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!
Here are some photos from recent comedy shows around town… Do you produce or perform in a show from which you can send us photos? Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org!
Aaron Nevins Hosts Hang On (w/ Aaron Nevins).
Aaron chats with audience wrangler Dan Vetrano.
The panel lays down some Dude Rules. (L to R: Tim Butterly, Mike Alloy, Aaron Nevins, Kevin Ryan).
Aaron sits down with guests Kevin Allison and Dave Hill.
And from Wednesday’s East Coast Power Nap…
Alejandro Morales and TJ Hurley share the theme of the night: Christmas. [photo by Ben Miller.]
Aaron Hertzog offers life-hacks for running out of pizza. [photo by Ben Miller]
Elise explains how her dad got a good deal on a flight to Disneyland for the family after 9/11. [photo by Ben Miller.]
Jim discusses the science of why butt-holes are tight. [photo by Ben Miller]
Mike Logan on how his dad doesn’t need to hear about his nights out. [Photo by Ben Miller]
Natalie Levant’s search for gray hairs moves south. [Photo by Ben Miller]
Setoiyo never had fun doing recreational drugs. (Ritalin made him actually do his homework.) [photo by Ben Miller]
And because we didn’t have anybody reliable to take photographs last night at Free For All, Philly Comedy fashionista Joe Moore reports on what everybody was wearing:
Alison Zeidman – White and black checkered shirt, all buttons buttoned, 3/4’s length sleeves, folded once just above the elbow. Black jeans. Brown moccasins with no socks.
Dave Topor – White knit hat. Grey hooded sweatshirt with 3 horizontal black stripes running from shoulder to shoulder, split by a white vertical zipper running the length of the shirt zipped approximately half way, the letters “A D I D A S” in white below a white “Adidas logo” on the left breast, a small white zippered pocket on the bottom left of the sweatshirt. Black undershirt. Blue jeans. All white sneakers.
Brian Finnell – Grey hoodied sweatshirt unzipped, white zipper, sleeves rolled to the elbows. navy blue t-shirt with a dark blue quadrangle and a light blue quadrangle separated by a white line. Grey jeans. Black shoes, black laces, white swoosh, and white soles.
Chris Dolan – Black sweater over a white-with-thin-grey-lines dress shirt, the collar over the sweater and the cuffs over the sweater. White undershirt under the dress shirt. Off-white pants. Off-white canvas shoes with white soles and white laces.
Pat Kelly – Black button down short sleeve shirt, white t-shirt, blue jeans. Grey canvas shoes with white soles and white laces.
Sidney Gantt – Grey sweatshirt, hoodless, zipped 3/4ths of the way, sleeves rolled up tot he elbows over a purple t-shirt. Grey jeans. Grey shoes, with white soles, and white, light green, and black vertical stripes.
Ahamed Weinberg – Blue sweatshirt, faded black/grey jeans, tan canvas shoes, white souls, dark grey laces.
Tyler Rothrock – Midnight-Wine t-shirt untucked. Blue jeans with a small fleck of white paint on the left knee. Black shoes with lime green laces and white soles. Purple wrist band on the right wrist.
Alex Grubard – Dark blue buttonless Henley sweater over a black t-shirt just showing at the neck. Black jeans. Black sneakers with black laves and white soles.
Appearing on tonight’s East Coast Power Nap is Natalie Levant, Brian Six, Setoiyo, Elise Thompson-Hohl, Aaron Hertzog, Jim Ginty, Mike Logan and a guest appearance by Dan Vetrano. There will be an overarching sketch performed by hosts Alejandro Morales and TJ Hurley between the sets.
East Coast Power Nap is upstairs at the balcony at The Trocadero Theater (1003 Arch Street) at 8:30 (doors @ 8:00). Tickets are $5.00. To get excited for the show, check out their “Leaked Outtakes” video. The sketch imagines what you would say about your friend behind their back while you were being asked questions “off camera.”
Editors’ note: We are the editors of WitOut.net. We are also starting a free, weekly, stand-up comedy showcase every Wednesday at Rembrandt’s Restaurant & Bar (741 N. 23rd St. Philadelphia). So we decided to take advantage of our editorial power for shameless self-promotion. Is that okay with you? Good. Here we go.
AZ Why did we decide to start this show?
AH: You know the answer to that.
AZ: Tell me again. I like hearing the story.
AH: I think this is the type of show that Philly needs. The scene has been growing in the past few years and there are open mics practically every night of the week, and there are a lot of comedian-run monthly showcases, and I think the next step up is a weekly show where comedians can work on longer sets. I would love to do this show every night if I could, and make it like a Philadelphia version of The Comedy Cellar in New York. But until I find a venture capitalist to back that business plan, I’m going to have to stick with once a week at a bar that will let us do it for free. Philly has a lot of great comedians, and part of the goal with the show is to expose more of the public to some of the great local comedy Philly has to offer.
