Upcoming Shows

  • February 7, 2014 7:30 pmFirst Fridays w/ Interrobang
  • November 26, 2014 8:00 pmComedy Masters
  • November 27, 2014 8:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
  • November 27, 2014 9:00 pmThe Comedy Attic
  • November 28, 2014 8:00 amNationally Touring Headline Comedians @ Helium
  • November 28, 2014 7:00 pmThe Comedy Works
  • November 28, 2014 8:00 pmThe N Crowd
  • November 28, 2014 8:00 pmCrazy Cow Comedy
  • November 28, 2014 8:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
  • November 28, 2014 9:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
  • November 29, 2014Nationally Touring Headline Comedians @ Heliun
  • November 29, 2014Nationally Touring Headline Comedians @ Helium
  • November 29, 2014 7:30 pmComedy Sportz Philadelphia
  • November 29, 2014 8:00 pmCrazy Cow Comedy
  • November 29, 2014 9:30 pmThe Comedy Works
  • November 29, 2014 10:00 pmComedy Sportz Philadelphia
  • November 29, 2014 10:30 pmImprov Comedy: PHIT House Teams
  • December 3, 2014 8:00 pmComedy Masters
  • December 4, 2014 8:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
  • December 4, 2014 9:00 pmThe Comedy Attic
  • December 5, 2014 8:00 amNationally Touring Headline Comedians @ Helium
  • December 5, 2014 7:00 pmThe Comedy Works
  • December 5, 2014 8:00 pmThe N Crowd
  • December 5, 2014 8:00 pmCrazy Cow Comedy
  • December 5, 2014 8:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
AEC v1.0.4

“I Just Want to See New Jokes” – Interview with Jess Carpenter of R Open Mic

By: Peter Rambo

I went into Roosevelt’s last Thursday knowing one person and having been in the audience of exactly one open mic before that night.

Before sign-ups were supposed to start, comedians gathered in a small room tucked away in the recesses of the bar, commenting on the handmade curtains and the absent bartender. (She was there by time the mic started.) It didn’t take long for the room to fill, largely because it only holds a handful of people.

Jess Carpenter is one of the five founders of the new weekly event, now named R Open Mic. He wasn’t hosting, so he had plenty of time to talk to me about the mic, which he thinks holds promise, both as a place to debut new material and as a place to film polished stuff.

Peter Rambo: So tell me about this open mic. How did it come about?

Jess Carpenter: Actually, I told Brian that I was looking for a room ’cause, I’m sad to say, I was getting sad going to open mics and seeing the same comics tell the same jokes. So I was telling Brian that I wanted to do a room where we would have a theme, and every week or every two weeks, we could have a list of words or a list of subjects and people could do [jokes inspired by that.] It gives them a reason to write.

So we decided we’re going to do that once a month, and just have the mic as a regular mic [the rest of the time]. He found the room, ’cause he does Quizzo here, and it looked pretty good. It looks small enough. It’s small enough to where it’ll feel full, and the comics can also be out here [in the main room] to talk.  Most comics, after they get off stage, they have that adrenaline going, and you don’t really want them in the mic talking during someone else’s set.

PR: Yeah, you can’t really hear anything [out here]. You can’t hear them in there, and vice versa.

JC: That’s what I like about it. It’s a great little room. We’ll see how it works though.

PR: There’s not a whole lot of seating.

JC: No, 18 people [are on the list] so far, and there’s standing room. And there’s the pole there. That pole is actually a great place–I put the curtains up so you can actually film here, and since it’s a small enough room it’ll always feel like [you’re getting nice applause].

PR: Is there a rotating cast of hosts?

JC: Yeah, the third Thursday I won’t be here cause I have my other show.

PR: Comedian Deconstruction?

JC: Right. There’s five of us, so we’re always going to just try and take [turns with] hosting. To be honest, I could care less about hosting. I just want to see new jokes.

I want to see Philly become a hotbed. Boston was a hotbed in the ’90s I think, and that’s where comics were coming out with the new concept of comedy. Why can’t Philly be that?

PR: Do you know the other hosts very well?

JC: Yeah, they actually do B.a. Comedian. Brian and Andrew are B and A, and Tim is the musical part. He does guitar. And Dan and I are literally opposites. He does jokes about being a straight guy that seem really gay, and then I love to follow him ’cause I’m a gay guy who seems really straight. If I make it, he’s going to be my opener. It just works out really well.

It was really nice, because we met at an open mic, we were very-like minded and liked talking after. We liked going outside and talking during the mic while other people were doing their sets. And just going and popping in to see the people we liked. And that’s what so good about this room, you can do that. You can pop in and out.

PR: This mic is really close to the Raven Lounge.  How do you think that’s going to affect the night?

