Upcoming Shows

  • October 31, 2014 8:00 amNationally Touring Headline Comedians @ Helium
  • October 31, 2014 7:00 pmThe Comedy Works
  • October 31, 2014 8:00 pmThe N Crowd
  • October 31, 2014 8:00 pmCrazy Cow Comedy
  • October 31, 2014 8:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
  • October 31, 2014 9:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
  • November 1, 2014Nationally Touring Headline Comedians @ Heliun
  • November 1, 2014Nationally Touring Headline Comedians @ Helium
  • November 1, 2014 7:30 pmComedy Sportz Philadelphia
  • November 1, 2014 8:00 pmCrazy Cow Comedy
  • November 1, 2014 9:30 pmThe Comedy Works
  • November 1, 2014 10:00 pmComedy Sportz Philadelphia
  • November 1, 2014 10:30 pmImprov Comedy: PHIT House Teams
  • November 5, 2014 8:00 pmComedy Masters
  • November 6, 2014 8:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
  • November 6, 2014 9:00 pmThe Comedy Attic
  • November 7, 2014 8:00 amNationally Touring Headline Comedians @ Helium
  • November 7, 2014 7:00 pmThe Comedy Works
  • November 7, 2014 8:00 pmThe N Crowd
  • November 7, 2014 8:00 pmCrazy Cow Comedy
  • November 7, 2014 8:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
  • November 7, 2014 9:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
  • November 8, 2014Nationally Touring Headline Comedians @ Helium
  • November 8, 2014Nationally Touring Headline Comedians @ Heliun
  • November 8, 2014 7:30 pmComedy Sportz Philadelphia
AEC v1.0.4

Tweets of the Week, Vol. 30

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.

Tweets of the Week, Vol. 20

Screen shot 2013-02-14 at 7.32.19 PM Screen shot 2013-02-14 at 7.36.47 PM Screen shot 2013-02-14 at 7.45.24 PM

 

Screen shot 2013-02-15 at 9.51.24 AM Screen shot 2013-02-15 at 9.36.54 AM Screen shot 2013-02-15 at 9.39.08 AM Screen shot 2013-02-15 at 9.40.07 AM Screen shot 2013-02-15 at 9.41.30 AM Screen shot 2013-02-15 at 9.47.30 AM Screen shot 2013-02-15 at 9.49.11 AM

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.

Tweets of the Week, Vol. 15

totw-lg totw-ah totw-ca totw-jg totw-bbt totw-az totw-cc totw-an totw-mr totw-tb

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.

Top 5 of 2012: Corin Wells’s Top 5 Sexiest Improv Moments of 2012

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, and slightly beyond, if we deem it necessary–if you’d like to write one, pitch us your list at contact@witout.net!

Sexiness is not learned. It’s a gift and when you combine that gift with comedy, prepare to burst with laughter and…well… yea.

5.  The Birth of Davenger and Hot Dish (shameless, vain plug)

4. J.P. Boudwin and Billy Bob Thompson in Improv at Bernie’s
For the Del Close Marathon this year, the amazing Kaitlin Thompson came up with the brilliant concept of Improv at Bernie’s in which a group of improvisers do a set with a dead cast member, played effortlessly by Billy Bob Thompson.  In one of the scenes (I wish I could remember what it was about), J.P. gives Billy a nice long, loving, lustful raspberry right on his belly.

3. Asteroid!’s Orgy

403460_447451255274454_1312674519_n

….This picture explains it.

2. Emily Davis.
Just… every time she walks on stage. ::swoon::

1. Andrew Stanton and Luke Field’s Duo

andrewluke

If you missed this, you missed life. Whatever stars aligned that day to bring this two together on stage, I am forever grateful because that was one of my favorite improv moments period. I think I described it as “my improv wet dream.”  Accurate.

Corin Wells is a member of the PHIT Improv House Team Hot Dish and Sketch House Team Dog Mountain. She also performs with the independent team Iron Lung and is one half of the duo Ebony and Ivory, hosts of ‘Cagematch’

Philly Comedy Round-up, Vol. 68

Last week comedian Doogie Horner wrote about being asked to perform stand-up at a holiday party, and then followed up his first post with a story about his experience.

