So! I saw these WitOut top five lists and I wanted in. But! I can’t bring myself to type words of praise for people or generally anything at all. Therefore! I’m going to talk some shit out of school. Kissing and telling your way through stand-up isn’t the only way to comedy, but if you do the Google for “comedy and dating” there’s like a lot of stuff. With all the exaggerations and downright falsehoods that pepper a stand-up routine, it might be easy to take for granted that all — or at least many — of the nightmare ex-girlfriends and idiot ex-boyfriends we hear about on stage are based on real people. Real people, who probably don’t like to be the butt of jokes. But too bad! Because that’s what you get when you date a comic, unless you date that rare performer who doesn’t talk about their personal life, opting instead to talk about the mathematics of pizza or fantasize about sex with eagles. Anyway here are five slabs of love roadkill I left in my wake this year. Maybe you’ll recognize one or two.
5. The Artist - Me and this Droopy Dog looking motherfucker went on a handful of dates and then he tried to U-Turn me into the Friend Zone. Which is completely against the rules of Friend Zone. You have a window of time after meeting a person to detour them into the Friend Zone, but you cannot retroactively be like “I un-fuck you” and then go backwards in life and have friend beers at JB’s like it’s no thing. It is a thing! Artists are clueless about rules and you can’t say boo to them. These guys are like the male equivalent of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. They lure you in with their creative spirit and passion and their “aesthetic” or whatever, and then they spring you with their bland everyday doucheyness and you remember that they’re just people and not glittering wood-gnomes like Rupert Everett in that Shakespeare movie.
4. The Premature Commitment-Phobe - This guy! I met him at the after-hours club, which, okay, yellow flag, but I was there too. Anyway we spent a couple nights that week watching movies he got off Pirate Bay, and we had an inside joke where one of us would say “Winter’s Bone” to the other and the other would say “Winter’s Bone” back, the joke being that he didn’t enjoy the movie Winter’s Bone so much. It was very low-tech. But then, a week after we’d met, we were back at the after-hours, and he had taken an Ecstasy pill, because that’s still a thing somehow, and he decided that 2:45 in the morning on Ecstasy was a good time to talk about, in his words, The Status of Our Relationship. 2:45 in the morning on Ecstasy, by the way, is a terrible time to have an adult conversation about anything beyond, “Could you be a lamb and get me some Vick’s Vapo-Rub at the CVS? I’m rolling my face off.” But nonetheless we had The Talk. And it turns out we didn’t have a whole lot to talk about, having only gone out on two teenage stoner dates in a week, but since he was having a such a violent mouth seizure of commitment-phobia anyway, he said, “You make me feel butterflies, but I don’t want to feel things, because I’m cold and dead inside.” So much Emo and Club Drugs! It was like being on a date with a Hot Topic store. So I said, “Later corpse, I’m not a necrophiliac.” I mean, I said that onstage after I had written a bit about it. In that moment I think I asked if we could still do it, because it was getting late and I didn’t want to take a chance on somebody else’s beer goggles. The point is, The Premature Commitment-Phobe is like a Tyrannosaurus Rex. He can detect movement, so if you do anything at all he is going to flip out and chew you up right out your Jurrasic Park outhouse, with his words of Emo.
3. The New Age Full-Body Hugger - Just to start off with a “duh,” there are many different ways to touch people and not touch people based on feelings. For example, if I am your casual acquaintance, I do not kiss you full on the mouth and press my body from knees-to-shoulders against yours when I am saying hello to you at a bar. That is not a friend touch. That is a something else touch. The New Age Full-Body Hugger is someone I’ve known casually for some years, and who surprised me with his very forward body-hug/lip-lock maneuver at a bar this one time. And me being just barely human, my body experienced a response to that touch. So I got his phone number and I did the practical thing: I sexted him. And don’t you know this motherfucker *emailed* me a full three days later, in the most passive toothless pop-psychology terms you’ve heard since “show on the doll,” that I had misunderstood his intentions. The New Age Full-Body Hugger, cousin to The Artist, is too ethereal and free spirit-y to be taken to task. He just doesn’t have your, like, hangups? And if you started taking yoga maybe you’d be like, a more centered person? And less likely to jump to weird “Western” conclusions just because someone was harmlessly trying to align chakras with you? You can never be mad at this guy, because he couches his aggression in warm fuzzy babble. But seriously fuck him and his collection of pewter dragons. I don’t know how they do things in French Canadia, but in America you shake your friend’s hand.
