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

Weekend Comedy Guide

It’s a busy weekend for comedy here in Philly. Here’s a handy guide to all that’s going on around our fair city.

Helium Comedy Club – Anjelah Johnson – Friday and Saturday, 8:00, 10:30

Johnson, known for her viral video Nail Salon, and her time as a cast member on MadTV takes the stage at Helium with her stand-up act full of characters, stories, and high energy material centering on her family and life growing up and living in Southern California. Nate Bargatze (Conan, Comedy Central) is the feature act and Aaron Hertzog is the host.

Philly Improv Theater – Friday

7:00 – Hey Everybody – Aaron Hertzog’s showcase will be without it’s usual host this week as he is at Helium – filling in will be Christian Alsis of The Feeko Brothers. This week’s show will feature comedy from Philly’s Phunniest winner Tommy Pope as well as Pete Kuempel, Ed McGonigal, and Ryan Shaner.

8:30 – The Feeko Brothers and Angel Yau – Fresh off their second consecutive Dirtiest Sketch in Philadelphia title, Christian Alsis and Billy Bob Thompson take the stage with a mostly new show they premiered last week at Philly Sketch Fest. Joining them at PHIT will be New York sketch comedian Angel Yau.

10:00 – The Kristen and Amie Show with Nielsen –  The improv duo comprised of Kristen Shier and Amie Roe bring their high energy, crazy character, fun filled playing to the stage at PHIT along with fun to watch indie group Nielsen.

Philly Improv Theater – Saturday

7:00 – Brick with Ebony and Ivory – New York’s Magnet Theater House Team Brick comes to Philly to perform along side the duo comprised of Iron Lung members Corin Wells and Maureen Costello.

8:30 – House Team Night, King Friday and Mayor Karen – Two of PHIT’s own house teams perform.

10:00 – House Team Night, Asteroid and ZaoGao – Two more PHIT house teams perform.

11:00 – Late Night Improv Jam – Improv open stage hosted by PHIT house team Fletcher.

The Laff House – Ted Carpenter – Friday (8:30, 10:45) Saturday (8:00, 10:00, 12:00)

 The veteran of Showtime at the Apollo and Russel Simmon’s Def Comedy Jam performs at The Laff House on South St.

City Spotlight – Friday

8:00 – Broad Comedy – The all women comedy show kicks off the night of laughs at the Philly Shakespeare Theater. Featuring performances by Mary Radzinski, Carolyn Busa, Hillary Rae, Sarah Morawcynski, Erin Mulville, and more.

10:00 – Bing Supernova’s Cavalcade of Fools – Everyone in the world’s favorite comedian hosts a show packed with performances by  Roger Weaver, John Kensil, The Lucas Brothers, The Feeko Brothers, Jaykob Strange, and Alex Dingley.

City Spotlight – Saturday

CIF National College Improv Tournament – Mid Atlantic Division Regional – All day long college improv teams compete for a chance to represent Pennsylvania in the National College Improv Tournament in Chicago.

 

Fringe Show Review: Friends of Alcatraz

Alcatraz is a cat with a serious attitude, and a lot of friends. These friends also have issues of their own, which all come out in the hilarious improvised puppet show Friends of Alcatraz. You read that correctly, its a puppet show.

Friends of Alcatraz begins with the titular cat (played by actor/director/designer Kelly Vrooman) explaining the format of the show. The stage for Friends of Alcatraz is set up with a camera so that the audience may watch the puppeteers on their left, or a screen showing just the puppet action to the right. The set up lets the actors play with the space and the camera to make for an extremely visually interesting show. The cast uses the depth of the stage and the different size of puppets to fill in background characters and create a complete visual world around the puppet work, and audiences can see how they do it for themselves.

The technical work is just one of the excellent aspects of this show. The cast (Vrooman, along with Joe Sabatino, Jason Stockdale, Rob Cutler, and Dave Jadico) does a great job bringing the puppets to life and giving them each a depth and soul beyond their plush exterior. The design of the puppets helps in this, each crafted with a unique look that seems to draw the characters’ voices and personas out of the actors.

An audience member’s suggestion of “a breakup” when asked for something incredible that recently happend to them initially drew ridicule from Alcatraz the cat, but lead to a show full of relationships with their ups and downs, break-ups and make-ups and big laughs throughout.

Friends of Alcatraz is an extremely unique theater experience and is thoroughly satisfying for it’s comedy, showmanship, and presentation. Here’s hoping the end of it’s Fringe Festival run is not the last we see of Alcatraz and the gang.