This Wednesday Accidents Will Happen will begin their run as a weekly show at Adobe Cafe (1919 E. Passyunk Ave). This week’s show will be entirely an open mic. You can sign up for the mic at 8:30pm the night of the show or via email to accidentscomedy@gmail.com

This Saturday Rookie Card at the Raven Lounge will return for their Farewell 2012 show. The show will be hosted by stand-up comic Dan Scully and feature improv sets from PHIT House Team Hot Dish and duo Steve Rogers is Dead.

It was recently announced that Todd Barry will bring his Crowd Work Tour to Philadelphia early next year when he will perform at The Urban Saloon on Sunday, January 20th. As the name suggests Barry’s performance on the show will be completely crowd interaction instead of his usual written material. You can find more information on Facebook.

Billy Bob Thompson (The Feeko Brothers, Camp Woods, Hate Speech Committee, formerly of ZaoGao) has been chosen by the Peoples Improv Theater in New York as a recipient of their Improv Your Life Scholarship, granting him a full ride to their level one through five improv courses. Congrats, Billy.

This Wednesday Tight Six expands from their weekly open mic to present Not Jazz at Chris’ Jazz Cafe (1421 Sansom St.) a show featuring “a mix of stand-up, music (not jazz), fun, not jazz, games, and other spontaneous insanity.” The show will feature comedy from Doogie Horner, Juliet Hope Wayne, Alex Grubard, Jim Ginty, Sidney Gantt, and Robert X.

Comedian and storyteller Juliet Hope Wayne has been nominated for the 2012 Philebrity Award for General Fabulousness. The Philebrity awards are determined by online poll that will be open until Wednesday, December 19 at noon.

While we’re on the topic of awards shows; the nominations for the 2013 WitOut Awards for Philadelphia Comedy have been announced. Online voting is open to comedians and the general public from now until December 21. Tickets to the show and after-party will be on sale online via World Cafe Live.

If you have any Philly comedy news worth mentioning – send it our way with an email to contact@witout.net

Camp Woods: Humor Taken to a Whole New Level (Part Two)

By: Alexandra Levine

PART ONE HERE

In “Edwardo the Crab,” a guy wakes up on a beach to find that there’s a hermit crab living in his butt. “I play the crab,” Thompson adds proudly, eyes wide. In his black leather jacket and with hair slicked to the right of his forehead, I somehow imagined him differently when I heard his voicemail answering machine the day before. “Youuu’ve reached Biiiiilly Bob THOMPSON!” Beep.

Thompson attributes his comedic sensibilities to the Muppets. While growing up in Vermont, he was an avid Muppet-follower. “I was never the class clown because I was too shy,” he admits, which is partly why he started his career as a puppeteer in New York. He now does voiceovers for three Pokemon characters including Luke, Burgh and Shamus, “and a bunch of other little creatures.” He takes a sip of his drink, clears his throat, and when he speaks he suddenly sounds like a seven year-old boy. And then, for lack of a better term, like a “little creature.” I had to restrain myself from asking him to belt the Pokemon theme song. Although Rob probably would’ve been amused, eyes glazing over from one shot too many.

At 1AM, this now-snoozy-boozy Rob describes himself as a once-hyperactive kid. “I was annoying. Insanely annoying,” he says, shooting me a skeptical look from his side of the booth. “Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad – I’d say. For two minutes. Straight.” He never played House; he and his siblings did SNL parodies instead – a nice cultural alternative! “Whenever I think about sketch comedy, I think of Jan Hooks and Nora Dunn as lounge singers, singing ‘Clang, clang, clang with the trolley’ and laughing their asses off,” he remembers, nearly breaking the table lamp this time. And now, twenty-or-so years later, this once-hyperactive child has formed his own sketch group, Meg & Rob, moved on in 2009 to Camp Woods, and currently writes for the Animal Planet hit, Tanked.

