For my second Coffee with Comedians, I chose to get to know Corin Wells. Oddly enough, and in spite of being in the same room as each other probably somewhere over 50 times, we had not exchanged more than “hellos” and congratulatory remarks after shows. We even went to see ” My Week With Marilyn” together, but since you have to be quiet in movie theaters and also since I got there right as the movie started, I did not get a chance to start a friendship beyond that of the facebook and twitter realm there, either. So, Corin agreed to sit down with me at the Broad Street Diner, and thus, a friendship beyond the world wide web was born!
Aubrie: You have been performing with Iron Lung for a year now in Philly! Was there a specific moment when you realized you wanted to pursue comedy? Was it always something you were interested in, or was there a distinct moment where you realized that this what you wanted to do?
Corin: I think it’s something I always wanted to do, I just didn’t know how I wanted to do it. Cause I love stand up so much but I don’t have the nads to do it, so when I came across improv I was like “Ahhhh, yeah. This is it.” And I tried it and I fell in love with it and I got addicted. Now improv is what I love.
Aubrie: That’s awesome! Did you do theater or anything before?
Corin: Yeah, I did. I did theater in school. After high school I kind of stopped doing acting and started focusing on dancing- because when I was younger I did a bit of everything only cause my mom made me do it. And I was like, “I wanna be a hip-hop dancer!” So I did that in college, and then I was like, “This is not lucrative!”
Aubrie: Maybe not lucrative, but it is awesome! If I didn’t think I’d fail immediately, I probably would’ve majored in hip-hop dancing! Where did you go to college?
Corin: Hampton University in Virginia.
Aubrie: And what initially drew you to improv? Did you find it in or after college?
Corin: After. I had finished taking regular acting classes at Mike Lemon Casting and I was like, “OK, I need to do something else and I want to try comedy.” And I had been looking at PHIT for awhile, but for some reason I was like- I think it was money reasons- that I was like, “I can’t take two classes at one time.” So right after I was done with those acting classes, I was like, “It’s time.” And I ended up taking my 1st class with Nick Gillette, which was great. And I’ve been hooked ever since.
Aubrie: What is the best comedy advice you’ve ever gotten?
Corin: There’s a lot, cause I hang out with Marbach and he’s full of comedy advice. I guess as far as improv goes, just make sure you’re having fun. That’s the best advice. Cause if you’re not having fun onstage, then why are you up there? There’s no point.
Aubrie: Any general life advice that has been helpful to you, non-comedy related?
Corin: Do what you love, and fuck the rest. Yeah, my mom has always told me that- not necessarily “fuck” the rest, but she’s like “if you’re not doing something that you love to do then really what’s the point.” She doesn’t necessarily get the comedy thing, but she supports it. She’s great.
Aubrie: Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Corin: Lately, I’ve been listening to Beyonce’s “Love on Top” because it’s such a hype song, it’s such a feel-good song. But I just try to get to get in a fund mind-set, like for Iron Lung, so when we start our ritual I’m ready to jump on board. And it’s always something different, something I can dance to. Sometimes it’s gangster rap. I don’t know, depending on my mood.
Aubrie: Sweet! Do you do silly dances, or choreographed dances?
Corin: For Beyonce I do real choreography.
Aubrie: Nice. Do you do them at home or at the venue before a show?
Corin: Anywhere. If I’m walking, if I’m driving, I’ll be dancing. I’ll do it while walking down the street…it’s great when people start dancing with you!
Aubrie: What was your favorite comedy moment to witness, Philly or otherwise? This is a tough one, cause I made it so broad, but it could be anything- a TV or film moment, or something you saw onstage or that your friends did…
Corin: I think the most recent one I can remember because it was a few weeks ago was Medic had this show and they were on a bus and AJ had to crawl outside the bus for some reason and ended up getting hit by this giant bus. And Luke kept running over him with a bunch of chairs. He just kept doing it- it was so funny! It was this really giant bus and that illusion was created, and it was so great. And Emily was like, “It’s a mix between Les Mis and Speed” and it cut back to AJ crawling outside of this bus and getting hit by it. Yeah, that was a great moment. I love Medic.
