Tomorrow night, comedians, friends, roommates and ragtag group of rapscallions Alex Grubard, Joey Dougherty, Lou Misiano and Tommy Touhill bring you three shows in one: Comedy Bonfire at The Fire. For seven greenbacks, you get a stand-up showcase hosted by Alex (featuring Ryan Shaner, Mary Radzinski and Dave Topor); a live taping of the Trailer Trash Podcast (with Joey and Tommy as guests); and to close the night, the ComeDIYorDIE open mic hosted by Lou. Here they are answering some questions about Comedy Bonfire, comedian-produced comedy shows, and living together:
WitOut: Alex, you used to do a different show at The Fire, right? What’s bringing you back?
Alex Grubard: It was called All Ages Comedy. Why you gotta bring up old shit? The Fire is a simple, solid rock venue so their showroom is separate from the bar. We thought Northern Liberties could use more comedy. Also it’s down the street from the house we live in so it’s easy to get to for all of us. What Joey doesn’t understand is that some of us don’t have bikes.
WO: Is this going to be an ongoing show? And if it is ongoing, will you always do the three-shows-in-one format?
Lou Misiano: March 26th is a one-off show to start out, but the idea is to keep the three shows for $7 aspect. It’s a comedy night at a rock venue. The shows could change, sure. We’ll likely first play around with the 11PM time slot, but who knows what kind of unique but done-to-death show it could wind up being? What Tommy doesn’t understand is that there are plenty of open mics and no one will miss one that doesn’t exist yet.
WO: You live with the other three producers of this show. What’s it like living in a house full of comedians? Do you think working with the people you live with will put any stress on your home life?
Joey Dougherty: Living with comedians is great as long as you’re also a comedian. Non-coms are always like, “Why does every ‘touring comedian’ seem more like a ‘homeless person crashing on our couch for two weeks?’” What Lou doesn’t understand is that comedy is hard, shelter is harder.
WO: The open mic portion of the show is called “ComeDIYorDIE.” Can you explain why/how you feel a DIY aesthetic/attitude lends itself to stand-up comedy? What do you like about independent comedy and comedian-produced shows?
Tommy Touhill: There’s pros and cons to doing things yourself. There are four of us running Comedy Bonfire so it’s more like just a great pun to call it an open mic. Stand-up comedy does have the benefit of making comedians feel like individuals and a part of a community at the same time. Writing and performing stand-up comedy is about as DIY as you get, but finding people who you work well with is important. A comic’s ability to bounce around projects and try different things with different people besides performing alone on stage is a powerful resource. What Alex doesn’t understand is that it’s more than an image; it’s a business model.
WO: Please pick a soundtrack for the evening using only songs that have the word “fire” in the title and/or lyrics written around the theme of “fire.”
“Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash
“We Threw Gasoline on the Fire and Now We All Have Stumps For Arms and No Eyebrows” by NOFX
“If You Love Someone Set Them On Fire” by Dead Milkmen
“Great Balls of Fire” by Jerry Lee Lewis
“Firestarter” by Prodigy
“Light My Fire” by The Doors
“Fire On The Mountain” by The Grateful Dead
“Lake of Fire” by The Meat Puppets
“I’m On Fire” by Bruce Springsteen
“Sleep Now In The Fire” by Rage Against The Machine
“Sex On Fire” by Kings of Leon
That Billy Joel song.
“Into The Fire” by Bruce Springsteen
“Fireflies” by Owl City
“Dig For Fire” by Pixies
“My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys” by Willie Nelson
‘Comedy Bonfire’ is this Tuesday, March 26th at The Fire (412 E. Girard Avenue). Show starts at 8PM. Admission is $7.
Comedian Alex Grubard recently won the LOL at The Grand competition in Wilmington, DE. Grubard took home a cash prize for his win, but don’t hold that against him the next time he tells you that he doesn’t have any money.
A new humor blog, Kitty Kat Booty is being run by Philadelphia-area comedians and La Salle students Kyle Harris and Brian McCarthy. The blog aims to post original humor pieces as well as interviews with comedians. The site recently interviewed comedian Steve Hofstetter.
