Helium Comedy Club has recently announced that they will be offering a five week course in sketch comedy taught by Gerre Garrett and Sara Carano, members of Philadelphia sketch comedy group The Waitstaff. The class will begin Monday, November 7 and run through December 12, with a final show for members of the class at Helium the following week. The class costs $500 and promises to teach sketch comedy writing, improvisation and sketch performance to those at any skill level, from beginners to more seasoned performers. Signups for the class are online, and the class size is limited – they will be accepting between 12 and 21 people for the course.
Tonight at the Shakespeare Theater Philly Sketchfest will continue a tradition started in 2007 at Don Montrey‘s Die Actor Die – The Dirtiest Sketch in Philadelphia contest. Sketch groups from Philadelphia and beyond will gather to perform their filthiest, most disgusting, most depraved sketches in order to gain the hearts and minds of the audience and win the grand prize, along with the bragging rights of being the dirtiest minds in a group of supremely dirty minds. Defending champions The Feeko Brothers will take the same stage they actually vomited on last year, along with two-time champ Secret Pants, Camp Woods, out-of-towners Angel Yau and Thunderstood, Philly stand-up Joe Mayo and more. To make sure you know what you are getting into, we’ve put videos of some of the previous Dirtiest Sketch winners (and Secret Pant’s second place finish from last year) below. Enjoy.
The QComedy Fest is also set to take place this week with shows at various venues around the city including The Philly Improv Theater at The Shubin Theater, Tabu Sports Bar & Lounge, and Club Voyeur. The festival will be headlined by Alec Mapa, of Desperate Housewives and Ugly Betty fame.
Doogie Horner’sMinistry of Secret Jokes returns again this week with a show featuring new videos from Secret Pants and Joke Summer School and stand-up from Chris Cotton, Alex Grubard and Trey Galyon.
Alejandro Morales is a comedian, writer, and storyteller in Philadelphia. He is a co-host of Philly Improv Theater storytelling show Rant-O-Wheel as well as Camp Tabu and a producer of the upcoming QComedy Fest.
How and why did you get into comedy? I’ve always been a comedy fan. When I was just a kid, I used to watch hours of comedy on TV, like the original “Whose Line Is It Anyway?,” “The A-List” with Sandra Bernhard, and “The Kids in the Hall.” I got my degree from the University of the Arts in Screenwriting and Digital Filmmaking, but I’ve learned since that making movies costs several dollars while doing stand-up is pretty much free, bar tab notwithstanding. I got my official start doing stand-up at Philadelphia’s “Gayborhood Games” in 2009, where I botched my chance to be the funniest guy for six blocks. I lost again in 2010, and at the 2011 I cemented my position as the undisputed Susan Lucci of the Gayborhood Games. I stay involved in comedy because there’s really nothing else in the world for me.
How would you describe your style as a comedian? What influences and factors do you think contribute to that? I’m at my funniest when I’m just talking to friends at house parties, so when I’m on stage I try to get as close to “me at a house party” as possible without slurring or coming on to someone in the audience. I generally avoid topical humor or celebrity humor in favor of telling first-person stories, because while anybody can make a joke about the president, nobody can tell a story about accidentally flashing a room full of people quite like I can. I don’t think I’ve come myself 100% as far as a particular style just yet; I’m still learning a lot about what works and what doesn’t during live performance. My comedy mentor, Brad Loekle, told me it would take ten years for me to find my voice — I’m a quick study, though, so I’m a try to get that down to five. My primary influence is alcohol, usually vodka because it’s low in calories.
Do you have a favorite show or venue you like to perform at? What about it makes it fun or special for you? My favorite show is the one I host, of course. It’s called Camp Tabu, and I host it along with “The Hysterical Christine Meehan” at Tabu Lounge & Sports Bar every second Friday of the month. Other than the obvious reason that it’s my favorite ’cause it’s my show, I also think that the upstairs lounge at Tabu is a great performance space, and the diversity of the crowd makes it special as well. A lot of gay/queer comics and audiences are put off by other shows where they’ve encountered retrograde attitudes and ugly language about our community, so my approach is to try to screen out the pighead homophobe douchebag element in advance. I’m proud of the audiences and performers we’ve put together, and on the 14th of October we’re celebrating our one-year anniversary along with all of our favorites, including Carolyn Busa, Jaime Fountaine, Erin Mulville, and Andrew Nice Clay. Oh my gosh so excited for that.
Do you have a single favorite moment in Philly comedy or one that stands out? The first Tabu show we ever did, in the fall of 2010, was on the same night as a Phillies game, and when the game was over a group of rowdy guys came upstairs from the sports bar to watch the show. Soon after, Brendan Kennedy went onstage to do his set, and one of the guys hit on him from the audience, saying things like “LET ME IRON YOUR SHIRT” and “I WANT TO BITE YOUR FACE.” Then the guy brought Brendan a shot of tequila and the two had a dance-off on stage. Brendan handled the whole thing like a pro and the encounter ended without anybody having to be dragged out of the bar. It was a good night for the Phillies and a good night for us.
