STANDUP COMEDY: Juliet Hope Wayne, Josh Rabinowitz, Mike Rainey, and Animosity Pierre (although Animosity will be sketch, not stand-up. Or maybe they’re doing an inspirational speech? Unsure.)
THE RUBY HATS OF DEATH: Chip Chantry, Pat Barker, and Daryll Charles dip their hands into the blood red hats and see what jokes they must tell. Can they survive the ordeal?!
ALSO: A man wearing a red carnation will tell you a secret joke if you tell him the correct password.
OMNIANA BATTLE: Reigning champion Brendan Kennedy battles Gregg Gethard, in a very special appearance as himself instead of a weird character, for once.
The show begins at 8:00PM at is held upstair’s at Fergie’s Pub, 1214 Sansom St. Philadelphia.
Polygon Comedy is a Philadelphia community arts organization devoted to building a thriving and sustainable comedy scene for area comedians. Polygon Comedy is working to raise awareness and understanding of comedy through publicity at regular performance opportunities, and outreach at quality venues.
We caught up with Polygon’s Rick Horner to ask him some questions about his ongoing run of Philly Fringe Festival shows.
WITOUT: Polygon is a new establishment in Philly comedy – tell us how you got started and the idea behind it.
RICK HORNER: The actual idea was born in Rosen & Milkshake – they wanted to be able to direct people, who came to see them in a show, to a clearinghouse website that would have info about all of the other improv groups in town, so when you look for Rosen & Milkshake you find out about Rookie Card, or Gross Butler for example. I just thought that since my overall goal/hope is to grow and nurture all of the talent in Philly, that having a little more organization around people, venues (to make them happy to embrace comedy), and having some idea sharing about what is and isn’t working to continue building the sketch/stand-up/improv community was worthwhile. Both PHIT and Comedysportz Philly are great at doing what they do for improv, this is something a little different – to spread the word around Philly about this ever-expanding group of folks, looking for good places to play. Polygon is geared for both audiences and performers alike. What is most important is that everyone gets a little more involved.
WO: How have the Polygon Fringe shows gone so far? Tell us about some of the groups you have had.
RH: There are so many shows to see during the Fringe! The focus is improv for the Fringe – and the shows have all been really great! A real eclectic mix of performers and crowds, and tons of people I have never met before – which is great for comedy in general. Let’s see – so far Polygon has hosted Angry People Building Things, Suggestical, One Night Standy, Vorlauf, Rosen & Milkshake, WhipSuit, The Ones Your Mom Warned You About, The Hendersons, Cubed, Neilsen, Rintersplit, and Hans Gruber. Really fun, energetic sets. Everyone who is doing improv, sketch and/or stand-up comedy should help generate promotion, and support for the comedy community.
WO: How has O’Neals been as a venue?
RH: They are great to us – great space, secluded on the third floor, it is a decent size room, and we have had a pretty full room (of 40!) It has been a real pleasure organizing this latest Polygon vemture. Up there and the audience has full access to both food and drink. Best bar in Philly, bar none. Great food, great people.
WhipSuit has been doing a monthly show on the third Friday each month for over four years now in the same space and graciously allowed Polygon use only during this Fringe.
WO: Tell us about some of the groups you have coming up.
RH: Friday, Sep 16th, 9pm: Beirdo, MEDIC! Grimmachio take the stage and on Saturday, Sep 17th at 9pm you can catch Gross Butler, Rookie Card, and Iron Lung. Terrific! If you come see a Polygon show for full price, you get a red ticket you can show at all future shows giving you admission for only $5!
WO: How do you see the Philly Improv Community growing? Would you describe it as a boom time for comedy in Philly?
RH: I think since the stand-up, improv and sketch communities started working more together – similarly to how other cities work together – we are starting to see some artistic success. Polygon should serve as a guide to let the public know what’s going on, and who is who helps get the community together.
Polygon aims to get most of Philly’s groups together and has been a great success so far, with a lot of the groups becoming closer and working together more. Also, having festivals really drives people out and has really helped. Each festival – Philadelphia Improv Festival, Philly SketchFest, Duofest and F. Harold – has showcased the best groups and talent in their scope, while exposing the community, and our audiences to different forms, styles and actors from all around the world.
