Philly native Todd Glass is coming to Helium Comedy Club this week for a string of shows with Chip Chantry Chip Chantry. Todd asked me to write it twice because he thinks Chip will get excited. [Scroll down for Chip's reaction!]
WitOut: Hi Todd! Where in the world are you?
Todd Glass: Hey, right now I am in Kansas performing with Jim Gaffigan.
WitOut: What’s a comedy crowd like in Kansas?
Glass: Well if you’re with someone as big as Jim you’re drawing his audience and they’re good. But the city doesn’t make the audience, the club does. If you have a good club it doesn’t matter where you are. Granted, there are cities that are more beautiful than others but as far as the way the audience acts it’s based on how the club operates. In my opinion, the best comedy club in America is Acme Comedy Club in Minneapolis. Who’d think Minneapolis would have the best club? But when a club has high standards and respects the comedy, the audience will follow. They train the audiences. Helium, I give them an A++. One of the best clubs in the country. When Marc (owner of Helium Comedy Club) wanted to start Helium he went to the Montreal Comedy Festival and asked comics, “What’s your favorite club?”, and they kept saying Acme. So, Marc decided he had to check this place out. He went to Minneapolis, met with Louis Lee (owner of Acme Comedy Club), and made it happen.
WitOut: Do you have any memorable stories about shows you’ve done here in Philly?
Glass: It made me proud whenever I’d come to Philly with other acts. Once I was on tour with Louis C.K., Sarah Silverman, and David Cross, and when we came to Philly I so didn’t want it to be a bad crowd. The crowd ended up being unbelievably great. So great. And I was so proud.
WitOut: I know you’ve shot a couple pilots over the years, is that something you’d like to do again?
Glass: I just sold a pilot to Comedy Central actually, I’m very excited about it. It’s called The Todd Glass Situation. My character owns a college bar/restaurant–which is one layer of the show but it doesn’t consume the whole show. It also deals with me being in the closet all those years…gosh I hate that term but what the fuck else am I gonna say? There’s never been a show about hiding in the closet. Like, what does it REALLY mean to be in the closet on a day-to-day basis? It’s important to who I am but I didn’t want it to be the A slot of the show so, it’s a layer, never the primary story. At least I hope it’s that way in the show.
WitOut: I’m curious, what is it you don’t like about the phrase “in the closet?”
Glass: “In the closet,” ugh, I don’t know, it’s probably my own issue. It’s just so…flamboyant. Maybe that’s not it.
WitOut: Is it because it’s sort of a pithy way to describe it?
Glass: Yeah, see, you said it better than me. But also, ya know, sometimes you just don’t like something and ya can’t even explain it? It’s hard to explain but, obviously one day we won’t have that expression because we won’t need to.
WitOut: I was actually not going to ask about last year’s WTF announcement unless it came up naturally since it seems interviewers always ask about it .
Glass: As far as the Maron thing goes, I don’t mind talking about it, I like the mix. I didn’t talk about it my whole life so I’m good talking about it. But yeah, I appreciate your thought to not ask. But, it’s a gigantic part of my life. If we pull it off right on the show it won’t be a gigantic part of the show. It was very rarely the A plot of my day. Mostly B or C slot. It’s not gonna drive the show. But I’ll say this, it’ll be funny obviously, but it’ll also hopefully shed a lot of light on the issue and make people say, “I never fucking thought about that.” Like, how to handle it when your parents are in town, or, if you’re in a diner and three people there know but the fourth doesn’t. If you’re smoking pot and worry, “Shit, did I just misspeak and say something I didn’t mean to?”
WitOut: Do you remember where your first set was?
Glass: Absolutely. It was at Comedy Works on 2nd and Chestnut. It was an amazing place. I first went when I was in high school. Some friends and I went to see comedy and I was completely unaware that there were comedians that weren’t household names but had followings. Established, really great comedians. It was a 300 seat room, we saw so many greats: Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld, Gilbert Gottfried, Richard Lewis, Tim Allen, Roseanne Barr, Eddie Murphy, Stephen Wright, just amazing comics. Eventually I went up there. I was almost 16, I had a very frenetic energy. Everyone was very kind and told me I’m funny but that I gotta calm down. Then, and I’ll never forget this, [The Legendary] Wid comes up and says to me, “You don’t have to change anything, you’re funny just the way you are.” I have a special place in my heart for him. He’s very supportive and that’s so fucking important.