Philadelphia Improv Festival Kicks-Off Comedy Month in October

Press release from the Philadelphia Improv Festival:

The city is about to get a lot funnier throughout October. Once again, the Philadelphia Comedy Collective is hosting Philadelphia Comedy Month. This October, there will be three weeks of comedy which kicks off with the seventh annual Philadelphia Improv Festival October 5-9 at the Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre, 2111 Sansom Street, 2nd Floor.  Comedy Month will run through October 23, featuring the Philly Sketchfest, and the City Spotlight, which will feature films, stand-up, improv  and the Mid Atlantic Regional College Improv Championship. Tickets cost $10 per night Tuesday-Thursday and on Sunday. The Friday and Saturday night shows cost $10 per block or $20 for the entire night. A full pass to the PHIF costs $60. A full Comedy Month pass costs $125. More information can be found at www.phlcomedy.com.

This year, Philadelphia Comedy Month has partnered with Philadelphia Young Playwrights, who will receive a portion of proceeds from tickets sales as well as funds raised in the charity raffle, running throughout the month. Comedy Month will kick off on October 4th, with a showcase reading of comedic plays from Philadelphia Young Playwrights.

The talent for the Philadelphia Improv Festival this year runs far and wide. The festival will be highlighted by an appearance from Jill Bernard, a nationally known improviser who is presenting her wildly popular one-woman, multi-character musical, Drum Machine. Also appearing at the festival  are Three’s Company from iO Chicago, BillyHawk from iO West, and an assortment of talented teams from New York, Boston, Baltimore, Washington D.C., Austin, and Los Angeles.

The local improv community will continue to have strong representation at the festival.  The wildly popular Rare Bird Show, as well as The Real Housewives of Philadelphia will both be making their first appearances since last year’s festival. ComedySportz Philadelphia is remounting its Improvised Shakespeare show for the festival, which over the past two years has proven to be a big hit with audiences. A few other local highlights include MattAndThe Amie & Kristen Show and the N Crowd, as well as a record six local teams making their PHIF debut.

“I’m really excited about what we’ve put together for PHIF this year, and can’t wait to share it with audiences. In our seventh year, we’ve focused on bringing real variety to the stage. Through both our commissioned and selected acts, we’re seeing a real cross section of what improv has to offer fans. We’re showcasing a terrific mix of indie shows as well as ensembles from some of the top theaters in the country,” said festival producer Matt Nelson. “We’ve been able to assemble a lineup that boasts many of the most beloved and acclaimed acts from previous years and a healthy assortment of young, energetic groups on the rise. We have both classic shows and experimental pieces, ranging from structured or premise-based pieces to pop satire and even a solo musical. It’s outright some of the best people touring festival circuits today, many of whom have emerged from right here in our own backyard. It’s a combination that comedy fans are going to be hard pressed to pass up.”

Philadelphia Improv Festival Schedule:

Wednesday, Oct 5
7:30pm

Haverford Middle School Actors Workshop (Haverford, PA)
King Friday (Philadelphia, PA)
Double Date (New York, NY)

9:00pm
Legion (New York, NY)
Grimacchio (Philadelphia, PA)
ComedySportz Presents Improvised Shakespeare (Philadelphia, PA)

Thursday, Oct 6
7:30pm
N Crowd (Philadelphia, PA)
Iron Lung (Philadelphia, PA)
Til Death Do Us Part (Philadelphia, PA)

9:00pm
Cubed (Philadelphia, PA)

Mayor Karen (Philadelphia, PA)
The Lodge (Boston, MA + New York, NY)
Real Housewives of Philadelphia (Philadelphia, PA + Los Angeles, CA)

Friday, Oct 7
7:00pm

The Score (Washington, DC)
The Andrews Sisters (New York, NY)
Fletcher (Philadelphia, PA)

8:30pm
Shawn-Mikael(s) (Washington, DC)
Firth&Arjet (Austin, TX)
ImprovBoston Mainstage (Boston, MA)

10:00pm
The Amie & Kristen Show (Philadelphia, PA)
MattAnd (Philadelphia, PA)
Lekker (Baltimore, MD)
Three’s Company (Chicago, IL)

Saturday, Oct 8

7:00pm

Hidden Falls (Boston, MA)
The Imposters (New York, NY)
Adrift (Various)

8:30pm
Marjean (Boston, MA)
Asteroid! (Philadelphia, PA)
BillyHawk (Los Angeles, CA)

10:00pm
BWP (Philadelphia, PA)
Hello Laser (New York, NY)
Rare Bird Show (Philadelphia, PA + Los Angeles, CA)
Drum Machine (Minneapolis, MN)

Sunday, Oct 9
7:00pm

Rookie Card (Philadelphia, PA)
RuBin (New York, NY)
Caveat (Washington, DC)

8:30pm
Jessica Tandy (Philadelphia, PA)
Featherweight (New York, NY)
Vox Pop (New York, NY + Washington, DC)

Fringe Show Preview: Polygon

Polygon Comedy is a Philadelphia community arts organization devoted to building a thriving and sustainable comedy scene for area comedians. Polygon Comedy is working to raise awareness and understanding of comedy through publicity at regular performance opportunities, and outreach at quality venues.

We caught up with Polygon’s Rick Horner to ask him some questions about his ongoing run of Philly Fringe Festival shows.

