It’s that age-old fairy tale: A comedy nerd leaves his hometown in pursuit of Colorado snowboardom, and winds up becoming a full-fledged comedian himself. The nerd-turned-comic in question, Matt Monroe, is back in town this week and putting on a special Philly edition of his Denver comedy showcase Propaganda!. He’ll be bringing locals Alex Grubard, Alex Pearlman and Doogie Horner to the L’etage stage, along with Denver act Brett Hiker and NYC comics Ray DeVito and Scott Sharp. Here’s more about Matt and this Sunday’s show:
WitOut: What’s your comedy background, and what took you away from Philly to Denver?
Matt Monroe: I’m pretty green, I’ve been doing stand-up now for almost two years. That being said, I’ve been a huge comedy nerd since I was 21. Before Helium opened, I used to go to NYC a few times a year just to see shows at the Comedy Cellar, and the now-defunct Dangerfield’s. I would disguise the NYC trip as taking whoever I was dating at the time “on a romantic weekend in New York,” but it was really just an excuse to go see shows.
I left Philadelphia in 2009 before I ever tried stand-up, and my reasons for leaving were pretty boring. I had been here for 27 years and never lived anywhere else. I didn’t go to college, so I never even got that experience. A lot of my friends were starting to get married, and have kids, and I had started to get into snowboarding. So I used that as an excuse to move to a spot that is more conducive to a longer season. I hadn’t really planned on living in Denver as long as I have. After being there for almost two years, I had already made plans to move back to Philly (I let my job know, sold my SUV and bought a smaller car to prepare for Rittenhouse parking) and then 6 weeks before I left I stumbled across the Denver comedy scene accidentally, did an open mic, and that was it.
WO: What’s the comedy scene like in Colorado?
MM: It’s incredible. For such a small place there is so much stage time, and so much talent to fill it. We have 5 clubs in a 50-mile radius, and that doesn’t include improv theaters, cabarets, or other performance venues. Just comedy clubs. We have a comedy festival (Laugh Track Comedy Festival) every summer. There are open mics every night of the week, and there are at least a dozen comedian-run showcases that are spread throughout the month. There is a lot of stage time, and the scene is incredibly supportive. Not to mention Denver’s Comedy Works is one of the best clubs in the country, and they are very supportive of the up-and-coming scene.
WO: Describe a typical Propaganda! show. What makes it unique?
MM: To be honest, Propaganda! is more or less a typical showcase. What makes it unique is the venue. The show in Denver runs monthly in a really cool room in the basement of the historic D&F clock tower. It’s a cabaret/burlesque showroom called Lannie’s and it’s got a really great vibe to it, and it’s absolutely perfect for comedy. We were very lucky to get that venue, and it’s why I chose L’etage for the Philadelphia show, as it seems to be in that same vein. What I try to do on a monthly basis, is have some out-of-town comedians on the show if at all possible. We’ve been very fortunate to have some incredible comedians come through town and do the show including Sean Patton, Ron Funches, Kyle Kinane and Rory Scovel.
WO: What brings you back to Philly for these few weeks, and what made you decide to do an edition of Propaganda! while you’re here?
MM: Family, mostly. I try to come back a few times a year to see family and friends. I’ll be at the North Carolina Comedy Arts Fest, so I decided to schedule a couple weeks back home right afterwards since it’s a pretty short drive. I decided to put on the show because I thought it would be a good opportunity to get my family and friends together who have never seen me perform before. I also have a couple Denver friends that have recently relocated to NYC, and thought it would be fun to have them come down and perform with me and some Philadelphia comics.
WO: What do you like/miss the most about Philly comedy?
MM: The open mic scene in Philly is a lot of fun. I didn’t get to perform much the last time I was in town, so I’m looking forward to getting out to some shows I haven’t been to yet. Also, Helium is an incredible club that I miss a lot. I’m looking forward to checking out a show, and maybe being able to perform at the open mic.
‘Propaganda!’ is this Sunday, February 10th at 8pm at L’etage (6th and Bainbridge Streets). Admission is $FREE.99.