It’s a busy weekend for comedy here in Philly. Here’s a handy guide to all that’s going on around our fair city.
Helium Comedy Club – Anjelah Johnson – Friday and Saturday, 8:00, 10:30
Johnson, known for her viral video Nail Salon, and her time as a cast member on MadTV takes the stage at Helium with her stand-up act full of characters, stories, and high energy material centering on her family and life growing up and living in Southern California. Nate Bargatze (Conan, Comedy Central) is the feature act and Aaron Hertzog is the host.
Philly Improv Theater – Friday
7:00 – Hey Everybody – Aaron Hertzog’s showcase will be without it’s usual host this week as he is at Helium – filling in will be Christian Alsis of The Feeko Brothers. This week’s show will feature comedy from Philly’s Phunniest winner Tommy Pope as well as Pete Kuempel, Ed McGonigal, and Ryan Shaner.
8:30 – The Feeko Brothers and Angel Yau – Fresh off their second consecutive Dirtiest Sketch in Philadelphia title, Christian Alsis and Billy Bob Thompson take the stage with a mostly new show they premiered last week at Philly Sketch Fest. Joining them at PHIT will be New York sketch comedian Angel Yau.
10:00 – The Kristen and Amie Show with Nielsen – The improv duo comprised of Kristen Shier and Amie Roe bring their high energy, crazy character, fun filled playing to the stage at PHIT along with fun to watch indie group Nielsen.
Philly Improv Theater – Saturday
7:00 – Brick with Ebony and Ivory – New York’s Magnet Theater House Team Brick comes to Philly to perform along side the duo comprised of Iron Lung members Corin Wells and Maureen Costello.
8:30 – House Team Night, King Friday and Mayor Karen – Two of PHIT’s own house teams perform.
10:00 – House Team Night, Asteroid and ZaoGao – Two more PHIT house teams perform.
11:00 – Late Night Improv Jam – Improv open stage hosted by PHIT house team Fletcher.
The Laff House – Ted Carpenter – Friday (8:30, 10:45) Saturday (8:00, 10:00, 12:00)
The veteran of Showtime at the Apollo and Russel Simmon’s Def Comedy Jam performs at The Laff House on South St.
City Spotlight – Friday
8:00 – Broad Comedy – The all women comedy show kicks off the night of laughs at the Philly Shakespeare Theater. Featuring performances by Mary Radzinski, Carolyn Busa, Hillary Rae, Sarah Morawcynski, Erin Mulville, and more.
10:00 – Bing Supernova’s Cavalcade of Fools – Everyone in the world’s favorite comedian hosts a show packed with performances by Roger Weaver, John Kensil, The Lucas Brothers, The Feeko Brothers, Jaykob Strange, and Alex Dingley.
City Spotlight – Saturday
CIF National College Improv Tournament – Mid Atlantic Division Regional – All day long college improv teams compete for a chance to represent Pennsylvania in the National College Improv Tournament in Chicago.
Friday night will be a celebration of women in comedy in Philadelphia. Broad Comedy is the City Spotlight‘s showcase of stand-up, sketch, improv and storytelling from some of Philly’s funniest females. We caught up with Mary Radzinski to ask her about the show, her comedy, and attitudes about women in comedy.
First off, Women doing Comedy, what is up with that? I know. It’s like, I’m hungry. Quit horsing around and make me a sandwich.
Obviously, my first question is a joke…what are your feelings about those kinds of attitudes that look at “female comedy” as a thing unto itself. I think it’s a limited view by limited people, but I sort of understand it. Comedy, like many things, has been male dominated. It’s a numbers game. As more and more women are becoming comedians, bringing hilarity to audiences of both men and women, hopefully “female comedian” will eventually become “comedian”.
Do you plan on introducing every act with a wink and a “this next performer’s a lady” line or any special variation on that time honored tradition – or would answering that be giving too much away. I’m actually not hosting the show, so it won’t really be up to me, but I assume there will be some poking fun at that. The introductions of female comics is of great amusement to me. I was introduced once as, “having a vagina”. As this is factually correct, I couldn’t argue with the host, however, I would have been more impressed if he had used “labia minora”. It’s annoying to me that this is how some comics get laughs and perpetuate a stereotype. Be smarter. Aim higher. Talk about our tits.
