Upcoming Shows

  • 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
  • November 8, 2014Nationally Touring Headline Comedians @ Heliun
  • November 8, 2014 7:30 pmComedy Sportz Philadelphia
  • November 8, 2014 8:00 pmCrazy Cow Comedy
  • November 8, 2014 9:30 pmThe Comedy Works
  • November 8, 2014 10:00 pmComedy Sportz Philadelphia
  • November 8, 2014 10:30 pmImprov Comedy: PHIT House Teams
  • November 12, 2014 8:00 pmComedy Masters
  • November 13, 2014 8:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
AEC v1.0.4

Ten Questions With…Mark Leopold

Mark Leopold is a member of new Philly Improv Theater House Team codenamed Brandybuck. He is also a member of sketch comedy group The Hold Up.

How and why did you get into comedy? I initially got into comedy through sketch. I was a member of The Action Section. They brought me on to run tech and write for their Halloween show three years ago. I have always had an interest in writing and have done a small bit of performing in my life and wanted to give it another try. Things went really well with The Action Section and it was through doing sketch shows that I was introduced to improv.

How would you describe your style as a comedian? What influences and factors do you think contribute to that? I’m still working to figure out what my style is. I enjoy a wide variety of comedy from silent physical humor, like Mr. Bean and Boy with Tape on His Face, to very cerebral, verbal word-play in the vein of A Bit of Fry and Laurie, Arrested Development, Mitchell and Webb and Demetri Martin. So when I’m writing sketch, I find myself trying to write things which are clever, which is terrible. I’m constantly discovering that clever sketches are interesting, but not very funny usually. Since I’ve begun doing improv, I feel like I am learning how to write great sketches every week. Improv is amazing in how it essentially teaches you how to be funny through not concentrating on being funny. Improv has definitely made me a better writer and has made the sketches I’ve come up with stronger.

Do you have a favorite show or venue you like to perform at? What about it makes it fun or special for you? Almost all of the shows I’ve ever done have been at the Shubin. It’s my favorite space in the city because it is so intimate. You can feel the audience hiding behind the lights and when you have them with you it’s electric. It’s just a great place to perform because despite it’s relatively small size, it’s very versatile. There isn’t much you can’t do on that stage sketch-wise.

Do you have a single favorite moment in Philly comedy or one that stands out? I love all of my Philadelphia comedy moments the same.

Do you have any sort of creative process that you use with your writing or your performance? I like getting ideas from my everyday interactions. I’ve been getting better about keeping a pen and paper nearby to jot down notes and ideas about jokes and sketches I want to try out. A lot of it is situational or might just be a premise I think has merit. Then I’ll procrastinate. Weeks later, I’ll come back to the idea only to realize I didn’t manage to capture what it was about the situation or idea that I found funny, so I’ll stare blankly at the note, vainly hoping to somehow resurrect the humor from it. Eventually, I’ll abandon it and promise myself to write more thorough notes in the future. I tend to get a lot of ideas right before I fall asleep, so it’s always pretty interesting to see what my semi-conscious mind comes up with joke-wise.

What is it about improv (or stand-up, or sketch, whatever you do…) that draws you to it? It’s creativity. We are able to create through these things. Even if it’s not the best thing ever, it’s still something new. Something that has never existed before. With improv, I feel like it’s unadulterated creativity. The whole skill is about simply allowing the scene to happen. Once you try to force it, or control it, that is when it falls apart for me. It just simple and fun and it forces me to be in the moment, which I don’t do very often. Sketch brings the same challenge, with higher expectations. When it goes well, I feel like a good sketch is organic and compact and lean. The characters are clear and the premise comes out early so the audience can enjoy it. The jokes are an extension of the premise without simply restating it and as a scene the sketch has a beginning, middle and end.