There has never been a more exciting time for comedy fans as some of the funniest comedians are currently performing live all across Philadelphia. New comedy superstars along with comedy legends are currently available to see all around the area, so get tickets while they are still available. Spend your time laughing the night away with some of the funniest people around.
Polygon has two Fringe Festival shows remaining, Friday September 16th and Saturday September 17th at 9pm at O’Neal’s. Tickets can be purchased online.
James Bradford is a comedian, musician, and former cast member of the VH1 reality show Can’t Get a Date. He’s also formerly offered up his services as an escort on Craigslist. All of these experiences will be used in his show James Bradford is…Thick to take the audience on what is promised to be a “wild trip with some unexpected, uniquely interpreted cover tunes sprinkled between stories about prostitution, growing up queer in the American south and the perils of starring on reality TV.” We caught up with James to ask him about his upcoming show.
WITOUT: It sounds like you are going to be telling some deeply personal stories on stage – is that something you’ve had to work on being comfortable with or have you always had a knack for being open about all the sad/dirty/funny details of your life?
JAMES BRADFORD: I think the sad & dirty parts of life are the only ones worth talking about. In comedy there are so many comedians interested in shocking people, so they just blathering about graphic shit that makes people uncomfortable on its face. People are far more shocked to hear me give a list of tips for wanna-be prostitutes (based on personal experience) than they would be if I just told a bunch of dick jokes.
I don’t think there’s any shame in the truth, so I don’t have any reservations about telling it. I actually spent a good part of my 20’s being a compulsive liar – this is absolutely true, I’m not bullshitting. I had zero self-confidence. I would pass other people’s songs off as my own, anything that wasn’t representative of who I actually am. Then I did the reality show. My theory is that if you do reality TV, once it’s over you have to either completely own who you are, or move into a cave in the center of the Earth. I chose the former.
WO: Is there anything that you won’t talk about on stage?
JB: There’s very little that I won’t talk about. Nothing is truly ‘off limits.’ I do tend to not try to be funny about things I don’t really understand. Unless that *IS* the joke, you’re just going to look like an asshole. I don’t talk about cancer. My mom died of pancreatic cancer when I was 17, and I have a throw-away line about it in the show but that’s it. Something is always not funny to someone, but more than that it’s like…who is coming to my show to hear that sad sad story? “Hey my mom suffered and died, now here’s a Rolling Stones cover!!!”
WO: How did you pick the songs for the show? Are they personal to you in any ways, or fit the stories you are telling? Are they all covers?
JB: The music in the show is a combination of covers and originals. The entire concept is inspired by comedienne Sandra Bernhard, particularly her 1985 one-woman show “Without You I’m Nothing.” We’ve tried to weave the musical performances linearly with the monologues. This is not a Glee moment. No one is going to burst out into song as narrative. A lot of the songs are obscure tracks by really well known artists that you wouldn’t expect to come up: Paula Abdul, Genesis, Janet Jackson… and though I loathe the idea of falling into the American Idol territory of ‘reinterpreting’ a song (which to them juts means turning a dance track into a ballad,) nothing we perform sounds anything like the original artist.
WO: Tell us about your band.
JB: I’ve put together a group of friggin’ awesome people to make up my band The Mana-Manas. The musical part of the show is directed by Toshio Mana, who is also our guitarist. Toshio and I met when we filmed the reality show “Can’t Get a Date,” and we’ve been performing together ever since. He’s like this Jack of all trades when it comes to music. Seriously, you could hand him a didgeridoo and say “Play me a Bjork track!” and in twenty seconds it would be done. We’ve got Melinda Gervasio, this kick-ass redheaded metro-dandy dyke with Billy Idol hair. She’s like our white Sheila E. Well. Whiter.
Andrew Connors is on bass, and he’s the token breeder in the band. It’s not his fault. He is in former VH1 battle of the bands winning band Jumper. I never asked him, but I assume their band name refers to the article of clothing and not a suicidal person. Bianca Lindblad is on backing vocals and comes from a majorly heavy metal place; but she’s also a trained opera singer. She has very large breasts and will be wearing a corset during the show…just so Andrew has something to look at during the monologues.