Aubrie: Me too!! They do a lot of cool physical stuff. Iron Lung also does a lot of cool physical stuff.
Corin: Yeah, I love those guys.
Aubrie: On that note, do you have a favorite stage moment that you were a part of? It can be anything-dance, theater, improv…
Corin: It’s probably gonna be improv.
Aubrie: Nice! I didn’t want to box you in.
Corin: It’s hard because there are a lot coming to my head. But there was one show where we ended up doing the whole block at PHIT and we didn’t know that we were going to, but Kevin, prior to the show spilled Malt Vinegar on his pants. So the whole first half became about Kevin smelling like shit. And he had the nerve to sit on my lap. I think that’s why I loved it so much, because we were all fucking with each other, and that’s when you have the most fun. There was also one show where we had Pinocchio running an underground railroad for puppets. That was great.
Aubrie: And what’s your favorite part about improv? Is there a specific thing about it that you really love?
Corin: I think just the concept of improv. I mean, when you strip all of the rules away, you are just a bunch of adults pretending on-stage- that’s all it is. And it’s like, “I do this. I’m playing around- I’m a kid again, just smarter.”
Aubrie: If you could create a comedy dream team of anyone in the world, who’d be on it? It could be just Philly people too, to make this super-difficult on-the-spot question easier.
Corin: Oh man, that’s tough. I’m gonna do Philly comedians and say my
fantasy improv draft is Matt Holmes(QB), Amie Roe(WR), Billy Bob Thompson(RB), Andrew Stanton(TE), Emily Davis(S), Jess Ross(OL), Dan Jaquette(DL), & Tara Demy(K).
Aubrie: I hope that team one day happens, and that they all play those positions- like a football/improv mash-up! And my final question is…drumroll…are you a dog or a cat person? I ended the last interview on this note, So I’m gonna stick with it.
Corin: I am a dog person, but I like cats. Which is a new development, cause my roommates brought home a stray, and I love her. I curse her out a lot, but I love her. We had miniature collies growing up. My parents have one named Teacup. I hate that name. My dad named her that, and I was like, “Man up, daddy!” He named her that because he wanted us to get a teacup yorkie, and we got a miniature collie. So he was like, I’m calling it Teacup anyway. My other dog’s name, we called her”Puppy.” We adopted her from a shelter and her name was “Mandy,” and my mom was like, “I don’t like that name.” So she named her Puppy.
You can currently catch Corin on stage with Iron Lung and as half of the duo Ebony & Ivory, and in May she will premiere with PHIT Houseteam (Codename) Strider.
Sketch group Camp Woods recently announced the lineup for their next Camp Woods Plus. The group will be joined on stage at L’etage (624 S. 6th St. Philadelphia) by Philly duo Animosity Pierre and New York’s Pink Axe. The next Camp Woods Plus will be Wednesday March 14th at 8:00PM.
The Groundswell Players are throwing a fundraising event to help with the efforts for their 2012 Fringe Festival Show. A Chili Bonanza will be held at Quig’s Pub, upstairs at Plays and Players Theater on Saturday, April 21st at 8:00pm. For a $15 (or more, if you’re feeling generous) donation, you can participate in an evening of cabaret, food and drink in support of their upcoming show. You can pay for admission to the event online.
Local filmmakers are looking for help in funding a new comedy project through Kickstarter. Their mission statement from creator Derrick Metellus: “Our television project Quarter Life Crisis is on Kickstarter. We’re shooting in April, and from now to then will be releasing some pretty funny material. This is no student project, we’re aiming for cable. If you dont mind laughing, keep up with our updates. I promise not to beat you over the head with it. If you like it, you like it. If not, that’s cool. Thanks.”
Comedian Clint Coley is a native of Philadelphia currently living in Los Angeles. He began his comedy career in Philadelphia and currently runs his Chill…It’s Just Jokes series of shows once per month at Helium Comedy Club. He is also working on a documentary about his life in comedy called Clint Coley – Behind the Jokes. You can check out the preview for the film online.