WITOUT: Polygon is a new establishment in Philly comedy – tell us how you got started and the idea behind it.

RICK HORNER: The actual idea was born in Rosen & Milkshake – they wanted to be able to direct people, who came to see them in a show, to a clearinghouse website that would have info about all of the other improv groups in town, so when you look for Rosen & Milkshake you find out about Rookie Card, or Gross Butler for example. I just thought that since my overall goal/hope is to grow and nurture all of the talent in Philly, that having a little more organization around people, venues (to make them happy to embrace comedy), and having some idea sharing about what is and isn’t working to continue building the sketch/stand-up/improv community was worthwhile. Both PHIT and Comedysportz Philly are great at doing what they do for improv, this is something a little different – to spread the word around Philly about this ever-expanding group of folks, looking for good places to play. Polygon is geared for both audiences and performers alike. What is most important is that everyone gets a little more involved.

WO: How have the Polygon Fringe shows gone so far? Tell us about some of the groups you have had.

RH: There are so many shows to see during the Fringe! The focus is improv for the Fringe – and the shows have all been really great! A real eclectic mix of performers and crowds, and tons of people I have never met before – which is great for comedy in general. Let’s see – so far Polygon has hosted Angry People Building Things, Suggestical, One Night Standy, Vorlauf, Rosen & Milkshake, WhipSuit, The Ones Your Mom Warned You About, The Hendersons, Cubed, Neilsen, Rintersplit, and Hans Gruber. Really fun, energetic sets. Everyone who is doing improv, sketch and/or stand-up comedy should help generate promotion, and support for the comedy community.

WO: How has O’Neals been as a venue?

RH: They are great to us – great space, secluded on the third floor, it is a decent size room, and we have had a pretty full room (of 40!) It has been a real pleasure organizing this latest Polygon vemture. Up there and the audience has full access to both food and drink. Best bar in Philly, bar none. Great food, great people.

WhipSuit has been doing a monthly show on the third Friday each month for over four years now in the same space and graciously allowed Polygon use only during this Fringe.

WO: Tell us about some of the groups you have coming up.

RH: Friday, Sep 16th, 9pm: Beirdo, MEDIC! Grimmachio take the stage and on Saturday, Sep 17th at 9pm you can catch Gross Butler, Rookie Card, and Iron Lung. Terrific! If you come see a Polygon show for full price, you get a red ticket you can show at all future shows giving you admission for only $5!

WO: How do you see the Philly Improv Community growing? Would you describe it as a boom time for comedy in Philly?

RH: I think since the stand-up, improv and sketch communities started working more together – similarly to how other cities work together – we are starting to see some artistic success. Polygon should serve as a guide to let the public know what’s going on, and who is who helps get the community together.

Polygon aims to get most of Philly’s groups together and has been a great success so far, with a lot of the groups becoming closer and working together more. Also, having festivals really drives people out and has really helped. Each festival – Philadelphia Improv Festival, Philly SketchFest, Duofest and F. Harold – has showcased the best groups and talent in their scope, while exposing the community, and our audiences to different forms, styles and actors from all around the world.

There has never been a more exciting time for comedy fans as some of the funniest comedians are currently performing live all across Philadelphia. New comedy superstars along with comedy legends are currently available to see all around the area, so get tickets while they are still available. Spend your time laughing the night away with some of the funniest people around.

Polygon has two Fringe Festival shows remaining, Friday September 16th and Saturday September 17th at 9pm at O’Neal’s. Tickets can be purchased online.

Ten Questions With…Brendan Kennedy

Brendan Kennedy is a stand-up comedian, a member of improv groups Hate Speech Committee and The Hendersons, sketch comedy group Camp Woods, and the host of the Philly Improv Theater show Guilty Pleasures.

How and why did you get into comedy? When I was a kid my dad and uncle would always show me episodes of Monty Python’s Flycing Circus, and I loved it. I would make comedy videos on my parents’ S-VHS camcorder with my cousin. In high school I was one of the kids that ran the tv studio and I’d make comedy videos that I’d show during the morning show. I continued my refusal to be serious about anything by going to film school and while there I made almost nothing but comedy videos. Then eventually I got the balls to do stand-up, which to me is the purest form of comedy and expression out there.

How would you describe your style as a comedian? What influences and factors do you think contribute to that? I’d describe my style as a stand-up as selfish. If you don’t like what I do, then I don’t care to entertain you. And I hate comics that try to be what they think everyone wants them to be. There are billions of people on the earth, enough of them will have similar interests and sensibilities to me, and those are the people I want to speak to.

Plus, stand-up is an inherently selfish endeavor, so claiming you have some greater goal is at least 50% bullshit. And I say 50% because out of that desire for immediate self-gratification (the selfish 50%) you can reach people who otherwise might feel isolated, because they haven’t found a way to express themselves or people who think and feel the same way they do. But you can’t reach them by pretending to be something. You can only reach people by being honest with yourself and about yourself. That’s what I love about stand-up, and that’s the type of stand-up comic I try to be.