What are your hopes and plans for the show?
AZ: I’m really looking forward to having a show that gives Philly comics an opportunity to perform longer sets, and hopefully perform them in front of a crowd that’s made up of more than just other comics–of course we love seeing comics support one another, but we also want a “real audience” for these shows. Which brings me to my other hope for the show: that people will come. So we’re working on some creative ideas for marketing and promotion, and reaching out to people who are good at getting the word out about events in the city, and hopefully we’ll be able to show a lot of new people that Philly has a really strong, talented crop of local comedians. And if they’re introduced to them here with a free show, hopefully they’ll continue to follow and support their work elsewhere.
Can you talk a little bit more about why we wanted to keep the show free? Are we just dicks who don’t want to pay people?
AH: Well first of all, I hate that money exists and I wish I could live in a hut on an island and hunt and farm and fish for food and just be free. That sounds like a joke but I’m being serious. But, in terms of the show, since one of our goals is to raise awareness about comedy in Philly we thought a great way to do that would be to have a free show, so it’s a low-risk access point for new audiences. Doogie Horner’s Ministry of Secret Jokes was a great free show that brought a lot of people out to Fergie’s in Center City on a monthly basis, and we want to build a consistent audience of people who know that there’s going to be a great show at Rembrandt’s every Wednesday night, and who can tell people they know that they can come to the show and it’s going to be free and it’s going to be great and they’re going to have a good time. Plus we want this to be a show that has a feel, for the audience, that it’s professional and the line-up is well put together, but is also a show where the comedians should feel free to experiment a little, and work out newer material during a longer set. At open mics where there are more comics and therefore sets have to be shorter, one new joke might be the only material a comic gets to do that night.
Since we’re not getting fat pockets off the big stacks of cash we’d make if we charged people to come and see this show, what are you looking to get out of it, as a comedian?
AZ: I think it’ll be good for me to get more experience hosting shows, and I also want to push myself to write a lot more frequently so I can have something new every week. I also like how much flexibility and trust the bar is giving us in running this show–I think it’s exciting that we’re building this from the ground up, and we’re going to have this challenge of making sure it’s successful. That also makes it a little scary, and I think we’re both going to have to think really creatively and work really hard to make sure it works and really have an impact on Philly’s knowledge of and interest in its local comedy scene.
We have some of the best comics in the city on the line-up for the first show, and we’ve actually booked the rest of the month already, and that’s pretty stacked as well. How do you think being on a show with all these really exceptional writers and performers will affect your performance?
AH: Not only do I want the show to be great top to bottom for the sake of the audience, but I think it’s a great opportunity for all of us as comedians to push each other to keep getting better. It’s healthy competition–not that it’s a contest and we’re going out there to try to outshine each other every week, but I know that personally I’m going to have to bring it in order to keep up with the talent that we’re going to book on this show week in and week out. I’m never going to be able to half-ass it and mail in a set if I don’t want to look like somebody who doesn’t belong on the show. That’s how you get better–when I was a kid and I played basketball, I didn’t get better by playing against kids I was already better than; I got better by playing against older kids who were a lot better than me, and having to work to keep up. Also I’m just looking forward to being able to hang out with all of these people on a weekly basis and see them trying out new jokes, and talking about new jokes, and getting their opinion on my new material, and just all working together at getting better. #Friendship.
You and I are big supporters of the local comedy scene and we know a lot about what’s going on within it. But at this point it’s still difficult to know about Philly comedy if you’re not IN Philly comedy in some way. What do you think we–or anyone else performing in the city–needs to do to get more of the general public aware of the local talent?
AZ: I think the main thing is that if you’re putting on a show, you should never be satisfied with just getting an audience that’s only made up of your friends and fellow performers. If you’re trying to do this seriously and not just as a hobby, you need feedback from and exposure to a real audience to be able to learn and grow. Of course it’s great to be supportive of each other, but I don’t think any of us will consider ourselves successful if we’re just doing this for each other all the time. So we should be looking for as many ways as possible to expose new people to our shows. List and promote your show on local online events calendars, send out press releases, get out on the street with flyers, whatever it takes. Find new audiences, bring them in, win them over and keep them coming back–whether that’s coming back to Free For All, or “coming back” in that they find their favorite comedians at our show, and then go seek them out to see them do more at other shows, too.
Also: We all just have to be really, really good. Put on a good show that’ll live up to or even exceed the hype you’re giving it when you’re promoting it.
