Luke Giordano is a writer and comedian living in Los Angeles, California. He used to live and perform comedy in Philadelphia, until a job as a writer on Two and a Half Men sent him west. He now works as a writer for the Nickelodeon show Marvin Marvin. He will be returning to Philly next weekend, where he will teach a workshop at Philly Improv Theater on Becoming a Television Comedy Staff Writer. We caught up with Luke to ask him some questions about the workshop, and his return to Philadelphia.
WITOUT: I’ve heard you’re mostly returning to Philadelphia so you can go to the Ruby Chinese Buffet, is this true?
LUKE GIORDANO: I am indeed excited to go Ruby Chinese Buffet, as are we all. But is it for the food or for the good times we shared there? I’m also excited for getting a Wawa hoagie. Even though there are better hoagies all around town, none will make me feel nostalgic for good old Philly like Wawa will. Plus, I’ve been trying to work out and eat decently for a while now, so it’ll be nice to have a weekend where I can eat like I hate myself again.
WO: Is the workshop going to focus more on the process of writing or the process of selling yourself as a writer?
LG: Originally, it was going to be more about the things you need to do to get a job that aren’t writing a script, but since I’ve been reading several scripts from Philly comedy people, I’ve noticed that a lot of the same problems come up. Structure is the biggest problem I’ve seen people have with writing a TV script. If you don’t know how to structure an episode of television properly, nobody who matters is going to read it. The workshop is really about arming yourself. Through a great script, through what you know, what you do to get noticed, how get an agent, what to expect in meetings, what people are looking for, and everything else. I don’t think you can teach someone how to be a good writer, but you can teach someone how to write more effectively. This workshop and seminar is really telling you everything I know about writing for television.
WO: Which of these have you found more difficult? Why?
LG: Writing is the fun part. It’s the part that makes everything worth it. To go in everyday and your job being that you get pitch jokes all day and laugh? It’s so amazing that it’s actually immoral. And on top of that, I get to make a comfortable living? It’s the best job in the world and it’s worth every ounce of struggle that you put into it. It’s worth going through all the shit and the disappointment and the rejection and the astronomical odds against you. If I didn’t get my first job when I was twenty-five, I would have gone another twenty years trying to get it. It’s a choice, really. Do you value comfort and stability or do you want to take a risk and do what you really want to do? Even though you probably won’t get it?
WO: You’ve done stand-up, improv, and sketch – how have each of these prepared you in different ways for your Hollywood writing jobs?
LG: I think all those skills go to the same place. It’s all a skill set you should develop anyway, and the more you develop that stuff, the stronger you’ll be. When you go into a meeting with a network executive, for example, you’re selling yourself — so they want a bit of a performance. You got in the room because they liked your script, so what the meeting is about is finding out if they like you and if you’re somebody they want to continue to work with. They want a little song and dance, but just as long as it doesn’t seem like you’re doing a song and dance. They can smell your desperation if it comes off that way, but the conquering of fear that comes with performing live comedy will help you to talk to these people and be funny and be yourself. The same goes for pitching jokes in the writers room. You have to sell the joke like you would on stage. You have to be behind this idea you’re putting forth to expect anyone to accept it. Performing comedy and telling jokes in front of an audience is only going to make you better at pitching a joke to a room of peers. On top of that, stand-up and sketch are only going to make your writing stronger because you’re learning how to construct jokes more effectively and efficiently. You’re writing to get a laugh and I think when you write specifically for the purpose of getting laughter, you learn to drop all the meandering bullshit. And improv is going to teach you how to think on your feet, but I think improv is all jokes, too. They’re just a little more disguised and between multiple people.
WO: How did your years as a Philadelphia comic prepare you for life as an LA writer/comedian?
LG: Most importantly, it taught me how to fail, how to deal with failure, and how to move through failure and learn from it. Failing is the single most important part of the creative process. It matures you, it makes you stronger. You can learn from your mistake, fix where you went wrong, learn your limitations, find out what’s funny and what isn’t. And when a point comes when you’re not afraid of failure (I’m in no way anywhere near this), I think you find freedom. I got fired from Two and a Half Men six weeks after I got the job. I didn’t know if I would ever work in writing again. And it was absolutely humiliating. People get fired from writing jobs for the most minuscule of reasons. Sometimes it doesn’t really have anything to do with them. They fire you because they can and because that’s the game you’re in. As I’ve learned since, every single writer in the business will get fired at some point. It’s about what you do after you get fired.