Do you have a favorite show or venue you like to perform at? What about it makes it fun or special for you?  I loved performing at the Khyber because it was dirty and grimy and shitty and you had to really want to see comedy to go there. Which made the audiences there great, and I felt the most comfortable there. I enjoy doing stand-up at the Ric-Rac, the Shubin, and any place where people have come to specifically see the people who are performing. People who go to comedy shows not knowing anything about who they are going to see baffle me. And I lack the ability to relate to them. I can entertain them, but only if I do a bunch of crowd work. It’s like I’m the host of some awful party that a bunch of random dopes showed up to, like the one Rick Moranis throws in the first Ghostbusters. And most times I am doing crowd work I am fantasizing about a demon dog crashing the party and making it more interesting than, “You do that job? Well you should talk to other guy I just talked to, he does a job that if combined with your job would be really funny!”

That being said, I really enjoy the open mic at noche that Jack Martin and Paul Goodman run. Those two guys are smart guys who run a good room, and are really supportive of everyone who shows up there. (If you’re thinking “I don’t think they are supportive.” You’re thinking that because you’re an asshole, and you’ve behaved in a way that makes it impossible for someone to be supportive of you.)

For sketch and improv I like theaters.

Do you have a single favorite moment in Philly comedy or one that stands out? Anytime Roger C. Snair crushes in front of an audience that has never seen him and doesn’t know who he is. I use how people interact with Roger as a bit of a litmus test, because he’s so overwhelmingly and unflinchingly positive. It is my opinion that you have to be a piece of shit to not like him. Anytime a room full of strangers gets him and accepts him it makes me feel more optimistic about the world.

I’m friends with Roger, we do a monthly show together, but I’m also his number 1 fan. I’d love nothing more than to see Roger have a talk show on television, just to see some of the douchiest celebrities squirm in their seats, not knowing how to handle him. Talented, funny, decent people, if put in that same scenario will come out looking amazing. For example, I had last month’s guilty pleasures be somewhat a talk show, and one of the guests was Andy Moskowitz. Roger kept asking him about his sexuality (Roger is rather immature in regards to his opinions on sex), and Andy handled everything so amazingly that he ended up becoming the hero of the show. It was so funny and genuine that I felt like I was interrupting when I had to chime in to have us read a script.

Do you have any sort of creative process that you use with your writing or your performance? Or a sort of method that you use to develop comedic material? For stand-up, I always just write about whatever I’m currently obsessing about.

For sketch, I write basically two types of sketch. Quick, one joke sketches that are bookended with title cards. And 2 character stream of consciousness sketches. The short sketches, which are basically blackout sketches, are just based around a joke I think of that I like. But I write them to be very very short, because I think sketches that are 5 minutes long but only have one joke are stupid. If you have a sketch that’s just one joke, then just tell the one joke and end the sketch. It’s not a college paper, there’s no minimum length sketches have to be.

The longer sketches I write are always me trying to write interactions between two people that are more absurd and honest than most real life interactions, because to me the funniest parts of life are the moments in which someone is being really honest, and at the same time really odd.

What is it about stand-up / sketch / improv that draws you to it? Comedy allows you to discuss topics that are just too sad or taboo to talk about casually with people.  Its not creating any solutions, it just helps people stress less and be more ok with the world they live in. That’s what has always drawn me to comedy.

Do you have any favorite performers in the Philly scene? Why are they your favorites? Roger C. Snair for reasons I’ve already mentioned.

Steve Gerben for his willingness to be honest with himself and about himself onstage and his abilitiy to make his own personal struggles, physical and mental, hilarious.

Andy Moskowitz for the same reasons.

The people in the groups with me, (Hatespeech-CampWoods-Hendersons) for too many different reasons to list.

Do you have any bad experiences doing comedy that you can share? A particularly bad bombing or even an entire show gone haywire? Recently I ended a set at a bringer contest by saying, “That’s why I think we should burn down churches.” Most of my bad experiences with comedy show stem from my inability to accept people who I’ve decided are shitty. That, and tech problems.

What do you think the Philly comedy scene needs to continue to grow? More of what it already has. More people who are passionate about performing comedy. More people who run good rooms. More people supporting each other’s shows and rooms. More original ideas.

The first three are obvious. The 4th seems like it should be obvious, but its apparent to anyone who’s watched comedy before and is seeing shows in the city now that its not. You can’t stop random people from showing up at open mics and doing other people’s material. But you can make sure not to book them ever. You tell internet jokes, you tell Bill Hicks jokes, you tweak internet jokes and then tell them, you tweak Bill Hicks jokes and then tell them, you don’t do shows. That should be the rule that everyone follows. Hacks (thieves are a type of hack) aren’t going to kill the surge in popularity that comedy is experiencing in Philly right now, but eventually they will. That was one of the main killers of the comedy boom.  You can listen to countless interviews with comics who were part of that and they all talk about how there were so many opportunities to get onstage in front of large paying crowds that people started taking shortcuts to take advantage of it, and comedy suffered as a result. Crowds started staying home because there was no point in going out to see a show if you were just going to see comics telling jokes that they saw on tv.