Monday Evening Raw makes its debut tonight at Ray’s Happy Birthday Bar (1200 E. Passyunk Ave.) The stand-up showcase will feature sets from: Ryan Crawford, M. Jacob Alvarez, Dan Vetrano, Jay West, and TJ Hurley and will be hosted by Mike Logan.
Free Improv at Connie’s Ric Rac returns this week with another improv showcase featuring 15-minute sets from eight groups. This month’s show will feature: Deleted Scenes, Those Two Nice Ladies, Cake Bear, Bad James, DupliCate, No Wait, Dennis, Frank, Caitlin, Stills & Nash, Kait and Andrew+
This Wednesday Accidents Will Happen will be taken over by The Panic Hour. The show will be hosted by Steve Miller-Miller, NA Poe, and David Piccolomini and will feature comedy from: Alex Pearlman, Blythe Randolph, Tim Unkenholz, Kevin Hebbeler, Robert X, Jay West,and Alison Zeidman. As always, the show will be followed by an open mic.
JP Boudwin’s sketch comedy showcase Now Time! will have its second show at L’etage (624 S. 6th St.) this week with a show featuring The Feeko Brothers, Daring Daulton, and American Breakfast.
Kevin Hart’s Plastic Cup Boyz tour comes to Tower Theatre (Ludlow St. and S 69th St. Upper Darby) this Saturday with a show full of home-grown comedy from: Na’im Lynn, Will “Spank” Horton, Joey Wells and LaVar Walker.
This Sunday Bedtime Stories Presents: Guy Fieri’s Phantabulous Phood Phestival at Connie’s Ric Rac. The show will feature sketches, characters, and all around weirdness around the theme of the Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives host.
All this week Philly Improv Theater will host shows at the Shubin Theater (407 Bainbridge St.) You can check out their full calendar online.
If you have any Philly comedy news worth mentioning – send it our way with an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s that age-old fairy tale: A comedy nerd leaves his hometown in pursuit of Colorado snowboardom, and winds up becoming a full-fledged comedian himself. The nerd-turned-comic in question, Matt Monroe, is back in town this week and putting on a special Philly edition of his Denver comedy showcase Propaganda!. He’ll be bringing locals Alex Grubard, Alex Pearlman and Doogie Horner to the L’etage stage, along with Denver act Brett Hiker and NYC comics Ray DeVito and Scott Sharp. Here’s more about Matt and this Sunday’s show:
WitOut: What’s your comedy background, and what took you away from Philly to Denver?
Matt Monroe: I’m pretty green, I’ve been doing stand-up now for almost two years. That being said, I’ve been a huge comedy nerd since I was 21. Before Helium opened, I used to go to NYC a few times a year just to see shows at the Comedy Cellar, and the now-defunct Dangerfield’s. I would disguise the NYC trip as taking whoever I was dating at the time “on a romantic weekend in New York,” but it was really just an excuse to go see shows.
I left Philadelphia in 2009 before I ever tried stand-up, and my reasons for leaving were pretty boring. I had been here for 27 years and never lived anywhere else. I didn’t go to college, so I never even got that experience. A lot of my friends were starting to get married, and have kids, and I had started to get into snowboarding. So I used that as an excuse to move to a spot that is more conducive to a longer season. I hadn’t really planned on living in Denver as long as I have. After being there for almost two years, I had already made plans to move back to Philly (I let my job know, sold my SUV and bought a smaller car to prepare for Rittenhouse parking) and then 6 weeks before I left I stumbled across the Denver comedy scene accidentally, did an open mic, and that was it.
WO: What’s the comedy scene like in Colorado?
MM: It’s incredible. For such a small place there is so much stage time, and so much talent to fill it. We have 5 clubs in a 50-mile radius, and that doesn’t include improv theaters, cabarets, or other performance venues. Just comedy clubs. We have a comedy festival (Laugh Track Comedy Festival) every summer. There are open mics every night of the week, and there are at least a dozen comedian-run showcases that are spread throughout the month. There is a lot of stage time, and the scene is incredibly supportive. Not to mention Denver’s Comedy Works is one of the best clubs in the country, and they are very supportive of the up-and-coming scene.
