While we generally don’t plug classes as a matter of maintaining journalistic integrity (lol!), founding WitOut editor Luke Giordano has been kicking butt writing for Dreamworks and is back on Saturday (6/28) to drop some wisdom nuggets about TV writing in 2014.
After a stint with Nickelodeon including writing episodes of their Marvin Marvin series, Giordano has signed on to Dreamworks writing for their exclusive content deal with Netflix. The details of his new show are still under wraps, but he says, “…it’s sort of an animated boy’s action comedy with lots of smashing things. Should be fun when it comes out.”
This will be Giordano’s third time teaching the class. He’ll cover everything from how to write an episode of television, what’s the process of a writer’s room, how to get an agent/representation, and basically everything else that goes into a career writing for TV.
The one-day seminar will be on Saturday from 11:00am – 2:30pm. To register for the class, visit Philly Improv Theater.
Pat Barker is a Philly area native who we lost last year to the clutches of Los Angeles. As happens all too often to our best comedians, Pat suffered a flash of self-awareness in which he realized just how funny he is. And though I’ll bet he’s too classy to admit it outright, he knew–probably for just a moment before relapsing into every comedian’s professional-grade self-loathing–that he’s every bit as funny as the average professional touring comedian.
This may not sound like a blurb-worthy compliment, but you have to realize just how funny and regularly killing-it a comedian needs be in order to really work. Pat performed in Philly for a handful of years; I’ve seen him maybe a half dozen times. Whether it be a coveted hosting gig at Helium, upstairs in the attic of Fergie’s pub at The Ministry of Secret Jokes, or a dude’s 40th birthday party-show at Connie’s Ric-Rac… Pat never phoned it in. He always completely and totally destroys.
WitOut: Is there anything unique about doing comedy in Philly, as opposed to your new home on the west coast?
Pat Barker: As far as the actual performing, it’s similar. Crowds are a little more sensitive out here, but not insanely so. The biggest difference is really in the approach you have to take to move up the proverbial ladder. In Philly, it’s really simple. There’s one main club, you do open mics and contests there, you get better, you get asked to work there, and that’s it. It’s a well-defined meritocracy. Out here, it’s a little bit different. I was naive at first and thought that it worked the same way and I could just show up and start doing mics and just do the #comedygrind or whatever the fuck and it’s just not the way it works. I’ve had to refine my approach a little bit.
WitOut: Do you think you’ll be staying in L.A.?
Barker: Life is really good for me right now. I love California a whole lot and I don’t have any plans on leaving any time soon. Not to say it won’t happen at some point, but I’m definitely going to be out here for the near future. There are still a LOT of taco trucks that I haven’t hit yet. My work here isn’t even close to done.
WitOut: What’s the fanciest gig you’ve ever humble-bragged?
Barker: The most impressive logistically was probably the time I opened for Frank Caliendo at the Borgata Music Box, just because it was a 1,000 seat theater. I was only like two years into comedy at that point and stumbled across the gig, and I really wish that I had gotten it a few years later when I was better and could have really crushed. I never include that part in the humble-brag though, I just say it was a 3,000 seat theater and move on.
WitOut: What types of stuff is fueling your post-pharmacy joke-writing? How’s the writing process been in general?
Barker: The writing process has actually been easier post-pharmacy. When I worked for CVS, I went out of my way to not write jokes about it. The job made me so miserable that I couldn’t see any humor in it, and I had trouble turning it into a good bit on stage. Now I have a day job that I love at some warehouse that nobody’s ever heard of, and I get to have more bullshitting conversations with people my own age. That leads to better ideas for bits, or at least it’s seemed that way so far.
WitOut: What are you going to name the CD? Can WitOut hold a contest to name it?
Barker: The CD is going to be called “Nice Jokes”, which is a reference to one of my more popular bits. You can hold a contest to decide who I thank in the liner credits. Please avoid Satan, Hitler, and the New York Mets. Other than that, go nuts. [Submit your credit to our contest on Twitter with #BarkerCDthanks. The winner will be selected on Tuesday 6/24]
WitOut: Why do you perform comedy? Do you love it? Why or why not?
Barker: I originally got into comedy to meet girls. Now that I have one and I keep doing it, I figure there must be something else I like about it. I like making people laugh, I guess. Simple answer, but true. As far as loving it, I’ll say this – I love every second I’m on stage. I don’t love all the other shit that goes along with comedy. I don’t love sitting around at mics or sending e-mails to bookers or feeling obligated to keep up a funny social media presence at all times. I hate that shit. But it’s worth doing so that I can keep doing what I love on stage.