Madonna, the only woman in the group, holds her own in the booth. From Baltimore. Wavy, black hair and thick, black eyeliner. “As a kid, I did whatever the fuck I wanted,” she says nonchalantly, the expression on her face not changing from one word to the next. “My parents didn’t give a shit and they still don’t, which is why I’m doing what I’m doing.” The beauty of having Madonna’s sass-and-circumstance (and her strong theater/sketch-writing background) in Camp Woods is that her style is no different than that of the men in the group. Having written JG Wentworth and Millionaire-Billionaire, “Madonna writes and plays some of the raunchiest stuff we have,” adds Thompson. Camp Woods saw Madonna perform at the Philly Improv Theater’s open-mic, “Sketch Up or Shut Up,” and it was love at first sight.

And then there’s Narisi, with his blue zip-up and a head of regal, JFK hair. “When I was a kid I was quiet enough that people were worried about me in school,” Narisi says. “People would ask me, ‘Why are you so serious and quiet all the time?’ I just didn’t like talking, so it’s strange that I’d now do these things on stage. I always wanted to write.” But Narisi does more than simply writing for Camp Woods; he also stars in a group favorite, “Narcoleptic EMT.” Self-explanatory: an ambulance driver who falls asleep all the time. Oh, and he’s also JG Wentworth 877-Cash-Now himself.

Kennedy, beneath a sea of curly brown hair, leans his back against the arcade machine and chimes in ever-so-politely and eloquently. He seems to be the wise, older brother of Camp Woods. “I was a good student. Very polite,” he says of his high school days – no surprise there. “I was an honors student and I played sports. I liked comedy but I kept it to myself.” Until he began doing improv and stand-up, that is. Hailing from Upper Dublin, Kennedy hit the Philadelphia comedy scene before sketch had really taken off. In the interim, he was a featured guest on comic radio shows, Opie and Anthony and KiddChris. But just a few years down the road, it’s now safe to say that Kennedy’s improv/stand-up background has come in handy as a great source of inspiration for Camp Woods. “Brendan’s was one of the first groups I saw doing stand-up, and I was like Yes! That’s what I want to do,” exclaims Boudwin. “All our short videos stemmed from Brendan – his stand-up style and the way he presented his humor added a whole new dimension to our group.”

As he continues to rave about Kennedy, Boudwin’s squeezed onto the end of the booth. He leans in. Eagerly. His long, black hair cascades out from beneath his black beanie, and a very becoming amount of stubble wraps around his mouth and chin. “When I was younger, I was sent to therapy in first grade for saying everything in my brain. I went to Catholic school so they thought that was bad,” he begins. God, this guy’s awesome. And he already reminds me of Jack Black. At his Upper Darby high school, he was the TV news anchor, intent on filming and producing a “better version” of Nickelodeon’s 1990’s hit, All That. “I wanted to call it Da Bomb. Like Rob, I was an obnoxious kid trying to be a star. But to be fair, two years later, Kenan and Kel tried to name their grocery-store-turned-nightclub ‘Da Bomb,’ so I felt validated.” The guys all raise their glasses and drink because they can relate: we’re talking about the 90’s here. If only I had ordered a “Ryan Gosling’s Bathwater” to clink with Camp Woods, or with Boudwin at the very least.

* * *

Greg Maughan, founder of the Philly Improv Theater (PHIT), met each individual member before they actually became Camp Woods. He’s seen them evolve from a flopped first-show at the PHIT to a highly ambitious sketch group that “can pack a show with a young, boisterous and hard-drinking crowd,” says Maughan. “They have matured a lot.” Since 2009, Camp Woods members have hosted PHIT shows and been through the theater’s writing workshops. A few have even given back by teaching those same classes. “What honestly makes them stand out to me is their ambition. They really want to go someplace with this.” says Maughan. “I think they want to be touring the country and on TV. I admire the hell out of that and want to do anything I can to help them achieve that.”

The Philly Improv Theater was one of the first theaters of its kind to hit the Philadelphia comedy scene in 2006. Camp Woods has been extremely supportive in the theater’s efforts to get a permanent space, according to Maughan, which in turn would generate more exposure for sketch groups like Camp Woods and might increase the chances of scouts traveling to Philadelphia to see them. Either way, “I think they will certainly be one of the top group in Philly as the comedy community here continues to expand,” Maughan adds.

