This past Saturday night at the Adrienne Theater, audiences enjoyed a great show-down between Philadelphia Fighting Amish and rival NJ Turnpikes.
In case anyone hasn’t checked out one of Philadelphia’s longest running shows, ComedySportz follows a similar format to that of the television show Whose Line Is It Anyway? The hour and half long show consists of various short-form improvisation games. Topics are based on audience suggestions and or instructions from the referee. After all these years, their color-coordinated jerseys, tennis shoes and team spirit still excite audiences.
Prepared to sing, dance and act, ComedySportz’s athletic form reminds us all that comedians are versatile athletes in their own right.
“The games were challenging, fun and clever, which made the show really funny,” stated a thoroughly pleased audience member. Games included “Story,” “Forward/Reverse,” and “What Are You Doing?” During the game “Story,” the entire team lines up on stage and either the audience or referee will suggest the concept of the story. Players have to make up the story as they go and have to stop talking as soon as the referee cuts them off.
Philadelphia ComedySportz runs classes on improv and corporate trainings on team building. In addition, they also do birthday parties and perform at corporate events. They also perform a kid’s show at 11:00a.m. on the last Saturday of every month.
** You can catch ComedySportz tonight at The Playground at Adrienne Theater (2030 Sansom Street, Philadelphia 19103) from 7:30p.m. to 9:30p.m. ($17/$14 for Students/Seniors/Military)
Rory Scovel plays a supporting character on the TBS sitcom Ground Floor, and has a new standup comedy album called Rory Scovel Live at Third Man Records. He’ll be performing this weekend at Helium.
WitOut: On Ground Floor, you play a character named Harvard, who, I think, is the most interesting part of the show. How would you describe Harvard for someone whose never seen the show?
Rory Scovel: Thank you. I appreciate that. I am very lucky with this character. He is definitely the weirdo of the show, a role I’ve been preparing for most of my life. I’m not sure how to describe him really because I’m not a professional actor. I sort of just pretended I knew what I was doing at the audition and for some reason they liked that about me. That’s kind of who he is, Harvard. He just goes through life pretending he knows what he’s doing and being an office weirdo. I love him. Yes, I said I’m in love with my own character that I play. Further proof I’m so ready to be this guy on camera.
WitOut: What’s the experience been like in general? Is it intimidating being on the set with John C. McGinley?
Scovel: It’s been great. I’ve really loved it and I’m excited to get back for a second season, fingers crossed. It’s a great group to work with so I want to go back and have some more fun and see what we come up with. McGinley is a champion. Not only of the show and of the craft, but of people. He has an intimidating quality because I think he wants everyone working as hard as he is. He makes me a better actor, so it’s great to be around him. He is a pro.
WitOut: How’d you get involved with The Life and Times of Tim?
Scovel: A buddy of mine, BJ Porter, wrote on the show and recommended me to come in for it. We were working on a pitch for a show and it just worked out to go in and become one of the characters. I wish it was still possible to go in and do that show.
WitOut: What are some of the responses you’ve gotten to your album Dilation?
Scovel: Pretty good I think. I try not to read reviews too much but with that being my first album, it was hard to avoid. I think overall people enjoyed it and anyone that reviewed it seemed to like it. I know there are some people that didn’t like it and I hope those people die an awful death. Not soon or anything, I’m not a monster, but when it does come time for them to die, I hope it’s awful.
WitOut: Your new album is available on vinyl only. What influenced that decision?
Scovel: I recorded it on Jack White’s label Third Man Records, it’s called Rory Scovel Live at Third Man Records. They primarily release stuff in vinyl format and I thought it would be cool to just release it as that. I’m sure it’s out there in digital form somewhere ILLEGALLY. We decided to do it as just vinyl since some of the material is going to show up in my upcoming special that I’m shooting in Charleston, SC on 2/21 and 2/22. Didn’t want to have the same material over and over in different formats.
WitOut: Have you been watching the Olympics so far? What’s your favorite event?
Scovel: I have not watched any of it. I’m not sure that I will. Maybe the hockey. I don’t know, I really haven’t thought about it. The pressure, it gets to me.
For tickets, visit www.HeliumComedy.com. After the late show Saturday, check out The Dirty Dozen at midnight. Twelve of Philadelphia’s most NSFW comics will regale you with stories too inappropriate to discuss on the internet!
Dan Vetrano warms up the crowd, getting big laughs for being a fan of “old” Miley Cyrus.
Dave Metter and Allison Allison (Jacquie Baker) host YNP.
Consumer critic Barb Bootsnider (Katlin Thompson) gives bad products The Boot!
But the critical lifestyle has caught up with her, and she decides to give herself the boot [not pictured because of photographer laughing too hard.]
Alexa & Darren (Martha Cooney and Chris Calletta) give a point/counterpoint debate on whether or not to give John Mayer a try.
Production assistant Colin Armstrong (Dan Corkery) suffers an existential crises as his chewing gum fails to stay in its package.
Joe Moore (far left) and Roger Snair (far right) with a panel of improvisers (from left to right: Steve Swan, Alex Newman, Aubrie Williams and Kaitlin Thompson) tribute the winter games by reading actual advice from Ask.com in Russian accents.
