Upcoming Shows

  • October 25, 2014Nationally Touring Headline Comedians @ Helium
  • October 25, 2014Nationally Touring Headline Comedians @ Heliun
  • October 25, 2014 7:30 pmComedy Sportz Philadelphia
  • October 25, 2014 8:00 pmCrazy Cow Comedy
  • October 25, 2014 9:00 pmComedy Train Rek presents Awkward Sex and the City
  • October 25, 2014 9:30 pmThe Comedy Works
  • October 25, 2014 10:00 pmComedy Sportz Philadelphia
  • October 25, 2014 10:30 pmImprov Comedy: PHIT House Teams
  • October 29, 2014 8:00 pmComedy Masters
  • October 30, 2014 8:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
  • October 30, 2014 9:00 pmThe Comedy Attic
  • October 31, 2014 8:00 amNationally Touring Headline Comedians @ Helium
  • October 31, 2014 7:00 pmThe Comedy Works
  • October 31, 2014 8:00 pmThe N Crowd
  • October 31, 2014 8:00 pmCrazy Cow Comedy
  • October 31, 2014 8:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
  • October 31, 2014 9:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
  • November 1, 2014Nationally Touring Headline Comedians @ Heliun
  • November 1, 2014Nationally Touring Headline Comedians @ Helium
  • November 1, 2014 7:30 pmComedy Sportz Philadelphia
  • November 1, 2014 8:00 pmCrazy Cow Comedy
  • November 1, 2014 9:30 pmThe Comedy Works
  • November 1, 2014 10:00 pmComedy Sportz Philadelphia
  • November 1, 2014 10:30 pmImprov Comedy: PHIT House Teams
  • November 5, 2014 8:00 pmComedy Masters
AEC v1.0.4

“I Allow People to Do Whatever the Hell They Want to Do” – Interview with Mike Marbach on Plans for ‘The Sideshow’ in 2013

by Pat Reber

The Sideshow is a real gem. It’s the epitome of the local, DIY, low production/high entertainment experimental variety shows that we comedy nerds go crazy for. I attended last Friday’s The Sideshow: Happy New Year featuring Malone, Gross Butler and Daring Daulton. The show was already packed when I arrived, with audience members filling every seat and standing against the walls of the cozy studio. More impressive than the audience’s number, though, was how truly engaged we all were from start to finish. Our laughter rolled consistently throughout the entire two-hour show, and turned from chuckles to outright squeals during each set. We were treated to seamless and hilarious improv from Malone and Gross Butler, awkwardly brilliant sketch comedy from Daring Daulton, and a fantastic reading by host Luke Field of a rambling 12-page apology letter to Claritin written by Sideshow creator Mike Marbach.

Marbach is clearly very passionate about this show, and with good reason.  After the show, I caught up with him to find out what exciting plans he has for The Sideshow in 2013:

Spellbound (January 12th)

“The twelfth is going to be pretty different.  Kristen Schier is going to be doing clowning.  There’s an improv trio that formed out of the Sideshow Troika last year, called Chaperone. Lizzie Spellman, who is a local improviser but also sings and plays ukulele, is going to be the host/musical guest of the show, so she’ll be doing different songs throughout the show, in between the other acts.  And then the Necrosexual, which is Jimmy Viola’s thing. I’ve never seen it, I really don’t know what it is, which just goes to show I’ll allow people to do whatever the hell they want to do. I’m sure it’s going to be a good time.”

The 2013 Improv Oscars Jam (February 22nd):

“This will be the third year we’ve done the Improv Oscars Jam, which takes place the weekend of the Oscars. People get dressed up and come out. They have the opportunity to play a bunch of movie-related short-form improv games, some with different multimedia connections. We’ll show a 30-second clip of a movie that came out in 2012, and then people do scenes inspired by that clip. We’ll do live sketches that are movie-inspired. People are encouraged to film different parodies of films that came out in 2012, and we’ll show those on the [projection] screen. There’s food, there’s drinks. This will be the third year, and each one has gotten bigger, and better attended, and it’s always a really good time.”

Freaky Friday (March 15th)

“There is one coming up in March, which I’m calling Sideshow: Freaky Friday, where a bunch of improvisers who haven’t done stand-up before, that’s their chance to do it. And then I want to grab a bunch of stand-ups who haven’t improvised before, and have them do that. So people will get a better appreciation of each other’s art, and how difficult it can actually be, and fun at the same time. So that could be really funny. Or it could be terrible, which is okay. Like I said, I allow people to experiment and do whatever the hell they want to do.”

