Even though The Monthly Hour with James Hesky (as well as all shows, rehearsals, classes and workshops at PHIT) has been cancelled for tonight we still wanted to bring you this promo video made for the monthly variety show. Watch as Tim from Port Richmond and Jim from Fishtown prepare for the second round of their debate for a coveted seat in the State House of Representatives.
A packed house crowded into the Philly Improv Theater at the Shubin Theatre on Wednesday night for the most recent installment of Reasonable Discourse with Jerks. Host Jim Grammond took the stage and introduced the audience to the panel for the night, Philly’s popular sketch group Camp Woods, minus member Madonna Refugia.
For the next hour, this panel generated some very entertaining conversation, filled with jabs at each other, themselves, and just about anything even remotely related to any of the topics covered. And they covered many topics, ranging from the Faces of Death film franchise to childhood bullying and 9/11 conspiracies.
One of the funniest discussions of the night followed Grammond showing an Oreo filled with rainbow colored cream and explaining that people who are not supportive of the gay lifestyle are in outrage over this advertisement and threatening to boycott. From Brendan Kennedy’s image of a fat bigot giving in to temptation and eating an E.L. Fudge cookie of two elves fellating each other to various members’ outrage over the fact that the rainbow cookie doesn’t actually exist for consumption, the discussion was wrapped up neatly by Rob Baniewicz’s question, “Who gives a shit if a cookie’s political?”
One of the best aspects of the night was the chemistry not only between the members of Camp Woods, but also between them and Grammond. This was exemplified when Grammond raised the question, “What foods will you not eat?” and began going around the table one by one to get answers. However, as expected with such a lively panel, the order was quickly abandoned. Actually, it was abandoned as soon as JP Boudwin offered up the first answer: “Pass.” The conversation then turned to how Camp Woods would eat anything, from Boudwin and Kennedy’s recent dinnertime breakfast pizza topped with gyro meat to Billy Bob Thompson eating cake out of a used motor oil can. Even when the conversation was brought back to its original question, the members provided their usual absurdity and quirkiness, with Patrick Foy stating that Qdoba is better than Chipotle because the onions are easier to pick out of the pico de gallo and Sam Narisi announcing that he’ll still eat one, but he’s “never really been happy to see a baked potato.”
Other highlights included a recurring theme of hipsters prompted by Grammond’s experience with a conspiracy theorist referring to “mainstream” archaeology, Thompson’s ignoring the racist implications of a McDonald’s advertisement due to his disturbance by the fact that everyone was holding food and none of it had bites out of it, and Kennedy’s impression of a racist Elmo trying to make it in show business.
Well it’s shaping up to be another Philadelphia Summer sports fans! And we all know what that means… RUN FOR COVER! The Phillies have a lot of baseball left in the season to make up for lost time and lost base runners, the Eagles are looking more and more like the grid-iron roustabouts of yester-year, and rumor has it, the Philadelphia Major League Soccer Team is doing miserably! But don’t take my word for it. Don’t be so glum chum, let’s not throw out the baby with the bath water! We’ve got plenty to be proud of – the 76ers had a Dream of a Season… but that alarm clock always gets ya!
Let’s head to the tapes and check out the highlights from Jim Grammond’s Reasonable Discourse with Jerks (and I use that term loosely).
Here is each mention of professional sports from the entire show, along with who said it:
Jim Grammond – Terrell Owens*, Arena Football, Baseball, Hunter Pence
Mike Rainey – Ref, Ball, Houston Ramblers, Starting Line-Up Figurines
Steve Miller-Miller – Interception, Terrell Owens*, Tim Cheatwood, Offensive Lineman, Matt Bahr**, Cleveland Indians, Cleveland Browns, Webster Slaughter, Donovan McNabb*
Tim Butterly – Soccer, Mets*, Cowboys*, Mets*, AFL
Pat Barker – Kobayashi***, Jim Thome, Baseball Jerseys, Mets, Hockey Stick, World Wrestling Federation, Ultimate Warrior, “Wild Thing” Rick Vaughn****, “Fastball Pitcher” Bob Guiterrez*****
What a performance! If you ask me, this line up is batting 1.000! See you at the bookie’s!