As far as future plans go, the group will continue traveling around the city – putting on their longstanding, monthly shows at L’Etage. They’ll also be traveling across the country to gain exposure and build up their repertoire at large-scale shows and festivals in Boston, New York, Chicago and possibly Los Angeles. “Were a set seven and we don’t have auditions,” says Thompson, in case you were as interested as I was in joining them for the ride.

Any other recipes for success? “We need to write and perform what makes us laugh,” Madonna says. “It always goes better when we’re pleasing ourselves.”

* * *

Camp Woods’ most recent press release reads, “The group blends sharp absurdism and energetic performances with homemade props, sets, puppets, and costumes to create a memorable live experience that is sometimes smart, sometimes stupid, and always fun.” The humor is described as a mixture of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, The Kids in the Hall, Mr. Show, and Chappelle’s Show.

But Maughan puts it even better. “Their brains are not wired the same way as everyday people,” he says. His experience at an open mic/party at their house, ironically called Hate Speech Hall, pretty much sums it up. “You really don’t get their vibe until you find yourself drunk watching them do a sketch about taking Pickleback shots at 4:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning.”

Before I leave, I ask these funny guys to tell me a joke. Rob references a scene from Ghostbusters. Narisi recounts a scene from The Simpsons. Boudwin, a great line from Futurama. Thankfully, Kennedy throws in a Dumb and Dumber quote. And finally, Thompson comes up with a classic Fozzy the Bear one-liner. Ba-dum-chhh, and out goes Camp Woods from the Comedy Dreamz after-party to an after-after-party.

Camp Woods will be performing at their monthly sketch showcase Camp Woods Plus tonight at L’etage (6th and Bainbridge, Philadelphia)

Alexandra Levine is a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, and she is now an aspiring writer living in New York City.

Camp Woods: Humor Taken to a Whole New Level (Part One)

By: Alexandra Levine

“They’re hilarious testicles you hang on back of your truck! Go truck nuts for Truck Nuts!” Billy Bob Thompson says in the voice of an over-enthused infomercial salesman. In this particular skit, he’s trying desperately to film a thirty-second spot for a local Truck Nuts dealership. His supposed acting coach, dressed in a tight white turtleneck and even tighter white pants, becomes borderline abusive as Billy struggles with his line: “Take it from me, you’ll go truck nuts for our Truck Nuts!” Take two after take three after take four, he still can’t strike the right tone or twist his face into the perfect expression. The acting teacher – strangely similar to Romanian gymnastics coach Béla Károly – loses his cool and brandishes a pair of plastic testicles in front of Thompson’s face. That’s basically it, but the crowd goes nuts – pun entirely intended.

“Truck Nuts” was one of four skits that sketch-comedy group, Camp Woods, put on that evening. Their fifteen-minute gig was the grand finale of Comedy Dreamz, a show featuring sketch, stand-up and improv comedians from across the greater Philadelphia area. This month’s Comedy Dreamz was hosted at The Barbary, a grungy late-night hotspot in North Philly. Think: hipster dive-bar meets eighties dance-party. The room was cozy and dark, except for a glowing EXIT sign and the red lights illuminating the sides of the bar. Oh, and the low-hanging, over-sized disco ball. Just before Camp Woods took the stage, the MC’s offered club-goers two specialty drinks: the ‘Panty Destroyer’ (one shot more than ‘Panty Dissolver’) and, my personal favorite, ‘Ryan Gosling’s Bathwater.” Circa midnight, Camp Woods made their Comedy Dreamz debut.

Catchy opera music drowned out the noise of clinking beer glasses. (Who knew opera music could be catchy?) It was an operatic jingle from a mundane insurance commercial: the song looped, “Call JG Wentworth, 877-Cash-Now.” As the song repeated, Camp Woods actor Sam Narisi removed his ill-fitting khaki pants, waddled across the stage in briefs, and began putting on stockings over stockings over stockings. Until he reached about ten pairs. Audience in suspense all-the-while, he finally exclaimed, “It’s pantyhose time!” Narisi was JG Wentworth himself, and when he finally received a call from someone who had heard his promising hotline jingle, he had no “cash” to give them. At least not “now”. Whoops.

