It’s almost time for the 2013 WitOut Awards for Philadelphia Comedy! As we get closer to the show, we’ll be rolling out a series of posts to help you get more acquainted with this year’s nominees. Read all about ’em, and then be sure to get your tickets for the big event on January 13th at World Cafe Live!
The nominees for Best Female Improviser are:
Jess Ross (Asteroid!, Hot Dog)
Kristen Schier (The Kristen & Amie/Amie & Kristen Show, Director of ZaoGao)
Emily Davis (Hot Dish, Soiree)
Maggy Keegan (Soiree, Whisper, Director of Davenger)
Amie Roe (The Kristen & Amie/Amie & Kristen Show)
Kristen Schier on Jess Ross:
“Jess Ross is a force. Her wild-eyed hilarity is as strange and intense as her beauty. Her unfettered goofiness paired with the deeper commitment of a talented actor is an unstoppable and delightful combination.
Allow me to brag: I have had the good fortune to work with Jess on a few improv projects over the years. I used to watch her shine in the N Crowd. We called her Moonbeam ’cause she was one. I also coached Jessica Tandy on occasion (and by coach I mean sit on Andy’s couch and laugh) and I most recently worked with her in Myths and Monsters. You can trust her to bring the funny. What I am saying is, I know this improviser very well and she is good. Damn good.
It is no accident that other projects Jess Ross is involved in, like The Flat Earth, the aforementioned Myths and Monsters and Asteroid! are nominated too. Jess Ross is a fantastic ensemble member and she raises the caliber of the performers she works with—also, she is funny. Damn funny.
She said once that her comedic inspirations were the Muppets. Well, cheers to the closest human embodiment of Muppetry I have ever seen.”
Maggy Keegan on Kristen Schier:
“I’ve been a huge fan of Kristen Schier since before I moved back to Philadelphia. Kristen’s connection to her character’s emotional truth, her sense of play, her use of the stage, and how she uses her whole body and soul to create is inspiring to watch. I mean, have you seen the Kristen and Amie Show? I could watch that every week. And her clowning? There has rarely been a time in my thirties where I have giggled like a schoolgirl in an audience out of pure delight and watching her as a clown is a joyful experience.
Not only is she a great improviser, she is also huge creative force in Philadelphia. She has taught and nurtured hundreds of Philadelphia improvisers through classes, directing, and through her innovative group ZaoGao. She has taken this scene to a whole new level.
I think we can also all feel Kristen’s positive spirit whenever she enters the room. We are very lucky that she calls Philadelphia home because as she continues to create we are all the better for it.”
Jess Ross on Emily Davis:
“Emily is always able to be surprising and exciting when she performs because she is amazing when it comes to really listening to her scene partner and responding from an honest place. She can pick up on things most people would fly past and sees what other people don’t in offers that are given to her. She’s already naturally such a witty and clever person, but the way she plays is what I think makes her so special and a stand out. She’s the perfect combination of being really well educated on improv (she knows the structure of scenes, the piece as a whole, how to set things up, make people look good) and she is also able to be completely in the moment and organic. She’s not forcing anything, she’s using everything that’s out there, putting the pieces of the puzzle together, and making it look really easy and fun while she does it. And that is why I love Emily!”
Emily Davis on Amie Roe:
“The first time I met Amie was in a diner. She came to meet some improvisers that I was with, and she scared the crap out of me with how funny she was. I can’t remember why, but she was making lists of five things in various categories on her fingers, and I was completely intimidated. Each thing that she said was funnier than the last. I was pretty psyched when, later, she accepted my friend request.
Amie is a rare bird. She’s an amazing improviser with a high reference level and an equal love of the low brow. She’s really smart and naturally funny, and she puts herself completely out there on stage. She’s a robot, a ninja, and a pirate. She’s got great hair, an awesome wardrobe (I love her sweaters), and she’s gorgeous. She’s a freak.
So, here are a few lists of five to honor Amie’s awesomeness and accomplishments:
Amie is an incredible performer, director, coach, teacher, and producer. Over the last few years, Amie has put together ambitious projects, made a lot of t-shirts, saved kids’ lives, been a good friend, and acquired a nemesis. Amie has made improv better through her performances in The Amie and Kristen/Kristen and Amie Show and Brick, as one of the masterminds behind Duofest, through her level of commitment to everything she does, through the generosity and support that she offers to others, and by keeping everything fun, charming, and weird. Thanks for everything, and love you, Amie!”
Amie Roe on Maggy Keegan:
“What can you say about Maggy Keegan that isn’t obvious from her radiant smile? A lot. Because in addition to having a beautiful smile, Maggy is also a really talented comedienne, and you cannot tell if a person is a great comedian from their smile.
