WitOut: How did you get started doing comedy in Philly?
Jay West: Well I have lived in Philly my entire life, and had always wanted to try comedy, so there was always that urge in the back of my mind. Like many, I didn’t start before I was 26. Opposite of the trends, I actually was doing a podcast called Eclectic Shock BEFORE starting comedy, and I would have comedians and musicians come on. Through this, I became friends with many local comedians like Anton Shuford, H Foley, Conrad Roth, Chris Cotton, Joe Murdock, and (the one who became a very good friend) Michael Rainey. Eventually, Rainey and I had a podcast together and I met so many other great local comedians through him, and when I felt comfortable enough that I should give it a shot I did, on July 26th, 2011.
WO: Why did you decide to start this new show?
JW: I missed doing a monthly booked show; I haven’t had one since my Comedy: Period show at the Tritone. I had other opportunities to book rooms, but Voltage Lounge was the first place that got me excited to host a show I book again. The name of the show is just named after one of the most positive expressions in the world, that isn’t sexual in nature. Donkey Punch Variety Show would have been too much. It’s also a small play on words because there are 5 comedians performing, and I like to get high before shows…
WO: You also run an open mic on Tuesdays at Headhouse. What do you think will be some of the differences between how you host the open mic and how you’ll host your showcase?
JW: Hosting an open mic is like working on an assembly line: attention to detail isn’t as important as the mass production. Get as many people on and off stage as you can. You dont want to waste time telling material if you are hosting an open mic. In a showcase setting, its more like I am hand blowing glass. There is more tact to it and you are exposed (because of how few chances you have) if you dont know what you are doing. I’ll work in material and improv between acts. Hosting for people you KNOW are going to be funny is much more intimidating than hosting for people who may have performed a handful of times.
WO: How would you describe the comedians on this show for someone who’s never seen them before?
JW: N.A. Poe: The Godfather of comedy. Not that he was around for a long time, but he handles all the shady business practice and racketeering. You like fingering jokes, right?
Mikaela Hamje - One of the many great young female comedians in Philly today. She isnt afraid to talk about personal shit on stage and I have always respected that in stand-up.
Andre Johnson – Mr. Content. Very funy stand-up material, but you can also see his many different characters on Youtube. He’s like Tyler Perry with self-respect.
Dan Scully – A smart funny comedian who even dumb funny people can keep up with. The only time I’ve ever seen him not do great was in front of a room full of lobotomized stoners.
Aaron Hertzog – The Mayor of Friendship! One of the nicest guys in Philly comedy. And that’s not easy because he is also one of the funniest observational comics I’ve seen. Despite my exhaustive efforts, I could not find anyone to say any bad words about him.
‘High Five Comedy’ is this Wednesday, April 17th at Voltage Lounge (421 N. 7th Street). Show starts at 7:30PM. Admission is $10.