by Chris Dolan
This past Tuesday, January 8th, I checked out Polygon Comedy’s The Perfect New Year at L’etage. The show featured stand-up performances from David Piccolomini and Vegas Lancaster, and improv from Philly group Nielsen, duo Steve Rogers Is Dead, and 2013 Witout Awards hosts Grimacchio.
The show opened with a great, crowd-pleasing set from Piccolomini – touching on everything from his personal appearance (“disappointing Jesus”) to family and live-action role playing (“LARP-ing”). After his set, I talked with Piccolomini about his comedy background, his favorite comedians, and his good-humored take on his nominations for the “Witin Awards.”
Yo, check it!
Jason Grimley, Ralph Andracchio, Samantha Brown & The Grimacchio Dancers and Elliot Garland of Philadelphia Slick were rehearsin’ it up last night in preparation for the 2013 WitOut Awards for Philadelphia Comedy. Here’s a photographic preview of this Sunday’s show:
Looks great, right? We can’t wait!
Don’t forget to get your tickets–we’ll see you on Sunday at World Cafe Live, free ‘Gansetts in hand!
It’s almost time for the WitOut Awards! Today, we’re introducing you to your hosts for this year’s show: Jason Grimley and Ralph Andracchio—collectively known as improv duo and variety show enthusiasts Grimacchio.
Pictured: Ralph Andracchio and Samantha Brown. Photo by Tom Lovelund.
WitOut: You’re hosting this year’s WitOut Awards! Try to describe your excitement—if it can be expressed in words.
Ralph Andracchio: We’re really excited to have been asked to host this year’s awards! Jason and I have gathered the old team together and have been working hard to make sure this year’s show will be talked about for years to come. Remember the ending of Carrie? Yeah. Like that. But with more William Katt and PJ Soles.
Jason Grimley: I am more excited than a redneck with a fresh bag of meth. More excited than a nerd with a case of Mountain Dew and an unwrapped copy of Far Cry 3. More excited than I am about the new season of Bunheads. More excited than a Republican with a viable candidate for President. More so… I am honored to host. For reals.
WO: In this past fall’s Fringe Festival, the two of you hosted and performed in your very own variety show. Is there anything from that experience you’ll be bringing to hosting?
Pictured: Jason Grimley. Photo by Tom Lovelund.
RA: The Grimacchio Variety Hour was something Jason and I were born to do. We both love those old Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis variety shows from the ’40s and ’50s, so it was a no-brainer to develop one of our own. And variety shows like the one we produced and award shows are closely related animals. They operate with the same basic structure and have the same feel, so this is right up our alley. We feel at home at the helm of a project like this, and we’ll bring that confidence, ease, and class to the WitOut Awards. Class may be too strong of a word, come to think of it…
JG: We have the very talented Samantha Brown coming back with the Grimacchio Dancers. She did an amazing job for Fringe and we are thrilled she came back for the Awards. I think Ralph and I really honed our hosting abilities during the Variety Hour. It was a humbling experience and we are very proud of it. Furthermore, Ralph and I have a new bag of topics to bicker about [for this show].
WO: And now, let’s get to the most important question: WHO will you be wearing?
RA: We will be wearing suits made from the hides of smaller variety show hosts. You know, to show our dominance.
JG: My suit will be drenched in Drakkar Noir and self-loathing.
Wow! Great stuff! To see Jason and Ralph in action, don’t forget to get your tickets to the 2013 WitOut Awards for Philadelphia Comedy this Sunday, January 13th at World Cafe Live.
By: Mike O’Donnell
SUPER CAGEMATCH is a competition improv show were each group is given 20 minutes to do improv bits with the audience then voting to determine who was funnier. The show is hosted by Ian Vaflor and the final competition of the season happened last night at the Philly Improv Theater (407 Bainbridge Street, Philadelphia PA 19147). Cagematch ran three shows back to back to back last night to determine the winner, and I was fortunate enough to catch the last two rounds.
The competition angle keeps the show moving and makes it very entertaining.
The first show featured the group Jessica Tandy (Jessica Ross and Andy Moskowitz), versus Grimacchio (Jason Grimley and Ralph Andracchio). I don’t remember how the first show determined what group would go first, but I can’t forget how it was determined in the championship round (more on that later).
Jessica Tandy went first in the 9:00 show and took the suggestion “spaghetti” from the audience to weave into their bits. They immediately launched into caricature Italian accents as mother and son immigrants coming to the new world. They went through at least five premises’ and my favorite bit was when they acted like a fighting couple with Jessica locking Andy out of the house. Jessica wouldn’t let Andy back in unless he sang her favorite Shania Twain song (which he hilariously butchered). Jessica obviously LOVES doing funny voices and accents (she didn’t do one bit in her normal speaking voice). Overall the performance was strong and would be tough to beat.
Grimacchio was up next and took a different route to working the crowd into their routine. Instead of just asking for a suggestion they pick a person out of the audience and give them a quick interview of what they do and who they are. They take this information and craft a bit out of it. The person they interviewed was a writer and photographer so they set their premise in a news room. Grimacchio’s style is to bicker over the smallest points of contention and overanalyze minutia (a la “Always Sunny in Philadelphia” or “Seinfield”). I thought the first five to eight minutes were very funny and they would probably win.
WINNER: Jessica Tandy
The 10 o’clock show featured winner Jessica Tandy versus a three person group Safe-Weird (Andrew Stanton, Kaitlin Thompson, Rob Gentile). To determine who would go first or second Ian created a double dare style physical challenge making a member from each team eat a pie with cherries in them, then spit the cherries in a cup. The team with most cherries in their cup at the end of a minute could decide weather to go first or second. This contest almost made Jessica Ross throw up on stage which in turn made me gag (but in an amusing, “wow is she gonna throw up on stage” kinda way). Jessica Tandy won the challenge and inexplicably decided to go first again.