** Philadelphia’s Own!
*** Considered a sport, not by me, but I don’t make the rules. Counts!
**** Almost didn’t make it, but still counts!
Gerry Bock is a freelance sports writer and former Publisher/Reporter-in-Chief for the Port Richmond Gazetteer, which he published independently for 37 years before gladly fell prey to the siren call of retirement last May.
Witout: How did the Comedy, Food, Sports show begin? Patrick Dodd: Just under a year and half ago, I got married and my wife was pregnant soon after. I had only been in Philly for about two year as, so I wasn’t established enough locally to be able to just do feature spots or anything like that (I’ve been doing standup for about 5 years total). At the same time, I didn’t really have enough time to hit the open mics and make a name for myself. I was dying to do something creative, but my time was limited. Having a major passion for cooking, watching and playing sports and all things comedy; I wanted to figure out a way to marry the three. My original idea was just going to be rants and reviews about the three subjects and I’d throw a few original recipes of mine on the site here and there. I did a few “articles” and I knew, as fun as this is, I need to do something more unique. Jim Florentine was in town for a random Thursday show. I had opened for Jim in the past, so I contacted him to see if I could interview him about the three subjects. After that interview I realized that this might be the format. I ended up getting Nick DiPaolo, Dale Talde from Top Chef, Robert Kelly, and a bunch of others that just really brought their A-game for the interviews.
We had some really good traffic on the site and a lot people were telling me how much they loved the concept. Me and my buddy decided to form a “late night talk show” style version of the show. After a few months of throwing ideas around, we had what we were looking for. Once we found a venue, everything else kind of fell into place. The show really is just a live version of the blog with some Daily Show/Conan type tidbits sprinkled in.
Do you find it hard to find comedians that are sports fans, or maybe do you notice a specific type or “style” of comedian is more into sports? It is definitely hard to find comics that are into sports as much as I’d like them to be. There is a type, but I can’t really describe it completely. Nick DiPaolo, Joe Materese and Jim Florentine had all done sports related stuff on TV and/or radio, so they were pretty easy to pick. When I interviewed Dan Levy, he told me to skip the sports section but I kind of figured that before the call. That’s pretty much a roundabout way of saying, some guys are more “jockey” and others are a bit “asthma-y”.
What are your favorite sports (to watch or play) and teams? Are you a lifelong sports fan? Do you find your interest in one sport or another change with age or any other factors? My favorite sport to play is and will always be basketball. The NFL is definitely far and away number one for me to watch. I love watching college hoops and I try to watch the NBA when I can, but I don’t go too far out of my way to watch regular season games (although I catch the Sixers a decent amount). I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with baseball. I will pay attention to it from start to finish, but I always want to make fun of it at the same time. I’m definitely a lifelong sports fan. That was something I was born with, I think, and I can’t see that ever changing. I would say my interest in sports in general has changed slightly since I had a kid, because my time is so much more limited. I have to pick and choose the sports that I want to really pay attention to more than I did before. I still hate tennis though.
What do you think it is about sports (or sports fans) that can make talking sports turn to such heated arguments? It’s the “we” mentality. Everyone thinks they are part of the team and, to an extent, they are. Everyone, including myself, thinks they can analyze, coach and consult their favorite teams. Most people take sports so seriously. We’re doing a segment called “athletes tweeting stupid shit”, because most of these guys are such entitled retards. Physically they entertain, but when Dan Marino or Jamal Mashburn is your “go to” guy for analysis; you have to laugh a little. It honestly cracks me up more than anything when I see people yell and scream about shit. Desean Jackson would take a shit on your lawn and kick your puppy before he left town, if there was a $10,000 bonus for doing that in his new contract (whenever that gets done). So would Chase Utley for that matter.