WO: Tell us about who else helped you out with the show.
JB: That’s it for peeps actually on stage, but we’ve had some pretty amazing contributions from other people. Natasha Vargas-Cooper is a feminist journalist and ex-union organizer who writes satirical pieces for GQ, among other publications. Her book “Mad Men Unbuttoned” is all about 1960’s pop culture. Julie Klausner is a comedian and TV writer who seems to be doing EVERYTHING these days. Her book “I Don’t Care About Your Band” details her entertainingly disastrous dating history; and she currently hosts a podcast called “How Was Your Week?” that has had Joan Rivers, Steve Agee and Maria Bamford as guests (among others.) These two women both wrote somewhat similar essays that I’ve put together into a monologue for the show.
Nadya Ginsburg is a comedian and actress who has sort of become part of a power trio of comedy along with comedian Selene Luna and drag queen Jackie Beat. You may have seen their viral video spoof of the “Corn Syrup” commercial. Nadya is best known for her show “Madonnalogues” where she plays..guess who? She has contributed a special audio piece for the show that quite frankly might be better than the show itself!
Was this as unfunny as it felt? I should say something overtly funny…
James Bradford is…Thick plays September 13th and 14th at Tabu Lounge and Sports Bar. Tickets and more information can be found online.
At the very beginning of Meat Man, the Narrator, played with a natural charm by Nathan Edmondson informs the audience that the story he is about to tell contains all the familiar old tropes. His promise does not fall flat, as the show contains everything he claims in his opening monologue: a man and a woman separated by an idea but drawn together by love, a third party trying to keep the two apart, and more themes anyone who’s ever watched a musical will recognize instantly. The narrator also promises something new, which is also delivered by the cast of this musical comedy.
The musical genre is sent up on an hilarious ride by co-writers Erin Davis and Eric Zrinsky in their tale about a town inhabited by meat-eaters stuck in their ways, an influx of “militant vegans” and two star-crossed lovers caught in between their beliefs and their budding romance.
Michael Melton plays the titular Meat Man, beloved by the members of his community for his peddling of all the savory treats their watering mouths can handle. Emily Grove as Violent Violet catches his eye as “fresh meat” even though the townspeople warn him of her radical vegan ways. Violet is planning to protest The Carnivores Carnival, the day of the year where all the townspeople gather to eat meat and “play meat games” and celebrate all things fleshy.
Here starts the ride of the Meat Man’s courtship and Violent Violet’s tug-of-war with her beliefs and her feelings. The show is filled with a variety of musical styles, sharp choreography, and meat puns and innuendo galore.
The cast obviously has fun performing and the sold out crowd at Saturday afternoon’s show ate up every morsel served up by the actors. All of the supporting actors draw double duty as both the stubborn old townsfolk and the new thinking vegan members of the community. The musical talents and range of the performers shine through different styles of song and dance.
Meat Man is a fun ride for anyone looking for a good musical, comedy, or a well crafted dick joke in the form of a song.
Meat Man plays two more times at the Mainstage at the Adrienne Theater, Sunday September 11 at 10pm, and Tuesday September 13 at 10pm. Tickets can be purchased online. The first ever screning of Meat Man: The Movie will be held Sunday September 18 at 6pm at The Urban Saloon. Visit Reel 9 Productions for more information.
Twenty-four is an improv show in real time. There are no cuts or edits, no jumps in time or space. All of the action takes place in one location in the same amount of time it takes to watch the show. The format leads to the actors being able to portray rich characters and develop deep relationships in the twenty four minutes they are together on stage. Last night, the cast of this Philly Improv Theater Fringe production put those skills on display expertly.
