by Brandon Ryan
It being the case that a good many of the bars I’ve been to in Philadelphia seemed to take a kind of perverse pleasure in playing their house music at decibel levels which could joggle teeth loose from their sockets, when the legs of my barstool began to quake & trill to a bass & beat I could not readily identify the source of, I was not concerned. No, what concerned me instead was that I was to be on assignment, covering the debut of a new comedy show I was unable to locate.
“Excuse me,” I hailed the bartender, “is there an open mic here tonight?”
“It’s actually right below us.” he replied.
I began, with great intensity, to study the space beneath my shoes.
Seeing my face torqued so thoroughly in confusion, the bartender set down the glass he was cleaning and, leaning over the bar, “Here kid,” pointed, “walk down to the third chandelier, make a right, and go down the stairs. That vibrating, that’s the house band.”
St. Stephen’s Green, located at 1701 Green Street, is now the home of No.2(#2)(Number2), a comedy open mic jointly hosted by Philadelphia’s own Chris O’Connor & Robert X.
As I walked to the bar’s lower level, that quake & trill was sourceless no longer, for there, in the room’s furthest corner, at the side of the stage, was a house band warming up for the performance.
The space, whose intimacy quite immediately calls to mind the great comedy cellars of New York City, combined with the house band’s verve & the room’s fully-stocked bar gave the impression not of a show in its first night of production but one that had been thoughtfully planned & managed.
I arrived just as the room’s lights were dimmed and O’Connor took the stage to start the evening. He thanked everyone for their attendance, spoke for a bit about how the show had come to be, and then told the audience he would like to address the elephant in the room.
Did I not mention that O’Connor stood next to a six-foot tall elephant with eyes as big as cereal bowls constructed from cardboard & spray-painted copper for the entirety of his introduction?
And but so then he retrieved a bat.
The elephant held for three blows, maybe four, before its torso split & its head fell to the floor & everyone met Robert X who threw candy.
Perhaps that was not written clearly.
Robert X was in the elephant and, piñata-like, tossed candy at his being loosed. (When I asked him afterward, he told me that he sat there, on stage, completely motionless in the cardboard carcass, for the better part of an hour before the show.)
O’Connor handed Robert X the microphone, and Robert introduced the first comic.
In all, more than two-dozen comedians took to the stage, the house band playing each time a comic entered & exited. It was a night perhaps best described as a kind of raucous cavalcade, a blend of both of the city’s up-and-coming talent and those well established in the Philadelphia comedy scene.
Toward the show’s end I asked Robert X why he & Chris chose St. Stephen’s Green for the show’s venue.
“Chris & I think Fairmount is a great area. This space is great. We also thought that it would give comics an opportunity to see a new audience, and vice versa. [In that sense] It works out for everyone.”
When I asked him about the genesis show’s name [No.2(#2)(Number2)] he said:
“I don’t know. Maybe I liked that it was number 2 three times, or that it has so many connotations. I’ll be honest, I was just trying to make a poop joke.”
No.2(#2)(Number2) will be held each Tuesday at St. Stephen’s Green (1701 Green Street). Admission is free. Sign-up for comedians begins at 7:30. The show begins at 8:00. Time slots range from 4-5 minutes.
Brandon Ryan currently resides in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia. If he is not writing, he is most certainly reading. Or attending an event he is supposed to write about.