JC: It’s great, ’cause we want to make sure people can get to both. I think it’s like eight or nine minutes to get from one side to the other. Maybe 12 minutes. People can do both. If you can have comics hit multiple mics a night, you can have a comic totally screw up a joke or a set and they can make a note and try that set 15 or 20 minutes later, versus waiting a week or two weeks to try it again.

And this is a bar, they’re fine with staying open, so people can either go here early and go there late, or vice versa.

PR: When’s the first theme open mic?

JC: The second Thursday of the month.

Dan King: We’ll give ourselves two weeks to do it, and then on the second one …

JC: Yeah, so on the first Thursday, we’ll come up with five different subject matters, and then the second Thursday, that’s when they can do jokes. You don’t have to, but you can choose to. I think we’ll go out of a hat, so people can put suggestions in. We pull five because we don’t want a bunch of comics feeling that they just wrote the same joke another comic wrote, but it shows that there’s less stealing than people think. There’s a lot of ideas floating out there that people just grab.

It’s funny because, Jerry Corley, who’s one of my favorite comedy coaches out there, says every day, just write stuff from the newspaper, even if you’re never going to use it, but if you write a good enough one and you’re watching TV and you see it, you know you’re on the right track.You see a lot of that on Twitter.

I see Chip [Chantry] doing a lot of that. I like the way Chip tweets, ’cause he makes it condensed. Brevity is everything when it comes to comedy.

PR: Do you have any words of wisdom for someone who’s just starting? Like at this open mic? Like me?

JC: Respect the light. Always respect the light. Always thank people. It sounds corny, but they remember you. You’re going to meet more comics at open mics that are going to get you work, than you’re going to meet by calling people. If you like another comic’s stuff, tell them, “That’s a great joke.” Don’t offer advice out of nowhere. It could be good advice, but some comics can’t take advice. But if they ask, tell them.

Oh, rule number one. Rule number one. Don’t say “good set” if it wasn’t a good set. Don’t say anything. But don’t say “good set.” If someone had a shitty set, and they walk off stage, do not say “good set.” They know they had a shitty set. But if they had a good set, and you said “good set,” but you never said good set or shitty set [before], they know that you meant it. “Good try,” say that, but don’t say “good set.”

PR: It sounds a little patronizing.

JC: Yeah, you don’t want to sound patronizing. But you’ll see it, trust me, you’ll see it. Actually, watch. [Turns to Hillary Rea] Hey, do you hate when someone says good set and you had a shitty set?

Hillary Rea: I don’t tell people that if I didn’t like it. I just run away or walk away. And if I feel like I did shitty, it’s just … Irish Goodbye.

JC: See! Ah, it’s horrible. ‘Cause, your tail’s already between your legs, and someone says good set and you’re like …

PR: Were you there?

JC: Were you just there? I’m bleeding here.

PR: Do you use open mics to farm talent for other shows?

JC: I’ve been starting to do virgin comics at Comedian Deconstruction. I might take an opener from here and bring them over there. I think what I might start doing is one of the five things that we pull out of the hat, I might make one of those one of the themes we do at Deconstruction that month. If it works here, it gives me a week to put them on the show. I think that could work. If I have a theme and someone does a really good joke about it, and they have three or four minutes to follow it with, why not give them a real show to play with. There’s nothing better than that feeling of being in a show. It’s like, real claps, you know? Better than a bringer.

—————————

I got on stage for the first time as a stand-up and told six jokes in less than three minutes. The crowd laughed, probably because they knew it was my first time, and I felt good. I’ll try not to exit on that high note.

R Open Mic happens every Thursday at Roosevelt’s at the corner of 22nd and Walnut. Sign-ups are at 7:30pm and the show starts at 8pm.

Peter Rambo is @gunnarrambo and is part of American Breakfast. They receive likes at facebook.com/americanbfast.

Top 5 of 2012: Aaron Hertzog’s Five Favorite Sketches

As the year winds down, WitOut collects lists from comedy performers and fans of their favorite moments, comedians, groups, shows, etc. from the last year in Philly comedy. Top 5 of 2012 lists will run throughout December–if you’d like to write one, pitch us your list at contact@witout.net!

The Feeko Brothers – Two Doctors

The opening to Crotch the Throne, one of my favorite shows of the year, Two Doctors is an amazing sketch both in premise and execution. Watching the Feeko Brothers (Billy Bob Thompson and Christian Alsis) say the exact same thing at the exact same time (and discover that they say the exact same thing at the exact same time at the exact same time, and discover that they discover…you get it) for an entire sketch is pure joy. The two doctors ask each other fantastically detailed questions to find out how similar they actually are, and their answers are as unexpected as they are hilarious (“I don’t drive. It’s dangerous. I power walk everywhere.”) The sketch reaches its peak as the two sing together and try to harmonize their “all time favorite, trapped on a desert island forever with it” song; The Weight by The Band.