WitOut: What do people most often recognize you from?
Glass: Good question, times have changed with social media and podcasts. So, either a show like Comedy Bang Bang, podcasting or Jimmy Kimmel since I’ve done that show quite a few times. But people still remember me from Last Coming Standing too.
WitOut: How do you view the Philly comedy scene now compared to when you started?
Glass: Right now there’s a really good scene in Philly. There wasn’t for years but now there is, basically since Helium opened. It re-sparked excitement for comedy in the city. Between Helium and lots of niche one-nighters at bars or music venues or theatres, it’s great. And there are a lot of new, really funny people in the last 7, 8 years. I love watching stand-up comedy and if I get to a town a night early I’ll go to the open mic night. Some people are there for the first time, some have been there 7 times, but there’s also established really good acts who just live in Philly and go down there. You see a lot of funny new people which is exciting.
See Todd Glass (with Chip Chantry) this Wednesday (11/27), Friday (11/29), and Saturday (11/30) at Helium Comedy Club (2031 Sansom St., Philadelphia, PA 19103) .
Response from Chip Chantry:
Excited? Here’s what I would be excited about.
1. I’d be excited if I was working with a headliner that does NOT belittle me in front of the staff, customers, and management on a nightly basis.
2. I’d be excited if I was working with a headliner who does not insist on having the venue pay HIM my check for the week, and who then takes a 40% “mentoring fee”.
3. I’d be excited to work with a headliner who doesn’t throw glasses of whiskey at me when I forget to get extra pickles with the panini that he likes from the deli all the way across town at midnight. And who screams at me about how he’s friends with Jim Gaffigan, and how “friends with Jim Gaffigan get extra pickles, Goddammit!” And then he burns me with a cigarette and screams outdated racial slurs that don’t even apply to me.
4. And I’d be excited to work with a headliner who doesn’t force me to do wind sprints in front of the club right before I go onstage, so I’m all out of breath for the first minute of the four minutes he lets me do. And most of those four minutes are announcements he makes me read about how great Todd Glass is, and how Todd Glass is best friends with Jim Gaffigan, and how Todd Glass is so much funnier than I am, and how I should just quit comedy altogether and get a job cleaning up monkey shit at a monkey zoo. THAT’S NOT EVEN A REAL ANNOUNCEMENT, DAVE! AND I DON’T THINK THERE IS ACTUALLY A THING CALLED A MONKEY ZOO! IT’S JUST A ZOO!
I’m dreading this week.
Dave Metter is a Philly comedian, check him out on Twitter @DaveMetter, and check out his fake local news show Your News, Philadelphia December 5th and 6th at the Shubin Theatre.
Frequent late-night guest and Last Comic Standing alum Gary Gulman, headlines at Helium Comedy Club (2031 Sansom Street) tonight through Saturday. Gulman is stopping in Philadelphia during a six week tour and promoting his new special, This Economy. He takes a unique approach to long-format jokes in the clever articulation of entertaining (and often handy) storytelling.
We caught up with Gulman to talk about his particular brand of comedy and stand-up life.
Witout: You’ve been on tour for some time now. Where are you now?
Gary Gulman: I’m on the road for the next six weeks. I’m in Boston right now, doing a show at Boston University with Denis Leary and Jimmy Fallon. It’s for the [Cam Neely Foundation for Cancer Care]. It’s a tradition in Boston, I’ve done it the past 18 years. Originally–I think–it was just comedians from Boston. Now, they bring in famous comedians. Anyway, it’s very well attended. There were probably like 10,000 people there. It’s an honor to do it.
WitOut: Where are you headed over the next few weeks?
Gulman: After Philadelphia, I’ll be in New Brunswick for the following weekend and then I’m going to Atlanta and San Francisco. There is another stop somewhere–maybe Houston. But, I’m very busy the rest of the year.
WitOut: That’s a good thing. Are you going to be making anymore television appearances?
Gulman: Sure. I was also just in a movie that premiered at the Toronto Film Festival called Lucky Them with Toni Collette. But yeah, I usually do the late-night shows every six months or so. And then I usually do a Comedy Central special every year or two. The most recent is on Netflix, called This Economy.