WO: We all know that LA is home to a lot of professional comedians, but how does the amateur LA comedy scene stack up to the Philadelphia comedy scene?
LG: Mostly it’s way bigger. There are a lot more people, a lot more shows, a lot more places to get up. I think you have to fully commit yourself to get noticed, even by other open micers. I haven’t gotten up as much as I would like to, so I still feel like I’m on the outside a bit. I certainly don’t think the comedians here are better qualitatively on average than they are in Philadelphia. But there is always the possibility that you’re doing a show and Patton Oswalt might walk in to do a set. It’s weird. I feel like people feel like there’s more at stake, because people come here to work and make it. So you do get a lot of people who just do stand-up to get famous or get a sitcom, in addition to the people who are actually doing it to be comedians. It’s a little strange to me. I don’t think I’ve deciphered it yet.
WO: What else are you looking forward to doing on your return trip to Philadelphia?
LG: Well, I sure am excited to perform a half hour of stand-up comedy at Philly Improv Theater! Mostly just eating awful food, seeing all my Friendship Buddies, singing karaoke, and hopefully running into people who I feel have wronged me.
You can sign up for Luke’s workshop on Becoming a Television Comedy Writer online at Philly Improv Theater. His show with Aaron Hertzog will be Saturday, October 6th at 7PM at PHIT.
The Philadelphia Fringe Festival continues this week, and with it come a lot of exciting opportunities to see some great comedy shows.
The Cambridge Footlights will perform tonight and Tuesday night at The Adrienne Theater (2030 Sansom St. Philadelphia) as part of Philly Improv Theater‘s Fringe Festival Run. The famed group from across the pond will perform their Edinburg Fringe show for Philly audiences both nights at 7:30pm (ticket information can be found online).
Camp Woods’ “Weird People Problems” continues tonight at The Adrienne Theater (2030 Sansom St. Philadelphia) with another of their “best of” shows from the last year of Camp Woods Plus. Tuesday night, the group will present their David Lynch Themed Show with fellow Philly sketch group Secret Pants.
Polygon Comedy will host shows every night this week as part of the Fringe Festival at O’Neal’s Pub, L’etage, and The Adrienne Theater. Their full schedule can be found on the Fringe Festival’s website.
Angry People Buliding Things will do shows at The Adrienne on Friday, September 21 and Saturday September 22.
ComedySportz Philly will present a few shows during the Fringe Festival, including Cecily and Gwendolyn, Dangerous Fools, Tongue & Groove, and The Archdiocese of Laughter by Mark Leopold.
Other PHIT Fringe shows include Fibber, Hot Dish Presents: Backstory, King Friday’s 3 Mad Rituals, and PROMania!
Philly Improv Theater is offering a workshop on Becoming a Television Comedy Staff Writer taught by former Philadelphia comedian/ current Los Angeles comedian and television writer Luke Giordano on Saturday, October 6th. Giordano was hired as a writer for the sitcom Two and a Half Men in 2011 and now works for a Nickelodeon sitcom that will premiere in 2013. Details on the workshop can be found online. Also on October 6th, Giordano will be performing a half hour of stand-up on the 7:00pm show at PHIT with Aaron Hertzog (Facebook Event).
This week, Aaron sits down with writer and comedian Luke Giordano. The two talk about Luke’s transition from Philadelphia to Los Angeles to write for television, his experience writing for Two and a Half Men, and his thoughts and ideas about comedy. Then Luke tries to recruit Aaron to move to LA. Listen to this week’s episode below and subscribe on iTunes.
You can check out more of Luke’s work on his daily humor web site Everything You Like is Stupid. You can also listen to him interview some of the most famous and influential people in the world every week on The Newsmakers Podcast.