Maggy has great teeth, beautiful facial structure, and extensive performance experience in both Los Angeles and Philadelphia. Maggy has studied improv and sketch at iO West, the Groundlings, and Second City, and she has been a patient of Dr. Andrew Agnew, DDS, for roughly 9 years. Dr. Agnew says of Maggy, “I have treated Maggy for 5 cavities and seen 3 of her improv shows. i filled her cavities with hilarity, jokes, and talent. Just kidding, she is funny and talented enough on her own.”
While in Los Angeles, Maggy performed regularly with Pretty Bird, Popular Science, Days of Passion, The Hortons, and Spirit Fingers, and she brushed her teeth every morning and also before she went to bed, even if she was really tired and didn’t feel like it. Upon moving to Philadelphia, Maggy performed on Philly Improv Theater (PHIT) house team King Friday, cast and began directing acclaimed PHIT house team Davenger, and also began performing with improv duo Whisper and a three-person group, Soiree. Through all of this, she found the time to floss and avoid sugary drinks.
Maggy drinks coffee and red wine, but not too much, because it can leave stains.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org!
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
….This picture explains it.
2. Emily Davis.
Just… every time she walks on stage. ::swoon::
1. Andrew Stanton and Luke Field’s Duo
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’.
Twenty-four is an improv show in real time. There are no cuts or edits, no jumps in time or space. All of the action takes place in one location in the same amount of time it takes to watch the show. The format leads to the actors being able to portray rich characters and develop deep relationships in the twenty four minutes they are together on stage. Last night, the cast of this Philly Improv Theater Fringe production put those skills on display expertly.
Twenty-four is a two act show, with the cast performing two separate monoscenes. Last night’s performance featured two halves that showed off the cast member’s range of styles and characters. The first scene took place in a hospital where a cast of characters all waited for their mutual acquaintance, played by Emily Davis, to give birth to her child. The story revealed a busy career woman, eager for her baby to arrive so that she may return to work and the people in her lives effected by her lifestyle. Her sperm donor (Mike Marbach) was curiously present at the hospital, while it was later revealed by her sister (Cait O’Driscoll) that there may be something more than just a one time donation going on. The future nanny of the child (Jessica Ross) handed out balloons and worried if she would be a good fit to take care of the child. The “facilitator” of the sperm donation (Bobbi Block) continued her role in the hospital as she calmed people down and was there to lend a helping hand in all the madness. The mother-to-be’s assistant (Becca Trabin) came to deliver a present from the office, and ended up delivering something far more important (the baby!) All the action took place while an in-over-her-head candy stripe (Corin Wells) raced around a hospital she seemed to be the only employee of.
The strengths of the first act were in the strong character choices made by the cast. Each improvisor brought their own idea to their character and stuck with it to the end. Emily Davis showed the non stop work ethic of her career driven character even in the last moments of pregnancy. Mike Marbach did his best to remain supportive of the mother of his child even while those around him questioned their relationship. Corin Wells was overworked and exhausted as the seventeen-year-old candy stripe just trying to get community service hours so she can graduate. Becca Trabin portrayed the do-all assistant of a powerful business woman hilariously, showing how prepared one would have to be to be the right hand woman of a non stop workaholic.
The second act begins with director Steve Kleinedler telling the audience that a character of their choice will return for the second scene, and all the other actors would portray someone new. Becca Trabin’s character was selected by one audience member, to cheers of approval from others. The second scene took place in a beauty salon while the patrons prepared for their prom, or “practice wedding” or were just there to have their hair done by the saucy salon staff. The first act of last night’s show had characters entering and exiting the scene fluidly, changing focus and centering on different relationships at different times while the second act had more convergence. The scene began will all but one character (Marc Reber‘s salon worker – who would soon enter) on stage. Most of the performers were all on stage and in the scene at the same time, and the cast members handled the crowded scene excellently. Most of the time the conversation took place between a few characters while the rest of the cast patiently waited, flipping through magazines, or styling hair – but a few times, the stage was full of action with multiple conversations happening at once. The performers were adept, not letting the conversations become just a jumble of noise, but speaking up and quieting down to let the audience key in on the funny parts of what they each were saying.
Twenty-four is a sharply put together show with a diverse, skilled cast of improvisors that will make you care about the characters, draw you in to this moment in their lives, and make you laugh along the way.
There are still three chances to see twenty-four, tonight at 5pm, Tuesday, September 13 at 7pm, and Friday, September 16 at 830pm. All shows are at the Mainstage of the Adrienne Theater. Tickets can be purchased online.