Twenty-four is a two act show, with the cast performing two separate monoscenes. Last night’s performance featured two halves that showed off the cast member’s range of styles and characters. The first scene took place in a hospital where a cast of characters all waited for their mutual acquaintance, played by Emily Davis, to give birth to her child. The story revealed a busy career woman, eager for her baby to arrive so that she may return to work and the people in her lives effected by her lifestyle. Her sperm donor (Mike Marbach) was curiously present at the hospital, while it was later revealed by her sister (Cait O’Driscoll) that there may be something more than just a one time donation going on. The future nanny of the child (Jessica Ross) handed out balloons and worried if she would be a good fit to take care of the child. The “facilitator” of the sperm donation (Bobbi Block) continued her role in the hospital as she calmed people down and was there to lend a helping hand in all the madness. The mother-to-be’s assistant (Becca Trabin) came to deliver a present from the office, and ended up delivering something far more important (the baby!) All the action took place while an in-over-her-head candy stripe (Corin Wells) raced around a hospital she seemed to be the only employee of.
The strengths of the first act were in the strong character choices made by the cast. Each improvisor brought their own idea to their character and stuck with it to the end. Emily Davis showed the non stop work ethic of her career driven character even in the last moments of pregnancy. Mike Marbach did his best to remain supportive of the mother of his child even while those around him questioned their relationship. Corin Wells was overworked and exhausted as the seventeen-year-old candy stripe just trying to get community service hours so she can graduate. Becca Trabin portrayed the do-all assistant of a powerful business woman hilariously, showing how prepared one would have to be to be the right hand woman of a non stop workaholic.
The second act begins with director Steve Kleinedler telling the audience that a character of their choice will return for the second scene, and all the other actors would portray someone new. Becca Trabin’s character was selected by one audience member, to cheers of approval from others. The second scene took place in a beauty salon while the patrons prepared for their prom, or “practice wedding” or were just there to have their hair done by the saucy salon staff. The first act of last night’s show had characters entering and exiting the scene fluidly, changing focus and centering on different relationships at different times while the second act had more convergence. The scene began will all but one character (Marc Reber‘s salon worker – who would soon enter) on stage. Most of the performers were all on stage and in the scene at the same time, and the cast members handled the crowded scene excellently. Most of the time the conversation took place between a few characters while the rest of the cast patiently waited, flipping through magazines, or styling hair – but a few times, the stage was full of action with multiple conversations happening at once. The performers were adept, not letting the conversations become just a jumble of noise, but speaking up and quieting down to let the audience key in on the funny parts of what they each were saying.
Twenty-four is a sharply put together show with a diverse, skilled cast of improvisors that will make you care about the characters, draw you in to this moment in their lives, and make you laugh along the way.
There are still three chances to see twenty-four, tonight at 5pm, Tuesday, September 13 at 7pm, and Friday, September 16 at 830pm. All shows are at the Mainstage of the Adrienne Theater. Tickets can be purchased online.
This time, when the lights go out on the cast on stage at the Adrienne Theater, it means the show is about to begin. Dark Comedy is Philly Improv Theater’s take on the famous Chicago improv format “the bat,” in which all of the improvising takes place in total darkness. The format allows the audience to use their imaginations along with the actors as the characters and scenes created by the performers on stage come to life in the brains of those in attendance. Think live action radio play all made up on the spot in front of your…ears.
The atmosphere and scene locations are set by the cast, who act as their own foley artists, providing sound effects and background noise for the world they create. In last night’s show, the audience suggestion of “autumn” sent the cast into a fury of whirling winds which organically evolved into the sounds of animals on a farm and a creaking gate. This inspired the first scene of a forgetful, paranoid wife, her angry husband, and their curious baby played hilariously by Brian Ratcliffe, Alan Williams, and Rachel Semigran. The second scene involved a wise, old Sushi chef (played by Andrew Stanton) and an eager young apprentice (Hillary Rae) chomping at the bit to learn the secrets of being a true master. The third scene featured three lumberjacks (Adam Siry, Shannon DeVido and Alan Kaufman) and their attempt to do their job while being confronted by conservationists.
The group weaved between scenes with scene painting sound effect transitions, giving the audience (and their fellow improvisors) a chance to picture the setting in their minds before the scene began. Each set of characters was revisited two more times, with increasing stakes, and hilarity.
The support the cast members show each other in their sound effect work makes Dark Comedy a fun and fulfilling experience. The scenes come to life thanks to the help of everyone in the cast filling in where your eyes cannot. Animals on the farm, knives cutting flesh, and zombies chomping brains all had the chance to be seen last night – if only in the imagination.