This weekend the Arts Parlor will host the first in The Sideshows series of one act plays. The Sideshow: Hidden in This Picture features the one act originally written in the late 80’s by screenwriter extraodinaire, Aaron Sorkin. It’s a single scene focusing on a first time director dealing with an egotistical writer a penny pinching producer, a dim witted assistant and an invasion of cows that arrived to ruin his oscar winning shot. The show stars Nathan Edmondson, Bert Archer, Matt Nelson and Daniel Jaquette and is directed by Mike Marbach. The show will play Friday February 24 at 10:30pm, Saturday February 25 at 8:30pm, and Sunday February 26 at 3:00pm.
Last week in a show at Temple University the team of comedians was chosen to represent the school in this year’s National College Comedy Competition. The first round of competition will be held at Helium Comedy Clubon Sunday, March 18 at 7:30pm and will showcase the Temple team facing off against a team of comics from Penn State. The comedians representing each school are Temple: Tyler Wolf, Alex Grubard, Matt Kase, Paul Kenton, Steve Lipman, Jordana Lipsitz, Tim Ryan, Chris Whitehair Penn State: Kyle Dodson, Bill Hood, Stephanie Wain, Sean Becker, Dave Porter, Tom Wong, Spencer Frank, Kevin Gallagher.
Last week, for his Newsmakers Podcast, comedian Luke Giordano sat down to interview his childhood hero George Lucas. To see how things turned out for Luke you can listen to the episode on his website Everything You Like is Stupid.
Last week comedian Ted Alexandro headlined at Helium Comedy Club. If you missed it, that’s a shame, because he’s great, but at least you can still read this interview with him from CityPaper.
Sign-ups for ComedySportz Philly’s spring classes have begun. The company is offering three levels of classes each at the early registration price of $179 (until March 7). You can sign up for classes online.
The Philly Improv Theater will be holding auditions to cast two new House Teams on Saturday, February 4, 2012 from 10:00 AM until 6:00 PM at The Philly Improv Theater at The Shubin Theater (407 Bainbridge St. Philadelphia). To secure an audition time please email your name, phone number, and a preferred time (if any) to: email@example.com. More information can be found on Facebook.
Last week’s episode of CheaPodcast featured special guests John Oliver (The Daily Show) and Kurt Metzger (Ugly Americans). Darryl Charles and James Hesky found time to talk with the headliners after their shows at Helium Comedy Club and, in true CheaPodcast form, asked them their thoughts on bizzarre news stories from the past week. You can check out the episode at the link above, and also Like CheaPodcast on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, and subscribe on iTunes.
Gregg Gethard of The Holding Court Podcast was featured as a guest on last week’s Best Show on WFMU. Gethard, a regular caller to the show, was in the studio along with his brother Chris who talked with host Tom Scharpling about Chris’ new book A Bad Idea I’m About to Do and fielded some calls from some regulars who are not exactly fond of the Greggulator’s antics on the show. You can listen to the episode online.
Keeping with the podcast theme we have going, Luke Giordano has started a new podcast through his website, Everything You Like is Stupid. The Newsmakers Podcast will feature weekly interviews between Giordano, and some of the most famous and influential people in the world. You can listen on his website, or subscribe in iTunes.
Camp Woods + returns for its’ second show at L’etage (624 South 6th St. Philadelphia) on Tuesday, January 31. This time, Camp Woods teams up with Secret Pants for a not-to-be-missed sketch comedy show. More details can be found on Facebook.
For the rest of the year, we are going to run lists from you, our readers (and some that we wrote ourselves) of our Top 5 of 2011. You’ll hear from many Philadelphia comedians, as well as some fans of comedy about their favorite sketches, bits, shows, and moments of the past year. If you’d like to write a list – go ahead, do it! and send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Our first list comes from Executive Director of the Philly Improv Theater, Greg Maughan, and includes his favorite $5 passwords for PHIT shows from the past year.
5. “Everything You Like Is Stupid Dot Com”: I can’t say this password was really all that funny, but I do read Luke Giordano’s website as a result of having it’s domain merciless pounded into my brain every time I went to his show. (By the way Luke, I’ll be sending you an invoice for this product placement).
