Upcoming Shows

  • October 23, 2014 8:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
  • October 23, 2014 9:00 pmThe Comedy Attic
  • October 24, 2014 8:00 amNationally Touring Headline Comedians @ Helium
  • October 24, 2014 7:00 pmThe Comedy Works
  • October 24, 2014 8:00 pmThe N Crowd
  • October 24, 2014 8:00 pmCrazy Cow Comedy
  • October 24, 2014 8:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
  • October 24, 2014 9:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
  • October 25, 2014Nationally Touring Headline Comedians @ Helium
  • October 25, 2014Nationally Touring Headline Comedians @ Heliun
  • October 25, 2014 7:30 pmComedy Sportz Philadelphia
  • October 25, 2014 8:00 pmCrazy Cow Comedy
  • October 25, 2014 9:00 pmComedy Train Rek presents Awkward Sex and the City
  • October 25, 2014 9:30 pmThe Comedy Works
  • October 25, 2014 10:00 pmComedy Sportz Philadelphia
  • October 25, 2014 10:30 pmImprov Comedy: PHIT House Teams
  • October 29, 2014 8:00 pmComedy Masters
  • October 30, 2014 8:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
  • October 30, 2014 9:00 pmThe Comedy Attic
  • October 31, 2014 8:00 amNationally Touring Headline Comedians @ Helium
  • October 31, 2014 7:00 pmThe Comedy Works
  • October 31, 2014 8:00 pmThe N Crowd
  • October 31, 2014 8:00 pmCrazy Cow Comedy
  • October 31, 2014 8:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
  • October 31, 2014 9:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
AEC v1.0.4

Another WitOut EXCLUSIVE: The Making of Tweets of the Week – 30th Street Station Edition

Tweets of the Week, Vol. 8

Follow Witout on Twitter for updates from our site, as well as retweets of more of the best 140-character-or-less jokes from Philly comics.

Comedy Around the Web, Vol. 12

Splitsider talked to some prominent improvisers about the concept of game.

In this clip from The BS Report Bill Simmons interviews Bill Hader about his SNL character Stefon.

Here is an animated Thanksgiving special that Larry David wrote for Funny or Die.

Laughspin thought it was important to share this open letter to Paul F. Tompkins that was originally posted on Reddit, and so do we.

Conan O’Brien interviewed Judd Apatow (for a whole hour) for his internet project Serious Jibber-Jabber.

In this interview with Splitsider Kyle Kinane talks about his early days as a stand-up in Chicago, his upcoming hour special (which premieres November 24 — watch preview clips here), and more.

Comedian Rory Scovel has a new television deal with ABC and Laughspin would like to tell us why that makes perfect sense.

Comedy Love Letter – From Aaron Hertzog to Philadelphia Comedy

Dear Philadelphia Comedy,

All of it. Every open mic that lasted for two weeks in a bar I’d never want to step foot in unless they let me talk at half-listening strangers. Every fire hall gig in the middle of nowhere booked by a gravelly disembodied voice on the phone with a promise of pay I wasn’t sure I’d really receive. Every awkward improv scene where I wasn’t sure what to do so I just got louder, repeated what I’d already been saying, and tried to be a bigger, sillier, goofier fool. Every line of every sketch where I’ve agonized over details that don’t even matter, like the full first and last name of a character whose name is never even said.

All of it. Every time a new joke does well at an open mic and gives promise of a new few minutes added onto the act. Every set in front of a crowd that just “gets it” and lets me go where I want to go and follows me there with no judgement, just acceptance…and of course, laughter. Every improv scene where I’m still not sure what to do but it just clicks into place and makes sense and flows together and builds (and I still become a bigger, sillier, goofier fool). That time when the crowd laughed just because we wrote that my character’s name was “Meredith.”

Six years ago I stepped onto a stage at an open mic for the first time with a page full of jokes about dicks and how college was more like an episode of I Love the ’80s (“do you guys remember this thing from our childhood?”) than any wild and crazy party time portrayal of college from any TV show or movie. Six years later and I’m still getting on stages, still talking about dumb stuff, and still loving every single minute of it.

I love the laughter. I love the struggle. I love the people. I’ve met some of the best friends I’ll ever make doing this. People I have every single thing in the world in common with. People I have absolutely nothing in common with besides the fact that we do this. But just that one single thing means that I could talk to them for hours. There’s nothing I feel more comfortable talking about or gushing over or heatedly debating than comedy.