If you see someone doing stolen material, yell at them, tell them to go fuck themselves. They are insulting the art form you love, and they are being a self-serving asshole.

Do you have any personal goals for the future as you continue to perform comedy? I want to just keep getting better. That’s my only real goal. That and to make Roger C. Snair famous.

Guide to the Del Close Marathon by Matt Holmes

New York and Philly are close enough that any Philly-area comedy fans should head up for at least some of the Del Close Marathon, started by the Upright Citizens Brigade in honor of their mentor and celebrating its 13th year August 12-14.
The Del Close Marathon is the Woodstock of improv comedy—or the Lolapalooza or Bonnaroo or whatever fits your generation—a weekend of non-stop improv comedy from cities around the globe. Performers include names and faces you know, representation from funny-factories like Second City, UCB, iO, PHIT, etc., and college talent that will grace future improv stages (and commercials and rom-com best-friend roles). A $25 wristband gets you into more than 150 shows with some waiting in line.
Read more about the marathon and Del at www.delclosemarathon.com.If you look at the full schedule, it can be a daunting task to figure out what to see, especially if this is your first time. It’s a hundred hours of performance on multiple stages.

Here’s a theme-park–style map of what’s happening where and when:

Mainstage USA
The marathon used to be only at the UCB Theater, and you can still spend the whole weekend there, but be prepared for a long line and occasionally getting cleared out for a theater cleaning. You’ll see primetime shows, representation of improv from different places, a lot of New York groups in the early hours, the perennial Sunday breakfast with Krompf, and weirdo shit in the middle of the night  …but don’t think that the second stages don’t offer just as much great improv.

  • UCB Theater – 307 West 26th St.
    Fri 4:30PM to Sun 8PM

Hall of Famous People

Want to say “I saw so-and-so to friends, family, and co-workers? There’s a bunch of opportunities. The Colbert Show writers, John Lutz and Scott Adsit from 30 Rock, Horatio Sanz and Bobby Moynihan  from SNL, and more will appear on the pay-per-show 4th stage at FIT*, along with Donald Glover (Community, Childish Gambino) and the rest of viral-video stars Derrick Comedy.

You can also see SNL featured players Vanessa Bayer [Sat 10PM UCB] and Paul Brittain [Fri 10:30PM UCB], Rich Sommer (Mad Men) [Sat 9:30PM UCB], Doug Benson (Super High Me) doing his podcast and bothering stand-ups [Fri & Sat 12:30AM UCB], and the improvisers who play the writers who never talk on 30 Rock [Sun 5:30PM Hudson Guild].

Plus, of course you can see the Upright Citizens Brigade—but probably not Amy Poehler—[Sat 7:15PM UCB] and any famous people who just so happen to show up to something, like past surprises Sarah Silverman and Brooke Shields. And the Sunday 8PM ASSSSCAT 3000 show at Haft Auditorium* is sure to be chock-full of stars finishing up the weekend.

Collegetown
You could call this Tomorrowland. Catch some college teams and spot the next wave of talent. Post-graduation, the standouts you like will head to improv hubs for classes, put together shows all around the country, or pop up on TV and in movies. You might even be able to cheer for your alma mater.
  • Urban Stages – 259 West 30th St.
    Sat 10AM-2PM & Sun 10AM-5PM
Crazytown
If you want to see some fucked-up shit in the middle of the night, head to the main stage to see improv mixed with pro wreslting, rap, robots, game shows, beer, stand-up, Spanish, predator-catching, anime, communists, Christian fellowship, and more. How about a show that’s all walk-ons or all straightmen, or all Matthew McConaugheys? Stay up late for some weird, wild, 15-minute shows; it’s like live-action Adult Swim that gets beer and ball-sweat on you.
  • UCB Theater – 307 West 26th St.
    Fri-into-Sat and Sat-into-Sun midnight to 6AM
It’s a Small World Ride/EPCOT
Improvisers from across the country and Canada (and Finland this year!) make their way to New York for the Marathon. Check out what the improv is like in New York, Chicago, Boston, Austin, LA, DC, Toronto, Vancouver, Philly, Phoenix, Florida, North Carolina, Syracuse, San Francisco, and much more. What’s your home town? There might be a group from around there performing and representing.
  • noonish to midnight on all stages
Musical Corners
Do you like Glee and/or Broadway and/or improv? Check out some musical improv:
  • Baby Wants Candy [Fri 7PM Kate Murphy & Sun 5:30PM UCB], Vox Pop [Fri 9PM Hudson Guild], Dumpster Tequila, Broadway’s Next Hit Musical, Veal, Rebound! [Sat 11AM to 1PM Hudson Guild], Diamond Lion [Sat 5PM UCB], Hotel Principality [Sun 3PM Hudson Guild], iMusical [Sun 4PM UCB)].
  • And North Coast will perform a hip-hopera [Sat 4:45AM Urban Stages].
Electric Lady Land
Female improvisers can stand toe-to-toe with male improvisers, but here’s what to check out for some Ladies-Only improv:
  • Doppelganger [Fri 6:30 UCB], The Amie and Kristen Show [Fri 7:30PM Hudson Guild], Sit Still [Fri 8PM Hudson Guild], Drysdale and Gausas [Fri 9PM UCB], Shmuckler Twins [Sat 7:45AM Urban Stages], 8 Girls Harold [Sat 9:45AM Urban Stages], ’92 Dream Team [Sat 3:15PM Urban Stages], Ness and Nance [Sat 10PM UCB],  WiseSnatch [Sat 11:45PM Urban Stages], Bea Arthur [Sun 1PM Hudson Guild], The Katydids [Sun 4PM Hudson Guild]
The aptly named Not-Included-in-Price-of-Admission-Land
You have to pay extra for each of these big-name shows in a larger venue at the Fashion Institute of Technology, but each is a sure thing, with the funniest, smartest, most talented performers around and names from SNL and 30 Rock and the Colbert Show.
  • FIT 7th Ave. at 27th Street, Bldg. D. – Fri & Sat 7 to midnight
  • FIT Haft Auditorium – Sun 8PM