WitOut: Can you tell us a little bit about it?
Gulman: Sure. It was basically inspired by the recession in 2008, which I was affected by. Not so much by the economy as I was affected by bad choices in my love life. I bought a house for this woman I was engaged to and it didn’t work out. I was stuck with the house by myself so I was broke. Money was a real issue. It sort of happened at the same time that everyone else in the country was struggling so I was able to find a lot of common ground with the audience on the effects of money and keeping [money] in perspective–and also some of my favorite ways to save money, which involved a lot of cutting back and some stealing.
Well, not bad stealing. When I went to the movies, I would always put in the senior discount. I also once stole a muffin from Whole Foods when the line was really backed up. Nothing the way of major crime but I did save some money.
WitOut: What is up next for you in terms of the comedy that you’re delivering?
Gulman: I don’t talk about [money] as much anymore, probably because I’ve weathered the storm and I’m financially stable again. I still talk about certain aspects of the economy, mostly the ridiculous disparity between the wealthy and the rest of us. I would say that I turned more on my personal life than my financial life. I mostly just tell really long stories about things that have happened to me. That’s sort of my style–making really long stories with digressions and stories within stories. That’s my niche. It’s unique but it’s not like I invented anything. There just aren’t too many people who sound like me.
WitOut: Do you think this type of anecdotal comedy is gaining traction these days?
Gulman: I don’t think that’s the case. I think there are more one-liners and topical jokes out there. It’s because the shows are giving comedians five minutes to perform and you can’t really build a long story in five minutes. I’ve found that to be the case.
WitOut: So what is it that draws you to that long format, then?
Gulman: Uhm. I’m great at it.
WitOut: Fair enough.
Gulman: Yeah, and the audience loves it. If the audience was turned off by it, I’d probably shy away from it but I’ve been able to pull it off.
WitOut: Are you ever planning on slowing down your stand-up schedule for TV?
Gulman: No! I love it so much. I really resent having to occasionally do an audition or a meeting because it takes away from stand-up. It was fun to be in a movie but it was 16 hours of standing around to do about a half an hour of work. I prefer stand-up. It’s just so much fun and the audience is great.
I’m at a point where I’m performing in front of good audiences at good venues. [Stand-up] was hard for a long time but now I can’t think of a better way to spend my time.
WitOut: That’s awesome to hear. I think a lot of comedians are moving onto so many other things.
Gulman: [Laughs] I appreciate that because the more time they spend making TV and movies, the more room there is for me to take their shows.
WitOut: Why do you prefer live performance?
Gulman: It’s instant feedback. You’re creative. You feel like you’re a creator and a performer. It’s ideal. I don’t know how people stop doing it after they get TV shows. The only reason that I would want a TV show is to get more people at my shows.
WitOut: So, your show in Philadelphia… Are you excited to come visit us?
Gulman: I love Philadelphia. I’ve been coming down there since about 2005-2006 to perform at Helium. They are some of my best shows. I have a big crowd there. It’s perfect. If I could find a theater there to do my next special in, I would do it. I love it.
We sent a comedy newbie to her first live comedy show this past weekend to give/get a fresh perspective. Know anyone who you think would love live comedy, but has never been to a club or theater show? Tweet them this article with #PhlComedy, @WitOutDotNet and they could win tickets to a comedy show in Philly!
Ok, let me start off by saying if you want to see a show-and-a-half then stop on by Helium Comedy Club. Tonight was probably the best experience I could be a part of. It started with seeing David James. Let me first say that he was hilarious.
He opened up the show with a wonderful question we can all relate to, “Have you ever dated someone and didn’t know if they were retarded or not?” That started the conversation for the show. He then went through the show with charisma and poise. He was going from topic to topic with no problems whatsoever. He was wonderful. He put everything that society hates to talk about, every grey area, and made it very easy to talk about it. I honestly thought he was hilarious. He included his audience in his act and let me tell you it was like a breath of fresh air compared to most comedians on TV. He was suave and sure of himself and was ready for any topic he put out there.
The headliner was, from In Living Color and Comedy Central, Mr. Tommy Davison.