This week, I take a break from sitting down and chatting with comedians and let Corin Wells do all the work. Corin, along with Darryl Charles, Chris Cotton, Blythe Wimbush and Setoiyo gathered to talk about the state of Black comedy in Philadelphia. They discuss their own experiences as well as their thoughts on the city, past, present, and future. You can listen here, or subscribe on iTunes.
This weekend the Arts Parlor will host the first in The Sideshows series of one act plays. The Sideshow: Hidden in This Picture features the one act originally written in the late 80’s by screenwriter extraodinaire, Aaron Sorkin. It’s a single scene focusing on a first time director dealing with an egotistical writer a penny pinching producer, a dim witted assistant and an invasion of cows that arrived to ruin his oscar winning shot. The show stars Nathan Edmondson, Bert Archer, Matt Nelson and Daniel Jaquette and is directed by Mike Marbach. The show will play Friday February 24 at 10:30pm, Saturday February 25 at 8:30pm, and Sunday February 26 at 3:00pm.
Last week in a show at Temple University the team of comedians was chosen to represent the school in this year’s National College Comedy Competition. The first round of competition will be held at Helium Comedy Clubon Sunday, March 18 at 7:30pm and will showcase the Temple team facing off against a team of comics from Penn State. The comedians representing each school are Temple: Tyler Wolf, Alex Grubard, Matt Kase, Paul Kenton, Steve Lipman, Jordana Lipsitz, Tim Ryan, Chris Whitehair Penn State: Kyle Dodson, Bill Hood, Stephanie Wain, Sean Becker, Dave Porter, Tom Wong, Spencer Frank, Kevin Gallagher.
Last week comedian Ted Alexandro headlined at Helium Comedy Club. If you missed it, that’s a shame, because he’s great, but at least you can still read this interview with him from CityPaper.
Sign-ups for ComedySportz Philly’s spring classes have begun. The company is offering three levels of classes each at the early registration price of $179 (until March 7). You can sign up for classes online.
After an all-out brawl at last week’s meeting ending in an arrest, my panel of experts; Suge Knight, Steve Guttenberg and Eartha Kitt,( who could not join us today); decided it would be in everyone’s best interest to, rather than rank a few of the trailblazing comedic women of color, like Moms Mabely or Whoopi Goldberg, we should highlight a some of today’s up and coming African American comediennes. You know… to avoid further conflict… So here is a short list of women in sketch, improv and stand-up who are doing the “damn thang” as they say. Check them out.
Elite Delta Force 3 “Saving the world… one sketch at a time.” Nefetari Spencer and Angela Yarbrough created this sketch super group, in 2009 and with the help of Robin Thede, Leshay Tomlinson-Boyce, Nikea Gamby-Turner, and Indira Gibson, Elite Delta Force 3 has become one of the most sought sketch groups in the country. The all-female sketch ensemble “tackles current events, politics, celebrity gossip and more all while incorporating original characters, impressions, parody songs and sometimes even dance into dynamic original and uproarious sketches.” Since their sketch video, The Real Housewives of the Civil Rights Movement, went viral, the ladies of EDF3 have been featured in Essence Magazine and various other print and online publications. Each of these women have resumes that are comparable to seasoned comedy veterans, some of them having trained at the top improv theaters in the US, including iO West, The Groundlings, and The Second City Chicago and LA. P.S. I’m in love with Robin Thede.
Doppleganger “That black girl who does improv.” Forming in March of 2010, this New York City based long-form improve troupe has already made a name for themselves throughout the improv community. Students and Affiliates of The UCB Theater; Nicole Byer, Sasheer Zamata, and Keisha Zollar; were nominated for Best Improv Group ECNY Award in 2011. They have performed all over the country and Canada at various festivals including Best of Fest Vancouver International Improv Festival 2011, Women in Comedy Festival 2011, and SF Sketchfest 2011, just to name a few. They use” a free flowing organic form to BLOW YOUR MIND.” They currently play at UCBeast every Wednesday night at 7:30PM. I have yet to see these ladies perform, but based on their videos and reviews, I am missing out.