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? Most of my best ideas occur to me out of nowhere, nine times out of ten when I’m trying to sleep. I try to write things down as they come to me, and then build around them later. Mostly, though, I just keep my ideas in my head, and build on them and memorize until I have a complete set. Then at some point I sit down and write out my set in full, to cement the memorization. I’m sort of lucky to just be generally oblivious and lacking in common sense, because funny things tend to happen to me that wouldn’t happen to smarter people.
What is it about stand-up / sketch / improv that draws you to it? I enjoy stand-up because it allows me to be completely self-reliant, and I get to grind my axes publicly. There’s always something that I wish I would’ve said to to the folks who’ve done me an ugly turn, and stand-up lets me get that out of my system. It’s so righteous! Not only that, but some stories are too good to keep to myself. Right now my favorite set is about this guy I almost dated — I Googled his phone number after we met and discovered his escort profile, complete with X-rated photos. The phrase “Your taint is on the internet next to your phone number” has got to be the best grouping of words in America since “cellar door,” seriously. Lately I’ve been taking improv classes, and it’s starting to grow on me. What I like about improv is the riffing aspect of it. When the chemistry is right, there’s absolutely nothing like bouncing off of other people.
Do you have any favorite performers in the Philly scene? Why are they your favorites? I really like Erin Mulville and Carolyn Busa because they are so bold and fresh, and I’m naturally gaydisposed to prefer lady comics. I also like Alex Gross, because of his gentle demeanor. As far as groups, I am a die-hard fan of the Dumpsta Players. They give themselves entirely to what they’re doing, and they channel John Waters like nobody else in this town.
Do you have any bad experiences doing comedy that you can share? A particularly bad bombing or even an entire show gone haywire? I went to New York City to do a Sunday night show at a gay bar hosted by Brad Loekle, where I was completely ignored by the audience for almost the entirety of my set. They perked up briefly for one joke about Rachel Zoe, but that was it. After my set was over the bottom fell out of my sneakers and I literally oozed off the stage into a nearby rum bucket to no fanfare whatsoever. The good part is that nobody shouted at me to get off the stage, presumably because for that to happen someone would have had to have noticed that I was up there.
What do you think the Philly comedy scene needs to continue to grow? I think that if the players in the comedy scene continue to reach out to each other and support one another’s endeavors the way they have been doing, that can only be good for the scene at large. A rising tide lifts all boats and whatnot.
Do you have any personal goals for the future as you continue to perform comedy? I’m forever hoping that through performing I can get the right set of eyes on my screenwriting work and maybe get a script or two produced. Also I recently did an out of town show in Lancaster, and it was such a blast. I would really love to travel more. Making some money doing this would be nice, too, while we’re wishing and hoping.
Attention Philadelphia comedians and actors, Quarter Life Crisis, a project described as “a narrative of transition and self discovery about three best friends who drop out of college during a quarter-life crisis” is looking to you to fill their cast. Auditions will be held at The Raven Lounge on Monday October 17 beginning at 6:00PM. Interested parties should contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Below is a rundown of the parts they are looking to fill.
We told you last week that Center City Comedy would be celebrating it’s third anniversary of Thursday night open mics at the Raven Lounge with a special show that would bring together hosts from open mics all over the city, along with some of Philly’s favorite comics. Well, it happened, and our friends at Super DPS were there to capture the action on video. Below are some clips from the night – and you can see more on Super DPS’ Youtube Page.
Following the hilarious week of improv that is the Philadelphia Improv Festival, the fourth annual Philly Sketchfest is set to take center stage for Philadelphia Comedy Month. From October 10-15, the Philly Sketchfest takes over the Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre, 2111 Sansom Street, 2nd Floor. This festival features sketch performers from the East Coast, the Midwest, Los Angeles, and the stars of Philadelphia’s extra talented sketch comedy scene. Comedy Month runs through October 23. The month will finish with City Spotlight, a week of stand-up, improv, and the CIF National College Improv Tournament, Liberty Bell Regional. Tickets cost $10, passes for the whole week are $45, and Comedy Month passes cost $125. More information can be found atwww.phlcomedy.com & www.philly-sketchfest.com
This year, Philly Sketchfest highlights the wealth of talent in the local sketch comedy scene. It will begin with an evening of solo sketch comedy featuring the return of local favorite Meg Favreau who now lives in LA. Other local groups set to take the stage include Animosity Pierre, Camp Woods, Hate Speech Committee, Secret Pants, Feeko Bros, and more. The festival is also presenting Don Montrey’s Dirtiest Sketch in Philadelphia contest where several sketch groups will compete for audience votes by pushing limits to the max with the dirtiest, raunchiest, foulest sketches audiences will ever see.
The out of town acts are led by the return of New Yorker Angel Yau, ImprovBoston’s Sawyer &Hurley, the award winning modern vaudeville of The Chris and Paul Show from New York, and festival headliners Last Call Cleveland, stars of many viral web hits, including “One Semester of Spanish, Spanish Love Song”.
Philly Sketchfest Schedule
Monday 10/10, 8 p.m.
Rob Asaro (New York)
Meg Favreau (Los Angeles)
Tuesday 10/11, 8 p.m.
Don Montrey’s DIRTIEST SKETCH IN PHILADELPHIA CONTEST