For two weeks every month, Philly Improv Theater offers crowds in Philadelphia the best stand-up, sketch, and improv the city has to offer. PHIT features a full schedule of regular shows (Chip Chantry’s One Man Show, Guilty Pleasures, TV Party, Hey Everybody!, House Team Night, and more) plus time slots for sketch groups to have short run shows and blocks for improv teams to take the stage.
Helium Comedy Club
Helium Comedy Club is the place in Philadelphia to see A-list nationally touring headliners on stage each and every week. Helium is also home to the annual Philly’s Phunniest Person Contest, an event that has over 150 local comics competing for the crown every year.
The Raven Lounge
The upstairs room at the Raven Lounge is the home to the Center City Comedy open mic every Thursday as well as Rookie Card’s monthly improv show. The tight, intimate room lets the crowd feel close to the action on stage and allows for the bar to always be just a few steps away.
The Adrienne Theater
Permanent home to ComedySportz Philly, as well as the home to many of the shows from PHIT during the Philly Fringe Festival – the Adrienne Theater sits across the street from Helium Comedy Club making that block of Sansom a hotbed of Philly comedy activity.
The Shakespeare Theater
For three weeks in October, The Philadelphia Shakespeare Theater was the home of the second annual Comedy Month. Featuring the Philly Sketch Fest, The Philadelphia Improv Festival, and The City Spotlight, Comedy Month was a celebration of all things funny in Philadelphia, as well as a chance for out-of-town acts to come to perform in our fair city.
Mary Radzinski and Carolyn Busa host Laughs on Fairmount every Monday night at The Urban Saloon. Comedians gather to sign up in the front room of the bar and move to the beautiful back room when the mic starts at 8. The show always runs smoothly as Mary and Carolyn handle their ever growing sign up sheet excellently.
Center City Comedy
For more than three years, Thursday nights at The Raven Lounge has been the home of Center City Comedy. Chris Cotton, H. Foley, and Tom Cassidy pack the upstairs room every week with comics waiting their turn to take the stage in front of the full crowd. The mic usually runs late into the evening giving comics the chance to test out their material in front of an always evolving (getting more drunk) group of audience members.
Helium Comedy Club
Philadelphia’s premiere comedy club opens its’ stage every Tuesday for their Open Mic Extravaganza. Sign ups have recently moved online but before the new system comedians would gather at the club starting at 6:30 every week to sign up and then wait until the lineup was announced at 7:30. Many would stay to watch the show even when they didn’t get on – making Tuesday nights at Helium a favorite hangout for many local stand-ups.
Taking advantage of the surplus of comedians in the area on Tuesday nights due to the Helium open mic, Jack Martin and Paul Goodman started their own, late night open mic around the corner at Noche. Starting at 9pm, Rittenhouse Comedy provides those that don’t get on at Helium a chance to perform on Tuesday nights, and gives a second set to the lucky ones that do.
Sketch Up or Shut Up
The lone non stand-up open mic to be nominated, Sketch Up or Shut Up is Philly Improv Theater’s open stage for sketch groups, or those that just want to test out sketch material in front of an always welcoming crowd. Hosted by Brian Kelly of Secret Pants (after taking over for Meg Favreau) Sketch Up or Shut Up is a late night Friday free for all on stage at PHIT. Some favorite Philly sketches have made their debuts at Sketch Up, along with some one time, if you miss them you’ll never see them again gems.
Unfortunately, video of this bit does not exist but his exasperation at the fact that a man could murder an entire building full of people with a hatchet, complete with out-of-breath act outs was the only bit Darryl did during his run to a second place finish at this year’s Philly’s Phunniest Person Contest. Check him out live to see the hilarious bit in action.
This improvised puppet show made its’ run during the 2011 Philly Fringe Festival with a cast featuring Kelly Vrooman, Joe Sabatino, Jason Stockdale, Rob Cutler, and Dave Jadico. You can read reviews of the show from Philly Weekly, CityPaper, and from us here at Witout online.