How do you feel about articles like this one from Fox News that say things like this - ”For women, frump isn’t funny any longer. The new female comedian has to be the sexual aggressor, sexually provocative, dominant and successful…” and ”Rosie O’Donnell and Janeane Garofalo will be relegated to playing the female versions of Chris Farley. Hollywood doesn’t want a woman that is not sexually enticing like Rosie; it wants the sexual alpha female…” Whatevs. Frump will always be funny. Frump is typically what nurtures the development of funny. Hollywood will always have it’s eye on sexy; sex sells. Writing funny scripts for pretty actors will never get old. I recently saw Jennifer Anniston on Inside the Actor’s Studio. During the interview she had the personality of an elderly chimp. Referencing Anna Faris as a face of female comedy is a jab at the more than likely frumpy person who wrote her most recent comedic script. There are no absolutes. Would it help your career to be beautiful, sexy, and hilarious? Of course. Necessary? Nah.
Where does your personal style as a comedian come from? I really try to be myself on stage. I’m not a very high energy person offstage, and this translates. I’m not entirely deadpan in my everyday life either, so I’ve been working on that as well. This has, and continues to be, my biggest challenge.
Your show is going to be a mix of styles of comedy, it’s going to have some stand-up, improv, sketch, and storytelling – traditionally these have been kept apart – do you see a growing trend in bringing them all together on one bill? I’m not sure I see a growing trend in doing this, but we wanted to represent different areas of Philly’s comedy scene. We were given the title, “Broad Comedy” as part of Sketchfest, so we thought we’d incorporate a “broad spectrum” idea into it to, through different types of comedy. I do think the variety jazzes it up for the audience.
Has running your own weekly open mic and booking shows given you any new insights or perspectives on comedy? Do you have any words of advice for someone looking to start their own show? It has definitely been insightful regarding the amount of work that goes into even an open mic. It’s not easy to please everyone but it’s a goal to keep trying. Words of advice: Get on stage every week and do time. Host to a room of a hundred (even if there are 5 people and they are all comics). Have fun and act like it.
You’re somewhat of a Twitter aficionado - do your best job of summing up and promoting Broad Comedy in 140 characters or less. Broad Comedy.Friday,October 21st. Shakespeare Theater. 8pm.Broads doing comedy. Broadly. Like their broad mothers taught them. Come watch.
Broad Comedy is part of the first annual City Spotlight at the Philadelphia Shakespeare Theater (2111 Sansom St.) Friday night at 8:00PM. Tickets can be purchased online.
“The way to improve is to reject everything you’re doing. You have to create a void by destroying everything; you have to kill it. Or else you’ll tell the same fucking jokes every night.” – Louis CK
The path of a comedian is one of growth and change. We are constantly trying to write new jokes, work on new material, and develop fresh ideas. All in the hopes of getting better. We are constantly looking ahead, to what is next. What is the next step in our careers? What is the next goal we want to achieve? Where do we go from here? This Wednesday, at the Philadelphia Shakespeare Theater as part of Comedy Month’s City Spotlight, a group of Philadelphia comedians will do just the opposite, they will look back.
In the Beginning…is a show from the mind of comedian Pat House which will showcase comedians taking a look at video footage from an early point in their careers, and roasting their former selves on their comedic talents (or lack thereof.) It is a show that aims to celebrate the growth and development of Philly comics in a way most comedians are comfortable with…by making fun of themselves. We had some questions for House on his own growth as a comedian, and what he sees in his peers.
Why are you making comedians relive their painful sets of years’ past? Because comedy isn’t tortuous enough. Just kidding!! I’m fascinated by the process of stand-up comedy. Nobody starts out great, and the evolution comedians has always interested me. I think it’ll be fun to laugh at how new and inexperienced we were, and it’ll be great to relive some of those gems we all had when we first started.
Tell us about the first time you thought you were getting good as a comedian. Though there are plenty of things in my comedy that really need improvement, I guess I first thought I was on the right track between a year and two years in, when I started getting hosting spots and guest sets on the weekends.
How much have you grown and changed since? What would you say to yourself then?
Great question. For starters, I would love to ask myself “So, you think you’re being discrete by taping a setlist to your water bottle and looking at it between every joke? Because you’re not.”