This city put that in me. Running around to multiple mics in one night with a group of friends. Staying late after a show to do karaoke and drink until the law says we have to leave. Packing as many people as we can into a park on Memorial Day for a picnic. Giving each other awards that only matter because we say they do.

Doing comedy is certainly difficult, but it is definitely worth it. Getting to say whatever you want to say and making people laugh is the absolute best feeling in the world. It is freeing. It is powerful. But it would be nothing without the people I’ve met along the way. When I say this letter is to “Philadelphia Comedy” that means that it is to you. Have we talked a few times at open mics about nothing? Then this is to you. Did you think I was a dick before you met me because when I first started I was too shy to talk to people? Then I’m sorry, and this is to you. Are you someone that knows me well enough that you’re going to make fun of me mercilessly after reading this? Then this is definitely to you.

I have to be leaving you soon. But you will never leave me.

#Friendship.

 

Aaron Hertzog is an L.A.-bound Philadelphia comedian. He is the host of ‘Hey Everybody!’ at Philly Improv Theater (final show Nov. 26th), until recently a member of PHIT House Team Hey Rube and a founding member of  The Holding Court Podcast.  He leaves Philly on Nov. 28th; be sure to say hi to him one last time before then.

Improvising Tragedy – What Happens When a Comedy Show Gets Surprisingly Intimate?

Last Saturday, I encountered an improv show that radically expanded what I believe the form is capable of.

At the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Chelsea, New York, an improv team called Grandma’s Ashes has a Saturday night show titled Grandma’s Ashes Gets Dark. In lieu of getting a one-word suggestion for inspiration, the team invites an audience member to share the story of the worst moment of his or her life.

That’s right. Grandma’s Ashes starts its improv comedy show by asking the audience to think of the most painful thing that’s ever happened to them.

While asking for volunteers, an improviser offers up some past stories as examples—somebody nearly severing her leg in an accident and calling her dad thinking that she might be telling him she loved him for the last time, a person who lost his job, got kicked out of his apartment, and found out his mom died—and the examples are extreme, but have a certain, could-have-happened-in-a-movie quality, a survived-the-storm distance that allows us to laugh.

A young woman volunteers, and improviser Abra Tabak sits down with her for the interview, asking what moment in her life she’d like to talk about. The woman takes a breath and answers:

“It’s when I realized that my dad had been raping my sister for 18 years… and then I remembered that it had happened to me too.”

 

CONTINUE READING…

Aaron Nevins: Cupcakes

Cupcakes is a video from Philadelphia comedian Aaron Nevins that debuted at last Sunday’s Bedtime Stories Gets Revenge. Watch as Nevins seeks out a former classmate he’s held a grudge against for far too long. Enjoy.

“Do You Like Magic?” – Interview with Gregg Gethard, Creator of ‘Bedtime Stories’

by Brandon Ryan

“Imagine every comic in Philadelphia is a marble, and all of us together make up a bag of marbles. My mentality is, if all the marbles in the bag are black, what can I do to be the white marble? I don’t want to just be up on stage telling jokes, I don’t want to just be up there in a sketch. What I want to do is mess with, tinker with, the format of stand-up.” —Gregg Gethard

On Sunday evening Philadelphia’s Italian Market is a beast laid to rest. The produce stands that dot the length of Ninth Street are silent and still, bound over with tarpaulin and tattered sheets of plastic. Bags of garbage line the alleys tucked between shuttered storefronts. They rustle in the night’s gusts. The gutters blossom odors rich and reeking: spoiling flowers and meats, industrial grade sanitizers a macabre imitation of lemon, the unmistakable fetor of urine. Neon light puddles on the sidewalk in front of what few restaurants and bars, most advertising deeply discounted cervezas and food, remain open. It is here, to the sidewalk, to the street, that Gregg Gethard, or, perhaps, more accurately, his alter-ego, Jaykob Strange, has led the whole of Connie’s Ric-Rac.

“Do you like magic?!”

Gregg/Jaykob’s voice is tremulous. On a night where the air’s chill hovered just below menacing, he stands in nothing more than boxer shorts and a kimono, a golden sash loosely knotted at his waist.