Dark Comedy plays once more on the main stage at the Adrienne Theater, this Saturday, at 1130pm. You can purchase tickets online.
After a recent pizzadventure, I took a few minutes to shoot the breeze about pizza, comedy and pizza with prolific improv-ist Thomas J. Whitaker. Thomas has an affinity for acting, a knack for laughing, a quick wit, and has an emotional attachment for a movie from the 90’s featuring both Ninja’s and Turtles. He also used to sneak pies when his mom wasn’t looking… Hell yeah Thomas!! Thomas and his fellow improvsarios in Rookie Card are all over the place for Philly’s Fringe Festival. Be sure to check the out this Friday at their Philly Fringe Festival HOUSE PARTY!
Here’s the good stuff:
Pizza Pal Joe Moore: How much do you like pizza:
Thomas J. Whitaker: I love pizza! When I was a kid, my mom never let us have it because it was so fatty. But when she went out of town, my dad would grab a large pie for my brother and I.
PPJM: What is your favorite slice in Philly?
TJW: Mad Greek in West Philly.
PPJM: How often do you eat pizza?
TJW: Once a week, I will eat a large pizza in an evening.
PPJM: Are you into plain pizzas or toppings? Which toppings?
TJW: Pepperoni has always been my default, but I love black olive, mushroom, and anchovy.
PPJM: What is your favorite use of pizza in film, television or music?
TJW: The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, when Mike and Don do the funeral music when they find the rotten pizza.
PPJM: Did your family have a pizza day? What day was it?
TJW: Friday, when everyone said “To hell with cooking!” or Tuesdays when mom was out of town.
Confession that he didn’t like Kid Rock’s country music, or Rock music in general, or kids: “I always found children were more useful as a way to avoid being drafted than as a source of happiness and meaning in one’s life.”
Details of meeting with Hollywood director Bryan Singer after he stepped down as Secretary of Defense that served inspiration for the character Keyzer Soze in The Usual Suspects: “When the movie was released I was furious – I had made an explicit deal with Singer to name the villain based of myself ‘Haddam al-Sussein’ and make him middle-eastern, not eastern European.”
Admission that he found daughter Mary “hotter” after she came out as a lesbian, but didn’t think she was a “MILF” after the birth of his grandson Samuel: “Perhaps I would have felt differently if the birth hadn’t left a C-section scar, or Mary’s partner Heather hadn’t let herself go so badly.”
Pushed for war to overthrow Saddam Hussein because watching Wolf Blitzer report live from Iraq was wife Lynne’s only turn-on: “Watching Lynne become flushed any time she heard The Situation Room theme music always made my heart race, or at least it did when I still had a pulse.”
Vivid description of hunting trip in Bend Bend Ranch State Park with Texas Governor Rick Perry during autumn 2005 at which Cheney won a contest to see who could kill more migrant workers: “I was both surprised and deeply offended to learn that the blood of Mexicans is red, just like American blood.”
Moment when he realized “enhanced interrogation” wasn’t as effective as claimed after personally failing to waterboard David Chase into revealing whether Tony died when the final episode of The Sopranos cut to black:“Chase did eventually begin trying to bargain, promising he would write a Sopranos movie that made Tony’s fate clear, but by that point I had lost interest in anything he said that didn’t immediately address my question.”
First-hand account of meeting where Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Alberto Gonzales agreed to replace Bush’s Presidential Daily Briefing with Marmaduke comics during height of the Iraqi insurgency:“Rummy was insistent that we include the ‘Dog Gone Funny’ sidebars from the Sunday strips as well, but Al wouldn’t have any of it. He claimed the President might recognize one of his own letters to Brad Anderson about Barney as the inspiration for the panels.”
Entire chapter dedicated to his time since leaving office filled with synopses of 24 episodes and a rank order list of former Vice President’s favorite crossbows available for purchase at the Jackson Hole, Wyoming Kmart: “I especially enjoy 24 because the creator Joel Surnow assassinated not one, but two African-American Democratic Presidents.”