 

And now for something at least slightly different
A lot of improv is similar to other improv (especially in an all-longform festival).
Here’s a few shows with a unique take:
  • The performers have to sit in chairs for The Chairmen [Fri 6:30PM Hudson Guild], stand in place for Nailed Down [Fri 8PM UCB], do the show backwards at Twik [Fri 11:45PM Urban Stages], and use only their voices in the dark for BIG BAT [Sat 1AM Hudson Guild].
  • The show is inspired by your text messages at Last Day of School [Fri 11PM UCB] and Oregon Fail [Sat 2PM Hudson Guild], and by your embarrassing story at The Law Firm [Fri 11:30PM UCB] and Death By Roo Roo [Sat 9PM UCB].
  • Audience members perform at Matt& [Sat 7:45PM Urban Stages] and Adsit and You [Sat 6PM UCB].
  • It’s an elevator ride at Elevator Action [Fri 9:45PM Urban Stages], a rap battle at The BEATdown [Sat 1AM UCB], a telenovéla at Hispania [Sat 4:15PM Urban Stages], a fishing trip at Bassprov [Sat 7:30PM Hudson Guild], a movie at Rough Cut [Sun 1:45AM Urban Stages], a debate at The Master Debaters [Sun 11AM Hudson Guild], and improv with your iPod as the soundtrack at Mother [Sun 7PM Hudson Guild].
* Shows at FIT and Haft Auditorium are not included in the wristband admission.
So head up to NYC to check out some comedy from around the world, from all kinds of performers in all different kinds of shows, all made up on the spot in front of you.

Press Release: ComedySportz Philadelphia to become sole tenant in Playground at the Adrienne

Press Release from ComedySportz

ComedySportz Philadelphia has been performing every Saturday night since 1993. For the past seven years, they have been performing two shows each week to accommodate their continually growing audience. The company has been in residence at the Playground at the Adrienne, 2030 Sansom St. Starting this September, they will be Amaryllis Theatre Company’s sole tenant in the space.

 “We are thrilled with this opportunity. For the past few years, we have seen our audience grow rapidly to where we frequently sell out our shows and have to turn people away at the door. Being able to add more shows to our schedule will mean we now have the opportunity to reach even more fans and utilize the skills of our amazing company even more. We will also be able to reach a greater number of performers in the city and give them an opportunity to perform,” said Alli Soowal, Managing Director of ComedySportz Philadelphia.

The changes take effect in September. The increased schedule will start out slow. In September, ComedySportz will begin additional programming the last two Fridays of every month. At 7:30 p.m., they will host a traditional ComedySportz match, and then at 10 p.m. there will be a rotating schedule of special programs; including improvised plays, long form improv teams, and a Blue Show (R-rated humor). The company is also adding a brand new once-a-month Sunday Kids Show.

The biggest impact this new agreement will have for the company will be to the company’s education program. With greater access to permanent space, the company is looking at creating tracks that focus on Improv Games, Scene Work and Sketch Comedy. They will also be able to offer students new performance opportunities and expand our programming by starting a Minor League Team made of graduates from our Level 3 Improv Training Program.

“ComedySportz had been a Philly tradition for years that not enough people have known about. Now we can reach a wider audience of all ages and offer more of what we do best—make people laugh,” said David Dritsas, Executive Director of ComedySportz Philadelphia.

Added Soowal, “Our improv instructors are among the most experienced in the city, but one drawback to our training center is the fact that we were unable to offer our students any further training once they graduated. Now, with the Minor League team, we will be able to continue to foster the growth of comedic performers in the city.”