“I was once the official street magician of Auntie Anne’s Pretzels!”

Gregg/Jaykob raises his staff skyward. Had I not mentioned his staff? The one topped with a skull and whose length is meant to resemble a human spinal column. The staff is plastic, be assured, the kind sold by the dozens in Halloween costume outlets. He alternates between waving it at the crowd and the traffic passing just inches behind him. At one point he stops his act entirely to kindly direct traffic down a one-way street.

“Tonight I am here to declare my revenge on Auntie Anne’s!”

Revenge is the theme of tonight’s Bedtime Stories, a monthly show that Gethard originally started in 2007 and is, after a nine-month hiatus, now relaunching. He and I, along with his wife, Ilana, at the show’s close walked to Underdogs to talk about Bedtimes Stories’ development and evolution, why it disappeared, and why he’s ready to bring it back.

Brandon Ryan: How did Bedtime Stories come about?

Gregg Gethard: When I originally started Bedtime Stories there was this explosion of… There were always a lot of people doing stand-up, there weren’t really a lot of people in sketch, but even that was starting to pick up, and a lot of people started improv, but what happened more than anything were those worlds, those disciplines started combining.

BR: Is that why the show has such an eclectic feel to it?

GG: That is exactly why the show has such an eclectic feel to it. I initially wanted it to be just comedy storytelling, but there weren’t enough performers to support that or who could do it, and so I opened it up which worked out in a major way because then a lot of interesting, cool, smart, and funny people all started doing the show.

BR: What made you decide to end Bedtime Stories when you did in 2011?

GG: It went away for a few reasons. The main reason was that at the time I was commuting to New York for work, and there was the stress not only of organizing a show, but then also of writing my own material to perform. But another reason, and maybe the more important one to me was that the show got stale. I mean, a lot of people took the show seriously and did really well, but then there were also people who just kind of like, like it was just there for them and they took it for granted. See, the show was a lot of fun and a lot of magic when we were getting to know one another, but more importantly when everyone was working to discover their voice, and how they were going to perform.

BR: So you liked, when the show first started, how vibrant and different and kind of disparate the acts were?

GG: Exactly. And so a couple of month’s ago I performed in the Philly Improv Theater’s PRO-MANIA 2K12 at the Adrienne, and I had such a blast working on this show, and it was great and it was so much fun, I met so many new people. And then I also started working in Philadelphia again and started going to open mics, meeting all these new comics and they were trying to find… They were in that phase, trying to find their voice.

BR: And you felt like you wanted to give these new voices a chance to develop?

GG: Well since there’s this new crop of kids coming up, they are having a lot of fun with it, I feel like since I’ve organized and held shows before that I can help them, can kind of give them a structure to work within. I want to help people who don’t have a chance to perform their stuff elsewhere, to have a spot for them. And even tonight, my friend Kevin, that was the first time he ever performed comedy. He lives up in the Lehigh Valley, there’s not a ton of places to perform comedy up there… So I thought he was a funny dude, I wanted him to do it. And there’s this other thing that I used to do with Bedtime Stories and then I stopped doing and I’m going to hold myself to it this time, is I want to get as many new people to do it as possible. I want people to see how great comedy can be in Philadelphia, I don’t want people to get tied into this whole contest that it can a lot of times be. I want people to see that you know, “I can do comedy. It can be as weird as I want it to be. And I don’t have to worry about impressing So&So to try to get X-stage time at Y-venue.”

BR: Was there something that kind of spurred this sentiment? That you wanted to help new comics?

GG: Well, I was at this open mic. And it was this kid’s first night. And it was big for him. And so he performed, did his stuff, he started to stumble and stammer, he took out his phone to see his notes. He’s, for all intents and purposes, having your average first performance. This is nothing new. We’ve all been there. But then the kid leaves the stage, and one of the guys who was hosting the open mic just starts ripping on him. And I thought, like, how would this help this kid at all? So I want to do the opposite of that. I want new comics to feel safe, and like they’re supported. And I mean, there’s this thing that the veteran comics do, and I’m guilty of it to, where they kind of exclude the newcomers, but I feel like it’s our job, kind of, to help these new kids, to help them step up to the table and talk with them and help them figure things out and give pointers and advice. And that’s one of the reasons I want to do Bedtime Stories. To give them that.