Next, Camp Woods’ Madonna Marie Refugia and Patrick Foy took on the roles of Cassandra and Bartholomew in “Millionaire-Billionaire.” She, the millionaire, and he, the billionaire, they sexy-talked about net worth and got off just verbalizing their wealth. “Say it slow,” Cassandra demanded seductively, as Bartholomew responded, “Twenty…two…billion.” His net worth sounded so delicious that Cassandra had an orgasm. To return the favor, Bartholomew asked for her net worth: “Say it slow, and like you’re from the South,” he insisted. “Two-point-one…million…dollars,” she responded sensuously. She reached a second sexual climax when Bartholomew recited all the celebrities whose net worths were lower than his. “Oprah mother-humping Winfrey!” he added, last but not least, sending his lover over the edge.

* * *

Transcribing Camp Woods’ short, out-there stints just doesn’t do them justice. “We go for absurdist and weird stuff,” explains Thompson. “We try to stray away from what you’d see in mainstream comedy like SNL or Colbert-type shows where they lampoon politics.” The seven-person troupe boasts the witty-yet-quirky writing and acting of Billy Bob Thompson, Rob Baniewicz, JP Boudwin, Brendan Kennedy, Patrick Foy, Sam Narisi, and Madonna Marie Refugia. They’re all in their mid-to-late twenties, but Camp Woods is pretty young itself. Launched back in 2009 by Boudwin, Foy and Narisi, the group remains relatively new. But since then, the four others have jumped on the Camp Woods bandwagon after meeting at variety shows and comedy workshops around the city.

We’re all huddled in a booth upstairs at the Barbary, beers in hand. A vintage Pacman machine seems to enthrall Rob (who introduced himself to me as “Robot”), but he’s drunk and equally as excited to fondle the table lamp and twirl it around is finger. “We’re the good comedians in Philadelphia,” he proclaims, “and that’s exactly how we found each other. It was just that simple. Billy and I were in other sketch groups and Brendan’s a brilliant standup. Pat and Sam went to college together and did video and web-comedy. We all met Madonna in a sketch workshop and loved her stuff.”

When it comes to humor, the group shares the same sensibilities. “We all have the same sense of humor, just have different ways of writing it,” Rob explains. The group has no ‘one’ creative artistic approach; they come together with pitches and bounce ideas off each other. And it helps that Boudwin, Kennedy and Thompson live together. They even have a green screen set up to keep their creative juices flowing.

In fact, one of Camp Woods’ most publicized, hyped web-clips was produced at home in front of that green screen. The video, “Mystery Science Andre 3000,” remakes a one-minute excerpt from Satellite of Love with a raunchy voiceover from Outkast’s Andre 3000. The homemade video was re-tweeted by Questlove from The Roots, which bumped up viewership and scored Camp Woods some much-deserved attention both online and in the Philadelphia City Paper. “Mystery Science Theater has a cult following,” explains Thompson, “so Andre 3000 ended up being our most well-known work outside this city.” He and Boudwin conceived of the idea while high, and it sure is a short-and-sweet masterpiece.

Despite the popularity of Mystery Science Andre 3000, Camp Woods agrees that web-comedy doesn’t quite compare to live sketch and stand-up. “I was initially partial to video stuff because I went to film school,” says Thompson. “But part of the beauty of doing it live is knowing people’s immediate reactions, whereas online you can really only judge how much people like it through view counts. It’s just not as gratifying.”

To date, Camp Woods’ biggest and best live-shows have been at the Chicago Sketch Fest (January 2012) and the Boston Improv Festival. They have also performed at the North Carolina Comedy Arts Fest, Philly Sketchfest, Philadelphia Fringe Festival, New York’s ABC No Rio, and the Chicago Snubfest (which grants admission only to those who have been rejected from other festivals). But Thompson’s personal favorite was a performance at New York’s Upright Citizen’s Brigade (UCB) last fall. “We crushed that,” he laughs. “It was the best feeling I’ve had in a while.” At the UCB, Thompson starred in a Camp Woods favorite known as “Rude Sloth.” The premise? A rude sloth. Guy shows up to a hotel called the Rude Sloth Hotel. Guests at said hotel are given a rude sloth to hold onto during their stay. Said guest refuses the sloth, and the animal acts rudely. Easy enough. With Narisi as the guest, Boudwin as the concierge, and Thompson in a head-to-toe sloth outfit, “Rude Sloth” is generally a crowd hit.

