“It’s Elementary” is a monthly column that asks comedians to share funny memories from their elementary school years, or “periods” (get it?? Like moments in time, but also like in school!) from those formative years that have informed their comedic identities. Or, they’ll just submit some random anecdotes. Whatever they want, really.
by Dave Metter
I have long been fascinated by what has influenced and inspired other comedy writers, especially during their youths when their comedic senses were still so nascent and less judgmental. Be they films or television shows, random anecdotes or funny relatives, I ask comedians to share a few experiences or works they recall notably from their elementary school years. This premiere edition of “It’s Elementary” features Philly stand-up comedian Carolyn Busa.
1st Period: Jeopardy Theme Song
The first time I truly thought I was the most hilarious person in the world was kindergarten. I was sitting at a table with none other than Tommy, better known these days as Tom. Tommy was trying to relay a story to me but he couldn’t remember the next part. Typical kindergartner. Well, as I sat there patiently waiting for Tommy to remember his next line I started humming THE JEOPARDY THEME SONG. Freaking hysterical, right? I was all “Oh I’m waiting for him to say something. Alex Trebek waits for people to say stuff. Alex Trebek is on Jeopardy. BOOM!” I went home and had to tell my parents about my hilarious on-the-spot thinking. However, when I couldn’t remember the next part of my story, instead of humming the Jeopardy theme song, my parents left me at the kitchen table. The next day I learned the letter F.
2nd Period: Kelly can’t eat peanuts!
Man, I’m realizing now what an impact kindergarten had on my sense of humor. At the time you’re all wrapped up in the little things like the ABCs and sharing and the correct way to handle scissors—what you don’t realize is your life is being shaped. In my case that shape is some sort of amoeba-type thing, but STILL! I met my oldest friend in kindergarten: Kim, better known these days as Kimmy. Well Kim invited me over to her house. It was my first time ever at her house and I was trying to make a good impression. We were sitting at her kitchen table talking, eating peanuts, spelling; just a couple of new friends shooting the shit when in walked her dog Kelly. This was one of my first dog experiences so I was super stoked to get in there and play with this creature. Kelly was all about it and just absolutely begging for more attention. We realized she really got a kick out of when we threw peanuts on the floor, so we made a trail of peanuts around the kitchen table. There she went picking them up one by one, spinning circles around us. Every time she picked one up we erupted in laughter. Dog! Peanuts! Hilarious! Her parents must have heard us laughing so they came in to SEE WHAT ALL THE FUSS WAS ABOUT. That’s something parent’s would say. When her mom saw we were eating peanuts she said, “Make sure you don’t give them to the dog. Kelly can’t eat peanuts!” Dayum. Well, for whatever reason, we both nearly peed ourselves. I imagine if Kelly started vomiting up the peanuts we fed her I would have shot water out my nose and experienced my first snort. This event marked the first time I noticed two of my now-favorite funny things: Dogs and Mistakes.
3rd Period: Friends
Yeah my actual friends were great, awesome, funny blah blah blah. But the real friends that made me laugh were Ross, Joey, Chandler, Phoebe, Monica and Rachel. Friends was my first obsession. I lie. Dolphins were my first obsession. It was a big day when all my Darwin (SeaQuest DSV!) posters came down and Matthew Perry cut-outs from People magazine went up. I started writing because of Friends. Half of my diary entries consisted of recaps of Ross and Rachel’s endless struggle. I started a quote book that began with Friends quotes: “What kind of scary-ass clowns came to your birthday?” (Chandler Bing), “Hummus! I got the hummus!” (Phoebe Buffay), “Whatever, my girlfriend’s a lesbian” (Ross Geller). The Friends quotes turned into real friends’ quotes then family quotes and eventually the notebook turned into my own ideas. Just thinking about the gang brings a tear to my eye. I sure do miss them. What? Their reruns are on TV no less than four hours a day, seven days a week, and Courtney Cox is back?! Next you’ll tell me The Rembrandts are getting back together…
4th Period: VHS Tapes
Which brings me to probably the most important piece of technology of my childhood: The VHS tape. I have a lot to thank the VHS tape for. My entire childhood is recorded on tapes that now sit in dozens of boxes in my parents’ basement. In chronological order, no less. There are some gems that when watched now prove I was indeed always annoying and starved for attention. There’s the classic New Kids on the Block dance-off with me and my sister in the living room. I don’t know what’s funnier, my sad attempt at mimicking my sister’s hitch kicks or the puke-green shag carpet that blanketed our downstairs. There’s the tour of the Museum of McDonald’s Happy Meal toys we set-up in the basement. Yes, we had enough Happy Meal toys for a museum; yes, I’m fairly sure that’s why I’m a vegetarian now. And my personal favorite, the Joan Osborne “What if God Was One of Us?” music video. This consisted of pre-braces, overbite Carolyn lip-synching and walking around her room in an oversized dolphin pajama shirt (callback!). But more importantly the VHS tape allowed me to tape all my favorite comedies as a child. Friends, of course, Saturday Night Live, The Rosie O’Donnell Show (come on! Cutie patootey!), The Simpsons, and everyone’s favorite, The Price is Right. Apparently daytime TV really cracked me up. DVDs are so fragile when compared to the mighty VHS and for someone who slept with an equal amount of stuffed animals and Best of Friends tapes, my heart remains with Kodak.
