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 firstname.lastname@example.org!
The Musical Brilliance of Doogie Horner – Anyone who has seen Doogie Horner perform stand-up before has probably seen him emulating R&B backup singers or singing depressing Irish folk music. In 2012, I had the pleasure of seeing Doogie both freestyle rap and jam out with a celebrity. In January at the Raven Lounge, on an evening where there was a sketch group dressed like Rabbis (or Rabbanim if you will) who rapped about being Jewish for 10 minutes and got zero laughs, Doogie had finished his set and as host Tom Cassidy walked up, Doogie decided to freestyle rap about Tom Cassidy’s zipper on his sweatshirt. You’d think this would be just as strange as Rabbis rapping about being Jewish, but Doogie had the entire room laughing. Nine months later, after doing a week with Doogie at Helium, Craig Robinson (The Office, Hot Tub Time Machine) who was in the area doing a gig set up his keyboard in the bar area after the club closed and jammed out. While singing “Papa was a Rolling Stone” Doogie stepped in and sang some impromptu lyrics, and had Craig, his band, and the entire room laughing their asses off.
Keith Purnell and the Nudists – By far one of the weirdest gigs I did all year was emceeing a show at a Nudist camp. There were about 80 nudists, who were all senior citizens, sitting on folding chairs facing the stage (spread-eagle I might add). I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t weird, and it visibly threw me off my game a little bit. Keith Purnell was the headliner, and he handled it like a pro. It was an outdoor gig but the stage was covered by a tarp, and it started to rain VERY hard. The nudists didn’t flinch, because they didn’t have any clothes on they were worried about getting wet. Keith performed for an hour including doing an ENCORE set, which included completely nude soaking wet men joining him on stage every five to ten minutes to try and get rain water out of the tarp covering the stage. At one point one of these men started to pretend to hump Keith from behind in an attempt to get a laugh, to which Keith responded “Do I look like a heroin addict? Then get that needle dick off stage.”
Becca Trabin on the Risk Podcast “Live from Philly” – I have only seen Becca perform stand-up twice and they were both at open mics at Helium. The first was over a year ago, and the second was last month, where she had noticeably improved and has obviously become a hell of a performer. However I received a recommendation from someone to check out the “Live from Philly” episode of the Risk podcast, which is not a comedy podcast but a podcast where people tell true stories, and Becca was featured. I won’t ruin it for anyone who hasn’t listened to it, but even listening to it in podcast form and not seeing it live, it is one of the most impressive performances of any kind I’ve ever heard. As someone who considers them self to be a pretty emotionless robot, it knocked me square on my ass. You’re doing yourself a disservice by not checking it out.
Kevin Ryan gives a math lecture in Delco – If you haven’t gotten a gig in Delco where you try and tell jokes to drunken Delconians in the type of bar where the average number of teeth per mouth is seven, well you’re missing out on a unique comedy experience. Some of those shows end up being fantastic, however an equal number of those shows end up being a nightmare. One particular nightmare featured an early act from a cross-dressing 250 pound hairy man doing slam poetry about being a lesbian and how much he/she enjoyed oral sex with women. If anyone is wondering what the absolute best way to turn off a comedy show audience would be…it’s that. Kevin Ryan however completely flipped the audience back into comedy mode and took a bullet for every comedian that went up after him. After five minutes of stage time where the bar was simply not listening, Kevin started berating the audience for not listening and threatened to spend the rest of his time on stage giving a math lecture since “no one in the audience had obviously finished grade school.” It was hilarious to everyone, including the very people he was insulting, and it was also the night I learned some audiences love abuse.
Greg Lynn in Roxborough – This one is going to sound counterintuitive to everything you may think a comedian SHOULD do on stage, but Greg Lynn walked half of a 12 person audience…and it was the funniest thing I saw all year. I should point out this was a show that was supposed to be headlined by someone who cancelled his appearance, started an hour late, and the half audience that Greg walked didn’t particularly want to be there and frankly I’m not sure why they were. After a few comics bombed, Greg brought energy to the stage that was seriously lacking all show, and had every comedian and the half of the crowd who stayed pissing in their pants. You may think the comedians who went after him were mad half the audience left, but I was one of those comedians, and it completely changed the energy of the show in a positive way. Somehow Greg Lynn walking half the audience with his demented comedy from hell saved the show.
Rob is a regular at Helium Comedy Club and co-host of the witout nominated best podcast Bob & Dave are Terrible People. You can follow him on twitter at @RobDComedy