any favorite performers in the Philly scene? Why are they your favorites? Kristen Schier, Amie Roe, Emily Davis, Rick Horner, Matt Holmes. They are all amazing performers, very strong and always 10 steps ahead of the game. I feel like just by watching them I can learn a lot. And they are all hilarious!

Do you have any bad experiences doing comedy that you can share? A particularly bad bombing or even an entire show gone haywire? Let me preface this by saying I have nothing against The Gross Show or anyone involved in it. But when I was in The Gross Show my parents attended, and if you know The Gross Show you know it’s probably not a show you want your parents to see. Knowing my mother and father were in the audience while I was talking about furry fetishes made me freeze. But I am very grateful for the support my parents give me, even if it gets awkward.

What do you think the Philly comedy scene needs to continue to grow? I feel like PHIT needs a more diverse audience, and by diverse I mean non-improvisors. The independent groups that are popping up all over the city is great for this. The more exposure people have to improv, the better. Showcases like Polygon are great places for independent groups to perform and get people interested in improv.

Do you have any personal goals for the future as you continue to perform comedy?  I hope to continue to grow and learn as an improvisor. I want to work with a new people.

Ten Questions With…Lizzie Spellman

Lizzie Spellman is a member of new Philly Improv Theater House Team Codenamed Brandybuck. They make their debut this Friday at 8:30.

How and why did you get into comedy? I was a weird ass (can I say ass?) kid. I was the one running around (in school) literally dressed in clown costumes. It wasn’t even that I wanted attention, I just wanted to have fun. My parents immediately got me into theatre, and I quickly discovered that comedy was what I liked best.

 

How would you describe your style as a comedian? What influences and factors do you think contribute to that? I think I’m pretty character driven. When improvising, I sometimes tend to gravitate toward playing the dumb girl, old lady, or little girl characters because they just make me laugh in the real world as well. It’s also fun to come into a scene later as a big loud football player. I love seeing female comedians playing polar opposites of themselves (Tracy Ullman and Amy Poehler specifically). It makes their characters all the more surprising. I strive to be that creative.

 

Do you have a favorite show or venue you like to perform at? What about it makes it fun or special for you? I really haven’t lived or performed in Philly long enough to have a favorite performance spot yet. There are so many different venues I wanna check out!

 

Do you have a single favorite moment in Philly comedy or one that stands out? The first Philly show I ever did was The Gross Show, where I played a rape victim who was strangely okay with it. I like to start things off classy when I move to a new city.

 

Do you have any sort of creative process that you use with your writing or your performance? When I see a person that has some sort of quirk to them, I like to write it down in a little black book I carry around. I also like to write down weird things people will randomly say. These little things can help shape an amazing character that I might not have originally came up with off the top of my head. It gives that character a little extra that might make the audience say “Oh, I totally know a person just like that!”.

 

What is it about improv (or stand-up, or sketch, whatever you do…) that draws you to it? Honestly, I just like being funny and I like to play. It’s almost like therapy for me. Even if I’m having a crummy day, if I practice or perform improv later on I feel a million times better. There’s no way you can feel like crap after a night of laughing and making other people laugh. It’s my yoga.

 

Do you have any favorite performers in the Philly scene? Why are they your favorites? Discovering the comedy scene in Philly has been amazing. There are so many talented performers that have blown me away. I really enjoy the Amie and Kristen Show, as well as Jessica Tandy. Both of these duos are so smart and creative, and I am blown away every time I watch them perform.

 

Do you have any bad experiences doing comedy that you can share? A particularly bad bombing or even an entire show gone haywire? Hmmm…well I first started improvising in New Jersey with this one improv group of dudes that had been around for a while, who decided that they needed a girl in their group. Anywho, one night they decided it would be a good idea to smoke (yes children, illegal kind) before a show. I, being a silly college kid at the time, went along with it. BIGGEST MISTAKE OF MY LIFE!!! I surprised I even made complete sentences. The first short form game we did, I think I repeated the same word 10 times in a row! It was absolutely one of the most embarrassing moments I’ve had on stage, and I totally learned my lesson.

 

What do you think the Philly comedy scene needs to continue to grow? What’s great is that so many people are getting out there and creating new shows and finding all kinds of ways of showcasing their comedy. I think that is the best way to continue the growth.

 

Do you have any personal goals for the future as you continue to perform comedy? I would love to start writing more. I would definitely want to take a stab at sketch or stand up. Eventually, I wanna know that I’ve at least tried different aspects of comedy. Who knows….I could be a genius! (but probably not).