For me, growth as a comedian seems to be long plateau periods and every once in a while I will hit a bit of an upswing – how do you see patterns in your growth? I would definitely agree with that. Plateaus are very common, but the longer I do comedy, the more I realized how beneficial the plateaus are. When you’re doing the same jokes night after night, it’s redundant and sometimes boring, but looking back, you realize those jokes got tighter and better. You don’t always realize that on a day-to-day evaluation.
I see patterns in my growth every year. I used to judge myself on what seemed like a daily basis and I’ve learned that I absolutely cannot do that. The everyday grind is rough, but if I gauge myself every six months to a year, that’s where I see the most improvement.
How do you think that compares to other comedians? Every comedian plateaus, but every comic gauges their comedy in their own way. A lot of newer comics tend to be in the moment and think they’re either good or that they suck right off the bat. The more you hang around comedy, the more you realize it’s about the bigger picture. I just hit my seventh anniverary in comedy last week, and I can definitely say that I’ve learned more between years five and seven than I did my first five.
What is your favorite thing about watching different comedians evolve and grow? My favorite thing about watching other comics grow is that in itself (does that even make sense?) I can name dozens of great comics I’ve known since the beginning of their career, and watching them evolve to where they are now has been one of the best parts of the ride. We’re all in this mess together.
Do you have any specific favorite moments of seeing a comedian “find their voice”? Just the other day I watched the 1995 HBO Young Comedian’s Special with Louis CK and Dave Attell. They were great, professional comics at the time, but sixteen years later, both of them are (obviously) significantly better and have a solid grip on their voice.
It was really interesting to me – with Attell, a lot of the jokes he does in the HBO special, he did on his first album six years later, and the jokes are light-years better on the album. He honed those jokes for years. With Louie, it was almost like you could see where he was going with his voice, it was there, it just hadn’t come out yet.
Attell and CK are two of my all-time favorite comics, and seeing that special made me feel a lot better about my material. They were great then, and incredible now.
Have you seen any dramatic changes in someone’s style, either suddenly or over time? What have you liked or disliked about them? I really can’t recall any dramatic changes in someone’s act. I feel with a lot of my friends, any changes over time were just the natural progression of becoming a better comic.
How do you think your style has changed since you started? My style has changed immensely since I started; I am a completely different comedian. When I first started, I had a lot of shock value one-liners; terrible, fictitious jokes that were God-awful. Back then, the thought of being personal on stage didn’t even occur to me. About two years or so in, I started to get a little personal with jokes about my life at the time (college and drinking), and from there, it progressed slowly into what I do now, which is becoming a mostly personal act.
Do you have any plans or goals as far as changing your style or writing habits for the future? My main goal for the future is to write more. I tell myself to everyday, but I’ll be the first to admit that I’m pretty lazy with that. Reading helps me a lot too. I find that when I’m going through book after book, I’m writing a lot more, and I seem to notice more things around me as well.
In the Beginning…will play at the Philadelphia Shakespeare Theater (2111 Sansom St.) this Wednesday, October 19th at 8:00PM. Tickets can purchased online.
This week, Comedy Month wraps up with the first annual City Spotlight, a week showcasing many of Philadelphia’s diverse comedic talents. Tonight, the Old Comedy Buffet features all comedians over 40 for a night of classic Philadelphia comedy. Later this week, Pat House hosts In The Beginning…, where comedians will show a video from their early days of comedy and roast themselves making fun of how far they’ve (hopefully) come. Friday night features Broad Comedy, an all female show hosted by Mary Radzinski and Carolyn Busa.
This Tuesday, Face Time with Chip Chantry returns to Helium Comedy Club. This month’s show will feature James Hesky, Brendan Kennedy, Darryl Charles, Glen Tickle, and as always will feature co-host and house band Amir Gollan and Chip Chantry doing the news.
Philly Improv Theater will feature a week of shows they are calling “Pilot Week” which will showcase all new shows looking for a permanent spot in the PHIT lineup. Tonight, Becca Trabin presents Town Hall a debate show in a mock town hall meeting format. Tuesday will feature True? The Roger C. Snair Interview Show hosted by Brendan Kennedy‘s Guilty Pleasures sidekick. Wednesday will be the debut of a new panel comedy show A Few Answers Short.
This Thursday and Friday The Feeko Brothers will present a new show at Philly Improv Theater. Billy and Christian, fresh off their second consecutive Dirtiest Sketch in Philadelphia victory will share the stage with New York sketch group Skinny Bitch Jesus Meeting. Tickets can be purchased in advance online.