Do you have any favorite performers in the Philly scene? Why are they your favorites? Matt Holmes was one of the first improvisers I ever saw. Rare Bird Show opened for The Action Section for one of our shows and I just feel lucky to have been introduced to improv by one of the best groups around. Seeing Matt Holmes and Alexis Simpson being nonchalantly hilarious remains impressive to this day. I’ve only seen a few of their sketches, but I like what Camp Woods is doing right now. I like the Feeko Brothers. I think Ladies and Gentlemen are doing some great and interesting things. There are just a lot of great people doing stuff right now, Joe Sabatino, Doogie Horner, Kelly Vrooman, Mary Carpenter, Steve Gerben, just to name a few. I think what makes them my favorites…

Do you have any bad experiences doing comedy that you can share? A particularly bad bombing or even an entire show gone haywire? Our most recent showing of “Work” didn’t go as well as I wanted. We had some tech issues, the projector shut off in mid-show and refused to come back on and some of our re-tooled re-written sketches didn’t work at all. It was a good experience overall though. I think I learned something about failure and its relationship to success or something.

What do you think the Philly comedy scene needs to continue to grow? As a community, we need to push each other. What I love about Philly is how supportive everyone is, but we need to find a way to keep that while adding a sense of competition. We should all be trying to get better. We should be trying to challenge ourselves.

Do you have any personal goals for the future as you continue to perform comedy? My comedy goals are simple and small. I want to write more and perform more. In the past, I’ve performed about once or twice a year. That isn’t nearly enough. Putting material in front of an audience is what this is all about and I want to do as much of that as I possibly can.

Ten Questions With…Nathan Edmondson

Nathan Edmondson is a member of new Philly Improv Theater House Team codenamed Shadowfax. He is also the director of current House Team Mayor Karen and a member of Rare Bird Show.

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.

Ten Questions With…Brian Ratcliffe

Brian Ratcliffe is a member of new Philly Improv Theater House Team Codenamed Shadwofax. They make their debut this Friday night, at 10:30.

How and why did you get into comedy? I started doing improv in college and fell in love with it immediately. After graduation I had no clue where my life was headed next, but I knew for sure that I wanted to keep studying and performing improv, and Philly seemed like the perfect place to do it in.

How would you describe your style as a comedian? What influences and factors do you think contribute to that? I like to think that my comedic impulses as an improvisor are grounded in truth. Human interactions are already intrinsically rich with humor, and so the task of the improvisor is simply to find that hilarity and draw it out. I am heavily influenced by the teachers and teammates I’ve had, both at college and now as part of a houseteam under the magnificent Kristen Schier.

Do you have a favorite show or venue you like to perform at? What about it makes it fun or special for you? 
I enjoy playing at the Shubin quite a bit. It’s an intimate space, so you’re right up next to the audience when you’re performing. It’s also great to just think about how many fantastic improvisors and comedians have performed right there in that same space. It makes you feel connected to the larger community of Philly comedians.

Do you have a single favorite moment in Philly comedy or one that stands out? 
I will always remember the night that my new PHIT houseteam hosted our first Improv Jam at the Shubin. We were all nervous going into it, but the night ended up being really relaxed and positive, the audience was super supportive. It gave us all confidence going into our debut on Aug. 5.

Do you have any sort of creative process that you use with your writing or your performance? 
For me, the creative process occurs wholly between me and my scene partner. I try to start a scene with total openness and let the interaction with my partner inform the world that we create together.

What is it about improv (or stand-up, or sketch, whatever you do…) that draws you to it? 
I love the creative freedom and spontaneity of improv. It is an unleashed art form. Whole realities are co-constructed in an instant, and then are lost just as fast. It’s a thrilling and liberating experience.

Do you have any favorite performers in the Philly scene? Why are they your favorites? 
I can’t pick favorites… The thing is, everyone is bringing something new and slightly different to the table. As a wise improvisor, Neal Dandade, once told me, “everyone is a trailblazer”.

Do you have any bad experiences doing comedy that you can share? A particularly bad bombing or even an entire show gone haywire? 
At the end of my freshman year, the college improv troupe that I was on, Vertigo-go, performed at the Fracas! Improv Festival at USC. I’m not sure if it was the jetlag or if we were thrown off by the new space or what, but it was a nightmare of a show. Thirty minutes of incoherent, increasingly frantic and labored improv in front of a silent crowd… pretty mortifying for me as a very new improvisor. But it was a good early lesson to learn, that sometimes shows just go awry. All you can do is shake it off and try again.