Musical Revue (Date TBD)

“March or April will be probably one of the biggest things we’ve done with Sideshow. We’ve done one-acts, we’ve done the Oscars Jam, we hosted the Troika last year, but this is going to be a musical revue. It’s going to be a love/hate theme, where it’s going to mix Broadway songs, popular songs, and some original stuff thrown in there as well. It’s going to be all tied together through different stories, and personal things like that. The idea is to be funny, but there will be a lot of vulnerability in there, too. The cast is made up, so far—it’s not official yet, so I don’t want to say just who—but there’s stand-ups in the show, there’s sketch comedians in the show, there’s improvisers in the show. People will get to see them do things that they’ve done in the past, but may not have the opportunity to do now, being involved in the arts that they are. They can show off their singing, or their dancing, or anything like that. It’s going to be a good time.”


The next January dates for ‘The Sideshow’ are the 12th, 18th and 25th.  For more information, check out The Sideshow on Facebook.

Pat Reber performs sketch comedy with the Win Show, and also has his hands in a constantly shifting menagerie of other projects. He’ll be on twitter @patreberyeah and he thinks you’re nice.

Philly Comedy Round-up, Vol. 71

Still looking for plans for New Year’s Eve? Last week we gave you this round-up of comedy shows around Philadelphia tonight.

Chip Chantry wrote this piece about his ten most awkward moments of 2012 for Philly.com.

In case you missed it (or if you want to see it again) Emily and Micah McGraw‘s set from Secret Pants‘ Christmas show A Banner Year at the Ol’ Bender House has made its way online.

Pick up a copy of this month’s Philadelphia Magazine to check out an article on comedian and storyteller Juliet Hope Wayne. The article also talks about the comedy scene here in Philly and mentions a certain website that reports on it (it’s us!).

The Sideshow: Happy New Year! show will take place this Friday at The Arts Parlor (1170 S. Broad St.). The show will feature performances from improv groups Gross Butler and Malone and sketch group Daring Daulton plus more!

This Friday will mark the first of three shows of The New Dreamz Experimental Residency Performance Art Program. The New Dreamz is the comedy performance duo of artists Andrew Jeffrey Wright and Rose Luardo. During the residency, the audience can expect to engage with material that will never be performed again and material that will be indoctrinated into The New Dreamz fat folds. Each of the three performances will be unique. The residency will be held at Space 1026 (1026 Arch Street) a Philadelphia collective art community and institution that was established in 1997.

Duofest Interview: Gross Butler

By: Alison Zeidman

To teenage girls, they’re The Beatles. To Hasidic Jews, they’re lobsters wrapped in bacon burning  Israeli flags and eating cheeseburgers. To us, they’re Gross Butler. They’re not trying to offend you; they’re just gonna fuck with you a little bit. And in the end, they really just want to rock your face and steal your heart.

Alison Zeidman: How did you guys meet, and then how did you decide to form your duo?

Alex Gross: Like a year ago Greg [Maughan] would just ask me to ask improvisers to do a show that was supposed to never be seen again, just on Sundays if he needed a group to perform. And so the one day he asked me on Sunday, and I texted about fifteen people, and they all told me maybe, except for Mike; he was like, “YES I’ll do it!”

Mike Butler: I think it was the Saturday before, he asked me. And I don’t know how long before that Greg told you to put together a group. I just assumed that he told you earlier in the week and you just decided on Saturday to start putting it together.

AG: No it was definitely that Saturday, that day.

MB: So Alex said do you want to be in a group, and I said fine, because I knew Alex from Incubator. And he had seen my [PHIT] 101 show earlier in that year as well.

AZ: So you guys did that show together, and just decided to keep going?

AG: Yeah, it was actually a really really good show because uh…yeah, I was just really surprised and Greg was surprised, and we had this sixteen-year-old girl in the audience who was just non-stop laughing. And I was just like, OK, that’s our basic dmeographic.

AZ: Is that semi-serious? Do you guys cater to maybe…a less mature audience?

