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 firstname.lastname@example.org!
I love seeing comedy in Philly but with a day job outside of the city it’s difficult to make it to too many shows. Since I’m a writer/performer on The Monthly Hour, I usually try to make it to that show, and since it’s a variety show, I get to see a lot of different acts there. So here is my list of the top 5 guest appearances on The Monthly Hour that I’ve actually seen (I missed a couple shows—sorry, ManiPedi—and was not allowed out of the basement at the Shubin Theater for others).
5. Brendan Kennedy Some may call it a sentimental pick, but I thought his stand-up at the November show was great. Brendan is heading to LA in January to eventually park cars for a living, but in the 2 months before his departure, he has graced us with a number of great performances. The Philly Comedy scene is going to miss Brendan Kennedy. Minus the drunken slurring, he is what funny people in this city should strive to be. A great stand-up, a member of a spectacular sketch group (Camp Woods), host of an awesome show at the PHIT (Guilty Pleasures) and a member of a crappy improv group (Hate Speech Committee—and for the record, I’m not saying all improv is crappy, just Hate Speech), Brendan embraces all things funny. Plus, he discovered Roger Snair.
4. Tommy Pope Picking a Tommy performance seems like cheating, but I remember this one as particularly funny. Tommy had a great year in comedy and getting the chance to see people like him perform in an intimate theater like the Philly Improv Theater at the Shubin Theater is a really cool thing.
3. Omar Scruggs
When Darryl Charles couldn’t perform at Philly Sketchfest due to a hole in his neck, Omar stepped in at the last minute and performed Darryl’s part. We asked Omar to act like a warm-up comedian from Def Comedy Jam which was completely incongruous with the wholesome “Morning Show” that he was opening for. Omar came out and yelled so many profane things at the audience that he ran out of breath. Later he came back out and ended the show with an amazing ad lib, “All right, you muthaf’ers, I’m back!” The crowd went nuts. Really one of the funniest moments I saw live this year.
2. Christian Alsis Christian came on the show and performed stand-up. If you’ve only ever seen Christian be a Feeko Brother and have never seen him do stand-up, you’re missing out. Billy Bob Thompson might be the good looking one in the duo, but Christian is definitely one of the top two funniest members of the Feeko Brothers. What made Christian’s performance even better is that he stayed onstage after his set and performed as himself in a pun-based game show sketch. He learned his lines in the 30 minutes before the show and really did a great job of “acting” confused.
1. Chip Chantry and the Chip Chantry Players This was such a simple bit, but one that still makes me laugh. Chip and the Players (aka Carl Boccuti) came out as a new improv group. Upon taking a suggestion from the crowd, they took a few notes on paper and then promised to come back the following month to perform some “improv” based on that suggestion. So simple, but so incredibly funny.
Thanks to everybody that was a part of The Monthly Hour this year and thanks to everyone in the Philly comedy community. Keep it funny and friendly.
Mikey Gleason is a stand-up comedian, a filmmaker, and a writer/performer on The Monthly Hour with James Hesky at Philly Improv Theater. Follow him on Twitter at @mikeygleason and subscribe to his YouTube channel. It would help him cry less.
Traditionally comedy shows are a popular choice among those looking to make plans for a New Year’s Eve out on the town. What better way to ring in a new year than with friends, food, drinks, and laughter? We decided to round up all the New Year’s Eve comedy options we could find in the Philadelphia area to help you make your decision on where you’ll be starting 2013.
TheNortheast Comedy Cabaret(11580 Roosevelt Blvd) will hold two shows (8pm, 10:30pm) featuring comedians Sudsy, John Kensil, Steve Golassa, and Darin Martinez. The 10:30 show will feature a champagne toast and party favors. Reservations can be made online or by calling 215-676-5653.
The South Jersey Comedy Cabaret (200 North Route 73 Marlton, NJ) will host two shows (8pm, 10:30pm) with comedians Patrick O’Donnell, Simply Dee, Vince Valentine, and Mike Casey. The 10:30 show will feature a champagne toast and party favors. Tickets are available through online presale. For any questions call 215-322-6642.
New Year’s Eve with Gary Gulman at Helium Comedy Club (2031 Sansom St.) will have two shows, the 8pm will include appetizers from 6:00PM – 7:30PM and a ticket to a future show while the 10:30pm show includes a champagne toast at midnight, dessert, and a ticket to a future show. Tickets can be purchased online.