BR: What do you have slated for Bedtime Stories?

GG: There’s one Bedtime Stories I’m really excited for. It’s going to be in February and it’s going to be called “The Feral Millionaire.” And so what it is is I came up with this idea of…

Ilana Gethard: Um, No.

GG:

IG: You had been researching feral pets!

GG: I’m really into feral animals and feral pets.

IG: And then I would come home and he would explain to me what you would have to do to have a pet raccoon.

GG: Or like a pet ocelot. Like the licenses you need.

BR: And this brought you to “The Feral Millionaire.”

GG: Yes! So what it is is from there I came up with this idea… I’m kind of obsessed with rich people, rich people come up in my comedy a lot. I kind of own a monopoly on faberge egg-related comedy. So we came up with this story of this boy who was abandoned by his mom, who had a dream of becoming an Assistant Human Relations Manager for a regional supermarket chain. And he was adopted by owls. He receives this kind of genteel, owl upbringing. And so one day his owl brother goes to retrieve an egg, which turns out to be a faberge egg, and so the family goes to find this faberge egg and finds this Owl-Boy. And so now he’s torn between two worlds. But what really excites me is that what I’m going to do is outline the plot and every Bedtime Story or sketch or video will be a plot point. And I’m pairing with a group in town called Mighty Writers, and we’re going to raise money for them, but we were also talking about having come of the kids write some of the stories and performing. I think it’ll be great for the kids and I’m excited to see what the other comedians and writers bring to the show.

The next ‘Bedtime Stories’ (“A Christmas Eve at a Delco WaWa”) will be on December 16th at 7pm at Connie’s Ric-Rac (1132 S. Ninth Street, Philadelphia). Admission is $5.

Philly Comedy Round-up, Vol. 65

Comedian LaTice was a guest on The View last week, where she was featured in their “Hilarious Housewives” stand-up competition. You can see her set from the show online.

You can read reviews of night three and five of last week’s Philly Sketchfest from Philadelphia Weekly online.

Philadelphia’s own Dom Irrera will be headlining at Helium Comedy Club this week. The home-grown comedian is known for his many stand-up specials, television and film work, and is a fixture at the Just for Laughs festival in Montreal.

The Laff House’s Thanksgiving Weekend line-up will feature headliner Alex Thomas, known for his appearances in films such as Why Do Fools Fall in Love, Just Married, and Don’t be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood. The show will feature 2011 Philly’s Phunniest Person Contest winner Tommy Pope and will be hosted by TuRae.

The final Hey Everybody! at PHIT will take place one week from today at 10pm at The Philly Improv Theater at The Shubin Theater (407 Bainbridge St. Philadelphia). Host of the show Aaron Hertzog is moving to Los Angeles and will be sending his show off in style with performaces by: Chip Chantry, Brendan Kennedy, Joe Dougherty, Mary Radzinski, Jim Grammond, Christian Alsis, Alison Zeidman, and Rob Baniewicz.

Nominations are now open for the 2013 WitOut Awards for Philadelphia Comedy. Performers may nominate up to three choices in 13 different categories for the awards, which will be held on January 13, 2013 at World Cafe Live. Nominations will be open until November 30.

WitOut is now accepting submissions from performers and comedy fans for our Top Five of 2012 list series. We are encouraging anyone to write about their favorite moments, shows, performers, sketches, quotes, or anything at all to help us recap and remember the past year in Philadelphia comedy. You can pitch your Top Five of 2012 idea to contact@witout.net

Recap – ‘My Ruined Life’ Season 2 Premiere Party

Who doesn’t love beards and benches? Who doesn’t love quirky-yet-relatable conversations between friends? Who doesn’t love Philadelphia? (Probably a lot of people, actually—don’t answer that last one.)

My Ruined Life has all of these and so much more. The local FirstGlance award-winning web series had its Season 2 Premiere Saturday night at L’etage, above Beau Monde on Bainbridge and I was in attendance, among a few dozen other fans, friends, cast, and crew.

First, a bit about the show. My Ruined Life is a short web series about two friends, Brian (Brian Crowden) and Nate (Nathan Holt), who sit on benches and talk about their quirky, messed up lives on benches around Philadelphia. Brian often plays the straight man, weird as he is himself, to the indescribable oddball that is Nate, who often has encounters with what seems to be a mental projection of his inner-thoughts (manifested as the Man in a Tux with a Beard, played by Greg Bailey). The series features the two having humorous slice-of-life conversations in various outdoor locations around the city, always revealing a bit more about their characters and the interactions they have in the worlds they live in off-screen.