Carolyn Busa will take part in the podcast Bob & Dave are Terrible People this Wednesday, March 6th at 9pm on LaffCast.com, and is performing at the Women in Comedy Festival on Thursday, March 21st at Nick’s Comedy Stop in Boston, MA. She also co-hosts the Laughs on Fairmount open mic with Mary Radzinski every Monday night at Urban Saloon.
Dave Metter is a comedy writer from the Philly burbs. Follow Dave on Twitter @DaveMetter.
Each month, Philly writer/musician/person Chris Hurdle hosts comedians and/or funny friends for The Internuts Podcast, a comedy program which explores “the very worst the internet has to offer,” from Craigslist posts to fan fiction.
Last month’s episode featured stand-up Carolyn Busa, and the latest episode featuring Thelma Weinstein and Jim Conrad just came out. You can listen here, or through iTunes.
And here’s some more background on the ‘cast from Chris: “The show began with only my friends as guests but eventually I got bold and started reaching out to comedians, improvisers, writers, bloggers, and others from the comedy community (mostly from around Philly). In the beginning my friends also made up the bulk of the audience (out of pity, I suspect) but eventually the audience grew to be several thousand strangers, thanks exclusively to word of mouth (and pity, I suspect).”
If you are a Philadelphia comedy performer that produces a podcast, web series, sketch video, humor column, or any other online content let us know by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can share it!
Crazy Carol the Kenzo Mom with stand-up Carolyn Busa
If you weren’t at the 1st Annual Veggie Wing Bowl Comedy Spectacular this past Saturday, you missed one hell of an event. In addition to a great line-up of stand-ups and excellent hosting by Hillary Rea and Thunderfoot Larry, the Veggie Wing Bowl also showcased some brand new and recently created characters that have popped up in the Philly comedy scene, like Faberge Gregg (Gregg Gethard), The Necrosexual (Jimmy Viola), Some Penn Douche (Paul Easton), Andre (Andrew Jeffrey Wright), Despiria (Rose Luardo) and Crazy Carol the Kenzo Mom (Nicole Yates), who took home the competitive-seitain-wing-eating championship belt. Here’s Carol reflecting on her victory:
WitOut: You won the 1st Annual Veggie Wing Bowl Comedy Spectacular! How does it feel? And what are you going to do with your belt?
CCTKM: When GhostfaceHilla asked me to be in her eatin’ thing, there were two things I had to think out: 1. If my lucky pajama pants were clean and 2. If my boyfriend Frankie has weekend DUI jail that weekend because then who would watch the kids. The DHS lady says I can’t just leave them in the laundry room anymore with an electronic football game from 1981 anymore.
But it all worked out, my neighbor had time to kill before his methadone wore off and he crashed out and my lucky pajama pants were clean! The good feeling from that was nothing like the RUSH I felt when I won! It was like the day I drank 9 Arctic Splash iced teas. I couldn’t slow down!
I will be starting my parade of winning down Kensington Avenue starting Monday at 2pm (as soon as I get up) at K&A and walk down to my home at F and Allegheny where the short bus drops off my kids. From then on it is viewing by appointment.
WO: How did you train for the competition?
CCTKM: It was real easy ta train. My man Frankie has a hookup at the dollar store and I’ve been eating my weight in expired hot dogs for months. I recommend it to anyone who is attempting this. The date on that package ain’t worth shit.
WO: Would you like to comment on the efforts of your fellow competitors?
CCTKM: That Necrosexual guy needs to let me know where he gets his makeup. I like that he shows restraint with it. My competitor Some Penn Douche was a good eater, but that Thunderfoot Larry guy would have eaten me out of house and Access card if he lived with me. Ghostface Hilla really chowed down for a tiny girl. Girl got a hollow leg or some shit. That New Dreamz couple was some big thinkin’ smart people, Channel 12 stuff. Everyone tried their best but they ain’t gettin’ a piece o’ me!
Oh, also, I wanna give a shout-out to that Fastball Pitcher guy. That’s one hot mustache that he can rub on me anytime! Rock those shorts, baby!
WO You look just stunning in the photos from the match. Who were you wearing? Do I recognize that housecoat from the Alexander McQueen show at Spring/Summer 2013 Paris Fashion Week?
CCTKM: Actually, the housecoat was from the Spring/Summer 2013 collection at Forman Mills. The pajama pants were my lucky ones (purchased at the big clearance sale at the Delaware Avenue Walmart). Three out of four of my kids were a result of the luckiness (the fourth one was due to a bottle of Old Crow Whiskey and a hockey strike). I always said, Lucky got me into that mess and Luckys got me through the pregnancies.