Former Philly/current LA comedians Brendan Kennedy, Luke Giordano, and Mike Weinstein have started a new podcast, Remember Remember the Titans. The show says to be “the only podcast dedicated specifically to discussing the Disney high school football movie, Remember the Titans.” Actually, the guys tell stories, do bits, and have fun based on the topics, themes, and actors from the movie. In the first episode they are joined by former-former Philly comedian Aaron Hertzog.
This Tuesday Polygon Comedy returns to L’etage for their monthly variety show. This month, the show will feature stand-up from Christian Alsis, sketch from ManiPedi, musical improv from Interrobang, and music from Iliana Inocencio.
The High Five Comedy Showcase debuts at Voltage this Wednesday. The show will be hosted by Jay West and will feature stand-up comedy from Aaron Hertzog, Dan Scully, Andre Johnson, Mikaela Hamje, and Joe Bell.
Tongue & Groove’s “That Time” will play this Saturday and Sunday at The Kimmel Center. The show will ask the audience “If you could go back in time to any moment in your own life’s story, where would you go and why?” to inspire “a collage of improvised theater, dance, and music.”
If you have any Philly comedy news worth mentioning – send it our way with an email to email@example.com
Hey Rube will perform for the final time as a House Team this Saturday night at Philly Improv Theater. The group made their debut in August 2011 and have since performed at venues all over the area and festivals including the New York Improv Festival, Del Close Marathon, and the Philadelphia Improv Festival. They were crowned Best New Group at the 2012 WitOut Awards for Philadelphia Comedy, and were nominated for Best Improv Group at the 2013 WitOut Awards. The members of Hey Rube and their director Matt Holmes took some time to reflect, and say some nice things about each other.
Aaron Hertzog on Dennis Trafny:
“Dennis blows me away every time I see him perform. The only thing I know for sure when Dennis enters a scene is that at some point he is going to totally surprise me. He can take a seemingly everyday boring offer and come back with something that is (incredibly) completely off-the-wall but also somehow makes it easy for his scene partner to react to and build with. I don’t know if it’s a natural skill or something he’s had to work tirelessly on (or a little bit of Column A and a little bit of Column B) but either way I am completely impressed. He can also bring great intensity to a character (seriously, look into those eyes), and inject some much-needed energy in a show at a moment’s notice. Of course, this also makes for extra special moments when he decides to tone it down and show us his tender, soft side.”
Tara Demmy on Mark Leopold: “Before Hey Rube, I didn’t know Mark Leopold. He was just one of those guys with a really great name. Now I know him as one of the most talented performers I’ve ever worked with. His character work is the best (Dr. Dandelion) and he is a super intelligent and creative player, knowing when to give a set that necessary plot twist. When I’m in scenes with Mark I have trouble not just hanging out and watching him work, laughing along with the audience. One of my favorite moments was when Hey Rube was doing one of our usual group scene orgies and Mark came on and just sensually untied Jen’s shoelace. The best. Catch up with Mark playing “5 Things” at ComedySportz or doing a “props made out of only cardboard” sketch show with The Hold Up or even doing a show in the Philly Fringe (his 2012 Fringe show Archdiocese of Laughter was one of the best comedy shows I’ve ever seen—he made a rap out of my favorite hymn: Gift of Finest Wheat! Genius). See you there—I’ll be the girl in the first row wearing my ‘I heart Mark Leopold’ T-shirt.”
Lizzie Spellman on Alex Gross:
“The first time I really hung out with Alex, he took me to a gay club with a hot Asian chick. I’ve come to learn he is one crazy cat (and I’m not just saying that ’cause he owns way too many cat shirts). Alex is so fun to play with on stage. When he makes a choice he always fully commits to it. He can go super weird with a character, but it’s always grounded in truth. I think if Hey Rube were a rock band, Alex would be the guy smashing his guitar on an amp and flipping off the crowd. I tell him all the time and I really mean it, he’s become like a little brother to me. That’s why I forgive him for drunkenly walking in on me in the bathroom and proceeding to pee in the shower. But that’s another story…”
Mark Leopold on Aaron Hertzog: “I first saw Aaron something like six years ago. I went to an open mic and did some terrible set where I impersonated Forrest Gump at one point, and I saw this big man with a big personality just own the crowd and receive their adoration with composure and charm. It was amazing. I then retreated to the suburbs for three years. When I got cast on Hey Rube, the only person I actually recognized was Aaron and I was immediately intimidated by the prospect of playing with him. My fears proved to be completely unfounded of course. Aaron is one of the sweetest, most open, gentle and loving people I’ve met. His ever-present playfulness is infectious and when you have the good fortune to be in a scene with him, it’s such a familiar feeling of silly frolicking that you can’t help but have fun. Fun. That’s really the best way to describe what Aaron is like. He’s just like someone who it’s always fun to be around and with. He has a gift for vulnerability. He is just so brave and so foot-forward, always ready to give himself to the show or scene. Whether it’s dark or emotional, serious or silly, Aaron commits totally and performing with him is so easy and simple because you know he is going to completely receive what you give and build with it. Some of the most satisfying moments of collaboration in my life have been with him. Aaron is wonderful and any city, town, or village that doesn’t leap at the chance to welcome him is just tragically stupid.”