2. The Hooker - This guy and I didn’t get to a first date either, but it still made for a good story. We exchanged numbers at a piano bar, and when I got home I Googled his phone number and the top result was his escort profile on RentBoy.com, complete with nudie pics. Then I was like, I’ll still date him because in the end at least I’ll get some free hooker, but then he asked me how old I was and I said 30 and he didn’t talk to me anymore. But I got the catch phrase “Your taint is on the internet next to your phone number!” from that, and I can’t wait to put that one a boutique line of t-shirts and outerwear. It’s gonna be the next “Git’r Done!”
1. The Successful Ex - What’s the opposite of Schadenfreude? Like when someone’s accomplishments make you miserable? There’s no kick in the stomach like the knowledge that your ex is flourishing while you flail your way from one boozy venue to the next, trashing all the weirdos you dated after he dumped your ass like a sack of unemployed potatoes. Still, it could be worse. You could be dating another stand-up comic, for example, and that’s just Russian Roulette with all the bullets in.
Alejandro Morales is a comedian, writer, and storyteller in Philadelphia. He is a co-host of Philly Improv Theater storytelling show Rant-O-Wheel as well as Camp Tabu and a producer of the upcoming QComedy Fest.
How and why did you get into comedy? I’ve always been a comedy fan. When I was just a kid, I used to watch hours of comedy on TV, like the original “Whose Line Is It Anyway?,” “The A-List” with Sandra Bernhard, and “The Kids in the Hall.” I got my degree from the University of the Arts in Screenwriting and Digital Filmmaking, but I’ve learned since that making movies costs several dollars while doing stand-up is pretty much free, bar tab notwithstanding. I got my official start doing stand-up at Philadelphia’s “Gayborhood Games” in 2009, where I botched my chance to be the funniest guy for six blocks. I lost again in 2010, and at the 2011 I cemented my position as the undisputed Susan Lucci of the Gayborhood Games. I stay involved in comedy because there’s really nothing else in the world for me.
How would you describe your style as a comedian? What influences and factors do you think contribute to that? I’m at my funniest when I’m just talking to friends at house parties, so when I’m on stage I try to get as close to “me at a house party” as possible without slurring or coming on to someone in the audience. I generally avoid topical humor or celebrity humor in favor of telling first-person stories, because while anybody can make a joke about the president, nobody can tell a story about accidentally flashing a room full of people quite like I can. I don’t think I’ve come myself 100% as far as a particular style just yet; I’m still learning a lot about what works and what doesn’t during live performance. My comedy mentor, Brad Loekle, told me it would take ten years for me to find my voice — I’m a quick study, though, so I’m a try to get that down to five. My primary influence is alcohol, usually vodka because it’s low in calories.
Do you have a favorite show or venue you like to perform at? What about it makes it fun or special for you? My favorite show is the one I host, of course. It’s called Camp Tabu, and I host it along with “The Hysterical Christine Meehan” at Tabu Lounge & Sports Bar every second Friday of the month. Other than the obvious reason that it’s my favorite ’cause it’s my show, I also think that the upstairs lounge at Tabu is a great performance space, and the diversity of the crowd makes it special as well. A lot of gay/queer comics and audiences are put off by other shows where they’ve encountered retrograde attitudes and ugly language about our community, so my approach is to try to screen out the pighead homophobe douchebag element in advance. I’m proud of the audiences and performers we’ve put together, and on the 14th of October we’re celebrating our one-year anniversary along with all of our favorites, including Carolyn Busa, Jaime Fountaine, Erin Mulville, and Andrew Nice Clay. Oh my gosh so excited for that.
Do you have a single favorite moment in Philly comedy or one that stands out? The first Tabu show we ever did, in the fall of 2010, was on the same night as a Phillies game, and when the game was over a group of rowdy guys came upstairs from the sports bar to watch the show. Soon after, Brendan Kennedy went onstage to do his set, and one of the guys hit on him from the audience, saying things like “LET ME IRON YOUR SHIRT” and “I WANT TO BITE YOUR FACE.” Then the guy brought Brendan a shot of tequila and the two had a dance-off on stage. Brendan handled the whole thing like a pro and the encounter ended without anybody having to be dragged out of the bar. It was a good night for the Phillies and a good night for us.
Do you have any sort of creative process that you use with your writing or your performance? Or a sort of method that you use to develop comedic material? Most of my best ideas occur to me out of nowhere, nine times out of ten when I’m trying to sleep. I try to write things down as they come to me, and then build around them later. Mostly, though, I just keep my ideas in my head, and build on them and memorize until I have a complete set. Then at some point I sit down and write out my set in full, to cement the memorization. I’m sort of lucky to just be generally oblivious and lacking in common sense, because funny things tend to happen to me that wouldn’t happen to smarter people.