Now, the party:

I arrived at about 5pm and already a small crowd had gathered inside, milling around the bar of the classily low-lit club venue. The atmosphere was jovial as more and more people started filing in. I had an awkward mishap with my drink ticket (this was my first experience with drink tickets) and I planted myself in a corner, clumsily observing the party-goers. Lee Porter, the creator of the series, was an affable and incredibly social host, flitting around from person to person.

As an awkward novice journalist, I waited patiently for an opportunity to score an interview with a cast or crew member, and when I saw it I pounced. I introduced myself to one of the two main stars of My Ruined Life, Brian Cowden, and pulled him away into a quiet corner with me to talk about the series (which he was graciously happy to do, I might add):

Matt Aukamp: Brian, how do you feel about Season 2? What are the differences between it and Season 1?

Brian Cowden: I’m excited about it because in Season 1, we didn’t really know what this was going to be. We didn’t know the dynamics between all of us. It was shot in three days and it was our first time with the characters and our first time working with Lee… And this one we shot twelve episodes in two days and it went so much smoother than it went the first time.

Matt: Did you still manage to travel around Philadelphia as much?

Brian: We traveled around more, actually. We shot in four different locations and with all that travel, usually, it’s hard to coordinate but it was really smooth and we were really on top of it. Me and Nate knew our dynamics and because we had that anchor going in, adding [the new character] Kristen—[a manifestation of my character's subconscious] just like [the Man in a Tux with a Beard is a manifestation of Nate's subconscious]—was very seamless. The foundation was there this time. It was more defined and we could play a little more.

Matt: Is there more improvisation in this season?

Brian: Yeah! There were certain parts where Lee chose not to write because he figured out – after Season 1 – that we riffed off each other really well. So he was like, “I don’t have anything written for this part of the scene, but I figure you guys will banter and we’ll just keep the camera rolling.” And that’s what we did. I’ve never had something go so smoothly. And in such dire heat! We shot in mid-July and I was outside on a bench with a button-down shirt on and a tie, sweating profusely.

Matt: Is there anything you think will be surprising to people in this season?

Brian: We find out a little more about Nate’s job. And there are some local celebrity appearances. Ben Franklin makes an appearance. Which is pretty awesome, and was very weird to shoot. And hopefully this season we see a little bit more of Philly and its benches. They range from over on the Waterfront to U Penn’s campus to Drexel and even down to Northern Liberties. So we jump around a good bit. And having Kristen enter and having her act with Greg Bailey’s character – it’s just expanding.

Soon, Lee came over and introduced me to Greg Bailey (Man with Beard in Tux) and Kristen Egermeier (Kristen) and we talked briefly about the differences between the first and second seasons:

Greg Bailey: You know, I think Season 2 is much more refined. We knew what was going on and so we had more time to sort of play with it and I think that made it much looser.

Matt: Kristen, had you seen Season 1 before you joined the cast?

Kristen Egermeier: Yeah. When Lee first asked me to audition, I watched it all. I think it’s kind of fun to be able to watch them back-to-back so you can see the [thematic] thread coming along and see them all progressing.

Matt: So how did it meet your expectations?

Kristen: It was interesting because I wasn’t sure how the dynamic would change since I’m the only girl. And [entering] this “bro-hood” who all know each other very well, I was like “I don’t know how it’s going to be adding this new addition.” But it really just carried on and it made sense, especially as a compliment to Greg’s character. I think it’s a great follow-up.

Matt: Is there anything people should specifically look for in Season 2?

Kristen: I think questions will be raised.

[Laughter] (I laughed along, but I’m not quite sure what the joke was, as I haven’t seen the season yet. Were they making fun of me? I don’t know… They probably all hate me now…)

Greg: The same questions that were raised in Season 1 are going to be raised in Season 2 and the question is going to be, “What is going on?”

Matt: Is there anything else you want to say about Season 2?

Greg: Honestly, I think it’s going to be better. Though I liked Season 1. I was in it.

[Laughter] (I got that one.)

Kristen: I liked Season 1 too!