WO: What’s next for Carol the Kenzo Mom? Do you have any comedy shows or eating competitions coming up?
CCTKM:I will be participating in the Kensington 9th Annual Soft Pretzel and Arctic Splash Chow Down on Valentine’s Day. I will also be in the Taste Of America Wawa 20-Foot Hoagie Eating Contest on the 4th Of July. That’s a one-person contest, where I sneak in after they close the tent and I go to town until Carl the Burly Security dude catches me and tries to throw me out. But, every year, my lucky pajama pants save me. Well, that and my flair for lunch meat seduction. And extra mayo. ALWAYS. EXTRA. MAYO.
We were also able to grab some post-game quotes from some of Carol’s competition:
Some Penn Douche. Photo by Gretchen Schwegler.
“It was difficult losing to Carol, but you just can’t compete with someone that has that kind of focus and desperation. I congratulate her for winning the Veggie Wing Bowl championship and becoming the most accomplished person to ever come out of Temple.” — Some Penn Douche
Andre and Despiria of The New Dreamz. Photo by Gretchen Schwegler.
“Art is subjective. How do you judge an art of eating contest? I do not know. It’s like trying to judge a wet legs contest, it cannot be judged, nor should it. It is simply meant to be appreciated, like a tea cup lined with animal fur.” — Despiria
And from Alejandro Morales, who won the Mr. Wing Man 2013 competition by appearing as his more voluptuous, buxom self:
L to R: Thunderfoot Larry, Alejandro Morales, Hillary Rea. Photo by Gretchen Schwegler.
“Going into the Mr. Wing Man 2013 competition, I knew that I’d be up against the sly brilliance of Robert X, the handsomeness of Todd Shaeffer, and the sly brilliance AND handsomeness of Fastball Pitcher Bob Gutierrez. The only way to come out on top was to do the Wingmanliest thing possible, and that thought process naturally led me to wear a dress and sing the Star Spangled Banner. Next year’s Wing Man has some pretty big shoes to fill now, especially if he’s trying to find them in a woman’s size.”
Yep, it was quite a night! See y’all there next year!
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)
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!
#5: Lost and Found: Andrew Whitmire
Andrew tells a story about a re-gifting incident with his mom, Velma.
With co-host Christine Meehan‘s move to New York, Alejandro Morales is on a search for a new partner for his monthly show Camp Tabu. Starting this Friday, Alejandro will test new co-pilots at each Camp Tabu show – in a Regis and Kelly style search for a co-host with the perfect chemistry. This week, Carolyn Busa will take the stage with Alejandro, and also close the show with a featured set. Future months’ guest hosts include Erin Mulville, R. Eric Thomas, Jaime Fountaine, Hillary Rea, Val Temple, and Mary Radzinski.
As far as the rest of the night at Camp Tabu, this month’s lineup features comedy from: Jim Grammond, Mollie Sperduto, Val Temple, and TJ Hurley. The format for the show has been tweaked a little, and Alejandro says to expect a bit tighter, quicker moving show – but just as much fun.
Camp Tabu is this Friday, 9:00PM at Tabu Lounge and Sports Bar (200 South 12th St. Philadelphia).
Rob and Paul get together on stage at Philly Improv Theater every month and have a TV Party. They find the best worst television from the past available and present it to a crowd full of often drunk and always eager fans waiting to laugh – both at the shows and with the hilarious commentary provided by the two.
Carolyn Busa and Mary Radzinski
Every Monday night Carolyn and Mary turn the back room at The Urban Saloon into one of the best open mics in the city, Laughs on Fairmount. The two take turns introducing acts and keep the show moving with their own charm and sense of humor. They often start the show with a short sketch that highlights the chemistry they have with each other and gets the audience ready for a night of great comedy.
Chip Chantry is a busy man. He is the host of two monthly shows at major Philadelphia comedy venues. Facetime with Chip Chantry is a talk show at Helium Comedy Club that features Chip performing sketches, jokes about the news, and conducting interviews with each of his guests. Chip Chantry’s One Man Show (with Special Guests) moved to Philly Improv Theater after its’ successful run at The Khyber and features Chip hosting for many of the best acts Philly Comedy has to offer.
Twice per month on Friday nights Aaron Hertzog hosts Hey Everybody! an evening of stand-up comedy at Philly Improv Theater. The showcase features many of the best stand-ups in Philadelphia and the occasional visitor from out of town. Aaron is known for yelling “Hey Everybody” at the top of his sets, and getting audiences ready for the show with his jovial invitations of friendship.
Doogie’s monthly Ministry of Secret Jokes has been one of the best nights of comedy Philadelphia has to offer for years. Doogie packs the show with not only great stand-up and sketch comedy but games, contests, and audience participation. The show is run like a meeting of a secret society, and Doogie often opens his shows by having the audience recite an oath that they will not reveal what they see to anyone. Judging by the packed in crowds upstairs at Fergie’s every month, many people have been breaking that oath.