Tonight, at Philly Improv Theater you can catch a night of back-to-back shows hosted by stand-up comedians James Hesky and Aaron Hertzog. At 9, you can catch The Monthly Hour with James Hesky this month’s guests include Doogie Horner and Mani Pedi. After that you can stick around (for free) to see stand-up comedy showcase Hey Everybody, hosted by Hertzog, featuring Chip Chantry, Darryl Charles, Juliet Hope Wayne and Sam Narisi.
Tomorrow night, Camp Woods Plus returns to L’etage (6th and Bainbridge) with a night of independent sketch comedy featuring We’re Matt Weir and The Judo Range. Camp Woods Plus is Philly’s only alternative sketch comedy showcase, featuring brand new material from Camp Woods each and every month. Doors open at 8 and the show starts at 8:30.
A great week for sketch comedy in Philly continues Thursday and Friday with The Feeko Brothers and Mani Pedi at Philly Improv Theater. Thursday’s show begins at 9pm and Friday kicks off at 8:30. You can purchase tickets for the shows online.
The South Jersey Comedy Festival is currently looking for submissions for stand-up, sketch, and improv comedians. The three day festival will take place August 10-12 at Harper’s Pub in Clementon, NJ and will feature prizes for comedians and groups named best of the night. Submission information is available online.
This Friday, Eddie Pepitone returns to Philadelphia to perform at Underground Arts. “The Return of the Bitter Buddha” will feature Pepitone’s signature style described as “a force of nature on stage, switching between social rage and self-doubt. His shows are an energetic combo of calm and chaos, blue-collar angst and sardonic enlightenment.” Tickets are available online.
By Rachel Goodman
The start of our invasion from the South was sure to keep everyone awake with laughter! Plan B from the Baltimore Improv Group (BIG) performed right after Hey Rube at the Philly Improv Theatre on Friday, May 18th at 7 P.M. Plan B, a short form troupe, followed a great performance by Hey Rube.
Right from the start Plan B was sure to include the audience in their short form games. Michael Harris hosted the first game, a set up where the remaining three members (Alex Greenland, John Ulrich, and Matt McCall) stood on stage in a triangle formation, using audience suggestions as their road map.
“Where were you born?” Harris asked an audience member.
“Valley Forge,” one woman answered.
“What does Valley Forge make you think of?” Harris asked another man.
“The Revolutionary War.”
Another of these questions led to Hollywood as well as Diamonds as words of inspiration for the other two sets of scene partners in the triangle.
Suddenly the stage came alive with two men from the colonial time period, Johnny Depp and many other characters who were Johnny Depp in disguise only. We even got to see a man who kept losing his significant other’s most prized piece of jewelry (even when they were simply shopping in a mall).
Next up for their performance they made Greenland leave the stage while the audience helped them prep for the next game: “Interrogation.” The audience gave the troupe two words (“remembering” and “dog”) and the goal for Greenland was to guess these two words while being interrogated under very comical circumstances.
Lastly, we were entertained at the retelling of Jack and the Bean Stalk. Not only did we get an interesting twist when the troupe reenacted the story (his little sister was sold into slavery in order to help his diabetic mother who, as it turns out, at one point had an affair with the giant), but they were asked to replay their creation as different genres as collected from audience input.
Suddenly, we witnessed Jack turn into a real jerk, seduced by the “Giant-ess” when the scene was done Lifetime romance style. And on a different “take” the troupe brought us to the dangerous world of World War II as Jack had to crawl his way through the battlefield, before getting his beans and climbing his bean stalk.
Never without creative and funny ideas and scenes intertwined with their short form games, Plan B was a very entertaining and hilarious group to watch get up on stage and play off of each other!
By: Mike O’Donnell
SUPER CAGEMATCH is a competition improv show were each group is given 20 minutes to do improv bits with the audience then voting to determine who was funnier. The show is hosted by Ian Vaflor and the final competition of the season happened last night at the Philly Improv Theater (407 Bainbridge Street, Philadelphia PA 19147). Cagematch ran three shows back to back to back last night to determine the winner, and I was fortunate enough to catch the last two rounds.
The competition angle keeps the show moving and makes it very entertaining.
The first show featured the group Jessica Tandy (Jessica Ross and Andy Moskowitz), versus Grimacchio (Jason Grimley and Ralph Andracchio). I don’t remember how the first show determined what group would go first, but I can’t forget how it was determined in the championship round (more on that later).
Jessica Tandy went first in the 9:00 show and took the suggestion “spaghetti” from the audience to weave into their bits. They immediately launched into caricature Italian accents as mother and son immigrants coming to the new world. They went through at least five premises’ and my favorite bit was when they acted like a fighting couple with Jessica locking Andy out of the house. Jessica wouldn’t let Andy back in unless he sang her favorite Shania Twain song (which he hilariously butchered). Jessica obviously LOVES doing funny voices and accents (she didn’t do one bit in her normal speaking voice). Overall the performance was strong and would be tough to beat.