It’s not always that easy, though – especially with a flat crowd. The group works effortlessly to predict and read its audience. “There are times when we do things like Comedy Dreamz at bars where people really are only laughing at the pussy/dick/fart jokes,” Boudwin says. “But then you go to a crowd in a theater and do that, they don’t pick it up as well. Knowing when and where to add it in is a big part of what we do. Our ideas are funnier than curse words or messy parts of the body.” So what to do with a dead crowd? “I start yelling my lines!” Narisi interjects. (“Shock them!” Thompson adds, shaking as if electrocuted.)

Every month, the group discusses which sketches have worked with audiences and which haven’t. This Saturday, at the Walnut Street Theater’s F. Harold Festival, Camp Woods will be doing a “Best Ofs” set. In addition to the Rude Sloth, Millionaire-Billionaire and JG Wentworth shorts, they’ll be bringing back four more treats for the crowd. “Homeless Haiku” will feature three homeless men in a quasi-poetry slam, cursing their blunt, stream-of-consciousness thoughts ala haiku. In “Laser Arm,” a man who works for the mob realizes he’s invincible because he has…wait for it…a laser arm. In “Farting Magician,” Brother A tells Brother B that their father’s in the hospital, but Brother B is too distracted to care. He’s intrigued by a magician who, with a press of a button, will fart, and fart, and fart again. Finally, “Glitter Pocks” is about a coal miner’s family, wondering how they will deal with the father’s sickness, glitter pocks. He works at a glitter mine, and by God, he can’t stop coughing up glitter! (With Thompson as the miner, each time he sneezes into his hand, glitter explodes around his face. Obviously.)

Camp Woods will be performing at their monthly sketch showcase Camp Woods Plus tomorrow night at L’etage (6th and Bainbridge, Philadelphia)

Alexandra Levine is a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, and she is now an aspiring writer living in New York City.

Top 5 of 2011: Mark Leopold’s Favorite Improv Moments

Luke Field in Adrift.

During the Philadelphia Improv Festival this year, Adrift was featured. It was pretty star studded and I remember sitting there thinking what an amazing cast I was seeing. Tara DeFrancisco, Jill Bernard, Brian McConnell, plus some of Philly’s most experienced improvisers. Then there was Luke Field. I had only seen Luke perform once before and I knew he was good, but in a boat that full of talent I was afraid he might not be up to the challenge. And for a long time, it looked like it might turn out that way. Luke sat perfectly quiet for the whole first “day” of the show, not saying a thing. The second “day” started and things were moving along at a gentle pace, when the conversation in the boat quieted and reached a natural lull. Then Luke softly spoke up with an amazing offer, “I’d just like to reiterate my offer to hear anyone’s confession if they would like to.” It made the show for me. It was just a great, simple, strong move. Good job Luke.

Kristin Finger’s in The Real Housewives of Philadelphia.

The Real Housewives also performed during PHIF. It was a great show with many awesome moments, but one stood out to me above the rest as just a fantastic moment where a performer understands the audience completely. Throughout the show, various characters would step forward and do “confessional” scenes to the audience. Kristin’s character was very masculine. I’m not sure if she was a man, used to be a man, wanted to be a man or what, but it was pretty fantastic to just get to watch her duding it around stage. At one point, she stepped forward into the confessional, sat down uncertainly on the very edge of the chair and just tucked her chin back and said, “Uh…” in the character’s deep voice. The audience immediately exploded into a roar of laughter. But that isn’t what impressed me about that moment. What impressed me was what she did next. She read the audience perfectly and simply shrugged and walked offstage, which elicited yet another roar of laughter. Perfect timing, perfect offer, perfect delivery. Great stuff.

Billy Thompson’s cartwheel.

