At family reunions growing up, my cousin Michael was a bit of a handful, and my aunt used to tell him, “Michael, why do you give your sisters a hard time, you’re normally such a polite young man!” As a youth, this bothered me a bit because Michael was just an average kid. Sure, there were worse kids, but there were also way better kids–especially in the politeness department.
The Philadelphia comedy scene is getting ready to unofficially turn eight years old. Its mother and father, Phit and Helium, have given it a DIY think-tank and a stand-up main stage for the best and brightest to spread their wings. Like any eight year-old, it needs constant encouragement and reinforcement.
Are there instances where young comedy fans who list “Comedian” as their facebook job don’t come out to a small show like Something Witty at the Dive or Sketch Up or Shut Up at Phit because there’s a full DVR of Storage Wars or a PBR special in West Philly? Sure. Are there instances where someone leaves an open-mic two-people after they go up–and not just to hit another mic–but to go home satiated and dream about distinguishing themselves in some different city? Probably…
What I do know is that Philly is a city with comedy energy. Creators whose only incentives are the experience of craft and the absurd exploration of that little nugget that gets a whole room laughing.
Psychologists know the same trick my aunt used on cousin Michael. If you prime the expectations you wish to create, those behaviors will more likely become real. So when I say that taking over as editor of WitOut.net is important because Philadelphia comedians have no relent, egos, cliquishness, laziness, formulaic thinking, alcoholism, really bad on-stage coughing, or anything except ingenuity, inspiration, camaraderie, meticulous attention to detail, and a national renown for independent spirit and unpredictable hilarity…
I’m saying that because right now it’s mostly true… and some day it will be all true.
Special thanks to Dave Walk, Luke Giordano, Aaron Hertzog and Alison Zeidman for getting the ball rolling on the whole Philly Comedy pamphleteering schtick. Thanks to Greg Maughan for offering me a small stipend to keep Philly Comedy transparent. Just a reminder to everyone that I have no prior allegiance with Philly Improv Theatre, and even though they own the domain and pay for my Patco Freedom Card, WitOut is not PR for Phit. At the same time, they do produce perhaps the lion’s share of note-worthy local comedy, so if you are concerned to see them getting a lot of coverage, you may have to just reckon with that to the best of your abilities. Please help us keep our database current by reporting new or ending comedy shows ASAP.