Ten Questions With…Aaron Hertzog

Aaron Hertzog is a member of new Philly Impov Theater House Team codenamed Brandybuck. He is also the host of stand-up comedy showcase Hey Everybody! at PHIT, as well as a member of Hate Speech Committee, Get a Room, and The Hendersons. He is also a co-host of The Holding Court Podcast (editors note: “he” is also “me” and that’s why I linked to all my stupid projects…)

How and why did you get into comedy? I started doing stand-up in 2006 after a long flirtation with the idea of doing comedy. I always wanted to be a writer, and still do – and started because I had a friend (Pat House) who had been doing comedy for about two years who finally made me get up and do it. I thought stand-up would be a good place to meet people to write with and work on sketches and other projects. I started improv earlier this year because I thought it would be a good place to work my mind muscles to help come up with stand-up material, and it also looked like a lot of fun. So far, it’s been both.

How would you describe your style as a comedian? What influences and factors do you think contribute to that? I would say my style is silly. I think anybody who’s ever seen me perform would say I’m pretty much a big, silly, idiot. I like that. I’d also like to say it’s smart idiocy, but I can’t say that about myself. If somebody else would like to say that I would appreciate it. No? OK.

Do you have a favorite show or venue you like to perform at? What about it makes it fun or special for you? Philly has a lot of different great places to perform, and I like them for different reasons. A packed, jazzed-up crowd at Helium might provide the most energy – but there’s also something awesome about the kind of response at an alt room, like a PHIT show, or The Ministry of Secret Jokes. I think, for me, my style is more alternative, so in a way it feels better when I do well in a more mainstream room. I expect people in an alt room to like what I do – I write for them – but when I make a room full of people I don’t think I have anything in common with laugh – it makes me feel good – and also a little like a judgmental asshole because I doubted them.

Do you have a single favorite moment in Philly comedy or one that stands out? There are moments every now and then that stand out, and they always involve some sort of variety show where a lot of people are on it, and we all hang out after the show. Like when Chip had the Moon sketch contest, or any of the roasts, or Doogie’s bachelor party Ministry of Secret Jokes. That’s the best part about doing comedy here, the #friendship!

Do you have any sort of creative process that you use with your writing or your performance? For stand-up, I like to write about things I think are weird, or things that scare me or confuse me (which are a lot of things.) I like to explore a topic and keep adding stuff to it to the point where my joke is way too long. I think I’m the same way when I write a sketch (which is less often). I’m still too new at improv to say that I have a process – my process right now is observing other people and trying to figure out what their process is and what I like about it that I can try to incorporate into my performance. I like to “reverse engineer” material. If I see a joke someone else does that I like, I try to think of how the person wrote it, where the idea came from, and how they got from the observation to the joke – then try to apply that line of thinking when I’m trying to come up with material.

What is it about improv (or stand-up, or sketch, whatever you do…) that draws you to it? Making people laugh is what has always drawn me to comedy. It’s an incredible feeling, and I’ve always searched for it. It’s how I tried to get people to like me when I was younger and it’s how I try to get people to like me now. Sometimes it even works.

Do you have any favorite performers in the Philly scene? Why are they your favorites? My favorite stand-ups are Brendan Kennedy, Doogie Horner, Chip Chantry and Luke Giordano (does he count anymore?) Brendan is my favorite to watch because he’s just an animal – you never know what he’s going to do and he’s just so quick and that kind of silly-stupid-smart (I hope you know what I mean by this…) that makes up my favorite kind of stand-up comedy. Doogie and Chip are inspirations because they are just constantly working and writing and coming up with great material. Luke is a great writer, and his ideas are always ones that I wish I thought of – thoughts that I’ve had that I just didn’t recognize to turn into bits. I think his style as a stand-up is closest to mine so the fact that I like him a lot might also be a bit narcissistic. The Feeko Brothers are my favorite sketch group, and I think they make me laugh more than anybody else in the world. My favorite improv groups to watch are Medic!, Matt&, Mayor Karen, and any other team that starts with the letter “M” apparently.

Do you have any bad experiences doing comedy that you can share? A particularly bad bombing or even an entire show gone haywire? Bombing is always terrible, it makes me feel dead inside – but my worst show experience was when I had to take the side of Inspector Gadget against Batman in a “who is the better detective” debate at the Raven Lounge. I won the debate, and then picked up the microphone and berated the audience for being persuaded that in any universe Inspector Gadget could be considered a better detective than Batman. I felt like I betrayed myself. I don’t know how I’ve been able to sleep since.