What do you think the Philly comedy scene needs to continue to grow? 
Just more of everything that is already happening now–more performances, more classes, more discussions, more experiments into what is possible. That’s why things like WitOut and the Fringe festival are such awesome resources for the comedy scene, they bring attention to this community and offer opportunities introduce new faces and launch new projects.

Do you have any personal goals for the future as you continue to perform comedy? 
The more I practice improv, the more I realize how much I still have to learn. This is a craft that you can spend an entire lifetime honing. My goal for now is just to keep practicing and learning from the brilliant people around me, and keep striving for that human truth that makes the foundation of it all.

Ten Questions With…Dennis Trafny

Dennis Trafny is a member of new Philly Improv Theater House Team codenamed Brandybuck. He is also a member of independent group Iron Lung.

How and why did you get into comedy? I got into comedy because my family doesn’t think I’m funny. Look who’s on a funny website now, family! I will do anything for spite.

How would you describe your style as a comedian? What influences and factors do you think contribute to that? I’m influenced by everyday werido’s, they are my muse.  Someone described my style of comedy as “funny”, which felt good. I liken my style to a wolverine stuck on a raft at sea…even if you could rescue it, would you?

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 like performing at the various developing independent comedy scenes in Philadelphia, such as Sketch Playground! at Tabu Lounge & Sports Bar or The Sideshow at The Arts Parlor. I also like to tell jokes at my place of employment because they have to laugh at what I say.

Do you have a single favorite moment in Philly comedy or one that stands out? I had a transcendental moment a few months ago during a performance.  I remember actively thinking during the scene, “What life choices am I making? Why am I allowing a grown man to rub saliva on my face?”

Do you have any sort of creative process that you use with your writing or your performance? Process? I just regurgitate my head vomit

What is it about improv (or stand-up, or sketch, whatever you do…) that draws you to it? I’m no better than anyone else, I do it for the money, women and fame….

Do you have any favorite performers in the Philly scene? Why are they your favorites? One of my favorite improv groups is Asteroid!  They have a nice ensemble and exemplify the team concept.  In the realm of sketch, I was super impressed with The Hold Up as they are very smart and try to get the “harder” laughs.  I also genuinely love watching any new-to-stand-up comedian performing/tanking. Very real & very funny. There are some cool, local concepts being filmed in comedy too, such as the Brendan Keegan Show.

Do you have any bad experiences doing comedy that you can share? A particularly bad bombing or even an entire show gone haywire? One of my first improv shows, while getting the suggestion from the audience, I started making sexual innuendos out of nervousness.  As you can probably guess, in the opening scene I was a fish looking for genitalia to bite.  I try to be bland and straight forward at the top of the show now and it has made for far less genitalia scenes.

What do you think the Philly comedy scene needs to continue to grow? Somehow, this city needs a face, like Batman.

Do you have any personal goals for the future as you continue to perform comedy? I want to live in lore. Next uproar I cause, I am going to immediately head for the exit to never return.

Ten Questions With…Erin Pitts

Erin Pitts is a member of new Philly Improv Theater House Team codenamed Shadowfax. They make their debut this Friday night at the Shubin Theater.

How and why did you get into comedy? I came to Philadelphia for graduate school in May 2010 and told myself that I was going to take advantage of all the opportunities this city has to offer. One of my goals was to some how get back on stage, I had done theater and a little bit of improv in high school and missed it tremendously, so I signed up for a PHIT level one improv class with Kristen Schier. Her enthusiasm and welcoming attitude were mimicked in every person I met in the comedy community, so I’ve been hooked ever since.

How would you describe your style as a comedian? What influences and factors do you think contribute to that? I don’t know if I have a style, but it’s definitely something I’m trying to figure out. I often give myself little challenges to improve, for example, I think I’m awful at miming, so I would make myself mime in every scene I did to feel more comfortable doing it.

Do you have a favorite show or venue you like to perform at? What about it makes it fun or special for you? The Shubin is the only place I’ve performed in Philadelphia; I really enjoy everything about it.