[both laugh]

MB: Oh no, actually our stuff really is mature, a lot of people enjoy it, but on some level I guess sixteen year-olds do really like it. Though Greg told us that at our first performance, there were four Hasidic Jews who had come to the Shubin to see the show, and then walked out in the middle of our performance.

AG: Like the second scene in!

AZ: Can you think of what you might have said or done that would have made them leave?

AG: We were going very religion-heavy at some point.

MB: I thought it was the scene where we were in prison and you peed on me.

AG: That might actually have been it.

MB: And they just kind of walked out, and they didn’t take their money back either. So we have that distinction: Our first performance ever, four Hasidic Jews walked out.

AZ: Is that typical for you guys, to have scenes that are more controversial, or maybe even vulgar at times?

AG: I think it’s a lot about how the audience is responding. Because we’re definitely very much reliant on the audience.

MB: Overall, it’s not like we go out and say, “hey, we’re gonna have the dirtiest show ever.” It’s just our personalities, and we just go wherever it takes us.

AG: Yeah, I don’t think we try to be dirty. I think our show is just dirty because we’re dirty people.

MB: And if you try to be dirty you’re going to fail at it; it’s going to seem forced. But if you’re just naturally…

AG: Fucked up.

MB: I wouldn’t say dirty or fucked up. I like to say aggressive.

AZ: Can you explain what you mean by that?

MB: Usually you see an improv show and if stuff starts to get dirty or raunchy, that wipe comes through, and with us we take the scene for another two or three minutes.

AG: Yeah we’re very patient. The majority of our shows are all five- to six-minute scenes.

MB: We’re lucky if we get to go back to our earlier scenes.

AZ: Do you guys follow a specific format?

MB: We don’t necesarrily have a format. We just start doing scenes and then if we feel like it we go back to an earlier scene.

AG: I feel like the one thing I want from this group is–Philadelphia is very fast. A majority, like my team Hey Rube, we play patient in the beginning but it’s still not long enough. I like to do slow improv, so the one thing I wanted from Mike and I was just to do like five- to six-minute scenes. So that’s our format; we just want to do long scenes. And that’s the only thing that I can say our format is, just being patient.

MB: Yeah, we’re very patient. We just take scenes and go right up to their logical end, even if there’s something dirty in a scene, it isn’t over. It’s like no, we’re going to explore that some more.

AZ: And can you talk about your Krav Maga-inspired inspired opening?

AG: One night I was at home and I was reading an interview with The Vines, and when they were a shitty band and they were just starting out, most of their shows would end with all the bandmates just getting in fistfights, and the audience loved it. And I was like man, I want to get in a fistfight! And so I just was like oh, I’ll do that with Mike, forgetting that he’s trained in MMA.

MB: Yeah, he messaged me at work one day and says “Hey Mike, do you own boxing gloves?” And I said “why yes I do, why?” “I wanna do something where we start off the show boxing each other. ” And I’m like, “OK, that’s fine,” and we worked out how it would work, where we do the clover leaf while we’re punching each other, and I’m like, “OK great, which show do you want to do this on, Tuesday night? Usually I can’t do Tuesday night because I have Israeli Krav Maga class, but that’s fine.” And then he Wikipediaed it really quickly and said “oh my god, you’re a killing machine!”

AG: It’s awful, I hate it. There’s nothing like getting to your first scene and you’re already out of breath and your face hurts.

AZ: So you guys are really boxing each other?

AG: Oh he hits me pretty fucking hard.

MB: I hit him hard enough. I don’t want him to be knocked out and then I have to do the rest of the show alone. But we’re not tapping each other. I’m looking to put a little mustard on each punch and let him feel it, and the crowd gets into it because apparently everybody loves watching Alex get punched.

AG: The first part of the clover leaf is just like warming up, the second one’s really
vicious, and then the third one I’m losing my breath, my face hurts, and most of the time
by the third one my helmet’s ripped off.

MB: Yes, I provide him with a helmet, because I’m used to getting punched in the face and he’s not. So by that third one he’s forgetting the words and I have to remind him which word we’re on.

AZ: So it sounds like even during that you’re still very supportive of each other: You’re helping him remember words, you’re offering him a helmet. What other things, once you get into the meat of your show with scenes, do you think make you guys a good pair?