What do you think the Philly comedy scene needs to continue to grow? Like most people will probably say, we need a permanent space – a place that’s going to be open every day that the public will know is a place they can trust to come see great comedy all the time. The performers are here, we have great people doing great things, we just need to build an audience of non-performers who trust local comedy. There are a lot of comedy fans in Philly, people go out to see shows of big-named acts all the time. We just need to get them to know that the local acts are good, and worth coming out to see.

Do you have any personal goals for the future as you continue to perform comedy? Ultimately, my goal is to make my living from comedy, so my short term goals are all doing things to work towards making that happen. Which is really, just getting on stage as much as I can and writing and working on material all the time. Not a bad way to spend my time.

Ten Questions With…Billy Bob Thompson

Billy Bob Thompson is a Philadelphia based comedian originally from Vermont.  He does stand-up, writes sketches with The Feeko Brothers and Camp Woods, and performs improv with Hate Speech Committee and the new PHIT House Team codename: Shadowfax. He is also the voice of Burgh on Pokémon: Black and White.

How and why did you get into comedy?

How:  My entire life, the only thing I’ve ever taken seriously was comedy (that’s how my auto-biography is going to start).  I first realized that comedy was something I would like to pursue, when I was in a barbershop quartet called “The Half Steps” during high school.  We would perform super cute little comedy bits between songs which I wound up enjoying more than the actual singing itself.  Fast forward a few years, blah, blah, blah, and now I’ve become extremely successful at being an unsuccessful comedian.

Why:  Crippling anxiety, the strange desire to be liked by people I don’t know, and dirty butt sluts.

How would you describe your style as a comedian? What influences and factors do you think contribute to that? I’m not sure how to describe my style, but here’s some stuff I’ve heard:

“Billy Bob Thompson is the closest thing Philadelphia has to Paul Rudd.” -–Pat Ackerman

“Billy is like a white Steve Martin.” – John McKeever

“You look like that Carey guy!  Can I get some change for the bus?” – Guy outside of a 7/11

Do you have a favorite show or venue you like to perform at? What about it makes it fun or special for you? I’ve had the most fun on Chip Chantry’s “One-Man Show” and Doogie Horner’s “Ministry of Secret Jokes.”  Anything goes on those shows, you knows!  These two fine gentlemen have created even finer shows that are an absolute pleasure to perform on and watch.  If you want a crash course in what is actually going on in Philly Comedy, go to these shows.  Quick side note:  If you run a show or a venue, please don’t throw hissy fits in front of your performers.  It puts them on edge and makes you look unprofessional.  The performers are there to help you.  Stop it.  I’ve seen this baby behavior happening all over the city.  You’re being bad.  Bad!

Do you have a single favorite moment in Philly comedy or one that stands out? For me personally, it’s either doing stand-up at Helium’s Philly’s Phunniest OR “A Slow Day at the Dildo Factory”:http://youtu.be/6i_DlJzsc7w  But I’d have to say that “The Roast of Meg Favreau” was one of my favorite moments in Philly comedy. Everyone on the dais MurderDeathKilled with their sets!  It was one of the funniest shows I’ve had the pleasure of being involved with. See for yourself: http://www.witout.net/2011/03/23/video-of-the-meg-favreau-roast/  Luke Giordano’s Roast was alright too, I guess.

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 use the 3 Ps* method.

What is it about stand-up / sketch / improv that draws you to it? I’m drawn to stand-up because to me it is hands down, the hardest of the three.  When you’re alone on stage and it goes bad, it feels terrible.  But when it goes well, it’s one of the greatest things in the world.  I’m drawn to sketch the most because it fits me the best. There’s more creativity involved in putting together sketches which is why I think I gravitate towards it.   I’m drawn to improv because it takes the least amount of preparation, and fucking around with your friends on stage is always a good time.