4. “Meatspin”: Alex Gross‘ passwords for The Gross Show have taught me more about obscure – and in the eyes of religious conservatives, deviant – sexual practices than anything else since Steve Babcock’s asides in my 8th Grade Health class. For the love of God, please don’t say I didn’t warn if you decide to Google this one and end up offended.
3. “I am the Dread Pirate Roberts, there will be no survivors.”: I think there were actually people who came to TV Party‘s show dedicated to Fairy Tales just for the privilege of getting to say this line and then give us $5.
2. “Boehner? I hardly know her!”: It was hard picking my favorite Chip Chantry pun-based password, but the political junkie in me won out on this one (even if it does require you to mispronounce the House Speaker’s last name). A close second was August’s “So IRENE’S Over, and I Says to Him…” the day after the hurricane hit Philly.
1. “Friendship”: Aaron Hertzog completely ignored my rule that the $5 password had to be different each show all year long, but he was so friendly about it I didn’t have the heart to tell him he needed to stop. Now I’ve told him so publicly though, so if I had money to bet I would say that his next show will have a different word… but the root will still be “friend”.
The Roast of Meg Favreau
It’s a funny tradition comedians have – when they want to honor someone they do it by saying the most terrible things they can think of about them, and all their friends. Before Meg Favreau moved to Los Angeles, Philadelphia made sure they gave her the proper send-off (you can see for yourself on PHIT’s YouTube Account)
The Trashing of Luke Giordano
Luke Giordano also left Philadelphia for Los Angeles this year, but on much shorter notice. With a quick turn around time, Luke’s friends put together a “trashing” of him – where they planned to make fun of his writing and stand-up work. Some of them did, but for most – it was just a good, old-fashioned roast. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Hate Speech Hall’s Jesus is Really Galactus
Did you remember that the world was supposed to end this year? It didn’t – but if it would have there was no better place to be on the front lines of the world’s demise than Hate Speech Hall (the name given to the apartment shared by Brendan Kennedy, JP Boudwin, and Billy Thompson). An open mic/ open house in their living room that brought out a full house of Philly’s funniest to laugh, drink, and possibly die together.
The Theme Show Presents: The Twilight Zone
It happened with Bedtime Stories and it’s happening with The Theme Show – sometimes a theme just hits everyone perfectly – and the audience is treated to a night of extra inspired comedy. This was the case with the most recent Theme Show – where performers based their acts on the theme of The Twilight Zone. Ironic twist endings, Rod Serling impressions, and more than one reference to Vampires kept the audience laughing throughout the night.
The Dirtiest Sketch in Philadelphia Competition
For the second straight year The Feeko Brothers took home the trophy for Dirtiest Sketch in Philadelphia – but not before the night was filled with raunchy, dirty, depraved, and hilarious sketches from not only Philadelphia groups, but some of the visitors in town for Philly Sketch Fest. The Dirtiest Sketch competition has been a great night of Philadelphia comedy since it’s days at The Khyber, and this year was no different.
(A note from the author: By the time Luke reads this, he very well may be in a different time zone, embarking on a new chapter in his life. Luke Giordano has been extremely gracious towards me, inviting me onto “The Bully Pulpit”, letting me write and post on this very website, and being a terrific friend. I’m not sure why he encouraged me as much as he did, but I’m secretly glad for it. Without getting embarrassingly personal, I think there is more of what is “funny” inside of Luke than anyone – myself and Luke included – can comprehend yet, and I can’t wait to see how well he does out there. As a sign of thanks to Luke, I’d like to send him off the only way I know how… )
The following is a brief, fair and balanced run-down of what each comedian at the Trashing of Luke Giordano wore on July 5th, 2011 at the Shubin Theater:
Luke Giordano – Beige/light-brown jacket over a white dress-shirt all buttoned except the top two; lightly-worn blue jeans with a hole in the left pant leg; beige canvas shoes with white soles.
Brendan Kennedy – Black t-shirt under a black short-sleeve, button-down shirt (un-buttoned); light brown cargo shorts; Black shoes with black socks.