ZaoGao plays with a lot of intensity and I’m always impressed with the effortlessness of their constant support for one another. This was never more apparent than in a show during their Fringe run. Billy Thompson had established the character of an impertinent and lazy king who had other people do things for him. As the show progressed, two other characters challenged one another to a cartwheel race. No sooner had they finished their race than Billy ran forward and commanded his minions, “I want to be in the cartwheel race!” The whole team then proceeded to cartwheel him across the stage and it was wonderful. Great job ZaoGao, great job Billy.

Kristin Schier’s clowning at Sideshow.

At Sideshow this year, we all we treated with Kristin Schier’s clowning act. I loved it. I had never seen a clown before then. Not at the circus. Not at children’s party. Not at a party for clowns where you just invite clowns because that’s going to automatically be a pretty great party. So I didn’t know what to expect. Clowns have a reputation for being either terrible or terrifying. Kristin was neither. Her clown was this wonderful child-like creature who interacted so openly with the audience it was intoxicating. Everyone in the room was on the edge of their seats the entire time. She went through a wide range of emotions during her set, but one moment in particular stood out to me. Along one side of the stage the wall was covered in mirrors with a curtain obscuring them. Kristin’s clown, exploring the space, peeked behind them and discovered that there were mirrors there and gradually pulled back the curtains with growing delight. When the curtains were finally drawn, she caught sight of herself and reacted with surprise and confusion, turning to the audience as if to say, “Is that really me?” She then turned back to the mirror and simply looked at herself, becoming sadder and sadder…as the audience came on that emotional trip with her. Just amazing patience and control and willingness to go where that moment took her. Awesome job Kristin.

Dangerous Fools.

If you watch commercials you’ve probably seen Tom Fowler. He’s pretty great. If you’ve come to Comedysportz you may have seen Mary Carpenter. She’s pretty terrific too. Together they performed this year as Dangerous Fools. I caught their show this year when they performed at the Shubin and it was basically a seminar on patient scene work. One moment which really stood out to me was a scene where they were playing a husband and wife, trapped in a crazy female neighbor’s bathroom after their attempt to invite her into their newly open marriage had gone wrong. She had turned out to be way too into it and things had gotten intense and surprisingly racist. They had tried the open marriage because Mary’s character couldn’t bear the thought of touching him. So while they’re trapped in the bathroom, furiously arguing with each other in frantic whispers, Tom points out that it was all her idea to begin with, to which she respond, “I don’t want to touch you, but I can’t bear the thought of anyone else touching you either!” After that offer, Tom simply looked while Mary clapped a hand to her mouth. Then they stayed like that for about FORTY FIVE SECONDS. It was amazing. It was just insane to watch two performers have the balls to just stay there, silent, and allow their characters to react emotionally to an offer. So great. Then, after the tension had built to an unbearable limit, Tom simply said, “That is the sweetest thing you have said in a long time.” Great stuff Mary and Tom!

Ten Questions With…Billy Bob Thompson

Billy Bob Thompson is a Philadelphia based comedian originally from Vermont.  He does stand-up, writes sketches with The Feeko Brothers and Camp Woods, and performs improv with Hate Speech Committee and the new PHIT House Team codename: Shadowfax. He is also the voice of Burgh on Pokémon: Black and White.

How and why did you get into comedy?

How:  My entire life, the only thing I’ve ever taken seriously was comedy (that’s how my auto-biography is going to start).  I first realized that comedy was something I would like to pursue, when I was in a barbershop quartet called “The Half Steps” during high school.  We would perform super cute little comedy bits between songs which I wound up enjoying more than the actual singing itself.  Fast forward a few years, blah, blah, blah, and now I’ve become extremely successful at being an unsuccessful comedian.

Why:  Crippling anxiety, the strange desire to be liked by people I don’t know, and dirty butt sluts.