Do you have any favorite performers in the Philly scene? Why are they your favorites? HOW DARE YOU MAKE ME PICK WHICH OF MY FRIENDS I LIKE MORE!!!  Okay, I pick Emily and Micah McGraw.  They’re a married comedy duo that sings hilarious songs, every one of which is PURE GOLD.  I love everything they do and you should too.  Man, I wish I had a husband I could sing comedy songs with.  WIFE!  I MEANT WIFE!  I’m also a gigantic fan of everyone I work with on a regular basis.  Like the Camp Woods blokes and the Hate Speech Committee crew!!!  We roll deep.  But my super favorite would have to be my comedy husband, Christian Alsis.  Awwwwwwww.  He makes me laugh shit.  There, I mentioned you, Christian.  Are you happy now?! No?  See!  I told you you’d never be happy.

Do you have any bad experiences doing comedy that you can share? A particularly bad bombing or even an entire show gone haywire? Of course!  But wouldn’t you rather watch a video of it?  Here’s a well-shot video of The Feeko Brothers bombing at the late great Bedtime Stories: http://youtu.be/-RB3mPVh9pI  Enjoy!  I know we didn’t.

What do you think the Philly comedy scene needs to continue to grow? There needs to be more crossover within the comedy scene.  HEY, YOU!  Do you only perform stand-up and think improv is “gay?”  Well, crowd-work is improv so that means you’re “gay” too!  Go see an improv show!  Do you only do improv and have never heard of Secret Pants?  Well, there’s something wrong with you!  Go see a sketch show!  Do you only perform sketch?  Good, keep doing it.  There needs to be more people doing sketch.  It’s much better than stand-up or improv, but also go see an improv or stand-up show anyway! Crossover within the scene will give everyone more exposure.  Get out of your bubble!

Do you have any personal goals for the future as you continue to perform comedy? My goal is to hopefully make the transition from a Volunteer Comedian to a Paid Comedian.  I already treat comedy like a job so all I’m looking for is a promotion and maybe a raise.  Dental would be nice.  I’d also like to be Mr. January in the “Beef-Cakes of Philly Comedy” Calendar, but it would be an honor just to be nominated.

*Paper, Pens, and Pot.

Ten Questions With…Rob Cutler

Rob Cutler is a member of new Philly Improv Theater House Team codenamed Brandybuck. He also performs with The N Crowd, Dumdumstupiddumb, and is in the upcoming Fringe Festival puppet improv show Friends of Alcatraz.

How and why did you get into comedy? I always loved to make my family laugh. My father had a great dry wit, and I just tried to keep up with him growing up. Plus, the majority of the work I’ve been able to do in Philly as an actor has been comedy related, and its been something of a niche for me. As I got older, I found that nothing quite matches the experience of performing before a group of people you don’t know and having them truly enjoy what you are doing.

How would you describe your style as a comedian? What influences and factors do you think contribute to that? I tend to go darker. I like walking the line between uncomfortable and funny. Andy Kaufman was a huge influence on me. I can’t touch his level of creativity, but his work informs my style. I like playing with taboos and social norms and turning them on their head. That said, I don’t think I’m very funny, as I tend to play the “every” man or straight man in most of my scene work.

Do you have a favorite show or venue you like to perform at? What about it makes it fun or special for you? I love working with Ladies and Gentlemen if only because the work we put in during rehearsals really shows in the performances. Musical improv is incredibly challenging, but when its done well it can be amazing. In terms of venue, I like the ones that serve alcohol.

Do you have a single favorite moment in Philly comedy or one that stands out? I thought Banana Breakup’s set at duofest was pure genius. Meg Favreau’s roast was hysterical. For me personally, I had a great set during Stage Fright, where I got to play the killer and strangle Ali Soowal on stage, I suppose that was a highlight.

Do you have any sort of creative process that you use with your writing or your performance? I read a newspaper everyday. (not online) It keeps me up to date on pop culture stuff I would otherwise be oblivious to, and it gives me an idea of what’s going through the world’s collective consciousness. It helps to keep tuned in, even to things I don’t find particularly interesting, in order to relate to your audience, regardless of what walk of life they come from.

What is it about improv (or stand-up, or sketch, whatever you do…) that draws you to it? As an actor, its a great opportunity to experiment with new characters, physicality, environments, etc. It keeps you sharp. The bonus is that its the most actively supportive “scene” in Philly. The talent level is enormous and deep, there are constantly new faces, and the is ALWAYS something going on. The people involved are what keeps me going, even when I feel like I’ve hit a creative wall.

Do you have any favorite performers in the Philly scene? Why are they your favorites? Matt Holmes. Rare Bird Show was one of the first things I saw and I immediately thought “that is someone I want to work with.” (Yes, he’s the director of my team and this may seem like brown nosing, but its true)
I get to work with a ton of my favorites with the N Crowd, Ladies and Gentlemen, Superheroes Who Are Super, dumdumstupiddumb, and Stage Fright, so I’ve been really lucky to work with incredibly talented people.