Greg: I just felt that Season 2 will be the better of the two seasons. Especially with Kristen. I remember when she first came on, we had met at Lee’s house and Lee was like “She’s willing to do whatever crazy thing we want her to do!”

Kristen: They kept asking me if it what they were going to have me do was OK, and I was thinking,“This isn’t crazy!” and also, “What is my limitation for crazy?”

As the lights started dimming, we had to wrap up the conversation. I accidentally called Kristen “Lee” (which is on tape and very embarrassing), and we all found our seats, waiting for the premiere to begin. I planted myself in the “Reserved” section, which was a bunch of empty seats and me, sitting awkwardly on the corner of a cushioned seat pouf, as if to say, “I’m just resting here because it’s the first place I saw. I could get back up at any second, if someone more important comes and you need me to move.” Many other people sat around or stood at the bar or behind the seating area. The room hushed as two trailers and, subsequently, three full episodes played.

About the episodes: If you’re a fan of the first season, you will not be disappointed. Everything everyone said to me about this season being even more “fun” and “playful” came through from the first moments of the premiere. The energy was stronger. The characters, more comfortable in their roles. The writing was sharper. And the amazingly cohesive tone the whole series had since the first episode was sustained and furthered in a seemingly effortless way.

Afterward, people milled about for the next hour, chatting about the episodes. “Oh man, you didn’t see Season 1? Then you must not have understood all the jokes about the baby wipes and the elastic shorts!” was one thing I overheard. I met Nero Catalano, who wrote the theme music for the show, part of the glue that holds the aforementioned “cohesive tone” together. I also met the series’ video editor Sean Huber, local musician, improviser, and filmmaker. As I drifted around, talking to these people, the thing that struck me was how many talented and interesting people with ties to local music, improv, and theater scenes My Ruined Life has working on it. It really makes you root for the show and its cast and crew.

As things began to dwindle down around 7-7:30, I started to make my way out. I had left him alone the majority of the night, as he was the man of the moment and constantly rushing around talking to people, making sure everything went smoothly (and it did). But now it was time to get some words from Lee Porter, who, at this point, was probably exhausted. Here’s what Lee had to say:

Lee Porter: This started as something of a personal project. I got frustrated as a writer who’s written multiple novels and screenplays, knowing deep down that the first five pages – if I’m lucky – are being read by an intern who’s never going to recommend them further. And I know that my favorite joke is on page 60 or page 75 and it’s never getting read. And it happens so many times. I [started to] dread going to a movie and seeing somebody doing something where I’m like “Ahh! I’ve had that and it’s been in a screenplay for five years and now it’s never hitting pay dirt!” So I was like, “You know what? Why don’t I just start doing those favorite bits?” So that’s what we did. We decided to do it outside, which helps our budget with lighting and everything. And we show different neighborhoods that people can recognize. The first season wasn’t quite as diverse with the backgrounds, but the second season is going to be all over town. So I get to showcase some of my writing—I don’t like being in front of the camera—and we get to showcase a lot of Philadelphia talent, on both sides of the camera. [We have a] really talented cast and crew. And now the fun is just kind of seeing how Philly reacts to this now and seeing how Philly connects with this project. I want it to be very Philly-centric but at the same time, very universal. You can be watching this in LA, and you don’t have to know this is Philly—we don’t make jokes about cheesesteaks—but at the same time, it’s very connected to Philly.

Season 2 of ‘My Ruined Life’ premieres on Sunday, November 18th at www.myruinedlife.com, after which they will take a break for the holidays and resume a weekly release schedule in January.

Matt Aukamp is a writer, performer, and occasional improviser (The Win Show). You can usually find him bothering the world on Twitter at @mattaukamp.

From the WitOut Archives: Preaching to the Choir with Chip Chantry

Twice a month, WitOut digs through its virtual piles of old columns to repost something great you may have missed.

This post was written by Chip Chantry, as part of his short-lived WitOut series “Preaching to the Choir.” Chip is a feature comedian at Helium Comedy Club, a writer and member of sketch group The Specific Jawns, and the 2012 winner of the WitOut Award for Best Stand-up Comedian.

This Week: HAVE FUN.