When it comes to food, do you focus on more upscale dining, comfort foods, specialized places, or does it depend on your guests? I focus on whatever they like. I usually ask open ended questions and they just run it with it. Some of them talk about how much they like to cook, while others like to talk about their favorite spots and others just eat whatever Subway’s $5 footlong is. I would say it tends to lean towards specialized places and comfort foods more than anything. Comedians seem to talk about their favorite spot to get a specific food that seems to bring them back to a specific place. Maybe it’s the whole tortured soul thing that a lot of comics have.
What are your favorite foods? I LOVE Thai food! I haven’t had enough of it here in Philly, but that’s my own fault. French and Italian are always delicious, but I think Asian food always takes the crown for me. Gastropubs are becoming a bit cliché, but most places in Philly really do it properly and I’ll never turn down something like a bone marrow burger.
Do you talk about cooking, or more eating at restaurants? Generally, I talk more about cooking. I’m pretty much self taught, so when I come up with something or riff off of a classic, I’m always excited to talk about. I love talking about restaurants too, but I get let down a lot when I go out. I’m not a snob by any means, but it should at least taste fresh and be properly cooked.
There are a lot of shows on television now showing people travelling the world eating at all sorts of interesting places, are you looking for tales of great food finds, or stories of impressive eating feats? I’m definitely looking for great food finds more than anything. Joe Materese talked about this pizza joint in Conn for about ten minutes straight and I was just blown away. He live in New York and he can’t stop talking about a spot in Conn. It turns out that place is famous and Sinatra used to have his driver pick some up for it, but I would’ve never known that without Joe telling that story. Bobby Kelly had a good story about a place in New York that serves mutten chops and Rory Scovel talked about a high end vegan spot in LA. Comedians are perfect for that subject, because of all the travel they do.
What are some of your favorite spots in Philly to eat. Any best kept secrets? I unfortunately haven’t eaten out enough. Obviously The Royal Tavern is amazing. Kennett So. 2nd is right next door to where I live and they make some pretty amazing stuff too. Veracruzana at 9th and Washington is ridiculous! I could eat there every day. Lee How Fook in Chinatown has the best hot and sour soup I’ve ever had. Almost everything on their menu is good. The Amish place in the Reading Terminal Market has the best breakfast. Isgro’s is unreal for desserts. I did a tasting at Amada once and that was amazing from start to finish.
Why should people come to Comedy, Food, Sports? The easy answer is: It’s Free and it will be over before 9:30pm! Realistically though, almost everyone loves one or probably all three of the subjects. What better forum to discuss the three subjects than people in the industry that are knowledgeable and hilarious? If someone were to tell me that Bill Burr, Anthony Bourdain and Scott Van Pelt were going to do a show where they discuss comedy, food and sports; I would spend hundreds to go see that. So this is a smaller, more local version of that. There will be stand up, some bits, a BIG special guest, a year in review and a Q&A. On top of that, we are giving away a gift card to someone in the audience.
Worst case scenario, you hang out at an amazing bourbon joint that has great food and a really cool ambience and afterwards a blues band will play for the rest of the night. Best case scenario, we’re hilarious and entertaining and you’re outing last Saturday to Applebee’s was just topped as “best Saturday ever!”
Comedy, Food, Sports is this Saturday, January 28th at 7:30PM at The Twisted Tail (upstairs at The Juke Joint) 2nd and South St., Philadelphia
On Wednesday July 27th, a packed Shubin Theater witnessed the dawning of a new era – Jim Grammond’s “Reasonable Discourse with Jerks”. For the unlucky ones who weren’t able to secure a ticket, here is what the host and his four panelists were wearing:
Jim Grammond – An orange, black, yellow, green plaid collared shirt with short sleeves, 5 buttons buttoned, one button left undone at the top showing a white under shirt, blue jeans, grey and white sneakers with a large “N” on both sides of each.
John Kensil – Grey button down short sleeved shirt, 5 buttons buttoned, one undone at the top, no undershirt, a necklace with a cross, blue jeans, white sneakers with some black, wrist watch on left wrist.