Roger closes the show with his important hip-hop message.
Paul Triggiani (left) and Rob Baniewicz (right) kick off the first TV Party in the theater space.
A theater full of comedians ‘celebrates’ the hilariously bad post-apocalyptic TV experiment from 1992 called Whoops.
We also toasted this failed attempt at a sitcom version of Ferris Bueler’s Day Off from 1990:
We caught up with Philadelphia native Big Jay Oakerson before his show at Helium. Here, Big Jay explains how his crude, yet conversational, style was crafted by comedy heavyweights Patrice O’Neal and Dave Attell and how he became a fearless comedian.
Big Jay Oakerson
WitOut: What do you enjoy most about coming back to Philly?
Big Jay Oakerson: I come back once a year to do this club and maybe a few times a year to see family. My favorite thing every time is–I think I’m supposed to say the club–but it’s the goddamn food. I miss the food here. Even in New York, which has a wider array of cultural food, like, fuck that, I’ll eat cheesesteaks twice a day while I’m here.
WiOut:How long have you been doing stand up?
Big Jay Oakerson: 15 years. I started at the Laff House, that shut down recently, but me, Kevin Hart, and Kurt Metzger all started there together.
WitOut:What’s your favorite part about doing this job?
Big Jay Oakerson: The live performance. Going out there and interacting with the crowd. I like to talk to the crowd a lot. Mixing it up with them and trying not to do jokes for as long as possible.
WitOut: You talk to the crowd a lot.
Big Jay Oakerson: Yeah, as much as possible.
WitOut: When you’re writing, what’s your process?
Big Jay Oakerson: I don’t write. Sit and write on paper? I never do that. There’s a big chance that I’ll go out and have a bunch of things that I’ll just say just tonight, but there’s also a chance that, if I say something for the first time, off the cuff, that will take me on a tangent. That’s how I write. Kurt Metzger will call and bounce jokes off me and ask me for a punch, but I found that when I sat down when I was younger, I would sit and write simplistic jokes that a thousand other comics make. I think I’m very original in my genuine take on shit, so I’d rather just talk to them. I’m just not afraid of them not laughing.
Anyone who starts doing comedy who has any arrogance to them, the first time you say something to a crowd, that in your mind was guaranteed to be funny and they’re going to laugh, and they stare at you, there’s just no way to simulate that emotion. The thing I worked on the most in comedy was to be unafraid of that. I’m not afraid of the room being completely silent. Patrice O’Neal gave me the advice that you don’t go up there and say anything you can’t defend genuinely. You should defend your right to be funny and that comes with having no fear of the audience.
WitOut:You mentioned Patrice O’Neal, who else did you look up to when you started doing comedy?
Big Jay Oakerson: In Philadelphia, there was a guy name Turae, who ran the open mic at the Laff House. He was a big influence because of how smooth he was and his style and how comfortable he was. And Keith Robinson took me, and Kev [Kevin Hart], and Kurt [Metzger] out of Philly and to New York and got us acclimated up there. From there, Patrice took me under his wing and we became friends. I found my real mesh, in terms of opening for somebody for years, was Dave Atell. I went all over the country opening for him. I think those two guys are the two best at their type of comedy.
WitOut: I was actually warned that your act was kind of dirty.
Big Jay Oakerson: Kind of? That’s bad advertising. I’m trying to desensitize you and make you hear the message that I’m saying.
WitOut: What’s the biggest difference between the New York comedy scene and the Philadelphia comedy scene?
Big Jay Oakerson: Frequency. New York has between 8-12 pro clubs running 7 days a week. Dozens of rooms, comedy shows, open mics, one nighters, every night from 5pm to 3am. Philly, you can probably, if you hustle, get up twice a week. Because there are a decent amount of comics and we’re down to one club. If you’re going to get better at comedy, it’s repetition. Repetition will make you stronger at it. It’s part of not being afraid.
You can catch Big Jay Oakerson tonight at Helium Comedy Club (7:30p.m. and 10:00p.m.) with Mary Radzinski and Aaron Berg.
WitOut: Can you tell us a little bit about your early days in the Philadelphia comedy scene?
Spank: My early days were a little rough; I wasn’t taking comedy very seriously. I was just told I was a funny guy, so I would just go on stage and play around. After the first year, I got a phone call to do comic-view. From then on, I took comedy seriously. I started to dress a little better and market my own brand.
WitOut: Is that when you really fell in love with comedy?
Spank: I fell in love with comedy after my fourth or fifth year. After the sixth year, I got a call from Kevin Hart. He told me he had been watching my shows and wanted me to go on tour with him. After that I got really serious and went dead-hard. That was in 2007. I started in 2001.
WitOut: What do you consider to be some of the biggest achievements in your career thus far?
Spank: A standing ovation as an opener for Kevin Hart.,Iit was one of those shows where everyone was paying $40-$50 to see Kevin Hart and for me to come out and do my 15-20 minutes and receive a standing ovation, I thought, “I could definitely do this.” Kevin helped me get to where I am at. I used to be known locally, but now I am known world-wide.