Grimacchio was up next and took a different route to working the crowd into their routine. Instead of just asking for a suggestion they pick a person out of the audience and give them a quick interview of what they do and who they are. They take this information and craft a bit out of it. The person they interviewed was a writer and photographer so they set their premise in a news room. Grimacchio’s style is to bicker over the smallest points of contention and overanalyze minutia (a la “Always Sunny in Philadelphia” or “Seinfield”). I thought the first five to eight minutes were very funny and they would probably win.
WINNER: Jessica Tandy
The 10 o’clock show featured winner Jessica Tandy versus a three person group Safe-Weird (Andrew Stanton, Kaitlin Thompson, Rob Gentile). To determine who would go first or second Ian created a double dare style physical challenge making a member from each team eat a pie with cherries in them, then spit the cherries in a cup. The team with most cherries in their cup at the end of a minute could decide weather to go first or second. This contest almost made Jessica Ross throw up on stage which in turn made me gag (but in an amusing, “wow is she gonna throw up on stage” kinda way). Jessica Tandy won the challenge and inexplicably decided to go first again.
In their second performance it seemed to take a while to compose themselves after the physical challenge. They still had a funny bit about a bee being addicted to pollen like heroin and musical chairs where the loser goes to hell, but going first after the physical challenge was a bad decision.
Safe-Weird had the strangest premises’ (which is a compliment). They seemed to care the least about what the audience thought and were just trying to make each other laugh. They got the biggest laughs out of the audience with “Irish Mayonnaise” and “CB radio truckers”. One tool that the group uses very well is turning a bit into a fake commercial where one player will simply go into a voice over styled end of an advertisement.
Overall, SUPER CAGEMATCH is a winner. 20 minutes is a perfect amount of time for small improv groups to get in, get laughs and get off. If you have never been to an imrov show before, this would be a great way for you to get comfortable with this style of entertainment. Be sure to check Philly Improv Theater for the next season of CAGEMATCH and other comedy shows. Also, if you have interest in doing improv yourself, they always have several classes you can take.
Mike O’Donnell is a writer, actor, spoken word artist and stand up comedian in the Philadelphia area. Check out his work online at YouTube and Soundcloud.
By: Alison Zeidman
Dutiful fans of Philly’s favorite pair of half-Italians prone to playful bickering and off-beat tangents braved Monday night’s drizzle for the premiere of The Grimacchio Variety Hour, and the dynamic duo (Jason Grimley and Ralph Andracchio) did not disappoint.
The lovely Sue & Cait (caitblack.com) opened the show on acoustic bass and ukulele, respectively, with Sue jangling the jingle bells around her ankle in time to to the music while Cait crooned silky, smokey vocals into the old timey microphone at center stage.
After two songs, Grimacchio strolled out from behind the curtain—dressed in suits for the occasion—to applaud the two ladies, compliment Cait’s gold shoes, and go off on a riff about a Buck Rogers television special which revealed the actor’s staggering weight gain and declining health, forever marring their memories of their childhood hero. Then, they acknowledged the audience and welcomed us all to the show, blushing (Ralph) and sweating (Jason) with gratitude that everyone came. To warm up the crowd, they improvised some banter around current news items suggested by the audience, speculating on how Barack Obama decided to come out in favor of gay marriage (“fuck it, let’s do this”) and relating the Devil’s Breath street drug sensation to the campy Wes Craven flick The Serpent and the Rainbow.
They cut themselves off long enough to bring storyteller Hillary Rea onstage (“you will love her, damnit!”) for a brief conversation about her current projects and an adorably confusing explanation of her multiple online aliases. Rea told a fun and wonderfully detailed story about her first frenemy, a frizzy redhead with an in-home elevator who slutted it up through an Our Changing Bodies video in the sixth grade and ruined Rea’s retro-themed seventh grade birthday party with a Nirvana mixtape and an illicit game of Spin the Bottle, which young Rea excused herself from by hiding in the bathroom for thirty minutes.
Rea was followed by a Grimacchio sketch interlude, featuring the fellas as hipster record store employees (complete with “douchebag hats”) ignoring their customer to challenge each other with obscure music trivia. Sue & Cait followed, returning to the spotlight to literally sing the praises of Theodore Roosevelt, accompanied by a goofy framed black-and-white portrait of the President.
After a brief telling of the origin of the Grimacchio name (Jason didn’t know how to pronounce “Andracchio,” and Ralph didn’t correct him), comedienne LaTice took the mic to talk about the lack of joy in marriage, race relations in the suburbs, reality TV, and Flo the Progressive girl’s insensitivity to racial stereotypes. There were a number of slyly hilarious jokes worth quoting, but I wouldn’t want to ruin the punchlines for you.