About ComedySportz Philadelphia

ComedySportz is Philadelphia’s leading improv company. Since 1993 ComedySportz has been entertaining fans with its fast, smart and funny comedy show. Two teams of improvisers vie for points in a hilarious competition similar to TV’s “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” A referee governs the action, calls the fouls and keeps the match moving at a blistering pace. The audience is always a part of the interactive show, with volunteers joining the players on stage! Because everything is improvised, it’s never the same show twice. And it’s clean–appropriate for all ages. Come see why audiences come back to see us again and again. For more information including ticket prices, showtimes and classes visit our website:www.comedysportzphilly.com.

ComedySportz Auditions

From the group’s Facebook page:

ComedySportz Philadelphia, Philly’s longest running comedy show, is holding auditions for new company members on Saturday, July 30th with callbacks Sunday, July 31st.

Auditioners will be required to reserve a 10-minute slot in the morning or afternoon of Saturday July 30th at the Playground at the Adrienne (2030 Sansom Street, in Center City Philadelphia). If called back, you will be required to attend a two-hour group audition on Sunday July 31st, either during the morning (10:00 am to 12:00 noon) or the afternoon (1:00 pm to 3:00 pm).

To reserve an audition slot, please e-mail auditions@comedysportzphilly.com with your name and which audition time you prefer: morning, afternoon or either. (Slots based on availability.)

TEN QUESTIONS WITH… Aubrie Williams

Aubrie Williams is an improviser on Philly Improv Theater‘s house team King Friday and her own sketch group, Local Holiday Miracle.

How and why did you get into comedy?
I saw my first improv show st UCB when I was 18, and was so impressed at how this piece could be created from just a one word suggestion. I continued to love watching improv from then on, but was scared to death to try it. I was a theater major, so inevitably we had to do some improv in classes — and I bet if you took my pulse on those days, my heart rate was equivalent to someone about to jump out of a plane. Long story short, I decided to face my fears when an improv class was offered at Temple. I quickly realized that the fear was irrational and that I now got to have playtime as an adult, which was awesome. I even started my college improv club cause I didnt want the fun to end after class did. Improv also acted as my gateway drug into sketch comedy.

How would you describe your style as a comedian? What influences and factors do you think contribute to that?
I guess in comedy I draw from what I like watching and find the funniest, which makes some of what I do a product of all of my influences. Stella, Tina Fey, David Cross, UCB, Gilda Radnor and anyone ever involved in a Christopher Guest movie are some of my biggest influences.

Do you have a favorite show or venue you like to perform at? What about it makes it fun or special for you?
I’m quite partial to the Shubin, cause it kind of feels like home now. I had my fist improv show there in ’07, and now between class shows, Sketch Up or Shut Up, and King Friday, Ive gotten to spend a good amount of time up there. It’s intimate and you get to see a lot of familiar faces. It’s like the “Cheers” of BYOB comedy venues.

As for shows, there are tons of great ones that happen monthly, but I’ll try and narrow it down. I’m going to say Sketch Up or Shut Up. It is always great because you get to see what everyone’s been up to between shows and see how an audience reacts to what you’ve been working on.

Do you have a single favorite moment in Philly comedy or one that stands out?
For me, it was this past July at DCM (Del Close Marathon) ’12 in NYC. It was my first DCM, and I got to see Philly represent improv hard in a city where there is so much of it going on, and that was a great feeling. It was also my first time performing in NYC, and to get to do that with King Friday on the UCB stage (two hours before the original UCB performed on the same stage) was pretty freakin’ awesome and lots of fun.

Do you have any sort of creative process that you use with your writing or your performance? Or a sort of method that you use to develop comedic material?
It’s funny because every time I tell a non-improviser that I have improv rehearsal, they always respond with, “How do you rehearse improv? Isn’t it all made up?” With improv, it’s important to stay in practice cause the more that you do it, the more comfortable you get in doing it, and from there I think you definitely get better at it. Also, with a group, you can really build a group mind through being around each other a lot so it’s very important to have steady rehearsals. I also like to take different workshops and revisit old notes and reread Improvise by Mick Napier and The Small Cute Book of Improv by Jill Bernard.

What is it about sketch and improv that draws you to it?
If I had to sum it up, probably the people and the laughter. It is a great community filled with so much talent, and everyone seems to be constantly inspiring each other. I love that. Also, I enjoy laughing, and if you’ve ever witnessed me as an audience member, I bet you know this.

Do you have any favorite performers in the Philly scene? Why are they your favorites?
Rare Bird Show was the first Philly improv group I had ever seen, and I was so impressed. Everytime I watch them they make me want to work harder as an improviser. I am very much loving The Amie & Kristen Show and Grimmachio. Both duos are always so on and connected and present. You can learn a lot from watching great improv. Man, this is tough. I also love watching all of the PHIT House Teams (YAY to house team night for letting me do this all in one night!), BWP and Cubed who do amazing premise based improv, Whipsuit, Horner & Davis, Medic, Stranger Danger, Rosen & Milkshake, Passiones … to name a few, haha.