The part improv/ part sketch homage to professional wrestling from the minds of Ian Vaflor and Alex Gross featured various performance from many of the best stand-ups, improvisers, and sketch comedians in Philadelphia. You can read a review from Citypaper online.
This improvised mono-scene made it’s original run during the Philly Fringe Festival and was directed by Steve Kleinedler with a cast featuring Emily Davis, Corin Wells, Becca Trabin, Mike Marbach, Marc Reber, Jessica Ross, Cait O’Driscoll and Bobbi Block. You can read a review from Witout online.
Quality Value Convenience: Meg & Rob’s Last Show
Before Meg Favreau bid adieu to Philadelphia she, along with longtime sketch partner Rob Baniewicz put together a run of shows at Philly Improv Theater featuring many of their favorite Philly comedy performers and some of their best sketches to date. We wrote about the first night of the show here.
Stage Fright: An Improvised Homage to Hitchcock
Featuring Alli Soowal, Jason Stockdale, Jessica Ross, Joe Sabatino, Kristin Finger, Mary Carpenter, Nathan Edmondson and Rob Cutler with direction and improvised score by Matt Nelson – Stage Fright is an improvised narrative in the vein of an Alfred Hitchcock movie. You can see one of the performances online.
One of the two new Philly Improv Theater House Teams, Hey Rube is made up of members Aaron Hertzog, Alex Gross, Dennis Trafny, Jen Curcio, Lizzie Spellman, Mark Leopold, Rob Cutler, Scott Shepherd, and Tara Demmy.
Also nominated for Best Improv Group (4+ Members)Iron Lung features members Corin Wells, Carly Maurer Kaufman, Kevin Pettit, Maureen Costello, Jess Carpenter, Dennis Trafny, Simon Burger, Tara Demmy, and Ellen Qualey.
Nielsen is a group that formed after taking Andy Moskowitz’s level one improv class at Philly Improv Theater featuring members Abigail Bruley, Bran Zinn, David Brookstein, Jacqueline Baker, Katie Monico, Meredith Weir, Molly Silverman and out-of-towners John McGrory and Rachel Nichols, original members of the group who join them when they can.
The second of the new Philly Improv Theater House Teams, ZaoGao is a group comprised of AJ Ortiz, Billy Thompson, Brian Ratcliffe, Claire Halberstadt, Erin Pitts, Karen Coleman, Matt Akana, Nathan Edmondson, and Scott Hinners.
Asteroid! is a House Team at Philly Improv Theater comprised of members Aaron Unice, AJ Horan, Bert Archer, Brent Knobloch, Caitlin Weigel, Caroline Rhoades, Jessica Ross, Lara Magaldi, and Luke Field. Improv comedy for the end of the world.
Fletcher is a House Team at Philly Improv Theater featuring members Zac Chase, Emily Davis, Andy Moskowitz, Gillenne Nadeau, Dan Rich, Joe Sabotino, Kristen Schier, and Andrew Stober.
Hate Speech Committee
Hate Speech Committee is the self described “laziest supergroup in the world” and features members from the Philadelphia sketch, improv, and stand-up communities Aaron Hertzog, Billy Bob Thompson, Brendan Kennedy, Christian Alsis, Darryl Charles, JP Boudwin, Rob Baniewicz, and Sue Taney.
Medic is a fantastic five person improv group with members from many other of Philly’s best groups featuring AJ Horan, Emily Davis, JP Boudwin, Luke Field, and Nick Gillette.
Iron Lung is a multiple time Cage Match Champion featuring Corin Wells, Carly Maurer Kaufman, Kevin Pettit, Maureen Costello, Jess Carpenter, Dennis Trafny, Simon Burger, Tara Demmy, and Ellen Qualey.