That’s it. Those two words. That’s what you’ll hear me say to you just before you take the stage, if we are ever hanging out in the green room, or the back of the bar, or, let’s face it, seven feet from the area that the assistant manager at Applebee’s cleared out next to the servers’ station for that new 6pm Sunday open mic that we are dropping by. HAVE FUN.

That’s been my mantra for as long as I can remember. It’s unclear when I started saying it to other comics before their sets. Most likely it came after someone said it to me one night. It’s clear, concise; it’s a positive message. Moreover, it gets right to the very spirit of why Jonas Salk invented standup comedy over 15 years ago. Having fun is what it’s all about.

The unfortunate thing is, I often don’t take my own advice.

I’m tired. I’m angry. I’m insecure. (Which makes me no different from any other comedian I know.) I walk into a showroom and I immediately size up the crowd. This generally involves me scanning the room for bachelorette parties, boyfriends with something to prove, hipsters who are trying to pretend that they don’t want to be there, and women on their cell phones. Then I get angrier, tireder, and insecurererer. And as soon as that chip is placed square on my shoulder, I saunter onstage and spin delightful tales about my dead grandmother.

Being onstage is a blur; it’s forgettable.

Once offstage, I review my jokes, determine which jokes worked, which didn’t, and which jokes I SHOULDA told. I give myself a seven out of ten for the night, and then I enjoy a ginger ale.

But wait—why was it only a seven? Was the crowd too tired, chatty, or just too stupid to appreciate my highbrow comedy stylings? Or maybe I picked the wrong jokes, or I stumbled over a couple of lines. Maybe I went too edgy too soon. Maybe the sound system needed more high end.

But the one factor that I too often neglect to account for is just that: the X-Factor. My charisma, my connection with the crowd—let’s face it—I just wasn’t that FUN to be around tonight. I look back on many shows where I could have easily bumped that seven up to a nine (or in many cases a five up to a seven) just by relaxing, being in the moment, and having FUN on stage. If I was looser, I could have delivered my material more effectively. But most importantly, the paying customers would have seen a grown man having a grand ole time. And that grand ole time is staggeringly contagious. People pay good money to sit back, have some drinks, and, according to Mr. Joel, “forget about life for a while.” Like it or not, we are merchants of FUN.

One night, a room manager told me that “some comics make a living off of being likable.” He was not commending these comics for it; he was merely stating fact. My family dog never served any practical purpose. But why did we keep him around? Because we LIKED HIM. He was fun! There are a great deal of comics out there that would have been taken to the puppy dog farm years ago if audiences judged them solely on the integrity and originality of their material. But to this day, some of them are selling out arenas and sleeping at the foot of the bed every night.

I am certainly not advocating the notion that you should forget your brilliant material and go out there and dance. But much too often, I get on my writer’s high horse, and think that my material will stand on its own. And I am always proven wrong. Then there are those nights; those sets—the ones that hit on all cylinders. Everything is going well, you do spontaneous crowd work, you write a tagline onstage. You are completely IN THE MOMENT. You’re HAVING FUN. And so is the crowd. That’s no coincidence. There is a true electricity in the room. That’s when your seven becomes a nine. It’s the same material, the same room. But you were loose, in the moment, and having a great time.

Especially in the age of cell phones, twitter, and sexting, it’s hard for people to drop their entire lives for 90 consecutive minutes and focus on a show. But if you can walk out on stage, connect with a crowd, and have some real time authentic FUN together, the cell phones will go quiet. That boyfriend won’t be on edge, and those bachelorettes will forget about their blinking plastic genitalia. And you can take your silly little jokes and turn them into brilliant performance pieces.

Superbowl week—whenever a wide receiver is asked what he is going to do during the big game, he always says, “We’re just gonna try to have some fun out there.” I am no physician or psychologist, but I would bet good money that the teams who have the most fun are generally the ones that come out on top. Maybe it’s the endorphins, or maybe I’ve seen too many of the Mighty Ducks films. But it seems to be true. Successful business people often remark that they treat their business like a game, and they have fun trying to win. As comics, it’s pretty hilarious to think that we often lose sight of the FUN side of our business.

So next time you step foot on stage, take a deep breath. Smile. Remember to appreciate every goddamn minute you have out there. Don’t just glaze over; connect with the crowd. And I’ll bet your performance will be just a little bit better because of it. And the crowd will certainly, yet subconsciously, know it. And perhaps, just maybe, you’ll have fun.