Marina Franklin “viciously likeable, if there is such a thing.” New-York based Marina Franklin is emerging as one of the hottest stars in the comedy scene today. Her notable televisions appearances include Chapelle’s Show, Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn, NBC’s Last Comic Standing Season II, and Comedy Central’s Premium Blend Whether she’s talking about her long list of ethnically diverse boyfriend choices or her confusing white/black experiences as a kid, she always comes out ahead with her razor-sharp humor. With a decade of performing stand-up in New York, Marina is taking some serious steps in building her name . Her stand-up caught my attention because her style is very different from what I’m used to seeing in African American female stand-ups. She relates to the new generation of funny women of color.
The Panel of researchers: Suge Knight – the founder and CEO of Black Kapital Records and co-founder and former CEO of Death Row Records. Murderer of Tupac Shakur… probably.
Eartha Kitt- An American singer, actress, and cabaret star. Catwoman to Adam West’s Batman. Deceased.
Steve Guttenberg- An American actor and comedian. Would be bigger were it not for Tom Hanks. Nickename: The Gute.
Stage Fright is conceived and directed by Philadelphia Improv Festival co-creator Matt Nelson and it’s cast features local improv talents Alli Soowal, Jason Stockdale, Jessica Ross, Joe Sabatino, Kristin Finger, Mary Carpenter, Nathan Edmondson and Rob Cutler. The show explores the dark corners of the world through tension and levity, while bringing to life Hitchcockian characters that are delightfully definitive of his style.
Over 130 hopefuls came out to audition for new Philly Improv Theater House Teams making it the largest turnout in the theater’s history. The hopefuls were narrowed down and callbacks were held and now the theater is announcing the casts for two new teams, directed by Steve Kleinedler and Maggy Keegan.
Codename Strider (dir. Steve Kleinedler) Emily Davis, Andrew Stober, Corin Wells, Sue Jahani, Martha Cooney, Maureen Costello, Jim Burns, Ellen Qualey, Chris Calletta
Codename Westmarch (dir. Maggy Keegan) Kevin Pettit, Max Sittenberg, Alex Newman, Brian Rumble, Cait O’Driscoll, Nick Mirra, Dan Corkery, Hilary Kissinger, Jessica Snow
Existing House Team ZaoGao (dir. Kristen Schier) added cast members Tom Powers and Rachel Whitworth through this round of auditions.
In slightly older, but just as important House Team news, Mayor Karen and King Friday also added new members recently. Mayor Karen welcomed Rob Gentile, Steve Swan, and Dan Jaquette to their ranks while King Friday brought in Andrew Stanton, Kaitlin Thompson, Maggy Keegan, and Jenna Leigh.
This Saturday, Comedians for a Cause will hold a Benefit Dustin Walls at Connie’s Ric Rac. The show will feature comedians Joe Mayo, Mike Rainey, James Hesky, Tommy Pope, Dave Terruso, and Eric Todd and all proceeds will go to the family of Dustin, a local friend to many comics who recently passed away after a fight with cancer. Donations can also be made via Pay Pal to firstname.lastname@example.org
There are multiple chances this week to get out and see some storytelling. On Tuesday Second Stories Presents: Dream Date (7:00pm, The Dive) will feature stories from Alanna Kennedy-Gorman, Alejandro Morales, Lia Brennan, Alex Gross, Hillary Rea, Larry Napolitano,and Jaime Fountaine. Wednesday’s Tell Me a Story: Yesterday (7:00pm, Shot Tower Coffee) will feature stories from Carolyn Busa, Martha Cooney, Jaime Fountaine, Alejandro Morales, Larry Napolitano, Dave Terruso, Becca Trabin, Todd Shaeffer.
This Wednesday Rooftop Comedy will come to Philadelphia’s Temple University to help pick the team of student comedians that will represent the Owls in this years’ National College Comedy Competition. The show will be at 8:00pm in The Owl Cove in Mitten Hall on Temple’s campus and will feature student comedians vying for a spot in the March 18th competition against Penn State at Helium Comedy Club.
On Friday, The Arts Parlor (1170 S. Broad St.) will host The Sideshow: Powerballin’ . The show will feature improv sets from Asteroid!Beirdo and a Powerball Team, where PHIT Training Center students can put their name in a hat for a chance to be picked to perform with a few improv veterans.
