Philly comedians aren’t just funny—they’re consistently up on current events and super well-informed on what’s going on in local and national news. Or at very least, maybe they bone up a bit when they’re about to be guests on Jim Grammond’s monthly panel show Reasonable Discourse with Jerks. Here’s Jim with more details on the concept, how he puts the show together, and this month’s jerks:
WitOut: To be honest, I get most of my news from your Twitter feed. What drives you to turn current events into jokes?
Jim Grammond: The misguided belief that I can turn making jokes about news into money.
WitOut: Is some of that joke writing “research” for topics that will end up on Reasonable Discourse with Jerks?
JG: Honestly, the joke writing process for the show is so much better than how I write for stand-up or anything else. I take a news story or interesting bit of trivia, try to come up with a funny headline for the PowerPoint presentation, and then make bullet points that are jokes about the topic. It’s methodical, whereas my regular, daily joke writing is more stream of consciousnesses, which means a lot of my regular, daily writing is garbage.
WitOut: This month’s panel is Jess Ross, Alex Grubard, Paul Triggiani and Mike Rainey. How did you assemble that line-up? And what makes each of them a jerk?
JG: Actually, Paul Triggiani had to cancel because he has a prior engagement that probably involves him dressing as a Nazi, so Philly’s Phunniest™ 2012 James Hesky will be taking his place. Jess is a fellow member of The Flat Earth and a stand-out funny improvise, Alex is a very funny, very loud comedian, Rainey is one of the best of people with one of the darkest (and best) of senses of humor, and Hesky is a dynamo in the sack.
Everyone in comedy is a jerk in one way or another. Either we think we’re better than most people, or we use humor as a weapon on people who don’t deserve it. A lot of us are paranoid and insecure, which makes us lash out in weird, jerky ways. Liz’s high school reunion episode of 30 Rock is the best reference material for this.
WitOut: I don’t want to ask you to give too much away, but can you give us a preview of what might come up at this Wednesday’s show?
JG: You can’t give away what you don’t know. I almost never come up with the topics until the day before and the day of. I’m always putting the presentation together up until near show time.
WitOut: Are there any news items that have come up between the last show and this one that you’d love to talk about, but aren’t recent enough? If so, can you give it the RDWJ treatment here? Or just pick any historical event you want—e.g., how would RDWJ break down the War of 1812?
JG: One story that broke earlier this month that I would’ve been all over but is too far gone is that Vladimir Putin hired Boyz II Men to play concerts in Russia explicitly to get Russians in the mood to procreate. I don’t know if it’s 100% accurate, but that doesn’t matter because it sounds so great and believable. I can just picture Putin getting on the jumbotron at the concert, taking his shirt off and having women oil him up, saying “Da, you in crowd, you do like me now, okay? Pants removal now. Go on, Moscow, get freaky.” Also, unlike his policies on breakaway Russian republics, I guarantee in nine months we’ll see that this plan worked.
The next ‘Reasonable Discourse with Jerks’ is this Wednesday, February 27th at Philly Improv Theater at The Shubin (407 Bainbridge Street). Show starts at 8:30pm. Tickets are $10 at the door; $8 online in advance.