Camp Woods – Imposters

I think it’s pretty safe to say that Camp Woods created more comedy in Philadelphia than anyone else in the past year. They challenged themselves with a monthly show at L’etage at which they promised a brand new set every month, and they more than met their goals. With that much material created I could have done a list of just my Top Five Favorite Camp Woods sketches from 2012 – but I think I talk about them enough. Imposters was a great sketch about a mother (played by Billy Bob Thompson) who throws an 18th birthday party for her daughter (Madonna Marie Refugia) and hires an Austin Powers impersonator (Pat Foy) as entertainment. The sad man slowly realizes exactly how sad his life is as he tries to hit on the girl every time her mom leaves the room to get the cake (which she keeps forgetting because she’s “fucking stupid”). He finally realizes he is living his life in the past, as all of his choices in life have lead him to his fate as a “true impersonation” of the swingin’ sixties spy character. Depressing, but hilarious.

Camp Woods – Mystery Science Andre 3000

This sketch made its debut at The Theme Show. I’ll let it speak for itself.

Secret Pants – We’re You, From the Future

Secret Pants really kept peeling back the layers on this onion-of-a-sketch they performed at November’s Camp Woods Plus. The concept involved the Secret Pants of today travelling back into time to Meg and Rob’s Last Show to inform the Secret Pants of that day that it would not, in fact, be Meg and Rob’s last show. More visits from more versions of Secret Pants from more distant futures created a hilarious rapid fire back-and-forth between all of the groups that eventually lead to the discovery that even though Meg and Rob would not be gone forever Bryce would have to cry like they would, because the fate of all humanity depended on it. Thank you, Bryce, and thank you, Secret Pants.

ManiPedi – Suicide Gary

Suicide Gary is ManiPedi’s cautionary tale of a man (Briana Kelly) who, after failing to commit suicide, is left to hang under the bridge where he tried to end his life as a lesson for teens that life is worth living. It’s like an “it get’s better” campaign, only nothing ever does. A teacher (Aubrie Williams) leads a group of students (Kaitlyn Thompson, Shannon Brown, Madonna Marie Refugia)  to learn from Gary and ask him questions like “does it hurt” (it does) and “how do you eat” (sometimes a bird flies near his mouth). One of the more morbid students becomes infatuated with Gary’s situation while another antagonizes and bullies him into trying to once again live up to his nickname. Neck-snappingly funny.

Aaron Hertzog will always be a Philly comedian. No matter where he may or may not currently live. You can be his #friend on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.

Tight Six Presents: Not Jazz

Description: NOT JAZZ is a mix of stand-up, music (not jazz), fun, not jazz, games, and other spontaneous insanity. And it is definitely, assuredly NOT jazz.The featured comedians and their astounding credentials are:

DOOGIE HORNER (America’s Got Talent Finalist, Philly’s Phunniest 2010)
JULIET HOPE WAYNE (Philadelphia Magazine’s Comedian of the Year 2012)
ALEX GRUBARD (HeyPhilly Top 10 Comedian of 2012)
JIM GINTY (Host at Helium Comedy Club)
SIDNEY GANTT (Captain Action Comedy Show)
ROBERT X (No. 2(#2)(Number 2))PLUS, all of the members of Tight Six will be running the fun and doing comedy throughout the show. Tight Six is:

Joe Bell
Mikey Garcia
Aaron Nevins
Elise Thomson-Hohl
Becca Trabin
Dan Vetrano

AND as for music: joining us live all night will be the fantastic music band THE RIVALS, who will be acting as our house band and closing out the night with a full set of music.

Style: Stand-up, Sketch,

Date: Wednesday, December 12

Time: 10 PM

Admission: $10. $5 with student ID. You can buy tickets at the door or reserve them at(215) 568-3131

Location: Chris’s Jazz Cafe – 1421 Sansom Street Philadelphia

Comedy Around the Web, Vol. 14

Watch Chris Gethard travel to New Jersey diners to try to have them put his headshot on the wall in this short from IFC’s Adopt-A-Comic series.

Bill Murray was interviewed by The New York TimesWhy wouldn’t you want to read that?

In this interview with Pitchfork Weekly Tig Notaro discusses her most recent special Live.

In the latest episode of his web series Speakeasy Paul F. Tompkins talks to Aziz Ansari about stand-up and suits.

Tracy Morgan did his own special rendition of Twas the Night Before Christmas with Jimmy Fallon.

Did you know that stand-up comedy is hard? Vice columnist Harry Cheadle found that out when he tries it for the first time in the second episode of their All Around Losing series.

Here’s an interview Judd Apatow did with Chris Rock as part of the Vanity Fair comedy issue that Apatow guest edited.

The first episode of Joe DeRosa and Nikki Glaser’s web series We Should Break Up premiered this week. You can watch it online.

In this clip from The Simpsons Mr. Burns explains the fiscal cliff to all of us common folk.