Blake Wexler – White soccer jersey 3 buttons unbuttoned, with an embroidered small red diamond inside of a larger red diamond over the right breast, a patch on the left breast with 3 blue lions and 10 red “O” shapes under a small white star, a grey undershirt, brown shorts, white ankle-high socks with 3 black bars on each, orange/red, black and white sneakers with the letter “N” on both side of each shoe.
Mary Radzinski – A black blouse with wide arms and a neckline that went to the shoulders, silver feather pendant on a silver chain necklace, silver slippers, dark blue jeans, red bracelet on the left wrist.
Mike Rainey – Black t shirt with a white Philadelphia Flyers logo, with the word “FRESH” in all capital letters underneath also in white type, light blue jeans, black, grey and white sneakers with a grey wavy line on the side.
How and why did you get into comedy?
I got into stand-up comedy because growing up in the stand-up crazed 80’s I loved it, everything from Bill Cosby to Sam Kinison. After watching it for years I finally thought I would try it.
How would you describe your style as a comedian? What influences and factors do you think contribute to that?
For me this is interesting (I guess) since I am coming back to comedy after a few years away. My previous style was kind of dry/angry/weird, which sort of reflected who I was. I’m still weird, but less dry and angry. So I’m trying to change my style now to reflect that.
Do you have a favorite show or venue you like to perform at? What about it makes it fun or special for you?
Helium’s my traditional favorite, but I’m really enjoying the new venues that have opened up to comedy in the past few years, like the Shubin and Connie’s Ric Rac. Most venues have some redeeming characteristics. Most.
Do you have a single favorite moment in Philly comedy or one that stands out?
Seeing a comic get off stage at the Laff House and go outside to fight an audience member. More than once.
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?
My new favorite tool is Twitter. I’m on there at @jgrammond. It forces me to write concisely and is great for developing a premise for a new bit. I used to be very into memorizing the bits I wrote, but am trying to get away from that as it can sound really unnatural on stage.
What is it about stand-up that draws you to it?
I’m an attention-craving nerd who always wants to show I’m the smartest person in the room (even when I’m not, which is often). So stand-up is a natural place for that attitude I guess.
Do you have any favorite performers in the Philly scene? Why are they your favorites?
I’m going to answer this a little differently and mention the Philly comics who were just starting or really young when I went on my comedy hiatus who I think have gotten really good. That list includes people like you (note from the editor: I am Aaron Hertzog), Steve Gerben, Joey Dougherty, Blake Wexler, Pat Barker, Brendan Kennedy, Mary Radzinski, and I’m sure plenty more. I’m not even including the people who’ve moved away. I’m also glad Oakland or Oaklyn or whatever his name is is still around. He’s a treasure.
Do you have any bad experiences doing comedy that you can share? A particularly bad bombing or even an entire show gone haywire?
I once did a show in the basement of a shady Phoenixville “bar”—I don’t think they had a liquor license. It was like no one told them prohibition ended. There were five people in the audience and I was the only white person within eight blocks. Before the show, the police were there looking for a local young hoodlum named “Butt-Butt”. I bombed real, real bad, but the after party was fun.
What do you think the Philly comedy scene needs to continue to grow?
It’d be great if a bunch of people could breakout of the stand-up scene here without having to move to NYC or LA first, like a comedy version of what Nirvana/Pearl Jam/Soundgarden did for people’s impression of Seattle. It’s cool that Luke Giordano just basically did that.
Also, the trend of doing and promoting stand-up shows in actual theaters rather than bars with makeshift stages has to continue. Bars are really hard to put on shows in. People in bars are usually there to drink and talk to their friends, not listen to weirdos with microphones.
Do you have any personal goals for the future as you continue to perform comedy?
It’s nice right now that I don’t have a real, ultimate goal. I know people say if you don’t have a goal you won’t be dedicated, but I’d rather just do it for fun right now and see where that leads. I will say my job-related-to-comedy goal would be a TV writing gig, preferably for a late night show.