Do you have a single favorite moment in Philly comedy or one that stands out? I’d have to say, how smoothly my level 1 class show went. We we’re all a little nervous, I think mainly because we ended up only having 5 people left to perform with. It was a super fun show with a lot of different material and a reoccurring missing penguin (who later ended up being stuck in the bathroom) that really helped keep the show moving. It was great to see people from our class who would never be found on a stage in any other instance have a really great time in the spotlight that night.

Do you have any sort of creative process that you use with your writing or your performance? I focus on keeping my mind as open as I can to the endless possibilities that can be generated from a suggestion. And as Kristen always tells us… to never expect to do a scene, because you never know what’s going to happen when you step out.

What is it about improv (or stand-up, or sketch, whatever you do…) that draws you to it? I am such a worrier that improv is so freeing for me; it allows me to not think or hesitate before I act. I love how I feel when I just let go of any rationalized thoughts and allow my body to move before I know why it’s moving. And let’s be honest… when people laugh at something you do, that’s pretty cool.

Do you have any favorite performers in the Philly scene? Why are they your favorites? I love watching so many different people for so many different reasons! …I guess I’ll just answer this with some of my favorite shows to see.. The Amie and Kristen/Kristen and Amie Show, Jessica Tandy, Asteroid, Suggestical and Hate Speech Committee.

Do you have any bad experiences doing comedy that you can share? A particularly bad bombing or even an entire show gone haywire? I was in the premiere of The Gross Show… I think we all know what happened that night…during the segment I was in…

What do you think the Philly comedy scene needs to continue to grow? Exactly what it’s doing right now, which is generating new, enthusiastic performers through classes, workshops, festivals and the number of independent groups popping up. I think the family-like attitude of the community makes it an enticing one to be apart of, I don’t know for sure, but I feel like a lot of other cities don’t have what we have, and that’s a who lot of love and respect for another.

Do you have any personal goals for the future as you continue to perform comedy? I’d like to be sillier and smarter. I really want people to enjoy watching me perform, to feel at ease knowing they’re going to have a good time no matter what is thrown at me.

Ten Questions With…AJ Ortiz

AJ Ortiz is a member of new Philly Improv Theater House Team codenamed Shadowfax. They make their debut this Friday at the Shubin Theater.

How and why did you get into comedy? I got into comedy when i was in High school, there was a company that came to high schools in NYC to teach improv to students.

How would you describe your style as a comedian? What influences and factors do you think contribute to that?  I can say that i have many different styles that come from influences and factors in my everyday life. It gives me a variety of things to pull from when i’m on stage.

Do you have a favorite show or venue you like to perform at? What about it makes it fun or special for you? Favorite show that i would love to be a part of is “In The Heights” which is on tour now. For venue, I’d have to say anywhere in the world. Im not a big broadway person, but for a musical I would do it all the way. Really any venue would be fine with me

Do you have a single favorite moment in Philly comedy or one that stands out?  I don’t have a single favorite moment in Philly comedy. I travel from NYC to Philly once or twice a week to be with my team, so I haven’t seen much comedy here to pick my favorite yet.

Do you have any sort of creative process that you use with your writing or your performance? Writing new characters all the time (which is amazing way to start writing). I do a lot of writing for my one man shows and i’m always writing new ideas and anything that comes to mind.

What is it about improv (or stand-up, or sketch, whatever you do…) that draws you to it? Improv has changed my life so much, I don’t know where I would have ended up without it. Not a big fan of stand-up, but I don’t mine getting in front of a mic, in which case I would pick doing a one man show over stand-up. Sketch is something I’m looking forward to doing in the future.

Do you have any bad experiences doing comedy that you can share? A particularly bad bombing or even an entire show gone haywire?  Most of my bad experiences doing comedy have come from team members not bring on the same page.

Do you have any personal goals for the future as you continue to perform comedy? My personal goals are to learn from everybody and to become a great spanish/english teacher and improv coach as I continue doing comedy.

Ten Questions With…Matt Holmes

This Friday, Philly Improv Theater will debut two new House Teams, known until then by their codenames: Brandybuck and Shadowfax. All this week, we are going to bring you special editions of our 10 Questions With series profiling each of the new house team members. First, we will profile the directors of the groups. Shadowfax’s director, Kristen Schier, was already featured in a 10 Questions With column, which you can read HERE.