Tommy Davidson [photo by Frances Paris]
He started off the show full of life and energy. He came out dancing and getting the crowed worked up. The first few jokes were just openers, like most people would do if they were coming to a party or something. The best thing about his performance was his attitude. He was so secure. He made sure he kept eye contact with everyone and just kept with the act. He was great with his facial expressions and changed his voice several times to keep up with the characters he was playing.
It was something that most people would really enjoy. I highly suggest that people go see him. He took topics like politics, race and genre and turned them into pleasant topics that we can all relate to. Honestly if you are looking for a great time and a place to spend your time go on down to Helium and enjoy the show. -Frances Paris
Pat with Greg Giraldo, Bill Burr and Mike Birbiglia
Tonight, Philly comedian Pat House records his first CD. Let’s take a look at a career timeline from a Philly favorite.
2005 – Pat places second (2nd) in Howard Stern’s “Kill or Be Killed” before the contest was bought by a Japanese cooking show.
2006 – Pat turns 22, he is the youngest comedian to host at the balloon-factory-turned-nightclub known then as Helium Comedy Emporium–or as we know it today–The United Noble Gasses Laff-Cabaret.
2007 – Pat is a phinalist in Philly’s Phunniest. He will go on to phinal phour more times bephore permanently boycotting the contest upon the 2013 victory of life-long nemesis and least favorite human being, Paul Chantry.
2008 – 2012 — no activity.
2013 – Pat opens for heroes Bill Burr, Mike Birbiglia and one-night-only necromancied Greg Giraldo–who agreed to do a final earthly show for Pat’s birthday, thinking Pat was fifteen and suffering from terminal rosacea.
Presently, Pat is making up for lost time, and can be seen at clubs around the country such as -Cap City Comedy Club (Austin, TX) -Parlor Live (Seattle, WA) -Helium (Philly, Buffalo, Portland) -Respiratory Distress (Detroit) -Hilarities (Cleveland) -Magooby’s (Baltimore) -Jimmothy Johnlinson’s Comedy Nightmare (Mechanicsburg, Louiville, Akron, Halifax) -The Stress Factory (New Brunswick, NJ) -Tony and Tina’s Unexpected Bat Mitzvah (Philadelphia)
You can see Pat perform all of his best material tonight at Helium, and then presumably filling the remaining 39 minutes describing the sensual linguistics of the “C word”.
And speaking of which, presumed-single-lady guest-host Mary “M-Rad” Radzinski (sp?) will open the show!
I like people who can wear a chip on their shoulder like a badge of honor. Your grievances and grudges are what make you interesting. Why not own them?
So it’s not especially a stretch to say that it’s easy for me to love Greg Fitzsimmon’s first hour long special, Life on Stage. An award-winning writer, producer and stand-up comedian, his comedy unabashedly explores social and familial constructs. While seemingly provocative, Fitzsimmons is playfully clever in his approach to unearthing the absolute absurdity that is so often prevalent in modern American life.
Greg Fitzsimmons: Right. I’ve been working in New York. I took the weekend off to come home for Halloween and Trick or Treat with the kids.
WitOut:How was Halloween?
Fitzsimmons: Great. It was very cute. We did trick or treating on one side of the neighborhood, changed costumes and then did the other side. My son is 13 so he’s off with his boys. You know, a real teenage party. I think that was his first one.
WitOut:I’m sure they just sat around and did their homework.
Fitzsimmons: They’re really on the edge. I don’t think they’re doing anything that wrong yet but they’re definitely thinking about it. They’re ready for it. They’re only in the planning stages.
WitOut:You’ve been all over the place this past year. How is tour?
Fitzsimmons: It’s not so much a tour as it is going out to places on the weekends, in between working on the show. This past year, I’ve definitely been on the road a lot doing shows to promote the special. But it’s been a lot of TV stuff. I was executive producer on another show earlier this fall and then just banging out these podcasts twice a week and a radio show once a week. It’s pretty exhausting. I haven’t had a moment.
WitOut:What show are you currently working on?
Fitzsimmons: I created a comedy talk show pilot for FX with this guy Josh Topaulski, who has a website called The Verge. It’s kind of a Daily Show format.
WitOut:How did podcasting make its way into your mix?