Maureen Costello and Corin Wells of Ebony and Ivory closed the show, joined by Grimacchio for an improv set inspired by an interview with an accountant sitting in the audience. Highlights included Grimley as a talking dead goldfish in Costello’s cocaine-induced hallucination set in a cubicle in the ’80s; Wells as a five-year-old demanding apple juice before getting to work saving the company’s finances with her prodigious knowledge of QuickBooks and TurboTax; and a final scene with a Grimacchio-led game of double-speak, where Andracchio opposite hired Grimley from the accounting office, leading Grimley to threaten that he would opposite sleep soundly that night, forcing Andracchio to opposite tell security not to come upstairs and opposite let Grimley leave of his own volition.
After the blackout, Grimacchio invited all of the night’s performers back onstage to receive another round of applause, Sue & Cait played one last sweet little tune, and everyone filed outside praising the evening’s entertainment. For future editions of The Grimacchio Variety Hour, be sure to check the PHIT schedule and look for updates at facebook.com/Grimacchio.
Alison Zeidman lives in South Philadelphia, has a superfluous second Facebook page for work, and spends her evenings running around with the new indie improv team Malone.
Tonight, Polygon Comedy continues their series of independent comedy shows at a new venue: Milkboy Philadelphia (1100 Chestnut St.). Tonight’s show will feature improv from ApocaLips, Rosen & Milkshake, Adrift, and Rintersplint. Doors open at 7:00pm and showtime is 7:30. You can purchase tickets for tonight’s show online.
Tickets are available now for a stand-up comedy benefit show for the Childrens’ Hospital of Philadelphia. Pat Barker has put together a lineup featuring Chip Chantry, Darryl Charles, Tim Grill, James Hesky, and Doogie Horner to perform on Saturday, June 2 at the Stone Grill (1300 Blackwood Clementon Rd, Clementon NJ). Tickets are $20 and can be purchased by emailing Pat at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you haven’t already seen it, Bird Text‘s new sketch The Return of Pat Burrell has been racking up the views on YouTube. Yesterday, the video was featured on Sports Illustrated’s website. The Bird Text guys are looking to capitalize on the popularity of their newest sketch, offering t-shirts for sale on their website.
Philly Improv Theater is offering two classes that begin this weekend. Improv 101 (with Jessica Snow) and Improv 201 (with Steve Kleinedler) will run Saturdays, May 19 through July 14 and will be held at The Adrienne Theater, 2030 Sansom St. Get your spots now, before classes fill up.
This Saturday, May 19, Rookie Card‘s monthly show at The Raven Lounge (1718 Sansom St.) makes it’s weekend debut. The free show begins at 7:00pm and will feature stand-up comedian Tommy Highland, a secret improv team, and will end with an jam open to anyone in attendance.
This weekend, High Dramma Sketch Comedy will host another round of shows at the Walking Fish Theater (2509 Frankford Ave.) The show will run May 17-19 at 8:00pm and May 20 at 5:00pm. Tickets are $15 at the door and are also available online with a special “pay what you can” showing on May 17.
This week, Aaron talks with original member of the Upright Citizen’s Brigade Matt Besser. They talk about improv, sketch, Matt’s upcoming visit to Philly to give a lecture at Philly Improv Theater – and Matt’s projects including his podcast, Improv 4 Humans and his upcoming movie Freak Dance. Listen below or subscribe on iTunes.
Description: The Lineup: Apocalips, Rosen & Milkshake, Adrift, Rintersplit
Date: Thursday, May 15
Time: 8:00PM – 10:00PM
Location: Milkboy Philadelphia, 1100 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia
Description: CAMP WOODS PLUS, a monthly comedy showcase hosted by local sketch comedy group Camp Woods, will hold its next edition Thursday, April 12 at L’Etage in Queen Village. The show – Philadelphia’s only alternative sketch comedy showcase – is quickly taking its place as a must-see event within the city’s burgeoning comedy scene. This month’s show features Judo Range and New York group We’re Matt Weir.
Date: Tuesday, May 22
Time: 8:00PM – 11:00PM
Location: L’etage, 624 South 6th St. Philadelphia
Description: “What’s Funny About That? An Evening of Subversive Comedy” features stand up, sketch and improv comedy with the best local talent. May’s show stars Steve Miller-Miller, N.a. Poe, Phyllis Voren, Omar J. Scruggs plus sketch group, “Kids with Rickets”
Date: Wednesday, May 9
Time: 8:00PM – 10:00PM
Location: The Moonstone Art Center, 2nd floor, 110A S. 13th Street (13th & Sansom Streets)