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 New Act are:
A mix of improv veterans and fresh faces, Philly Improv Theater House Team Davenger likes its improv lean and gamey. Performing the classic Harold format, they attack the stage with emotion, intellect, and a strong sense of mischief.
Hot Dish features well-seasoned performers eager to satisfy audiences who hunger for funny, intelligent, ensemble-based improv comedy. Sometimes spicy, sometimes rich and indulgent, always comedically delicious.
The Flat Earth
Gathering talent from the improv, sketch, stand-up and theater worlds, The Flat Earth debuted in 2012 as Philly Improv Theater’s first house sketch team. Their sketch revue show had a five-night run at the Philly Fringe Festival, a two-night encore at the Shubin Theater, and received great praise from audience members they asked in the lobby afterwards.
Director: Paul Triggiani
Head Writer: Steve Swan
American Breakfast debuted at Sketch Up or Shut Up in February 2012. Between then and now, they performed irregularly at the Theme Show and were invited to perform at ManiParty, at Camp Woods Plus and at the Shubin Theater. The name reflects their love of this country and its morning-specific food items. They are Sean Landis, Eric Steele, Peter Rambo and Nora Redman.
Daring Daulton is a sketch duo who have been performing in Philadelphia since March of 2012. Both members have a background in film and screenwriting, drawing influences from filmmakers like the Coen brothers, PT Anderson and sketch shows like the Kids in the Hall and Mr. Show. As such, Daring Daulton’s largely character-driven sketches can best be identified by their dark subject matter, absurdist elements and meticulous dialogue.
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’.
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–if you’d like to write one, pitch us your list at email@example.com!
I started losing my hair in high school. All of the fun things I got to do in the 1980s with hair dye are long gone. On top of that, I never had to shave regularly until I was in my late 30s. In the late 1980s all I wanted was cool sideburns, and I had to wait until the trend came back around a couple years ago to almost be able to take advantage of it. I didn’t even have armpit hair until I was in my 20s. I spent most of my teen years too mortified to wear a tank top. I view most men with hair and the ability to grow facial hair wistfully. They have something I’ll never have.
Whenever I see these five guys, I can’t help but think about their hair. And how much I want to possess it.
5. Vegas Lancaster (improv team The N Crowd)
His hair has super powers that I cannot begin to comprehend. If you encounter Vegas in a dark alley, you are simultaneously frightened and awed.
4. Jp Boudwin (sketch group Camp Woods)
He can go from full-on French Canadian couch-surfing drifter to slightly more respectable French Canadian couch-surfing drifter simply by getting a hair cut. Also, when he gets his hair cut, he loses ten pounds in one whack.
3. Jess Carpenter (improv team Iron Lung, Comedian Deconstruction)
If I had the ability to rock full-on Wolverine facial hair like Jess does, I would be an unstoppable sex machine. I would do so much with that superpower, but it remains unattainable.
2. Dennis Trafny (Philly Improv Theater House Team Hey Rube)
Dennis gets the nod over his [improv team] Bierdo brethren because with his bald head and piercing eyes, his head shots make for the best meme generation.
1. Chris Calletta (Philly Improv Theater House Team Hot Dish)
Chris has the perfect hair of every actor in every hair product commercial and/or Francis Ford Coppola film from the early 1970s. Chris, you probably think I’m constantly cruising you, but really, when I’m staring vacantly at you, I’m for real just coveting your hair.
Steve Kleinedler started doing improv in 1982 and studied and performed off and on in the 1980s and 1990s. He began performing at ImprovBoston in 2001 and teaching and directing there in 2004. He performed with IB’s Harold Team Marjean for three years. Steve directed numerous improv troupes and shows at IB, including The Family Show (2004-2007), Backstory (a ‘Memento’-inspired improv show, which he reprised with Hot Dish for the Philly Fringe festival in 2012), and IB’s sketch ensemble The Ruckus (2007-2010). He’s directed numerous one-person shows and scripted plays. At PHIT he currently directs PHIT house team Hot Dish and has appeared onstage in numerous guises, including Half-Life with Nathan Edmondson. He is also a founding member of Shattered Globe Theatre in Chicago.
This is a love letter to Philadelphia, and by extension, to the comedy scene that you have all created here and welcomed me into.