Brandybuck’s director, Matt Holmes is a member of Rare Bird Show and also performs as Matt&, where he pulls an unwitting stranger from the audience and performs a half hour show with them.

How and why did you get into comedy? In college, I tried it out as an experiment. I found that it really suited me.

How would you describe your style as a comedian? What influences and factors do you think contribute to that? I like weird stuff, smart stuff, and comedy that isn’t afraid to try something new. I like different formats and structures and techniques.

Do you have a favorite show or venue you like to perform at? What about it makes it fun or special for you? I think my favorite venue has been the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in New York. It’s in a basement under a grocery store, and there are pillars that kind of block certain views, but it’s big enough to have a large, energetic crowd engage you as a performer, and it’s not too big. With improv, you want to be close to the audience. I’ve performed in plenty of venues that were tight, and actually I’ve performed in a lot of rooms that were too big (and empty).

Do you have a single favorite moment in Philly comedy or one that stands out? I remember laughing so hard I cried at a Ponycoat show in the Troika improv competition. I remember some pretty interesting audience member partnerships for my show Matt& (a few drunk people, someone who left me alone on stage, having to improvise a love poem).

Do you have any sort of creative process that you use with your writing or your performance? Lately, I’ve started preparing less for my shows.  A lot of people get themselves riled up for improv, as though it’s a 40-yard-dash. I like being at a stage in my performing career where I’m confident enough to relax.

What is it about improv (or stand-up, or sketch, whatever you do…) that draws you to it? I think improv is pure. There’s no filter, no judgment, no limitations. You can do anything in it.

Do you have any favorite performers in the Philly scene? Why are they your favorites? I’m a big fan of Andrew Stanton, Scott Shepherd, Kristen Schier, and Amie Roe for their energy and improv skills, and I’m also excited to see more from a newer group of improvisers, like the new PHIT house teams. For stand-up, I like Brendan Kennedy’s unique style.

Do you have any bad experiences doing comedy that you can share, a particularly bad bombing or even an entire show gone haywire? I’ve done a couple shows for a ridiculously small audience, and I did a show where food orders were announced over a loudspeaker.

What do you think the Philly comedy scene needs to continue to grow? I’ve said for years that the next level for Philly comedy is having a home. If you look at the growth and easiness-for-the-audience that have orbited around PHIT, Helium, and other regular performances, it shows the importance of real estate. It’s been great to see the start of a community and the trajectory for the future.

Do you have any personal goals for the future as you continue to perform comedy? Again, I want to see more regular shows, different shows. I have some ideas, and I’m sure there’s a lot more floating around in people’s minds. I’d like to do a theatrical run of an improv show and get a theatrical review from the press. And I’m really interested in helping the next wave of performers.

Philly Comedy Round-up, Vol 16

In case you haven’t heard it yet, Doogie Horner was a featured guest on the Used Wigs Radio podcast recently. Listen to hear him talk about America’s Got Talent, Last Comic Standing, designing book covers, and other pop culture fun.

Comedians Derek Gaines, Chris Cotton and Monroe Martin have started their own podcast, CDM’s Midday Talk. Their first episode features guest Conrad Roth as the four talk about the death of Amy Winehouse, Captain America, and racism.

Last night the first round of Philly’s Phunniest Person Contest continued at Helium Comedy Club with Dave Terruso, Jim McGinty and Darnell Williams moving on the the semi-finals.

This Tuesday at Helium, the Bird Text Comedy Show will feature Steve Gerben, Paul Virzi, and the guys have teased the release of a sequel to their hit sketch The Real Househusbands of Philadelphia. You can see a promo for part two HERE.

There is a new casting call out for Down the Show. The Philly-themed sketch show is looking for two men and one woman who can play “older” as well as one younger man and one younger woman. Interested actors can contact Abigail Bruley.

This friday Philly Improv Theater will debut their two new house teams, currently codenamed Brandybuck and Shadowfax. The two teams will reveal their names and perform with Upright Citizen’s Brigade Harold Team Grandma’s Ashes at 8:30pm and 10:00pm Friday night. When the teams were first formed, we told you who made it – and all this week we will be featuring the new house team members in their own 10 Questions With…interviews.