WO: Describe a typical Propaganda! show. What makes it unique?
MM: To be honest, Propaganda! is more or less a typical showcase. What makes it unique is the venue. The show in Denver runs monthly in a really cool room in the basement of the historic D&F clock tower. It’s a cabaret/burlesque showroom called Lannie’s and it’s got a really great vibe to it, and it’s absolutely perfect for comedy. We were very lucky to get that venue, and it’s why I chose L’etage for the Philadelphia show, as it seems to be in that same vein. What I try to do on a monthly basis, is have some out-of-town comedians on the show if at all possible. We’ve been very fortunate to have some incredible comedians come through town and do the show including Sean Patton, Ron Funches, Kyle Kinane and Rory Scovel.
WO: What brings you back to Philly for these few weeks, and what made you decide to do an edition of Propaganda! while you’re here?
MM: Family, mostly. I try to come back a few times a year to see family and friends. I’ll be at the North Carolina Comedy Arts Fest, so I decided to schedule a couple weeks back home right afterwards since it’s a pretty short drive. I decided to put on the show because I thought it would be a good opportunity to get my family and friends together who have never seen me perform before. I also have a couple Denver friends that have recently relocated to NYC, and thought it would be fun to have them come down and perform with me and some Philadelphia comics.
WO: What do you like/miss the most about Philly comedy?
MM: The open mic scene in Philly is a lot of fun. I didn’t get to perform much the last time I was in town, so I’m looking forward to getting out to some shows I haven’t been to yet. Also, Helium is an incredible club that I miss a lot. I’m looking forward to checking out a show, and maybe being able to perform at the open mic.
‘Propaganda!’ is this Sunday, February 10th at 8pm at L’etage (6th and Bainbridge Streets). Admission is $FREE.99.
by Alex Grubard
This past week was the stand-up comedy portion of the month-long 2013 North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival. The festival takes place in central Carolina right inside Tar Heel country. Centralized in Carrboro and Chapel Hill and including venues in Raleigh and Durham, NCCAF is now in its 13th year and features one week of stand-up, one of improv and one of sketch. The biggest shows are at the Dirty South Improv Theater in Carrboro, which seats 100 and despite its name is kept in pristine condition using classic Northern efficiency.
I applied to the festival this year and was accepted. The application included a headshot, bio, online video and an application fee, which sucks because I don’t have any MONEY. I paid for it using beach chairs I borrowed from Temple.
Every comedy festival is different and they intentionally focus on unique elements of comedy and show formats. Carrboro and Chapel Hill are young college towns full of students from University of North Carolina. Tar Heels. Even the firetrucks are Carolina Blue. Even the police sirens are Carolina Blue!
The Chapel Hill comedy scene has a comforting, hometown feel. Like a local film festival it showcases a lot of young, independent talent for a group of cultured comedy audiences somewhere other than a major Metropolitan city. A lot of graduate students and oddball dirty southern locals came out to all of the shows. I talked to all sorts of fun, drunk, American young people who were fixing to save the world one little league basketball team at a time.
I felt that while watching and performing on shows I noticed the crowds were not as rowdy and riotous as Philly crowds. They tended to have a liberal sensitivity about misogynistic or homophobic jokes. Unbelievable, right?! They would often pass it off when it was brought up as, “This is Carrboro.” Whatever hippy dippy stuff that means. Needless to say I went to Carrboro Farmer’s Market early Saturday morning for a cup of local coffee and a hot sweet potato maple doughnut.
The comedians invited to the festival this year were all booked on 2-3 shows at the Local 506 or the Dirty South Improv Theater performing 10-15 minute sets. Comics also could volunteer to host or do one-minute guest sets on shows throughout the festival. For several comics this was their second or third year performing at NCCAF.