For sketch, I love Secret Pants, Meg & Rob, The Feeko Brothers, Camp Woods, Bare Hug, Hate Speech Comittee. Again, tough question cause there is so much awesome going on. I have many favorites.

Do you have any bad experiences doing comedy that you can share? A particularly bad bombing or even an entire show gone haywire?
I think my first show with King Friday I was having way too much fun watching them perform that I literally had a moment where I was like, “Oh crap, I’m performing too. Get out there.” I also laughed so hard on the sidelines that I missed out on a few key details. I have since worked on not doing either of those things.

What do you think the Philly comedy scene needs to continue to grow?
I think It is at a great, promising place right now. People are really dedicated and working hard, and there seems to be a constant interest from new people in joining the comedy community as well. It’s great to see so many new faces popping up onstage all of the time, and different combos of people from various disciplines of comedy joining forces and starting new groups and projects. I think if it stays on this track, and I have no doubt it will, that we will be taking over the world in no time. Muahahahaha.

Do you have any personal goals for the future as you continue to perform comedy?
I would like to do more festivals and such for both sketch and improv. With improv, I would like to continue to study and also study different forms and genres, and keep performing consistently. Just get more and more comfortable and more and more brave. I think I have in the past few months, but I know I can oush myself even further. With sketch, I would like also to perform more, but I’d like to film more sketches as well. We just shot our 1st one and had a blast, so I’d like to do way more of that for sure! I also play guitar and ukulele, and have joined forces with some other lovely ladies who do the same, so I’d like to eventually get up on stage and perform some musical comedy!

TEN QUESTIONS WITH… Kristen Schier

How and why did you get into comedy?
I got into comedy cause it was always a good feeling when I made people laugh as a kid. I was a bit shy and weird so it was a quick way to be accepted. I certainly did not get into for the money. There is no money in comedy, folks. Anybody got a dolla?

How would you describe your style as a comedian? What influences and factors do you think contribute to that?
I am brash. I like to play old ladies, and funny guys. I am physical. My training has caused me to slow down a bit and not worry so much about getting a laugh. I mostly just try to have a blast on stage and play with the people I work with, and make them laugh.

Do you have a favorite show or venue you like to perform at? What about it makes it fun or special for you?
I love playing in an intimate house where people are close. I love also going out into the crowd if the tenor of the show calls for it, so its always exciting when that is a possibility. Some place like the Shubin is great when it is packed with folks, it feels so cozy and allows for shared experience. Don’t get me wrong, I have played on bigger stages and enjoy it too, but that feedback from the audience is so important, as a comedian, and I just get a better sense of it in a smaller theater.

Do you have a single favorite moment in Philly comedy or one that stands out?
Hmm … I remember a scene that Adsit and Gausas did where they playing characters on a date. They were warming up to an awkward kiss, and as they got closer and closer, they kept speaking to each other and they gradually were touching lips and talking at the same time. It was very funny. I would like to see more of that kind of risk taking form Philly teams. I loved it.

Do you have any sort of creative process that you use with your writing or your performance?
Or a sort of method that you use to develop comedic material? I do not write, but I do direct some. I think it is important to be very aware of the source. I like starting with the performer, and going from there. A line coming from one stand-up or actor / improviser will go over much differently that from another. I think it is important to know how you are seen as a comedian in just about any genre of comedy.

What is it about improv that draws you to it?
The collaborative spirit and the instant gratification is what draws me to improv. The empty space to create that it provides is thrilling and terrifying at the same time. I love the freedom involved in non-scripted work and as the challenges it poses to me as a director, a writer, and actor, choreographer, lyricists, and composer of my own work.

Do you have any favorite performers in the Philly scene? Why are they your favorites?
I like to watch Marc Reber, Jess Ross, Matt Holmes, AJ Horan, Ralph Andraccio, Nathan Edmondson, Amie Roe, Emily Davis, Brandon Libby and pretty much anyone who gets up there to have fun.

Do you have any bad experiences doing comedy that you can share? A particularly bad bombing or even an entire show gone haywire?
Ugh, yes. Plenty of bad shows. An improv troupe I was part of did an improv show at the Happy Rooster once. No one wanted to see us. They wanted to have dinner. We were being rude. Ugh. Terrible.

What do you think the Philly comedy scene needs to continue to grow?
The comedy scene needs to continue to invest in its own development by seeing the shows that are doing it right, be there in other cities or our own. Also a permanent home for comedy would be a great help to developing and audience for the scene, which in turn, will develop the scene.

Do you have any personal goals for the future as you continue to perform comedy?
My goal is to take bigger chances as an artist, to be more comfortable with not knowing what comes next. Any who knows me also knows I want to push for performers to get paid more for what they do. I eventually want to make a living at this stuff.