What is it about stand-up / sketch / improv that draws you to it? I enjoy stand-up because it allows me to be completely self-reliant, and I get to grind my axes publicly. There’s always something that I wish I would’ve said to to the folks who’ve done me an ugly turn, and stand-up lets me get that out of my system. It’s so righteous! Not only that, but some stories are too good to keep to myself. Right now my favorite set is about this guy I almost dated — I Googled his phone number after we met and discovered his escort profile, complete with X-rated photos. The phrase “Your taint is on the internet next to your phone number” has got to be the best grouping of words in America since “cellar door,” seriously. Lately I’ve been taking improv classes, and it’s starting to grow on me. What I like about improv is the riffing aspect of it. When the chemistry is right, there’s absolutely nothing like bouncing off of other people.
Do you have any favorite performers in the Philly scene? Why are they your favorites? I really like Erin Mulville and Carolyn Busa because they are so bold and fresh, and I’m naturally gaydisposed to prefer lady comics. I also like Alex Gross, because of his gentle demeanor. As far as groups, I am a die-hard fan of the Dumpsta Players. They give themselves entirely to what they’re doing, and they channel John Waters like nobody else in this town.
Do you have any bad experiences doing comedy that you can share? A particularly bad bombing or even an entire show gone haywire? I went to New York City to do a Sunday night show at a gay bar hosted by Brad Loekle, where I was completely ignored by the audience for almost the entirety of my set. They perked up briefly for one joke about Rachel Zoe, but that was it. After my set was over the bottom fell out of my sneakers and I literally oozed off the stage into a nearby rum bucket to no fanfare whatsoever. The good part is that nobody shouted at me to get off the stage, presumably because for that to happen someone would have had to have noticed that I was up there.
What do you think the Philly comedy scene needs to continue to grow? I think that if the players in the comedy scene continue to reach out to each other and support one another’s endeavors the way they have been doing, that can only be good for the scene at large. A rising tide lifts all boats and whatnot.
Do you have any personal goals for the future as you continue to perform comedy? I’m forever hoping that through performing I can get the right set of eyes on my screenwriting work and maybe get a script or two produced. Also I recently did an out of town show in Lancaster, and it was such a blast. I would really love to travel more. Making some money doing this would be nice, too, while we’re wishing and hoping.
H. Foley of Center City Comedy held a big Philly comedy meeting last night at the X-Change Bar. We were there and it was a bit like the meeting of the Five Families from The Godfather, but at least it wasn’t like meeting Al Capone calls in The Untouchables. Everyone introduced themselves, talked about what they did, and then there was a pow wow on how the Philly comedy scene could be made stronger. If you want to reach out to Foley, check out Center City Comedy on Facebook. [Facebook Page]
Bird Text is the talk of the town with their new video, The Real Househusbands of Philadelphia. The video has over 20,000 views on YouTube. [YouTube]
Chip Chantry is promising that his show at Helium Comedy Club tonight, Face Time with Chip Chantry is gonna be a good one. He also promises a secret mystery guest from Los Angeles. Ooooh. [Facebook Event]
Alejandro Morales posted a commentary on gay jokes being made at the Helium open mic on Philly Gay Calendar, with a response in the comment section from the accused. [Philly Gay Calendar]
The improvised Alfred Hitchcock show, Stage Fright wraps up its run this weekend. Conceived by Matt Nelson and put on by the Philadelphia Joke Initiative, the show recreates the drama and suspense of a Hitchock film, completely made up on the spot. [Event Info and Ticketing]
Laughs on Fairmount has been featured in City Paper in their Critical Mass section. [Critical Mass]
Philly Improv Theater was mentioned for their involvement in the Philadelphia Science Festival in an article on Philly.com. [Philly.com]
Aaron Hertzog and Gregg Gethard are claiming this week’s Holding Court Podcast is the best one ever. It’s up to you to verify. [Holding Court Podcast]
Alejandro Morales wrote an article on the use of anti-gay slurs in comedy called “Comedy and the Fag Word.” It got picked up by Philly Gay Calendar. [Philly Gay Calendar]
Rumblings of a new Philadelphia comedy roast this month are getting louder. We’ll be the first (maybe second) to bring you all the information about that when it’s released. You can check out video last year’s roast of Kent Haines on Pat Barker‘s YouTube channel. [Pat Barker's YouTube Channel]
Philly Improv Theater‘s The Gross Show has a new night and time — Tuesday, March 29th at 8:30. Perhaps this is due to the last two shows getting noise complaints for being so raucous (this is what it is). [The Gross Show on Facebook]
Speaking of PHIT, the powerpoint from last Tuesday’s State of PHIT address from Greg Maughan is up if you weren’t there to attend. [Philly Improv Theater]
The second round of the March Madness Comedy Competition is tonight at the newly-christened Comedy X-Change open mic. Details of last night’s packed show will come tomorrow. [Facebook Event]