In their second performance it seemed to take a while to compose themselves after the physical challenge. They still had a funny bit about a bee being addicted to pollen like heroin and musical chairs where the loser goes to hell, but going first after the physical challenge was a bad decision.
Safe-Weird had the strangest premises’ (which is a compliment). They seemed to care the least about what the audience thought and were just trying to make each other laugh. They got the biggest laughs out of the audience with “Irish Mayonnaise” and “CB radio truckers”. One tool that the group uses very well is turning a bit into a fake commercial where one player will simply go into a voice over styled end of an advertisement.
Overall, SUPER CAGEMATCH is a winner. 20 minutes is a perfect amount of time for small improv groups to get in, get laughs and get off. If you have never been to an imrov show before, this would be a great way for you to get comfortable with this style of entertainment. Be sure to check Philly Improv Theater for the next season of CAGEMATCH and other comedy shows. Also, if you have interest in doing improv yourself, they always have several classes you can take.
Mike O’Donnell is a writer, actor, spoken word artist and stand up comedian in the Philadelphia area. Check out his work online at YouTube and Soundcloud.
By: Alison Zeidman
Dutiful fans of Philly’s favorite pair of half-Italians prone to playful bickering and off-beat tangents braved Monday night’s drizzle for the premiere of The Grimacchio Variety Hour, and the dynamic duo (Jason Grimley and Ralph Andracchio) did not disappoint.
The lovely Sue & Cait (caitblack.com) opened the show on acoustic bass and ukulele, respectively, with Sue jangling the jingle bells around her ankle in time to to the music while Cait crooned silky, smokey vocals into the old timey microphone at center stage.
After two songs, Grimacchio strolled out from behind the curtain—dressed in suits for the occasion—to applaud the two ladies, compliment Cait’s gold shoes, and go off on a riff about a Buck Rogers television special which revealed the actor’s staggering weight gain and declining health, forever marring their memories of their childhood hero. Then, they acknowledged the audience and welcomed us all to the show, blushing (Ralph) and sweating (Jason) with gratitude that everyone came. To warm up the crowd, they improvised some banter around current news items suggested by the audience, speculating on how Barack Obama decided to come out in favor of gay marriage (“fuck it, let’s do this”) and relating the Devil’s Breath street drug sensation to the campy Wes Craven flick The Serpent and the Rainbow.
They cut themselves off long enough to bring storyteller Hillary Rea onstage (“you will love her, damnit!”) for a brief conversation about her current projects and an adorably confusing explanation of her multiple online aliases. Rea told a fun and wonderfully detailed story about her first frenemy, a frizzy redhead with an in-home elevator who slutted it up through an Our Changing Bodies video in the sixth grade and ruined Rea’s retro-themed seventh grade birthday party with a Nirvana mixtape and an illicit game of Spin the Bottle, which young Rea excused herself from by hiding in the bathroom for thirty minutes.
Rea was followed by a Grimacchio sketch interlude, featuring the fellas as hipster record store employees (complete with “douchebag hats”) ignoring their customer to challenge each other with obscure music trivia. Sue & Cait followed, returning to the spotlight to literally sing the praises of Theodore Roosevelt, accompanied by a goofy framed black-and-white portrait of the President.
After a brief telling of the origin of the Grimacchio name (Jason didn’t know how to pronounce “Andracchio,” and Ralph didn’t correct him), comedienne LaTice took the mic to talk about the lack of joy in marriage, race relations in the suburbs, reality TV, and Flo the Progressive girl’s insensitivity to racial stereotypes. There were a number of slyly hilarious jokes worth quoting, but I wouldn’t want to ruin the punchlines for you.
Maureen Costello and Corin Wells of Ebony and Ivory closed the show, joined by Grimacchio for an improv set inspired by an interview with an accountant sitting in the audience. Highlights included Grimley as a talking dead goldfish in Costello’s cocaine-induced hallucination set in a cubicle in the ’80s; Wells as a five-year-old demanding apple juice before getting to work saving the company’s finances with her prodigious knowledge of QuickBooks and TurboTax; and a final scene with a Grimacchio-led game of double-speak, where Andracchio opposite hired Grimley from the accounting office, leading Grimley to threaten that he would opposite sleep soundly that night, forcing Andracchio to opposite tell security not to come upstairs and opposite let Grimley leave of his own volition.
After the blackout, Grimacchio invited all of the night’s performers back onstage to receive another round of applause, Sue & Cait played one last sweet little tune, and everyone filed outside praising the evening’s entertainment. For future editions of The Grimacchio Variety Hour, be sure to check the PHIT schedule and look for updates at facebook.com/Grimacchio.
Alison Zeidman lives in South Philadelphia, has a superfluous second Facebook page for work, and spends her evenings running around with the new indie improv team Malone.
Beirdo is a group made up of Kevin Pettit, Dennis Trafny, and Dan Jaquette – three men with fine faces full of hair.
Grimacchio is a duo comprised of King Friday members Ralph Andracchio and Jason Grimley.
Current Cage Match Champion Jessica Tandy is a duo comprised of Andy Moskowitz and Jess Ross.
The Kristen and Amie Show
The Kristen & Amie Show (or The Amie & Kristen show) is a duo comprised of Kristen Schier and Amie Roe, both equally deserving of top billing.
Matt& is when Matt Holmes invites a stranger, usually brand new to improv, on stage with him to perform a full comedy set.