Rob and Paul get together on stage at Philly Improv Theater every month and have a TV Party. They find the best worst television from the past available and present it to a crowd full of often drunk and always eager fans waiting to laugh – both at the shows and with the hilarious commentary provided by the two.
Carolyn Busa and Mary Radzinski
Every Monday night Carolyn and Mary turn the back room at The Urban Saloon into one of the best open mics in the city, Laughs on Fairmount. The two take turns introducing acts and keep the show moving with their own charm and sense of humor. They often start the show with a short sketch that highlights the chemistry they have with each other and gets the audience ready for a night of great comedy.
Chip Chantry is a busy man. He is the host of two monthly shows at major Philadelphia comedy venues. Facetime with Chip Chantry is a talk show at Helium Comedy Club that features Chip performing sketches, jokes about the news, and conducting interviews with each of his guests. Chip Chantry’s One Man Show (with Special Guests) moved to Philly Improv Theater after its’ successful run at The Khyber and features Chip hosting for many of the best acts Philly Comedy has to offer.
Twice per month on Friday nights Aaron Hertzog hosts Hey Everybody! an evening of stand-up comedy at Philly Improv Theater. The showcase features many of the best stand-ups in Philadelphia and the occasional visitor from out of town. Aaron is known for yelling “Hey Everybody” at the top of his sets, and getting audiences ready for the show with his jovial invitations of friendship.
Doogie’s monthly Ministry of Secret Jokes has been one of the best nights of comedy Philadelphia has to offer for years. Doogie packs the show with not only great stand-up and sketch comedy but games, contests, and audience participation. The show is run like a meeting of a secret society, and Doogie often opens his shows by having the audience recite an oath that they will not reveal what they see to anyone. Judging by the packed in crowds upstairs at Fergie’s every month, many people have been breaking that oath.
Chip is a fixture in the Philadelphia comedy scene. He performs as a feature act at Helium Comedy Club (and clubs around the country) and is also the host of two monthly shows. Facetime with Chip Chantry is a variety talk show at Helium Comedy Club that lets Chip showcase his monologue and interview skills. Chip Chantry’s One Man Show (with Special Guests) is a Monday night variety show at Philly Improv Theater that features performances by many of the best acts in Philadelphia. Chip also recorded his first comedy album in 2011 at Helium Comedy Club. Chip seems to find himself a finalist in Philly’s Phunniest Person Contest every year and was named one of the top ten comedians in Philadelphia by Comedy.com.
Steve is a former Philly’s Phunniest Person Contest winner and a feature act at Helium Comedy Club as well as clubs around the country. He was also named one of the top ten comedians in Philadelphia by Comedy.com. He is the writer and producer of several short sketches that became popular online this past year including “New Age Medic.”
Aaron was the third place finisher in the 2010 Philly’s Phunniest Person Contest and performs as a host at Helium Comedy Club. In addition he hosts his own stand-up comedy showcase Hey Everybody! at Philly Improv Theater. In 2011 he performed in the North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival and the Out of Bounds Festival in Austin, Texas. He too was named one of the top ten comedians in Philadelphia by Comedy.com. Aaron is also a member of improv groups Hate Speech Committee and Hey Rube.
Brendan was a semi-finalist in this year’s Philly’s Phunniest Person Contest and hosts his own show, Guilty Pleasures at Philly Improv Theater where he finds horribly written scripts and performs stage readings of them along with some of Philly’s best comedians. Brendan is also a member of sketch group Camp Woods and improv group Hate Speech Committee. He was most likely best described by comedian Kent Haines as “a silly misanthrope.”
Tommy was the winner of the 2011 Philly’s Phunniest Person Contest at Helium Comedy Club, where he also performs as a host. He is a member of Bird Text, a group that produces sketch comedy and live stand-up shows. Bird Text was behind the popular sketch series “The Real Househusbands of Philadelphia.” Tommy also produces regular comedy shows in Philadelphia and the surrounding area.