Rittenhouse Comedy will host Kryptonite For Your Relationship this Tuesday night at Noche. The Valentine’s Day show will feature sets from Lisa Yost, Shanell Travis, Sarah M., Steve Miller-Miller, Mary Radzinski, Paul Easton, Alex Pearlman, Conrad Roth, Reggie Conquest and will be hosted by Jack Martin.
Center City Comedy recently released this promo video featuring Carolyn Busa, H. Foley, Tom Cassidy, Chris Cotton and Conrad Roth. The video promotes their website and a mysterious hotline. What happens when you call? Give it a try and let us know.
This week, we sit down with comedian Pete Kuempel to talk his career in comedy. We talk about his start in Chicago, his move to Philadelphia, and his transition to New York. You can listen to the podcast below, or subscribe on iTunes.
In honor of Black History month, I have compiled series of top five lists highlighting the contributions of African Americans in comedy. This is one of them. A panel of leading experts consisting of the voices inside my head; Suge Knight, Eartha Kitt, and Steve Guttenburg; have spent countless hours debating, drinking and drugging to bring to you The GOAT…. Greatest of All Time…Its an Acronym.
The GOAT: African American Stand-Up Comedians
5. Chris Rock– Rock made his mainstream debut on SNL but most of his success is attributed to his raunchy yet socially aware stand-up. His distinctive voice made him a stand out on the comedy scene. Though some of his cross-over film roles have been… well kind of whack, Rock has maintained well deserved respect for his comedic styling and stand-up acts.
4. Bill Cosby– Before the pudding, before the Huxtables, this Philadelphia native had stand-up. Unlike many black comedians of the time, Cosby was able to relate to a wide range of audiences with his notoriously clean sets in a time when more politically active, socially charged, risqué subject matter was the norm. “A white person listens to my act and he laughs and he thinks, ‘Yeah, that’s the way I see it too.’ Okay. He’s white. I’m Negro. And we both see things the same way. That must mean that we are alike. Right? So I figure this way I’m doing as much for good race relations as the next guy”.
3. Redd Fox– Probably best known for his role as Fred Sanford in the 1970s television classic Sanford and Son, Foxx began doing stand-up comedy on the infamous “Chitlin’ Circuit” in the 1940s and 1950. Redd developed his style of blue humor to get a rise out of the audience. Redd’s style combined perfect timing, delivery and a conversational storytelling vibe to make clean material sound dirty and dirty material sound filthy. Many of today’s greatest comedians note Fox as an inspiration.
2. Eddie Murphy- Norbit and The Adventures of Pluto Nash aside, Eddie Murphy has to be considered one of the most successful comedians …ever. By the time he was 15, Murphy was working as a stand-up comic in New York. At the age of 19 he joined the cast of Saturday Night Live, where Murphy exercised his comedic abilities in impersonating African American figures and originating some of the show’s most memorable characters. His Eddie Murphy Raw concert film remained the most successful stand-up concert film until The Original Kings of Comedy was released. (eh) Not to mention, he’s the 2nd highest grossing actor in Hollywood.
1.Richard Pryor– If you ask any comedian who their biggest inspirations have been, Richard Pryor is bound to be included in about 99.3% of those responses. (a Me Fact) Highly influential and always controversial, Pryor drafted the blueprint for the progressive thinking of black comedians. With his monologues, he brought to life the entire range of the black American experience. He transcended the color barrier that inhibited Redd Fox in the 50s, while addressing the taboo topics Bill Cosby would not touch and essentially set the bar for the younger generation of comics such as Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock solidifying, to me, his spot at number 1.
Honorable Mentions: Bernie Mac, Kevin Hart, Dick Gregory, Dave Chapelle, Paul Mooney
The Panel: Suge Knight – the founder and CEO of Black Kapital Records and co-founder and former CEO of Death Row Records. Murderer of Tupac Shakur… probably.
Eartha Kitt– An American singer, actress, and cabaret star. Catwoman to Adam West’s Batman. Deceased.
Steve Guttenberg– An American actor and comedian. Would be bigger were it not for Tom Hanks. Nickename: The Gute.