Philadelphia is where I actively chose to live after considering a wide array of options. Performing as a vistor in PHIFs, a Troika, some N Crowd shows, and several one-off shows exposed me to what Philadelphia has to offer. Inexpensive rehearsal and performance spaces mean that anyone with an idea and the drive can start a production. In addition to the established companies, numerous successfully produced shows in bars, empty store fronts, galleries, and the like, make Philadelphia’s scene reminiscent of the theatre scene in Chicago in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Discussions with Mary Carpenter, Greg Maughan, Matt Nelson, Alexis Simpson, Alli Soowal, Kristen Schier, and Jason Stockdale spurred me to move to Philadelphia 16 months ahead of schedule, and I’m glad I did.
The creative spark here is very strong. Across numerous companies and troupes, hundreds of people perform regularly. Groups of like-minded friends can form troupes (like Iron Lung, Malone, and Nielsen did) and what’s more important, they can get gigs. The structural framework of PHIT, ComedySportz, the N Crowd, and other existing companies in combination with the opportunities provided by the producers of Polygon, Comedian Deconstruction, Sideshow, and the Grape Room, to name just a few, means anyone with an idea or drive can get stage time. There aren’t that many cities that allow for this kind of opportunity—space is just too expensive in most cities—and people who take advantage of everything there is to offer have helped create a comedy calendar where something is happening almost every day of the month.
Hot Dish will perform “Backstory” at the Philly Fringe Festival using a form that not many improv fans have ever seen. They will create a completely improvised show that unfolds backwards in time, similar to the movie Memento. A single story is told in about forty five minutes that begins with the curtain call and ends with the opening suggestion, similar to a backwards one-act play. “Backstory” will be a unique experience for audiences and performers alike.
Director Steve Kleinedler says, “This show will be unlike anything the audience has seen before. What really makes it interesting is seeing how the actors are able to manage telling the story backwards.” Steve calls this approach “mind-blowing” because of the associated difficulty level. Since it is hard to pull off, not many shows use this format. Cast member Jim Burns confesses that he has never seen a show like this nor has he himself performed this way. He says, “In prepping for this show we have to reorient our appreciation of time and augment our understanding of basic language concepts to follow our director. The brain begins working in ways it hadn’t before. It’s exciting and daunting and perplexing and fantastic all at once.”
So where did such an idea come from? Steve says he originally conceived the idea about eight years ago while directing at Improv Boston and thought it was very interesting. He showed the cast members a short clip of how he previously directed this form and they were intrigued. Jim labeled Steve as a “fearless director” for his determination to pull this off.
Not only are cast members excited to see how audiences respond to their show, they are also eager to see how they as performers respond to this form of improv. This style will certainly keep these improvisers on their toes. Steve reminds the cast that this sort of form demands rehearsals in order to deliver a smooth performance. While Hot Dish is focusing right now on their performance at the Fringe, they think it would be cool to use this format for future shows.
Backstory plays Wednesday, September 19 – Saturday, September 22 on the Mainstage at the Adrienne Theater (2030 Sansom St.) Tickets can be purchased online.
Last night, the seventh annual Philly’s Phunniest Person Contest kicked off at Helium Comedy Club. This year, over 150 comedians will compete in 11 preliminary rounds for the chance to move on to the semi-finals, and eventually the finals, where one will be named Philly’s “Phunniest”. Last night, James Hesky, Omar Scruggs, and Vince Patterson moved on to the next round. The competition continues next Monday, June 11 and the opening round continues on Sunday and Monday nights until August 13 (full schedule here).
This weekend marked the debut of two new Philly Improv Theater House Teams. Davenger (formerly Codename Westmarch) and Hot Dish (formerly Codename Strider) took the stage with UCB team Surfing Friday night to two sold out shows and returned to packed housed at PHIT again on Saturday night. If you missed it, you can read the two new teams introduce themselves to the world through Witout here (Davenger) and here (Hot Dish).
This weekend Philly Improv Theater will host the third annual Duofest, a celebration of improv duos from across the country. Shows start Thursday night and continue through until Sunday. Improv workshops taught by Jill Bernard, Joe Bill, Rachel & Dave, and Twinprov are also being held. Also – be on the lookout for more Duofest Interviews this week, here on Witout.
The lineup and date for the next Camp Woods Plus at L’etage (6th and Bainbridge) has been announced. Their next monthly show will be Wednesday, June 13th at 8:00PM and will feature brand new sketches from Camp Woods as well as guests The New Dreamz and Angel Yau.
Friday, June 15th, Mani Pedi will host their second ManiParty, this time at Connie’s Ric Rac (1132 S. 9th St.) Mani Pedi will welcome guests Carolyn Busa and American Breakfast. Doors for the event open at 8:00PM and the show begins at 9, with a dance party following the comedy. Tickets for ManiParty are $10 and include free ice cream.