We just added two shows to the calendar for Thursday and Saturday. The last nights of a run of shows called A Series of Dangerous Fools features improv from Thomas Fowler & Mary Carpenter, with special guests. Produced by Figment Theater and running at the Vox Populi gallery on 11th Street between Vine and Callowhill, Fools is $5 bucks at the door and has different featured improvisers each night.
On Thursday night, check out The Chain w/ Erin Pitts (Pitts invites a fellow improviser to play, who in turn invites another, initiating a chain of invites creating a one-night-only ensemble) and Slasher Sorority (sorority sisters Cait O’Driscoll, Corin Wells, Kate Banford, Kristen Schier & Kristin Finger are stalked by mysterious killers Joel Sumner & Thomas Fowler).
On Saturday, it’s John Hughes High Minisode 1(the fictional world of John Hughes High is explored when Lucy [Kristin Finger] and Principal Hines [Kevin Regan] meet with an admissions recruiter from OSU [Thomas Fowler]), John Hughes High Minisode 2 - (Ox [Frank Farrell] and his father [Thomas Fowler] sit down for a meeting with Coach [Eoin O’Shea] to discuss some worrisome poetry that’s been uncovered), Fowler-Roney-O’Shea - (Thomas Fowler, Steve Roney & Eoin O’Shea unite for a special one-night-only set), and Origin Story - (Alli Soowal, Brian Ratcliffe, Eoin O’Shea, Joe Sabatino, Kelly Jennings, Kristin Finger, Mary Carpenter and Steve Roney and Thomas Fowler trace the origin of how a superhero is born).
The Waitstaff are one of Philly’s longest running sketch-comedy groups. Their “Real Housewives of South Philly” characters are a bona fide classic. ”Breaking Bad Santa” runs Friday 12/20 and Saturday 12/21; both shows at 8pm. Tix are $15, available at the door or online. We got some scoop from staff waiter Sara Carano…
WitOut: Has The Waitstaff done Holiday shows before?
Sara Carano: The Waitstaff has done many Holiday shows in the past and we hope to continue the trend into the future. We LOVE delighting our audiences all year round but the Holidays are a special time of the year to spread joy to others – what better way to do that than with a Holiday show!
WitOut: How about that ending to Breaking Bad? Can fans expect plenty of Walter White references?
Carano: This year’s Holiday show Breaking Bad Santa has plenty of Breaking Bad references and “spoiler alert” – if you haven’t watched the last episode you might want to see it before coming to our show. The Real Housewives of South Philly are known for their big hair as well as their big mouths and we couldn’t keep Marie from spilling the beans about how Breaking Bad ends.
WitOut: What have the members of The Waitstaff been up to since last we talked (like, way back!)?
Carano: In the Waitstaff’s over-a-decade-long existence we have never done a fundraiser for ourselves. We decided this year to try a KickStarter Campaign to raise money for our 2014 season! Our campaign will end January 6, 2014 so don’t delay – donate today!
WitOut: Will the Waitstaff be continuing their fine tradition of serving food and drinks to the audience members DURING their sketch comedy show?
Carano: Breaking Bad Santa is being performed at L’Etage Cabaret so our patrons can dine and drink during the show (drinking before, during and after the show is highly recommended!) But this weekend is the last chance to see the show so come, laugh, drink and get into the Holiday spirit!
WitOut: Which classic Waitstaff characters can fans looks forward to seeing this weekend?
Carano: Well I don’t want to give the show away but characters you will see during Breaking Bad Santa: Santa, Rudolf, Hermey, Jesus H. Christ, Mary Mother of God, Speiderman and The Real Housewives of South Philly! We will delight folks of all religious backgrounds and Santa will be giving away some fun gifts too! Please note however that Waitstaff shows are not for children – 21 years of age and older please! Ho, Ho, Hoe!
The N Crowd has a weekly Friday night show at 8pm at the Actor’s Center. This April marks the 9th anniversary of their short-form improv show (think: ‘Whose Line’ games). This February, the N Crowd will be performing at the North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival. Visit their website phillyncrowd.com.
WitOut: Who is your comedy inspired by?
Vegas Lancaster: Lewis Black, I think I was trying to emulate him when I first started. The political humor always makes me laugh. He has this way of building energy that is really impressive. His timing is amazing. He starts down low and builds up to a crescendo of emotion. A crescendo of anger. I have a smile on all the time, so I don’t know if angry works best for me. But the building of emotions up to the level of fireworks for something as silly as candy corn is really cool. Comedy in front of a live audience and the shared experience of laughter is what I really like. I think it is very special.
WitOut: Who are your other favorites?
Lancaster: I would have to say Steven Colbert and John Stewart. They take such a dry, otherwise boring material and make it super entertaining. The make things people should know about interesting to hear about. Comedy is such a silly field and they are doing important work at the same time. Other than that, I would have to say I also like Flight of the Concords.
WitOut: What is your favorite type of comedy?
Lancaster: I watch comedy cartoons late at night. I also really enjoy live comedy. The experience of laughing with an audience feels really special. It is easy to stay home and watch YouTube videos, but I hope we always have live entertainment because I think it is really special.
WitOut: What is the main difference between The N Crowd and Whose Line is it Anyway?
Lancaster: We can say dirty words. It’s also really special about The N Crowd that the majority of our audiences every week are people who have never been to an improv show.
WitOut: What do you think is The N Crowd’s success mantra for bringing new people and turning them into improv lovers?