Do you have any bad experiences doing comedy that you can share? A particularly bad bombing or even an entire show gone haywire? I block them from my memory. We all have bad shows, but dwelling on them only hurts you in the long run. You figure out what went wrong, work on it, and move on. If I had to name one, I suppose playing a show to 6 people in a 200 seat room in New York was rough. One of them was asleep by the end of our set. Also, my first audition for PHIT, back when they were doing the first round of house teams. I had the flu and had to run to the bathroom of the Shubin to throw up in between scenes. I remember wretching to the sounds of laughter coming through the wall.

What do you think the Philly comedy scene needs to continue to grow?
A permanent home. Having a dedicated space will do wonders for this blossoming community

Do you have any personal goals for the future as you continue to perform comedy?
I want to do sketch. I have a ton of half finished scripts, but I don’t have a group to work with. I’d like to try standup, but sketch is the priority.

Pizza Pals with Joe Moore featuring Local Holiday Miracle

Andrea Kuhar and Aubrie Williams are the one-two-punch-in-the-chops that make up Philly comedy tour-de-force Local Holiday Miracle. At Aubrie’s suggestion, LHM and I sliced it up at Lickety Split, and we talked about Ninja Turtles, Pizza on English Muffins, and their show Thursday August 4th at the Shubin Theater, at 8:30 PM. If you’ve ever wondered about how pizza works into the LHM magic, read on:

Pizza Pal Joe Moore: How much do you like pizza:

Andrea Kuhar – I live in Philly for a lot of reasons, Pizza is one of them.

Aubrie WIlliams – I consider it a religion and practice it… religiously!

PPJM: What is your favorite slice in Philly:

AK: I’m partial to Lorenzo’s, but if I’m feeling fancy – Pizzeria Stella!

AW: I’m gonna say Lorenzo’s cause there is so much cheese on a single slice, and the more cheese the better!

PPJM: How often do you eat pizza?

AK: If English Muffin pizza counts, weekly.

AW: Anywhere from 4-7 times a week. It’s my go-to pre-rehearsal, pre-show eat.

PPJM: Are you into plain pizzas or toppings? which toppings?

AK: Every veggie – no black olives!

AW: I enjoy both plain and toppings equally. MY favorite toppings are mushrooms and olives.

PPJM: Favorite use of pizza in Film, TV or Music:

AK: Das Racist – “I’m at the combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell”

AW: NINJA TURTLES (movies cause I always want to eat it straight from the screen)

PPJM: Did your family have a pizza day, what day was it?

AK: Yes! Way back, we got pizza on Friday and then watched TGIF! “Step by step, day by day…”

AW: It was always Friday night, and Friday at school was also pizza day… so Friday was a great day all around

Ten Questions With…Claire Halberstadt

Claire Halberstadt is a member of new Philly Improv Theater House Team Codenamed Shadowfax. She is also a member of musical improv group Suggestical.

How and why did you get into comedy?  I never intended to get into “comedy”. I was raised on musical theater and was actually introduced to improv through a musical improv group that I was in during college. I loved making up musicals on the spot, so when I moved to Philadelphia, I figured I’d give regular improv a try. I started going to the Improv Incubator on Sunday nights and pretty much fell in love.

How would you describe your style as a comedian? What influences and factors do you think contribute to that? I’m definitely inspired and driven by physical comedy, and my background as a dancer feeds into that. I also tend to play over-the-top characters, the ones that you find most often in musical theater.

Do you have a favorite show or venue you like to perform at? What about it makes it fun or special for you? The good ole Shubin does it for me. It’s a good size, your audience can drink in the seats, and they’ve got easy access to electrical outlets- which we need for the piano in my musical improv trio- Suggestical.

Do you have a single favorite moment in Philly comedy or one that stands out? Haha, well I just love when people can leave a show talking about something that happened on stage or humming a tune that we made up during one of our improvised musicals with Suggestical. Most recently we sang a song called “An Ipod for Dolphins”. That was pretty fun. And then there was the time that I named Jess Ross’ mother’s maiden name: Magucci.

Do you have any sort of creative process that you use with your writing or your performance? I try to meditate sometimes. I’m a big fan of Chicago Improv Associates’ ZenProv. They basically draw parallels between improv and Zen Buddhism. Check it out, it’s life-changing- they’ve got podcasts.