Passage in which Cheney explains he feels more human since he had a pump installed in his heart that leaves him without a pulse: “While it’s true that being alive without a heartbeat is unusual, it’s also unusual to have a metal plate for a skull – and I don’t see anybody claiming Gabby Giffords is a machine.”
Brendan Kennedy is a stand-up comedian, a member of improv groups Hate Speech Committee and The Hendersons, sketch comedy group Camp Woods, and the host of the Philly Improv Theater show Guilty Pleasures.
How and why did you get into comedy? When I was a kid my dad and uncle would always show me episodes of Monty Python’s Flycing Circus, and I loved it. I would make comedy videos on my parents’ S-VHS camcorder with my cousin. In high school I was one of the kids that ran the tv studio and I’d make comedy videos that I’d show during the morning show. I continued my refusal to be serious about anything by going to film school and while there I made almost nothing but comedy videos. Then eventually I got the balls to do stand-up, which to me is the purest form of comedy and expression out there.
How would you describe your style as a comedian? What influences and factors do you think contribute to that? I’d describe my style as a stand-up as selfish. If you don’t like what I do, then I don’t care to entertain you. And I hate comics that try to be what they think everyone wants them to be. There are billions of people on the earth, enough of them will have similar interests and sensibilities to me, and those are the people I want to speak to.
Plus, stand-up is an inherently selfish endeavor, so claiming you have some greater goal is at least 50% bullshit. And I say 50% because out of that desire for immediate self-gratification (the selfish 50%) you can reach people who otherwise might feel isolated, because they haven’t found a way to express themselves or people who think and feel the same way they do. But you can’t reach them by pretending to be something. You can only reach people by being honest with yourself and about yourself. That’s what I love about stand-up, and that’s the type of stand-up comic I try to be.
Do you have a favorite show or venue you like to perform at? What about it makes it fun or special for you? I loved performing at the Khyber because it was dirty and grimy and shitty and you had to really want to see comedy to go there. Which made the audiences there great, and I felt the most comfortable there. I enjoy doing stand-up at the Ric-Rac, the Shubin, and any place where people have come to specifically see the people who are performing. People who go to comedy shows not knowing anything about who they are going to see baffle me. And I lack the ability to relate to them. I can entertain them, but only if I do a bunch of crowd work. It’s like I’m the host of some awful party that a bunch of random dopes showed up to, like the one Rick Moranis throws in the first Ghostbusters. And most times I am doing crowd work I am fantasizing about a demon dog crashing the party and making it more interesting than, “You do that job? Well you should talk to other guy I just talked to, he does a job that if combined with your job would be really funny!”
That being said, I really enjoy the open mic at noche that Jack Martin and Paul Goodman run. Those two guys are smart guys who run a good room, and are really supportive of everyone who shows up there. (If you’re thinking “I don’t think they are supportive.” You’re thinking that because you’re an asshole, and you’ve behaved in a way that makes it impossible for someone to be supportive of you.)
For sketch and improv I like theaters.
Do you have a single favorite moment in Philly comedy or one that stands out? Anytime Roger C. Snair crushes in front of an audience that has never seen him and doesn’t know who he is. I use how people interact with Roger as a bit of a litmus test, because he’s so overwhelmingly and unflinchingly positive. It is my opinion that you have to be a piece of shit to not like him. Anytime a room full of strangers gets him and accepts him it makes me feel more optimistic about the world.
I’m friends with Roger, we do a monthly show together, but I’m also his number 1 fan. I’d love nothing more than to see Roger have a talk show on television, just to see some of the douchiest celebrities squirm in their seats, not knowing how to handle him. Talented, funny, decent people, if put in that same scenario will come out looking amazing. For example, I had last month’s guilty pleasures be somewhat a talk show, and one of the guests was Andy Moskowitz. Roger kept asking him about his sexuality (Roger is rather immature in regards to his opinions on sex), and Andy handled everything so amazingly that he ended up becoming the hero of the show. It was so funny and genuine that I felt like I was interrupting when I had to chime in to have us read a script.
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? For stand-up, I always just write about whatever I’m currently obsessing about.