WitOut: If you could perform comedy anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
Spank: It is going to sound real cliché-ish, but I am going say my hometown, Philadelphia.
WitOut: I had a feeling you might say that…
Spank: I am so Philly, man. A lot of people say stuff about their hometown like, “Ahh no, you gotta get outta here,” but I have been here all my life and I am still flourishing.
WitOut: You were recently in the movie, Ride Along. How was your experience working with Ice Cube and Kevin Hart?
Spank: It was fun. Even though I worked with Kevin on the road it was completely different on set. And Ice Cube kept telling me I was doing really well. He made me feel as if I were a veteran. It was great; I had my own little trailer. I was the only actor with four lines that had his own trailer and I think that was because the producer and everyone thought of me as one of the boys.
WitOut: What was different about working with Kevin Hart on set as opposed to working with him on the road?
Spank: On the road there was more “silly, silly, hey-hey, buddy-buddy.” The movie was serious [work]. He wanted to be in character. I was in my trailer before my lines, he was in his. On the road, we just wile out!
WitOut: Who are some of your comedy heroes?
Spank: Eddie Murphy, Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock, Martin, Bernie Mac. I am a fan of all the greats and all of those that do open-mic. My number one would have to be Eddie Murphy.
***Spank married his long-time sweetheart in 2012 and still is a resident of the Greater Philadelphia Area. You can find him up in the township, arguing with his neighbors over parking spots “township style.”
Philly Improv Theater’s third house sketch-team, Goat Rodeo, will be giving their final performance of “The 78th Annual Butterborough Pie Eating Contest”. Formed over the summer and debuting at Fringe Festival, Goat Rodeo features some important Philly comedy names.
“The 78th Annual Butterborough Pie Eating Contest” stars Aaron Hertzog (Hate Speech Committee), Aubrie Williams (Mani-Pedi, Local Holiday Miracle), Chris McGrail (Kids with Rickets, Calletta & McGrail), Sue Taney (ComedySportz), Katlin Thompson (Mani-Pedi), Matt Lamson (N Crowd), Zach Uzupis (This Is Your Captain) and returning Goat Rodeo cast member Kristy Goldy.
The writing team consists of head-writer Christian Alsis (The Feeko Brothers), Martha Cooney (StoryUp, Hot Dish), Bill Flynn, Justin Miller, Dan Boldin and cast-members Aaron Hertzog, Chris McGrail and Aubrie Wililams.
“The 78th Annual Butterborough Pie Eating Contest” is directed by Philly sketch veteran Samantha Russel of Secret Pants, who says about the show, “The writers brought some very strong work to the table and the cast brings that work to life in the funniest way possible–I think the audiences are really enjoying it. We created a show where the sketches all take place in Butterborough County, which gives it a nice small town feel.”
There’s a cohesive structure to the show which Russel credits to “graphics guy” Bill Flynn. “Bill is the one responsible for making our shows one complete thought, instead of just sketches. We certainly couldn’t have done this show without him.”
Tickets are $10 bucks; the BYOB show starts at 9:00pm.
In the meantime, enjoy this video and get a feel of world Goat Rodeo will be rendering tonight live from Philadelphia!
Philly native, Will “Spank” Horton’s performance at Helium this past Saturday can be perfectly summed up by his very tongue-in-cheek closing line:
“Bye, everyone! I am not Hollywood and I never will be.”
After meeting him, I couldn’t agree more. Completely cool, laid back and friendly are just a few words I would use to describe this humble and talented comic.
Opening acts included comedians Anthony Moore and Darryl Charles. The absolutely amazing and adorable Moore had the audience roaring with his introductory line, “I am graduating this semester, so if y’all don’t laugh at this shit, I got a back-up plan.”
Both supporting comedians hilariously chronicled modern racial misunderstandings like professors asking for “black input” in classes as objective as math (Moore) or numerous requests to have his picture taken with locals during a trip to China (Charles). If you ever get a version of the Chinese Facebook, Charles warns you that you may see pictures of him awkwardly posing with the Chinese. He reminds us in this 2014 WitOut-Award-nominated bit that, this is not by choice.
Our headliner has been busy. You may have caught Spank on Nick Cannon’s Wild N’ Out, on tour with Kevin Hart during Let Me Explain and Laugh At My Pain, or in the recent hit movie Ride Along. However, Spank started his comedy career at the just-closed-down Laff House. And if y’all didn’t know, Spank has officially moved into the township. The energetic and well-projected comedian weaved the little tid-bit into every joke, reminding us every chance he got. “I can’t get into it with y’all, I live in the township now, we don’t do that!” he joked with a particularly charming group of hecklers.
Philly is glad to know things are going well for Spank. I honestly cannot think of one topic Spank did not cover during his show–relationships, marriage, college life and his own personal life. Spank’s method of comedy flirts intimately with the line between appropriate and inappropriate, pushing the boundaries of racial humor. Experiencing his comedy live, it becomes obvious that this acclaim is very much well-earned. Tame one minute, risqué the next.
“I don’t want any trouble now, my wife is in the audience,” he joked. But I’m sure Mrs. Horton knows, all is forgiven in love and comedy!