James Hesky – White dress-shirt with thin black stripes 1 shirt-pocket on the left; grey pants; black, grey and white sneakers
Mary Radzinski – Grey shirt under a black cloak that ended at the elbows, one button buttoned; blue jeans; golden flip-flops; black hair tie on the left wrist; 2 large silver rings – one on each hand.
Greg Maughan – blue and white checkered shirt, sleeves rolled up to the elbow, un tucked, with top two buttons unbuttoned; dark blue T-shirt underneath; blue jeans; grey, white and black running shoes; silver watch on left hand.
Pat Barker – Dark red polo with only the lowest button buttoned; blue jeans; black sneakers with white Michael Jordan logo.
Doogie Horner – Grey t-shirt; white boat shoes with no socks; long khaki pants.
JP Boudwin – Tan/Brown and white checkered shirt, un-tucked and with pearl buttons buttoned up excepting the top two; grey t-shirt underneath; black jeans; black/dark brown shoes.
Aaron Hertzog – Black and white checkered shirt with thin red and green lines rolled to the elbow’s 2 pockets; blue jeans; black canvas sneakers white soles and white laces.
Mike Rainey – Black polo untucked and unbuttoned; white t-shirt underneath; blue jeans; white/orange/black/grey running shoes.
Billy Bob Thompson – Dark blue t-shirt; grey/blackish jeans; black belt with a silver buckle; dark-brown/light-brown/white sneakers.
Christian Alsis – Black, grey and white short sleeved flannel with 2 shirt-pockets, black buttons, buttoned up excepting the top-most button; white t-shirt underneath; black pants; black and white Nike sneakers.
Rob Baniewicz – White dress-shirt, buttoned to the top, sleeves rolled to just below the elbow two length-wise seams on the front of the shirt; a yellow, white and green tie; dark blue jeans; blue/grey canvas shoes, white soles, no laces.
Roger C. Snair – Red, green, yellow checkered shirt; khaki shorts; black socks; black shoes with velcro straps; a camo hunting bush hat with draw string.
Thanks for everything Luke, best of luck.
This week at the Shubin Theater, Philly Improv Theater continues its two-week run of shows. PHIT has recently changed their schedule, shifting showtimes to 7:00, 8:30, and 10:00PM. You can check out their full schedule here.
Monday night open mic Comedy XChange has gone through a bit of a facelift, and will now be known as Comedy on the Corner. Not letting the closing of their venue, Bar Xchange, stop them from putting on a show, hosts Chris McGrail and Dan Vetrano have decided to go guerrilla and hold their open mic on the street, at the corner of 20th and Ludlow.
Tuesday night Philly will say good-bye to Luke Giordano, who is departing for Los Angeles, where he will continue his comedy career as a writer for the sitcom Two and a Half Men. Luke will not go quietly into the night, as he is being sent off with a “Trashing” [Facebook event] – which is similar to a roast, but from the mind of Brendan Kennedy.
Also this Tuesday The Bird Text Comedy Show will make its return to Helium Comedy Club. This week’s show will feature sets from Tom Cassidy, Alex Grubard, Mikey Gleason, and David James.
The Theme Show will make its debut at 10:00PM this Friday night at PHIT. Hosted by Rob Baniewicz, The Theme Show continues in the tradition of Gregg Gethard’s Bedtime Stories as a monthly variety show where all the acts are based around a common theme. This months theme is, fittingly, “The First Time.”
Submissions are currently open for the 7th annual Philadelphia Improv Festival, being held October 3rd – 9th, kicking off the second annual Comedy Month. Applications forms are available on their website, and the deadline to submit is Sunday, July 17th.
Auditions will be held this week for two Fringe Festival shows being produced by Philly Improv Theater. Twenty-four is a show that will unfold in real-time and is described as “a twenty-four minute window on the realistic relationship dynamics of six individuals.” Twenty-four is being directed by Steve Kleinedler and will hold auditions on Tuesday, July 5th and Saturday, July 9th. Dark Comedy is PHIT’s take on the famous Chicago format “The Bat” an improvised show that takes place completely in the dark. Dark Comedy is directed by Jason Grimley and will hold auditions on Sunday, July 10th.