Fitzsimmons: Well, I was doing the radio show for just an hour. I was getting these really great guests and all of the sudden, the hour would go by so fast. So, my producer said that we could do another hour and put it out as a podcast. We did that for awhile and people eventually wanted more than one a week. I was on the road a lot of weekends so I started doing [podcasts] from the green room in clubs and now I pretty much just record interviews with people during the week. I’ll try to bank a few and then put those out.
This past week, I sat down with Colin Quinn and at the end I said to him, “How often do you and I get to sit down and talk, uninterrupted for two hours?” It’s very rare. It’s great. I think it started out casually–and it still feels casual– it doesn’t feel like a job. Now there is all of this advertising coming in, which is really just found money.
Fitzsimmons: No. When I started doing stand-up, my Father was really supportive of me. He said, you know, just make sure you write. Write a lot. I think that he knew that it was going to be a tough business and that writing was something that I could always–I wouldn’t say fall back on, but something that I could do in conjunction with stand-up. I’ve always been focused on it.
I’ve always been doing something else. After I did stand-up for a couple of years, I moved to New York and did a two year acting program. So I did that and went out on the road on the weekends. Then I moved to LA and auditioned for acting stuff. I never had any luck but I did it a lot for awhile.
There have always been different directions that I was going in. When my son was born, I started writing for TV so that I could be around more. That’s been twelve years or so in between writing, doing stand-up and hosting stuff on TV.
On a good day it feels like, yeah, you have your hands in a lot of things. On a bad day you feel like you’re being pulled in too many directions. In this business, it’s a pretty good way to keep your sanity–to be able to not have all of your eggs in one basket.
WitOut: A lot of your new special deals with parenting, social class and race. Your kids go to school in LA and so you’re definitely surrounded by a lot of that. Can you speak to us about where that material comes from?
Fitzsimmons: I grew in New York and my Dad was a radio guy. He was very liberal. Very outspoken. Our family’s identity is very, I think, Kennedy Democrats. And I grew up in a place that was very economically and racially diverse.
My kids are in a Spanish Immersion program at a public school in LA. My wife grew up in the city in New York. We try to replicate something that has that same kind of diversity and we’ve been really luck with that. They’ve got a school that has very committed parents and the kids are great. At the same time–not to put down private schools–your kid can get a false sense of feeling like they’re the greatest fucking thing that has ever been born. I want my kids to feel like pieces of garbage that have to work their way out of it for the rest of their lives. That’s the drive they need.
A lot of my material comes out of guilt. I think I feel a certain white guilt with how fortunate I’ve been. Stand up, to me, is about [exploring] what are you thinking about, what makes you uncomfortable or angry, what is it that you can’t wrap your head around. For me, social class seems to be one that is just illogical. It’s the fabric of every society.
WitOut: What about the book? Is it a product of that guilt or is a way for you to kind of wear your mistakes on your armor?
Fitzsimmons: I was an English major in college and I had been writing my whole life. I wanted to write a book since I was five years old. I finally felt like I had lived enough to warrant writing a book about my life. It feel like there are two very different sides of my life and I wanted to explore that earlier part of my life. I wanted to show how it affected the second half.
I grew up very rebellious. The first half of my life, there was a lot of drinking and drugs, fighting and womanizing. It was very different from what my life is today. I just wanted to have fun and go down that road. It ended up being much more deeply about my relationship with my father.
My intention was probably much lighter than what the actual process ended up being.
WitOut: We know that you had a complicated relationship with your Father. Does talking about it so publicly affect that?
Fitzsimmons: He actually died 20 year ago. In a weird way, you still have a relationship with the [deceased] person. I think about him a lot. I think my kids feel his presence in a way. It didn’t end on good terms, really, and that’s sad.
WitOut: Does talking about it help your reconcile with that?
Fitzsimmons: I guess. On some levels, it is. I wish that I could I was that mature and that it was all reconciled. I’m still like a little baby. I definitely have more understanding [of him] now as a parent.
WitOut: You’re coming to Philly on this week. Are you looking forward to coming over here?
Fitzsimmons: (Laughs) Oh my god. Your voice just went up an octave when you asked that.