Lancaster: Everything we are doing is based off of audience suggestion. At the beginning of the show we will ask for a relationship between two people, or a word. We try to get on their level and take their verbal and non-verbal feedback. Whatever they are responding to, we hit on and keep doing.
WitOut: What is your favorite controversial issue to talk about?
Lancaster: I really like hitting on current events. Whatever is on people’s mind in the past week; some things I don’t want to gross people about by talking about it soon. It is really easy to do that during improv because you have to make stuff up. But I also like to do it in standup.
WitOut: Is there any particular show or topic you can remember when you really pushed the limits?
Lancaster: We do so many shows, I forget what we did after we are done. The audience hopefully remembers forever. A couple weeks ago I was doing jokes about Rich Incognito and his racial jokes. We Occupy Wall Street. Election season is also a fun time for us.
WitOut: What side is The N Crowd on?
Lancaster: As a group we do not take any political affiliation. The demographic of the N Crowd, I think, aligns pretty well with the political demographics of Philadelphia. The N Crowd, LLC has no political affiliation.
WitOut: If it weren’t Philly, what city?
Lancaster: That is really difficult to say. The N Crowd is a Philadelphia grown show; we are an independent comedy group. We are close to NY, there is a lot going on up there. In a city like NY, or LA you have got a whole industry for entertainment and a whole industry preying on them; there is a lot of
nonsense. You don’t have so much of that in Philly. The comedy scene has been growing steadily for the past few years. It is more of a niche to fill here. There is a lot of great stuff in Philly. There is room for us to do our thing.
WitOut: What are some of your favorite comedy groups in Philly?
Lancaster: Suggestical, they make up a musical on the spot.
WitOut: Anything else you would like to leave our readers with?
Lancaster: We put on a fun show, if they haven’t seen it. It is all about coming out and laughing!
Tonight is Polygon’s Holiday Spectacular at L’Etage (624 S 6th Street). Doors open at 7:30pm, show starts at 8pm. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online or at the door. There will be ample parking and booze available. That’s right folks, booze. If that doesn’t motivate you to put on your scarf and gloves and come out to a comedy show, I don’t know what will!
WitOut: Can you tell us about the formation and history of Polygon?
Rick Horner: Sure! I would say it is a collection of people more interested in comedy than their egos. We are promoting comedy acts with members that have a passion for comedy. A few years ago, Improv duo Rosen and Milkshake did a show and the audience loved it. The audience asked for cards, but they didn’t have any. They reached out to me and we got this idea to not only make cards, but start a website to promote comedy. We have been doing monthly comedy shows at L’Etage ever since.
WitOut: That is a unique way to start a….comedy group? If you could describe Polygon in one or two sentences, what would it be?
Horner: A passion driven machine of comedic talent; an optimus prime built out of sketch, improv and stand-up. It is a collective, like a bee-hive where all bees go but there is no Queen Bee.
WitOut: Can you tell us more about tonight’s show and the line-up?
Horner: Sure. The show will be hosted by Rosen and Milkshake. The line-up includes Cecily Chapman, Bill Parks and Demonikus Rex. So, improv, stand-up, improv, improv [laughs].
WitOut: Anything else you would like our audience to know about Polygon?
Horner: Look forward to 2014, because Polygon comedy has a lot of big plans on the horizon. We had a terrific year in 2013, and I feel lucky to work with people that are funny and talented. We have had most major Philly comedy groups perform at our shows such as The N Crowd, PHIT house teams, ComedySportz and Figment. However, if we haven’t had you, we would love to have you. Improv is like a team sport, you don’t have to be Babe Ruth, you just have to swing the bat.
WitOut: Is Polygon involved with any other regular events?
Horner: In addition to monthly shows at L’Etage, Polygon runs and improv incubator in West Philly at the Community Education Center on 35th and Lancaster. Whether you want to try it for the first time, get back into it or practice it more, they would love to have you. They simply ask for a small donation to pay for the room.
**Small chance of cancellation due to weather conditions. Please check polygoncomedy.com for updates.
Last night, Matt Aukamp and Pat Reber hosted Hey We’re Cool, a hilariously weird variety show featuring sketch comedy by Free Candy and The Incredible Shrinking Matt & Jacquie–as well as games, music and an impromptu twitter war. (Check out tweets @GreenDayFans with #notabit).
Matt Aucamp (left) and Pat Reber (right) host.
A reliable but nosy mail-man reads people’s mail.
Free Candy — Husband and wife discuss their pet Roomba.
Members of the crew and audience battle in a rotten-pumkin-carving contest.
The audience votes on with whom to start a Twitter-war.
Audience members join cast and crew members to play “The Newly-Met” game.
Big props to the show-stealingly hilarious Incredible Shrinking Matt & Jacquie. The duo–who won Dirtiest Sketch in Philadelphia last month–has dynamic, loud energy and twisted premises reminiscent of Philly classics Meg & Rob.
The Incredible Shrinking Matt & Jacquie — Husband wakes up from a coma and longs to return to “Coma Kingdom”.
A principal’s valedictorian and javelin champ had a terrible accident.
She wants to go ahead with her speech anyway.
Valedictorian’s pre-written speech contains too many Javelin metaphors.
The principal never saw this coming!
A time-traveling, interior-decorating home-owner goes back to rid her German great-grandfather of his unfortunate mustache.
…she’s willing to use force.
…physical altercation ensues…
[Spoiler!] Success. Although the mustache might have been his only way to woo her great-grandmother…
Hey We’re Cool will be returning monthly, check back at WitOut for dates.