What is it about improv (or stand-up, or sketch, whatever you do…) that draws you to it? Honestly, I did theater for so many years and I don’t think I ever truly “got” what it meant to be “in the moment” until I started doing improv. Improvising makes real acting a lot more accessible. It’s a lot easier- and no, I don’t mean to say it’s “easy”, just “easier”- to be present, listening, and truthful when you don’t have a predetermined script that you’re following.

Do you have any favorite performers in the Philly scene? Why are they your favorites? I love the Amie and Kristen show. I’m really inspired by their organic transitions and the awesome chemistry they’ve got.

Do you have any bad experiences doing comedy that you can share? A particularly bad bombing or even an entire show gone haywire? Don’t you know, I block out those memories.

What do you think the Philly comedy scene needs to continue to grow? A permanent space for PHIT definitely. More musical improv!

Do you have any personal goals for the future as you continue to perform comedy? I guess a personal goal of mine is to somehow keep my life balanced, as I will be hopefully going back to school in the next year or so for Clinical Psychology. I want to keep improv as a part of my life, but also be able to balance it with my other interests.

Ten Questions With…Tara Demmy

Tara Demmy is a member of new Philly Improv Theater House Team codenamed Brandybuck. They make their debut this Friday at the Shubin Theater.

How and why did you get into comedy? I got into comedy while at Denison University, as a member of Burpee’s Seedy Theatrical Company, the oldest college improv troupe, doing short form with a bunch of wonderful geniuses.

How would you describe your style as a comedian? What influences and factors do you think contribute to that? I was always into theatre and became aware of the many rules and styles associated with different theatrical forms. I always felt most connected to comedic improvisation because it gave me much more freedom (with genre, with manipulating the world of the scene) than interpreting a script.

Do you have a favorite show or venue you like to perform at? What about it makes it fun or special for you? I have only performed in a few spots but I like the community feel at the Shubin. I do like spaces where the audience and the performers are on the same level (physically) it makes more for a connection and spontaneous feel. As for shows- I like the crazy, honest, super energetic ones.

Do you have a single favorite moment in Philly comedy or one that stands out? The 201 class show on Saturday, July 9th was one of the most enjoyable shows I’ve ever seen. There was so much support on stage for everyone’s ideas, really impressive work.

Do you have any sort of creative process that you use with your writing or your performance? I try hard not to think so much. I oftentimes get in my head and blockade nifty ideas. I also try to take at least one big risk per show, something that will keep both me and the team on its toes. Safe is no fun, no fun.

What is it about improv (or stand-up, or sketch, whatever you do…) that draws you to it? Improv can’t be anything other than contemporary and relevant. It is the HERE and NOW, even if it references a historical time period, it is based on the current climate of society (because that’s what is in our heads) and it has never been performed before and never will be performed again. It is the truest example of ephemerality. Visual and performance art grapples with how much to “invest in past work,” how to make “past work modern,” when to honor tradition and when to throw it out the window. Improv’s content is always new and because of that, it’s structure is always in a state of change. Improv is a necessary force in pushing our arts culture forward.

Do you have any favorite performers in the Philly scene? Why are they your favorites? I really love watching Amie Roe and Kristen Schier in the Amie and Kristen Show. They may be my favorites. They have super range as performers and never lose the “sense of play” so important to the form. I want to be them when I grow up. Creating comedy that does not require a “…and they’re women” after someone says “funny show.”

Do you have any bad experiences doing comedy that you can share? A particularly bad bombing or even an entire show gone haywire? There are lots, especially in college. In college, you know everyone in the audience, so you want to be funny, oh gosh let me be funny! Since then I have learned it is more about ensemble, it’s about support and creating honest scenes.

What do you think the Philly comedy scene needs to continue to grow? I’ve only been in the scene for a short while, but the building of new independent groups, more opportunities for performance around the city, getting people excited so they come to Philly for IMPROV would support growth. Not comparing our models/formats/structures to New York and Chicago so much (even though it’s hard not to) is important to always keep in mind. This comedic community is full of some of the most supportive, encouraging, welcoming individuals- to not lose that when we becoming bigger and bigger.

Do you have any personal goals for the future as you continue to perform comedy? Take more classes, think more, practice more, laugh more. I always want to work on being more confident on stage, learning how to better create compelling stories. Basically, to keep creating.