WitOut: Who is the funniest Philly comedian who is also not a scene favorite? (I.E. a non helium-regular etc.)
Barker: I forgot literally everyone in Philly the second I moved. Next question. (The answer here is actually Carl Boccuti. He performs comedy like three times a year and is amazing at it.)
WitOut: Why do you hate pharmacies so much?
Barker: I don’t hate all of them, just CVS, where I used to work. I hate them because they spent years making me miserable. Being a store manager there is pretty much the worst thing in the whole world. Just take my word for it. I didn’t even realize how brutal it was until I got an amazing job. I had no idea happiness at work was even a thing. It’s pretty great.
WitOut: How is it going keeping the weight off?
Barker: Shockingly well. I lost 130 pounds initially, gained 30 back after ACL surgery last year, and now I’ve re-lost 20 of that in the last few months. It’s a lot easier to be active out here since it was like 70 degrees every day in December. Hiking is the shit, by the way. Mountains are really cool. You guys should look in to getting some in Philly.
WitOut: You have a prolific cache of throw-back Thursday photos. Could I feature them on the website? What was it like growing up such an unfathomable winner?
Barker: Yes you can feature them. Looking back on my #tbt pictures makes me understand why I felt the need to get into entertainment to pick up girls. It was a rough 20+ years. Thank God things turned out okay.
WitOut: If you were to open your own comedy club, what would it be like? And what would it be called?
Barker: It would be like every successful comedy club – low ceilings, all seats facing the stage, long seating instead of deep seating, funny shows at 90 minutes apiece, national headliners. And it would be called Laff House 2: Electric Boogaloo.
WitOut: Who’s your favorite comedian?
Barker: It’s a tie between Bill Burr and Oakland Seligson.
Pat’s CD taping will be on Tuesday June 24th at 8:00pm. Tickets are $10.00, get ‘em now. Don’t forget to submit a really absurd liner-credit with #BarkerCDthanks. Pat’s a man of his word, let’s take advantage of him!
Philly export Andy Moskowitz returns for a visit with his fancy Magnet Theater sketch troupe Baby Shoes. They perform Friday night at 9:00pm.
Here a a few videos by the NYC comedy group, known for their dark, twisted sort of humor…
You can get tickets online for $10.00 or $12.00 at the door.
Monday morning, following this weekend’s season finale of Game of Thrones, visit MikeMarbach.com for an new episode of Stark Raven Mad. This cleverly titled podcast recaps each week’s episodes and features a panel of comedians from the Philadelphia improv scene.
Consisting of some book-readers and some TV-only viewers, the panel of mega-fans will break down each episode and select the episode’s winners and losers. Care is taken not to spoil yet-to-be-broadcast plot-lines; much gratitude to the well-read Westerati. The TV-only fans will make predictions, including Marbach’s Stone Cold Lock of the Century of the Week.
“My stone-cold lock of the century of the week from last week’s show was quite detailed: [editor's note: If you are caught up on the show, the following predictions will not spoil anything. However, if you ARE NOT up to date with the TV show--as of the June 8th, 2014 episode--these predictions may spoil quite a great deal. Just to be safe: **SPOILERS**] This week we will see the end of House Clegane. The Mountain will be shown to still be alive, but quickly deteriorating not just due to the wounds inflicted by Oberyn Martell but also because the spear was coated with poison (there was a scene in that episode kind-of maybe sort-of showing that). The Mountain will die. Hopefully painfully. The Hound will die, not from his infection from the Biter’s bite, but by Arya in an act of “mercy”. The specifics here I’m not certain on… whether the Hound asks her to end his life because he knows he was on her list, or because Arya has just become so desensitized that she sees this as the best thing to do regardless of his wishes. End result is the same, she takes him off the list and then heads for Bravos to find Jakan Hagaar.”
This upcoming Monday’s episode will feature guest pannelists Frank Farrell, David Donnella, Whitney Harris, Corin Wells, Rob Alesiani, Kevin Pettit and Lizzie Spellman.
by Mike Muller
DuoFest closed out Saturday night with Vancouver’s Virginia Jack (Briana Rayner and Nicole Passmore) literally taking us where no man has gone before. Giving the audience suggestions more consideration than the other acts of the evening, the two eventually decided that “space ship” was the location around which they would build a one-act play.
If you’re unfamiliar with Virginia Jack, they’re one of the more erudite and fantastically bizarre duos working the fest, and their take on character development is uniquely weird in the best way possible. They start off by introducing us to the cast of characters, then sprinkling seedlings of ideas on top of them which germinate throughout the show.