Comedy festivals are a great way to interact on stage and off stage with comics from other cities. The festival’s producer Zach Ward began and operated the DSI Theater for years before moving to Boston just a few months ago to take over running ImprovBoston in Cambridge, Massachusetts. There were numerous comics from Boston, Chicago and New York as well as Philadelphia’s Ian Fidance, Lisa Yost, Latice and myself. Obviously the four of us were the best and everyone said so. Go Philly! For a full line-up of all the hilarious comedians go to http//www.nccomedyarts.com and read about what’s happening the rest of the month. And if you’re interest is peaked about NCCAF and the Triangle cities in North Carolina, but you’re bummed you missed out on the stand-up week, you’re in luck! Steven Wright will be headlining the festival February 8th.
Alex Grubard (@alexgrubard, http://alexgrubard.tumblr.com) is a stand-up comedian who has performed at the North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival, the Cape Fear Comedy Festival, the 1st and 2nd F. Harold Comedy Festival and Live Arts & Philly Fringe. He has written about comedy for Campus Philly, the NY Examiner and now WitOut. He is a student at Temple University and he needs you to buy him beer, because he doesn’t have any MONEY.
As the year winds down, WitOut collects lists from comedy performers and fans of their favorite moments, comedians, groups, shows, etc. from the last year in Philly comedy. Top 5 of 2012 lists will run throughout December–if you’d like to write one, pitch us your list at email@example.com!
1. “Hello!” – Alex Grubard
2. “Hey, guys.” – Joe Bell
3. “I don’t have any money.” – Alex Grubard (Quit hogging the English, Grubard.)
4. “Hey, everybody!” – Aaron Hertzog
5. “Diarrhea.” – Chris O’Connor
Alejandro Morales is a stand-up comedian, aspiring filmmaker, and male impersonator. Starting January 30th, he’ll be co-hosting a brand new comedy showcase with fellow comedian TJ Hurley called ‘East Coast Power Nap’ at the Balcony of the Trocadero. Tweet him on the TLC tip at @alleyhandrow.
Follow Witout on Twitter for updates from our site, as well as retweets of more of the best 140-character-or-less jokes from Philly comics.
Temple University‘s comedy team has advanced past 2011 defending champions Penn State in Rooftop Comedy‘s 2012 National College Comedy Competition. The team, which consists of Alex Grubard, Tim Ryan, Paul Kenton and Chris Whithair beat Penn State in online voting to move on to the next round which they will compete against the winner of NYU and Columbia. The contest started with a showcase at Temple, in which a team of eight comedians were chosen to perform at Helium Comedy Club in another live showcase at which judges narrowed the team down to it’s current four person status. Now, online voting will determine which schools keep advancing for their chance to be named champions and win a performance at the 2012 Just For Laughs Chicago Comedy Festival. If you’d like to do your part in voting to help Temple move on, keep your eyes on Witout’s Facebook and Twitter for updates on when the next round of voting begins.
Comedy Month continues this week with the fourth annual Philly Sketchfest. Performing this year will be local favorites The Feeko Brothers, Camp Woods, Hate Speech Committee, Secret Pants, and Animosity Pierre as well as out of town acts including Angel Yau, The Chris & Paul Show, Last Call Cleveland and more. The full schedule, along with tickets can be found online.
There’s been a good bit of media coverage for comedy month. Articles have been written about the three week long string of festivals by The Philadelphia Inquirer, The AV Club Philly, Philly Weekly, and Citypaper.
The QComedy Fest is also set to take place this week with shows at various venues around the city including The Philly Improv Theater at The Shubin Theater, Tabu Sports Bar & Lounge, and Club Voyeur. The festival will be headlined by Alec Mapa, of Desperate Housewives and Ugly Betty fame.
Doogie Horner’s Ministry of Secret Jokes returns again this week with a show featuring new videos from Secret Pants and Joke Summer School and stand-up from Chris Cotton, Alex Grubard and Trey Galyon.
Brian Posehn is coming to Philadelphia to play the Trocadero Theater on Thursday, October 20 at 8:00PM. Tickets can be purchased online.