AG: I like to throw like curve balls–and just for the record we do shows way better when we’re not fighting each other at the beginning, because I sort of…nothing’s like doing an improv scene where your whole left side hurts, and you’re just sort of like fuck you, Mike. I don’t want to be onstage with you anymore, I fucking do not feel like doing this anymore.

MB: But yeah, he likes throwing me curve balls. At our last Grape Room show we were doing a father son bonding scene and he’s like, “yeah, now give me fifty pushups!” and I proceeded to do fifty push-ups onstage, with everybody counting.

AG: And me shooting my hunting rifle in the air. A funny thing about that, it shows you that in improv it’s not all about comedy, it’s just doing the task at hand. You “yes, and”-ed my fifty push-ups, and it ended with the whole crowd fucking applauding the shit out of you for like thirty seconds. They fucking loved the shit out of you after that.

AZ: Is that a recurring thing for you guys, to set your partner up in a scene for something that’s going to be challenging, and maybe even impossible? Is that a conscious game, or does that just happen?

AG: It just happens.

MB: Yeah I don’t think we try, it’s just the way we were trained. I took [PHIT] 201 with Mike Marbach and the main thing I took out of that class was, as Mike would say, “go out on stage and fuck with people.” And that just means go out and have fun with your partner, have fun with your team.

AG: I also know that Mike isn’t going to bail on an idea. If I tell him to be King Tut, he’s gonna be the best King Tut that he can be, and that’s really good. It shows….definitely shows a certain kind of maturity. A lot of [beginner] improv students, you’ll tell them to do something, and they’re so self-conscious, that they’ll either be a really shitty King Tut or they’ll just be like, “I’m not King Tut, I’m an astronaut!” [It's like saying] fuck you man, I hate your decision. And Mike always accepts it, no matter what.

AZ: Are there any challenges that you feel in performing, either just by the very nature of being in a duo, or for your duo specifically?

MB: The challenging thing about being in a duo is you’re in every scene; you’re always working. I think being in a group, if you’re on the side you can pick up patterns or little extra things more easily, but then when you’re in a duo you’re doing everything at once. But that’s what makes being in a duo fun. And I guess that’s why we have Duofest.

AZ: What are you guys looking forward to about this upcoming duofest?

AG: Free shit. T-shirts. Drink tickets at the bar.

MB: I wanna rock peoples’ faces. I want people coming out of our show going “yeah, fuck yeah, I like these guys.”

AG: Yeah, it’s nice [to be a part of it]. I tried to get into the first Duofest and I didn’t get in, and it’s nice getting into this one, and I appreciate all of the producers for picking us. But it’s just another show. It’s not like I’m more nervous to do this show than any other. Just time to play.

MB: Yeah. Just go out and have fun, just go out and play. That’s what Kristin Schier taught me in [PHIT] 101. So go out and play….go out and fuck with people…and now in the 301 class [with Greg Maughan], don’t throw chairs.

AG: Yeah, Greg Maughan’s a wet blanket.

AZ: Is it OK if I print that?

AG: Add that I love him, too.

Philly Comedy Round-up, Vol. 33

Writer and comedian Ryan Carey posted this detailed ranking of 17 George Carlin albums on his blog. Carey gives each album two ratings, one based on laughs and one based on philosophy. 17 albums is a lot to dig through, but this type of stuff is right down Ryan’s alley.

Tonight at L’etage, the second monthly Camp Woods Plus will feature the namesake group plus Philly favorites Secret Pants as well as visitors from New York Skinny Bitch Jesus Meeting. Doors open at 8 and the show starts at 8:30. You can hear Camp Woods talk more about their comedy in last week’s inaugural episode of The Witout Dot Net Podcast.

Tomorrow at L’etage marks the return of improv showcase Polygon. This month’s show will feature sets from Gross Butler, Apocalips, Rintersplit, and Angry People Building Things. Doors open at 7:30 and the show starts at 8:00.

The lineups for the first annual NYC Improv Festival have been announced and several Philadelphia teams have made the cut. The festival, which will take place from March 21-24 will feature Philly groups Mayor Karen, King Friday, Asteroid, Hey Rube, and Iron Lung.

This Wednesday will mark the debut of the Philebrity Showcase, a free monthly evening of comedy and music, hand-selected by the Philebrity staff, at Fergie’s Pub. This month’s show will feature comedian Tommy Pope along with music from Ladies Auxiliary.