Yeah! I love Philadelphia! I think Philadelphia is great. It’s one of the few cities that I really enjoy getting up and walking around. The crowds are awesome. They’re really down to earth. There is that Italian-Irish thing there, which is always kind of rowdy and blue collar. It’s fun.
A few years ago, Rory Albanese punched a 9/11 truther in the face.
That’s a pretty good description of Albanese’s sense of humor. He spent nine years working at The Daily Show (five as a producer) and is now setting out on a tour that stops in Philly from Wednesday until Saturday. I talked to Rory on the phone before his first Philly show…
Witout: Rory, I gotta know why you would leave such a cushy job onThe Daily Show.
Albanese: Well, the job was pretty cushy and would have been for a long time, but I’m getting older and it’s like there’s this thing I gotta try cause the window’s closing. I didn’t have a map in some old journal telling me how The Daily Show was gonna play out. I’m doing this thing I wish I would have done at 22, only now it’s like a Kevin Costner movie – “Does his arm still throw? I don’t even know if he can get it up to 90 anymore boys. We’ll have to see.”
Witout:What was it like working with Jon Stewart?
Albanese: Any joke I made for The Daily Show goes through the awesome-maker, Jon Stewart. He’s saved so many of my jokes that would have flopped. You give him even a whiff of an idea and he’ll kill with it.
Witout:Your thoughts on Obamacare?
Albanese: Sure I care about healthcare, but not when The Big Bang Theory’s on. (joking) I’m right down the middle, politically, but I really feel that everyone should have access to good healthcare.
Witout:What was it like doing standup overseas, for the troops?
Albanese: Having been to Afghanistan is a real nice slice of humble pie. It makes you not want to ever wanna hear Kim Kardashian complain about anything ever again. Our veterans coming home are as badass as the “Greatest Generation” ever was and there’s no ticker tape parades for them, it’s bullshit.
Witout:So, I read on your Wikipedia page that you punched a 9/11 Truther in the face at a Jon Stewart event?
Albanese: I should have gone out the backdoor, is the lesson I learned from it. They started saying all this really terrible stuff to us, kinda like the Paparazzi do, and they started pushing us.
I’ve never punched anyone before or since, but I was here for 9/11.
Albanese’s Wednesday night set was smart, topical humor you’d expect from a Daily Show producer mixed with everything from a proctology visit, to why ‘The Right’ should actually want Obamacare, to a family vacation in which Rory and his 8 year old nephew shared similar roles. All with high energy.
Pretty much anything can happen during Albanese’s next three nights after this Philly interchange: Midway through the show an audience member called the two women behind him (who were talking through the whole show) the “C” word. The whole crowd froze. Someone yelled EAGLES. Albanese goes, “They’re not “C” words, they’re just bitches. Well played!
Rory Albanese will be performing at Helium tonight through Saturday Nov 2. For tickets, visit HeliumComedy.com.
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 email@example.com so we can share it!
Here’s the latest in Helium Comedy Club‘s video series The Up-and-Comer, in which Philadelphia comedian Aaron Nevins sits down with the club’s headliner for the week to have a one-on-one chat about comedy.
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!
The headline pretty much sums it up. Tomorrow at the Rogues Gallery Open Mic (11 South 21st St.; signups at 7:00pm; mic at 7:30pm) the hosts will be giving away two tickets to next Tuesday’s Four Headliners For a Cause show at Helium Comedy Club. The show is organized and hosted by comedian Chris Cotton to help raise money for the Raven Lounge MS Bike Team and MS Research.
More on the show from Helium Comedy Club’s website:
Four of the funniest comedians around lend their talents to a city wide fundraiser for Multiple Sclerosis for six weeks, ending with this May 14th performance. Comedians Talent Harris (Def Jam, Host of Apollo), Mike Vecchione (Tonight Show), Greer Barnes (Chappelle Show, Comedy Central), Jermaine Fowler (MTV 2′s Guy Code) and host Chris Cotton (Eric Andre Live Show) will share the stage, using their voices to fight for those afflicted with MS.
Take advantage of this opportunity to see five outstanding comedians for the price of one while supporting a worthy cause! A portion of the proceeds will go to the Raven Lounge Bike MS team and the National MS Society. For more details on the show or how to donate, please visit the following links: