Upcoming Shows

  • August 29, 2014 7:00 pmThe Comedy Works
  • August 29, 2014 8:00 pmThe N Crowd
  • August 29, 2014 8:00 pmCrazy Cow Comedy
  • August 29, 2014 8:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
  • August 29, 2014 9:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
  • August 30, 2014 7:30 pmComedy Sportz Philadelphia
  • August 30, 2014 8:00 pmCrazy Cow Comedy
  • August 30, 2014 9:30 pmThe Comedy Works
  • August 30, 2014 10:00 pmComedy Sportz Philadelphia
  • August 30, 2014 10:30 pmImprov Comedy: PHIT House Teams
  • September 4, 2014 8:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
  • September 4, 2014 9:00 pmThe Comedy Attic
  • September 5, 2014 7:00 pmThe Comedy Works
  • September 5, 2014 8:00 pmCrazy Cow Comedy
  • September 5, 2014 8:00 pmThe N Crowd
  • September 5, 2014 8:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
  • September 5, 2014 9:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
  • September 6, 2014 7:30 pmComedy Sportz Philadelphia
  • September 6, 2014 8:00 pmCrazy Cow Comedy
  • September 6, 2014 9:30 pmThe Comedy Works
  • September 6, 2014 10:00 pmComedy Sportz Philadelphia
  • September 6, 2014 10:30 pmImprov Comedy: PHIT House Teams
  • September 11, 2014 8:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
  • September 11, 2014 9:00 pmThe Comedy Attic
  • September 12, 2014 7:00 pmThe Comedy Works
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It’s Elementary with Dave Metter: Jen Curcio

“It’s Elementary” is a monthly column that asks comedians to share memories from their elementary school years that have informed their comedic identities. Or are just random anecdotes. Whatever they want, really.  This month spotlights the extraordinary Jen Curcio!

by Dave Metter

I have long been fascinated by what has influenced and inspired other comedy writers, especially during their youths when their comedic senses were still so nascent and less judgmental.  Be they films or television shows, random anecdotes or funny relatives, I ask comedians to share a few experiences or works they recall notably from their elementary school years.  This edition of “It’s Elementary” features Jen Curcio, member of improv troupes Mayor Karen and ApocaLIPS, and a former member of the late Hey Rube.

1st Period: Art

In 5th grade, my 3rd grade status of being hilarious was running out. I wasn’t getting the attention any 10 year old girl craves, so I found an old bottle of AquaNet (they stopped making that in ’91, so, it was old) and bought a bottle of purple Manic Panic hair dye and got some attention! First, I dyed my hair purple. Not like a faint purple tint over my blonde hair, I mean like I was not a blonde I was a purple. Then I held my bangs up in the shape of a wave (think Gwen Stefani circa ’95) and went crazy with the AquaNet until that tsunami of hair would not crash down. My parents just thought it was creative and what they get for leaving a 10 year old home alone for some small (legal) amount of time. Mrs. Graham, my fifth grade teacher’s jaw dropped when I walked in the next day. Susan, who was alphabetically required to sit next to me, refused to because of my new hairdo. A small group of girls (one girl) thought it was awesome and copied my style. It was from this day forward I knew I enjoyed getting attention for doing weird things.

2nd Period: Phys Ed
My cousin Steve lived with my family when I was in elementary school. He recognized my talent for billiards when I was 8, so naturally he started taking me to seedy pool halls in downtown West Chester, PA, to play against (he would place bets on me) large, burly men with long beards. I hate to brag, but I was pretty great at pool. I almost never lost a game. This was the first time I had to face stage fright, or really it was normal fright because I was a little kid in a seedy pool hall.

3rd Period: Indoor Recess

I was always very shy and struggled to make friends in elementary school, but one day in 3rd grade I decided to come out of my turtle shell in a grand way. I was going to go for the gold (as it was the Winter Olympics of ’94 and Tonya Harding was my idol) and make everyone in the class crack up. I walked over to the arts and crafts area in the class room and grabbed some clay to form what resembled human feces. Then I walked into the middle of the play area, surrounded by the other children, and I made a noise to get everyone’s attention. When I was certain everyone was looking at me, I dropped the clay feces from behind my back and announced that I had crapped myself. All the cool kids were rolling on the floor laughing; the teacher immediately scolded me and I acted like I didn’t care because I was a bad ass. I realized that day I could use my brilliant sense of humor to win over the cool kids and look like a rebel.

4th Period: Talent Show!

When I was in kindergarten my grandmother lived with us and would take care of me after school. She was in for a real treat every day, because after school every day I would hop up onto the step in front of our fire place (I don’t know the proper terminology because I am an interior design school drop-out) and put on a talent show. Sometimes I would tell, “Why did the chicken cross the road…” jokes and sometimes I would belt out my rendition of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme song, and other times I would have a live cooking demonstration. God bless that woman for being patient, eating whatever was made during my cooking demonstrations, and for always pretending like it was a great show.

You can see Jen performing with Mayor Karen this Saturday at Philly Improv Theater at The Shubin Theatre (407 Bainbridge Street) at 8PM.

Dave Metter is a comedy writer from the Philly burbs. Check out his show Your News, Philadelphia! on May 22nd at The Shubin Theatre (407 Bainbridge Street), part of PHIT’s Sweeps Weeks. Follow Dave on Twitter @DaveMetter.

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Hey Rube Remembers Hey Rube

77649_369702319772818_2023223526_oHey Rube will perform for the final time as a House Team this Saturday night at Philly Improv Theater. The group made their debut in August 2011 and have since performed at venues all over the area and festivals including the New York Improv Festival, Del Close Marathon, and the Philadelphia Improv Festival. They were crowned Best New Group at the 2012 WitOut Awards for Philadelphia Comedy, and were nominated for Best Improv Group at the 2013 WitOut Awards. The members of Hey Rube and their director Matt Holmes took some time to reflect, and say some nice things about each other.

Aaron Hertzog on Dennis Trafny:
Dennis blows me away every time I see him perform. The only thing I know for sure when Dennis enters a scene is that at some point he is going to totally surprise me. He can take a seemingly everyday boring offer and come back with something that is (incredibly) completely off-the-wall but also somehow makes it easy for his scene partner to react to and build with. I don’t know if it’s a natural skill or something he’s had to work tirelessly on (or a little bit of Column A and a little bit of Column B) but either way I am completely impressed. He can also bring great intensity to a character (seriously, look into those eyes), and inject some much-needed energy in a show at a moment’s notice. Of course, this also makes for extra special moments when he decides to tone it down and show us his tender, soft side.”

Tara Demmy on Mark Leopold:
“Before Hey Rube, I didn’t know Mark Leopold. He was just one of those guys with a really great name. Now I know him as one of the most talented performers I’ve ever worked with. His character work is the best (Dr. Dandelion) and he is a super intelligent and creative player, knowing when to give a set that necessary plot twist. When I’m in scenes with Mark I have trouble not just hanging out and watching him work, laughing along with the audience. One of my favorite moments was when Hey Rube was doing one of our usual group scene orgies and Mark came on and just sensually untied Jen’s shoelace. The best. Catch up with Mark playing “5 Things” at ComedySportz or doing a “props made out of only cardboard” sketch show with The Hold Up or even doing a show in the Philly Fringe (his 2012 Fringe show Archdiocese of Laughter was one of the best comedy shows I’ve ever seen—he made a rap out of my favorite hymn: Gift of Finest Wheat! Genius). See you there—I’ll be the girl in the first row wearing my ‘I heart Mark Leopold’ T-shirt.”

Lizzie Spellman on Alex Gross:
The first time I really hung out with Alex, he took me to a gay club with a hot Asian chick. I’ve come to learn he is one crazy cat (and I’m not just saying that ’cause he owns way too many cat shirts). Alex is so fun to play with on stage. When he makes a choice he always fully commits to it. He can go super weird with a character, but it’s always grounded in truth. I think if Hey Rube were a rock band, Alex would be the guy smashing his guitar on an amp and flipping off the crowd. I tell him all the time and I really mean it, he’s become like a little brother to me. That’s why I forgive him for drunkenly walking in on me in the bathroom and proceeding to pee in the shower. But that’s another story…”

Mark Leopold on Aaron Hertzog:
“I first saw Aaron something like six years ago. I went to an open mic and did some terrible set where I impersonated Forrest Gump at one point, and I saw this big man with a big personality just own the crowd and receive their adoration with composure and charm. It was amazing. I then retreated to the suburbs for three years. When I got cast on Hey Rube, the only person I actually recognized was Aaron and I was immediately intimidated by the prospect of playing with him. My fears proved to be completely unfounded of course. Aaron is one of the sweetest, most open, gentle and loving people I’ve met. His ever-present playfulness is infectious and when you have the good fortune to be in a scene with him, it’s such a familiar feeling of silly frolicking that you can’t help but have fun. Fun. That’s really the best way to describe what Aaron is like. He’s just like someone who it’s always fun to be around and with. He has a gift for vulnerability. He is just so brave and so foot-forward, always ready to give himself to the show or scene. Whether it’s dark or emotional, serious or silly, Aaron commits totally and performing with him is so easy and simple because you know he is going to completely receive what you give and build with it. Some of the most satisfying moments of collaboration in my life have been with him. Aaron is wonderful and any city, town, or village that doesn’t leap at the chance to welcome him is just tragically stupid.”

Rob Cutler on Lizzie Spellman:
“Lizzie is commitment personified.  She’s an incredibly gifted performer, but the original characters she creates and maintains are nothing short of brilliant.  Whether she exhibits the child-like innocence of a three-year-old, or the decrepit bitter wisdom of a wicked crone, Lizzie will up the intensity with every passing moment.  She’s a multitalented performer, whose musical prowess is displayed often with her ukulele, singing some of the most irreverent, funny, and original songs I’ve personally ever heard.  She has a gift for character and her future on stage is limitless.  On the personal end, I’ve yet to meet a more patient and engaging personality.  She has kind words for everyone I’ve seen her interact with (even if they were complete assholes).  In short Lizzie is funny as hell, sweet as sugar, with talent oozing out of every pore.  We should all be so lucky as to have someone like Lizzie in our lives.  I’ll miss you Rubes!”

Jen Curcio on Tara Demmy:
“I will never forget the first time I met Tara.  It was at Hey Rube’s first practice. I was really jealous of her because she was prettier, cooler and funnier than me. Then I got over it. Tara is a total improv pirate and for those of you who are not familiar with the term that means she attacks the scene. She is fearless in her choices, yet fully commits to and supports her scene partners’ choices. Tara is able to play characters that have a sharp contrast in stage presence. She will support anything and add value to it. I feel so lucky to have been on a team with her, I learned a lot from watching her be an awesome improviser!”

Alex Gross on Jen Curcio:
“Oh, geez. Jen is the worst. I’m just kidding! I know that really freaked you out Jen but seriously, I’m just kidding. I swear! Jen is one of the kindest and weirdest people I know. She is always thinking of others before herself and she’s given me countless car rides home. Her paranoia and craziness are right on par with mine, which makes me feel like she’s my improv twin. I’ve done some of my favorite scenes with her and she is always a joy to work with, no matter how many times she initiates scenes with hints of a gangbang starting. Jen is an improv powerhouse who isn’t to be fucked with and I’ve had a blast working with her. Rubes for life.”

Dennis Trafny on Rob Cutler:
“Rob is the ‘Phil Hartman’ of Hey Rube: really solid in every scene and he reigns in the crazy. He never gets scared on stage and is always cooler than the other side of the pillow. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him hesitate. Not once. Never. Not even for a second. No ‘uhhhh’s or ‘ummmm’s. Nothing. He’s a beast. He also plays characters smartly, and on many occasions, very cleverly ties all the preceding scenes together.  He is no one-trick pony either.  He has a gift with puppetry and is awesome in Friends of Alcatraz . (If you haven’t seen it, you should!) Good luck with your future projects Rob!”

Matt Holmes on Hey Rube:
“It’s sad to see Hey Rube end, but things that burn brightest snuff soonest.

I got more out of directing Hey Rube than I ever thought I would. First, I learned to get past your perfect idea for how things should go. It’s better to be flexible and make it work. It took us a few months to all get in the same room together at the same time, but that didn’t matter much.

Then, I learned all kinds of insights about improvising, telling a story in a visual medium, teaching people, using people’s strengths and working together on their weaknesses, building something together in small steps, and creating a show (style, format, framework) that is a signature.”

 

Hey Rube’s final show will be Saturday, February 9 at 10pm at The Philly Improv Theater at The Shubin Theater (407 Bainbridge St.) Tickets can be purchased online.

Ten Questions With…Jen Curcio

Jen Curcio is a member of new Philly Improv Theater House Team codenamed Brandybuck. She is also a member of improv family The Hendersons.

How and why did you get into comedy? When I was a little kid I used to watch “In Living Color” and “Saturday Night Live” and say, “that’s what I want to do when I grow up.” As a kid I was fascinated by funny people like Jim Carrey, Cheri Oteri and Mike Myers. I was also painfully shy, and cracking jokes was a way for me to break the ice.

How would you describe your style as a comedian? What influences and factors do you think contribute to that? I try to make bold character choices and be physical. People watching is a great influence. It’s important to have a mental library of characteristics of people.

Do you have a favorite show or venue you like to perform at? What about it makes it fun or special for you? I have 2 favorite venues. The Shubin because there is a great energy there, for both the audience and performers. And Tabu because it is such an intimate setting.

Do you have a single favorite moment in Philly comedy or one that stands out? The Really Big Show at The F Harold. To put it in context, Amie Roe was the only consistent improviser in the show and 1 person from the back line would initiate a 3 minute scene with her.  It was an amazing performance by Amie Roe. She made up 18 different characters. The participants on the back line were great too with rapid fire initiations.

Do you have any sort of creative process that you use with your writing or your performance? I have only dabbled in sketch writing. When I do write I like to think of the characters I am writing engaged in an improv scene. As for the creative process in improv, I really don’t do anything besides listen to upbeat music and stay away from people who are bummers.

What is it about improv (or stand-up, or sketch, whatever you do…) that draws you to it? Improv is just plain fun. Plus I like making people laugh.

Do you have any favorite performers in the Philly scene? Why are they your favorites? Kristen Schier, Amie Roe, Emily Davis, Rick Horner, Matt Holmes. They are all amazing performers, very strong and always 10 steps ahead of the game. I feel like just by watching them I can learn a lot. And they are all hilarious!

Do you have any bad experiences doing comedy that you can share? A particularly bad bombing or even an entire show gone haywire? Let me preface this by saying I have nothing against The Gross Show or anyone involved in it. But when I was in The Gross Show my parents attended, and if you know The Gross Show you know it’s probably not a show you want your parents to see. Knowing my mother and father were in the audience while I was talking about furry fetishes made me freeze. But I am very grateful for the support my parents give me, even if it gets awkward.

What do you think the Philly comedy scene needs to continue to grow? I feel like PHIT needs a more diverse audience, and by diverse I mean non-improvisors. The independent groups that are popping up all over the city is great for this. The more exposure people have to improv, the better. Showcases like Polygon are great places for independent groups to perform and get people interested in improv.

Do you have any personal goals for the future as you continue to perform comedy?  I hope to continue to grow and learn as an improvisor. I want to work with a new people.