How would you describe your style as a comedian? What influences and factors do you think contribute to that? I’m not sure how to describe my style, but here’s some stuff I’ve heard:

“Billy Bob Thompson is the closest thing Philadelphia has to Paul Rudd.” -–Pat Ackerman

“Billy is like a white Steve Martin.” – John McKeever

“You look like that Carey guy!  Can I get some change for the bus?” – Guy outside of a 7/11

Do you have a favorite show or venue you like to perform at? What about it makes it fun or special for you? I’ve had the most fun on Chip Chantry’s “One-Man Show” and Doogie Horner’s “Ministry of Secret Jokes.”  Anything goes on those shows, you knows!  These two fine gentlemen have created even finer shows that are an absolute pleasure to perform on and watch.  If you want a crash course in what is actually going on in Philly Comedy, go to these shows.  Quick side note:  If you run a show or a venue, please don’t throw hissy fits in front of your performers.  It puts them on edge and makes you look unprofessional.  The performers are there to help you.  Stop it.  I’ve seen this baby behavior happening all over the city.  You’re being bad.  Bad!

Do you have a single favorite moment in Philly comedy or one that stands out? For me personally, it’s either doing stand-up at Helium’s Philly’s Phunniest OR “A Slow Day at the Dildo Factory”:http://youtu.be/6i_DlJzsc7w  But I’d have to say that “The Roast of Meg Favreau” was one of my favorite moments in Philly comedy. Everyone on the dais MurderDeathKilled with their sets!  It was one of the funniest shows I’ve had the pleasure of being involved with. See for yourself: http://www.witout.net/2011/03/23/video-of-the-meg-favreau-roast/  Luke Giordano’s Roast was alright too, I guess.

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? I use the 3 Ps* method.

What is it about stand-up / sketch / improv that draws you to it? I’m drawn to stand-up because to me it is hands down, the hardest of the three.  When you’re alone on stage and it goes bad, it feels terrible.  But when it goes well, it’s one of the greatest things in the world.  I’m drawn to sketch the most because it fits me the best. There’s more creativity involved in putting together sketches which is why I think I gravitate towards it.   I’m drawn to improv because it takes the least amount of preparation, and fucking around with your friends on stage is always a good time.

Do you have any favorite performers in the Philly scene? Why are they your favorites? HOW DARE YOU MAKE ME PICK WHICH OF MY FRIENDS I LIKE MORE!!!  Okay, I pick Emily and Micah McGraw.  They’re a married comedy duo that sings hilarious songs, every one of which is PURE GOLD.  I love everything they do and you should too.  Man, I wish I had a husband I could sing comedy songs with.  WIFE!  I MEANT WIFE!  I’m also a gigantic fan of everyone I work with on a regular basis.  Like the Camp Woods blokes and the Hate Speech Committee crew!!!  We roll deep.  But my super favorite would have to be my comedy husband, Christian Alsis.  Awwwwwwww.  He makes me laugh shit.  There, I mentioned you, Christian.  Are you happy now?! No?  See!  I told you you’d never be happy.

Do you have any bad experiences doing comedy that you can share? A particularly bad bombing or even an entire show gone haywire? Of course!  But wouldn’t you rather watch a video of it?  Here’s a well-shot video of The Feeko Brothers bombing at the late great Bedtime Stories: http://youtu.be/-RB3mPVh9pI  Enjoy!  I know we didn’t.

What do you think the Philly comedy scene needs to continue to grow? There needs to be more crossover within the comedy scene.  HEY, YOU!  Do you only perform stand-up and think improv is “gay?”  Well, crowd-work is improv so that means you’re “gay” too!  Go see an improv show!  Do you only do improv and have never heard of Secret Pants?  Well, there’s something wrong with you!  Go see a sketch show!  Do you only perform sketch?  Good, keep doing it.  There needs to be more people doing sketch.  It’s much better than stand-up or improv, but also go see an improv or stand-up show anyway! Crossover within the scene will give everyone more exposure.  Get out of your bubble!

Do you have any personal goals for the future as you continue to perform comedy? My goal is to hopefully make the transition from a Volunteer Comedian to a Paid Comedian.  I already treat comedy like a job so all I’m looking for is a promotion and maybe a raise.  Dental would be nice.  I’d also like to be Mr. January in the “Beef-Cakes of Philly Comedy” Calendar, but it would be an honor just to be nominated.

*Paper, Pens, and Pot.