New Year’s Eve with Mike Bonner at The Laff House (221 South St.) will also have an 8pm and 10:30 show with tickets to the late show including “butlered hors d’ouvres, champagne toast at midnight and more!” The show will also feature comedy from Philly’s own Keith from Up Da Block. Tickets can be purchased online.
Chip Chantry, Carl Boccuti, and Johnny Goodtimes will be hosting A Motown New Year’s Eve at La Stanza (2001 W. Oregon Ave.) The show will feature performances by Doogie Horner, Tommy Pope, Luke Cunningham, John McKeever, Mary Radzinski, and Pat House. After the comedy show there will be a “Motown/Funk/Soul dance party” with DJ Honkeytron. Admission includes the show and dance party along with food and alcohol. Tickets can be purchased in advance via PayPal by sending $50 to email@example.com (PLEASE choose “Personal” as the transaction type).
WitOut: How would you describe Secret Pants for someone who’s never seen one of your shows before?
Paul Triggiani: I would describe one of our shows as “TV sketch comedy on a stage.” We (both as individuals and as a group) come from a film and video background, so when we’re putting together a live show, we approach it the way you would sketch comedy for live (or live-to-tape) television. We try to replicate the TV experience live, even if it means building a seemingly unnecessary set piece or painting ourselves black and white. We have a lot of fun with it, and if we do it well, it can be pretty magical.
WO: Can you give a brief history of your annual Christmas show?
PT: We brought our previous variety/sketch show, Welcome to the Terrordome, to Johnny Brenda’s in 2009. We had a couple of successful shows there, and that led to Johnny Brenda’s offering us a slot a couple days before Christmas (which I guess had been historically difficult to bring in an audience for). We all agreed at the time that we might be committing event suicide, but we took on the challenge and put up our first all-Christmas show, Nobody Ever Dies on Christmas (Except Toshiro Mifune), on December 23rd, 2010. We got a good crowd that year, and more importantly, people drank a lot, so Johnny Brenda’s asked us back again. Honestly, it’s just the absolute worst time of year to put together a show, but as long as people keep showing up and Johnny Brenda’s keeps asking us, we’ll probably keep doing it. Until we finally decide to give up this silly, expensive passion project.
WO: What are you most excited about for this Sunday’s A Banner Year at the Ol’ Bender Household? (Alternatively, you can also just name everything that excites you about it.)
PT: It’s hard to name something we aren’t excited for. For starters, we’re all pretty jazzed about our set. It’s very different from any set we’ve ever done; it’s a bit of an experiment and we hope the experiment is a success. We love and respect all of the groups that are on the show— and it’s up to like, seven now—and we wish we could come and just watch instead of being in charge (sorta). We pride ourselves on putting together a show that more than delivers for the price, and we honestly don’t think that you can get more entertainment and fun for $10 anywhere else, ever. Also, PS, Mad Elf on draft.
This year’s Secret Pants Christmas show, ‘A Banner Year at the Ol’ Bender House’, is THIS SUNDAY, December 23rd at 9pm at Johnny Brenda’s (1201 N. Frankford Avenue). The show will be hosted by comedian Chip Chantry, and will also feature sketch groups Camp Woods, ManiPedi and Specific Jawns; a burlesque showcase with Randi Warhol; music from Emily and Micah McGraw. Admission is $10.
In the season finale of the Gettin Close podcast, Mike Marbach sits down with Philly comedian Chip Chantry. They talk about the usual how-he-got-into-comedy stuff, as well as what he does for a living, what you do when you have a year off, Steve Guttenberg, Face Time, The Wid, sketch videos, future plans, Bing Supernova, the Wizard of Oz, ghosts and much more.
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!
On Tuesday A Bunch of Improv at The Grape Room (105 Grape St.) returns with a show featuring improv from Nielsen, No Wait, Matt&, and Cock Hat and will be hosted by Rob Gentile. Doors open at 8pm with the show starting at 8:20.
This Friday The Arts Parlor (1170 S. Broad St.) will host The Sideshow: Short Attention Span Theater. The show will feature shorter acts (no longer than 15 minutes) and will hosts a mix of magic, stand-up, improv, sketch, storytelling, music, and more.