Rob Cutler on Lizzie Spellman: “Lizzie is commitment personified. She’s an incredibly gifted performer, but the original characters she creates and maintains are nothing short of brilliant. Whether she exhibits the child-like innocence of a three-year-old, or the decrepit bitter wisdom of a wicked crone, Lizzie will up the intensity with every passing moment. She’s a multitalented performer, whose musical prowess is displayed often with her ukulele, singing some of the most irreverent, funny, and original songs I’ve personally ever heard. She has a gift for character and her future on stage is limitless. On the personal end, I’ve yet to meet a more patient and engaging personality. She has kind words for everyone I’ve seen her interact with (even if they were complete assholes). In short Lizzie is funny as hell, sweet as sugar, with talent oozing out of every pore. We should all be so lucky as to have someone like Lizzie in our lives. I’ll miss you Rubes!”
Jen Curcio on Tara Demmy: “I will never forget the first time I met Tara. It was at Hey Rube’s first practice. I was really jealous of her because she was prettier, cooler and funnier than me. Then I got over it. Tara is a total improv pirate and for those of you who are not familiar with the term that means she attacks the scene. She is fearless in her choices, yet fully commits to and supports her scene partners’ choices. Tara is able to play characters that have a sharp contrast in stage presence. She will support anything and add value to it. I feel so lucky to have been on a team with her, I learned a lot from watching her be an awesome improviser!”
Alex Gross on Jen Curcio: “Oh, geez. Jen is the worst. I’m just kidding! I know that really freaked you out Jen but seriously, I’m just kidding. I swear! Jen is one of the kindest and weirdest people I know. She is always thinking of others before herself and she’s given me countless car rides home. Her paranoia and craziness are right on par with mine, which makes me feel like she’s my improv twin. I’ve done some of my favorite scenes with her and she is always a joy to work with, no matter how many times she initiates scenes with hints of a gangbang starting. Jen is an improv powerhouse who isn’t to be fucked with and I’ve had a blast working with her. Rubes for life.”
Dennis Trafny on Rob Cutler: “Rob is the ‘Phil Hartman’ of Hey Rube: really solid in every scene and he reigns in the crazy. He never gets scared on stage and is always cooler than the other side of the pillow. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him hesitate. Not once. Never. Not even for a second. No ‘uhhhh’s or ‘ummmm’s. Nothing. He’s a beast. He also plays characters smartly, and on many occasions, very cleverly ties all the preceding scenes together. He is no one-trick pony either. He has a gift with puppetry and is awesome in Friends of Alcatraz . (If you haven’t seen it, you should!) Good luck with your future projects Rob!”
Matt Holmes on Hey Rube: “It’s sad to see Hey Rube end, but things that burn brightest snuff soonest.
I got more out of directing Hey Rube than I ever thought I would. First, I learned to get past your perfect idea for how things should go. It’s better to be flexible and make it work. It took us a few months to all get in the same room together at the same time, but that didn’t matter much.
Then, I learned all kinds of insights about improvising, telling a story in a visual medium, teaching people, using people’s strengths and working together on their weaknesses, building something together in small steps, and creating a show (style, format, framework) that is a signature.”
Hey Rube’s final show will be Saturday, February 9 at 10pm at The Philly Improv Theater at The Shubin Theater (407 Bainbridge St.) Tickets can be purchased online.
STOP THE PRESSES (or “stop the internet”?). Through some real hard-hitting journalistic mastery, we’ve gotten our hot little hands on the three video reels that ran during the 2013 WitOut Awards for Philadelphia Comedy…oh, and also, we have them because we’re the ones who made ’em. (We just get such a kick out of referrin’ to our own shit as “exclusive.”)
Thanks to all of the writers who helped with the show and contributed to the jokes in these reels (Aaron Hertzog, Alison Zeidman, Chip Chantry, Jim Grammond, Christian Alsis, Carolyn Busa, Ralph Andracchio, JP Boudwin, Jason Grimley, Greg Maughan and Joe Moore).
A List of All the Nominees Who Voted For Themsleves (Pro Tip: It’s Just Everyone)