On this particular evening, we had the privilege of meeting starship captain Reginald Aloysius Pump, a man’s man celebrated in Bill Brasky-like fashion. We also met his first mate, Jackson Malone, a huge cartography fan whose multiple lobotomies left him unable to say the word “vagina,”. Finally, the ship’s engineer, Piper Spaghetti was the bombshell dingbat who loves intercourse and her illegal houseplant she keeps in her cabin.
As the story unfolds, it becomes apparent that Jackson Malone plans to usurp control of the ship as revenge for Captain Pump taking the ship into uncharted territory, rendering Malone’s cartography useless. Piper is shot in the attempt to save Captain Pump’s life/seduce him and the audience roared when Malone says they’ll, “never find the cure for his space bullets.”
Briana and Nicole’s unique way of switching roles really helps flesh out fully realized characters instead of simply place-holding comedic archetypes used to get to a punchline. They build on each other’s ideas well and have a knack for bringing the small details back around before wrapping up. Virginia Jack showed a full spectrum of what is possible with the Duo format.
Mike Muller has written for Phillyist and UntiedMag.com.
Philly comedians Mike Rainey and Tim Butterly were on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon last night. Tim answered trivia, poorly… And Mike paid the price in chest-hair. You know… just like Johnny Carson always dreamed!
Rainey hosts The Dirty Dozen show Saturdays at Midnight at Helium Comedy Club, as well as a streaming radio show “Rainey Sundays” on Laffcast.com. Butterly was a finalist in last year’s Philly’s Phunniest competition, and is a favorite going into this year’s contest.
NYC’s From Justin to Kelly (Justin Peters and Kelly Buttermore) were deliciously silly. They took the audience’s suggestions of “Chipotle” during their Saturday night show and built an ever-expanding world of heartbreak, homelessness, and food service.
Kelly and Justin have a frenetic energy and breakneck speed between bits without missing a beat. Their visual communication adds to the frenzied atmosphere as they quickly gesture to each other to move on or jump between characters. They use their sex to their advantage; switching characters mid-routine allows them to do some hilarious and creative things with gender identity.
As a harried Chipotle team member complains to her boss about her recent ex literally taking the bathroom sink with her, both Kelly and Justin play the jilted lover and they continue to have fun with all of the outgrowths of that initial absurdity.
There are more jilted lovers living and working at the local YMCA, which just passed its third out of nine health inspections (“We’re batting .333!”), and having first dates at Alfredo’s, where the stereotypical Italian chef doesn’t understand why people don’t like “the eponymous I-ah put on everything.”
Slightly more successful lovers reminisce about good movie dates, where they had their minds blown by White Chicks. In fact, this show was chock full of lovers of all stripes. It all came back to Chipotle, though, when one of our heroes has to report to the big boss, Joel the Great and Powerful Wizard of Chipotle, who was Justin’s disembodied voice from behind the stage curtain.
When “Joel” told the homeless Kelly that, “There is no living in Chipotle!” it was one of the great bookend payoffs of the evening.
Mike Muller has written for Phillyist and UntiedMag.com.
If you have any photos from this or any other live comedy event in Philly, please share them with us — firstname.lastname@example.org!
Tomily Comedy were the second pair of out-of-towners on Saturday. The duo consists of Thomas Towell and Emily Holland out of Boston. The biggest, funniest scene they performed–to be called back later–involved two people who meet on Megabus.
What started as a chance meeting turns out to be fate. Emily’s character who is, for lack of a better word, outspoken… announces her love to Thomas and then makes a point to get the attention of everyone on the bus to inform them of it. She thinks this a match made in heaven and invites him to her grandmother’s funeral. She also believes they should make a baby right then and there. (She also announces this to everyone else on Megabus.)
The other scene I wanted to touch on, I call “the party-planning scene”. A daughter was telling was her father what she wanted for her quinceanera. It involved a stripper cake, a stripper, and, of course, a pony. She wanted the pony in the cake and she wanted the stripper to jump out of the cake, riding the pony.
She also wanted (and this destroyed me) for Ace Ventura to be playing, but on mute and she wanted two men to come in and dub the movie themselves. I don’t think I could overstate this enough. The scenes were good, but what made them great were the performances. Thomas and Emily had the timing and delivery down to a T. There was never a moment where I thought they were trying to think of the next thing, which allowed everything to feel a bit more real.
Tomily Comedy was a great addition to Duofest! Visit back for more DuoFest reviews as they come in!