For sketch, I write basically two types of sketch. Quick, one joke sketches that are bookended with title cards. And 2 character stream of consciousness sketches. The short sketches, which are basically blackout sketches, are just based around a joke I think of that I like. But I write them to be very very short, because I think sketches that are 5 minutes long but only have one joke are stupid. If you have a sketch that’s just one joke, then just tell the one joke and end the sketch. It’s not a college paper, there’s no minimum length sketches have to be.
The longer sketches I write are always me trying to write interactions between two people that are more absurd and honest than most real life interactions, because to me the funniest parts of life are the moments in which someone is being really honest, and at the same time really odd.
What is it about stand-up / sketch / improv that draws you to it? Comedy allows you to discuss topics that are just too sad or taboo to talk about casually with people. Its not creating any solutions, it just helps people stress less and be more ok with the world they live in. That’s what has always drawn me to comedy.
Do you have any favorite performers in the Philly scene? Why are they your favorites? Roger C. Snair for reasons I’ve already mentioned.
Steve Gerben for his willingness to be honest with himself and about himself onstage and his abilitiy to make his own personal struggles, physical and mental, hilarious.
Andy Moskowitz for the same reasons.
The people in the groups with me, (Hatespeech-CampWoods-Hendersons) for too many different reasons to list.
Do you have any bad experiences doing comedy that you can share? A particularly bad bombing or even an entire show gone haywire? Recently I ended a set at a bringer contest by saying, “That’s why I think we should burn down churches.” Most of my bad experiences with comedy show stem from my inability to accept people who I’ve decided are shitty. That, and tech problems.
What do you think the Philly comedy scene needs to continue to grow? More of what it already has. More people who are passionate about performing comedy. More people who run good rooms. More people supporting each other’s shows and rooms. More original ideas.
The first three are obvious. The 4th seems like it should be obvious, but its apparent to anyone who’s watched comedy before and is seeing shows in the city now that its not. You can’t stop random people from showing up at open mics and doing other people’s material. But you can make sure not to book them ever. You tell internet jokes, you tell Bill Hicks jokes, you tweak internet jokes and then tell them, you tweak Bill Hicks jokes and then tell them, you don’t do shows. That should be the rule that everyone follows. Hacks (thieves are a type of hack) aren’t going to kill the surge in popularity that comedy is experiencing in Philly right now, but eventually they will. That was one of the main killers of the comedy boom. You can listen to countless interviews with comics who were part of that and they all talk about how there were so many opportunities to get onstage in front of large paying crowds that people started taking shortcuts to take advantage of it, and comedy suffered as a result. Crowds started staying home because there was no point in going out to see a show if you were just going to see comics telling jokes that they saw on tv.
If you see someone doing stolen material, yell at them, tell them to go fuck themselves. They are insulting the art form you love, and they are being a self-serving asshole.
Do you have any personal goals for the future as you continue to perform comedy? I want to just keep getting better. That’s my only real goal. That and to make Roger C. Snair famous.
A packed crowd at Helium witnessed the cream-of-the-cream of Philadelphia comedy last night during the finals of the Philly’s Phunniest Competition. Beginning almost 2 and a half months ago with 165 comedians, the field had been whittled down to 10 Finalists, who took the stage in order to see who would walk away with the title. The was a true spectacle – each comedian was worthy of raucous laughter, wild applause, and probably a $1,000 prize, but there can only be one winner. Surely those who missed out on this will be kicking themselves for a long time… for those unfortunate souls, here’s a taste of what you missed:
Below are the first and last words spoken on stage by each of 2011’s Philly’s Funniest Finalists:
(Comedian – First Word // Last Word)
Host Dave Smith – Thanks // Night
Pat Barker – Thank // Thanks
John McKeever – Hey // You
Chip Chantry – So // Everybody
Gary Vider – Thanks // Evening
Andy Nolan – Alright // Much
Mike Rainey – Alright // Rainey
Tommy Pope – Hey // Thanks
Gordon Baker-Bone – Yeah // Night
Pat House – Thank // Night
Darryl Charles – Yay // Everybody
Headliner Big Jay Oakerson – Thank // Around
Congratulations to all ten finalists, but a little extra congratulations to Tommy Pope who deservedly was named winner of 2011’s Philly’s Funniest. And to everyone who missed the show – you’re welcome!