WitOut: How would you describe Secret Pants for someone who’s never seen one of your shows before?
Paul Triggiani: I would describe one of our shows as “TV sketch comedy on a stage.” We (both as individuals and as a group) come from a film and video background, so when we’re putting together a live show, we approach it the way you would sketch comedy for live (or live-to-tape) television. We try to replicate the TV experience live, even if it means building a seemingly unnecessary set piece or painting ourselves black and white. We have a lot of fun with it, and if we do it well, it can be pretty magical.
WO: Can you give a brief history of your annual Christmas show?
PT: We brought our previous variety/sketch show, Welcome to the Terrordome, to Johnny Brenda’s in 2009. We had a couple of successful shows there, and that led to Johnny Brenda’s offering us a slot a couple days before Christmas (which I guess had been historically difficult to bring in an audience for). We all agreed at the time that we might be committing event suicide, but we took on the challenge and put up our first all-Christmas show, Nobody Ever Dies on Christmas (Except Toshiro Mifune), on December 23rd, 2010. We got a good crowd that year, and more importantly, people drank a lot, so Johnny Brenda’s asked us back again. Honestly, it’s just the absolute worst time of year to put together a show, but as long as people keep showing up and Johnny Brenda’s keeps asking us, we’ll probably keep doing it. Until we finally decide to give up this silly, expensive passion project.
WO: What are you most excited about for this Sunday’s A Banner Year at the Ol’ Bender Household? (Alternatively, you can also just name everything that excites you about it.)
PT: It’s hard to name something we aren’t excited for. For starters, we’re all pretty jazzed about our set. It’s very different from any set we’ve ever done; it’s a bit of an experiment and we hope the experiment is a success. We love and respect all of the groups that are on the show— and it’s up to like, seven now—and we wish we could come and just watch instead of being in charge (sorta). We pride ourselves on putting together a show that more than delivers for the price, and we honestly don’t think that you can get more entertainment and fun for $10 anywhere else, ever. Also, PS, Mad Elf on draft.
This year’s Secret Pants Christmas show, ‘A Banner Year at the Ol’ Bender House’, is THIS SUNDAY, December 23rd at 9pm at Johnny Brenda’s (1201 N. Frankford Avenue). The show will be hosted by comedian Chip Chantry, and will also feature sketch groups Camp Woods, ManiPedi and Specific Jawns; a burlesque showcase with Randi Warhol; music from Emily and Micah McGraw. Admission is $10.
On Tuesday A Bunch of Improv at The Grape Room (105 Grape St.) returns with a show featuring improv from Nielsen, No Wait, Matt&, and Cock Hat and will be hosted by Rob Gentile. Doors open at 8pm with the show starting at 8:20.
This Friday The Arts Parlor (1170 S. Broad St.) will host The Sideshow: Short Attention Span Theater. The show will feature shorter acts (no longer than 15 minutes) and will hosts a mix of magic, stand-up, improv, sketch, storytelling, music, and more.
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 email@example.com!
The Feeko Brothers – Two Doctors
The opening to Crotch the Throne, one of my favorite shows of the year, Two Doctors is an amazing sketch both in premise and execution. Watching the Feeko Brothers (Billy Bob Thompson and Christian Alsis) say the exact same thing at the exact same time (and discover that they say the exact same thing at the exact same time at the exact same time, and discover that they discover…you get it) for an entire sketch is pure joy. The two doctors ask each other fantastically detailed questions to find out how similar they actually are, and their answers are as unexpected as they are hilarious (“I don’t drive. It’s dangerous. I power walk everywhere.”) The sketch reaches its peak as the two sing together and try to harmonize their “all time favorite, trapped on a desert island forever with it” song; The Weight by The Band.
Camp Woods – Imposters
I think it’s pretty safe to say that Camp Woods created more comedy in Philadelphia than anyone else in the past year. They challenged themselves with a monthly show at L’etage at which they promised a brand new set every month, and they more than met their goals. With that much material created I could have done a list of just my Top Five Favorite Camp Woods sketches from 2012 – but I think I talk about them enough. Imposters was a great sketch about a mother (played by Billy Bob Thompson) who throws an 18th birthday party for her daughter (Madonna Marie Refugia) and hires an Austin Powers impersonator (Pat Foy) as entertainment. The sad man slowly realizes exactly how sad his life is as he tries to hit on the girl every time her mom leaves the room to get the cake (which she keeps forgetting because she’s “fucking stupid”). He finally realizes he is living his life in the past, as all of his choices in life have lead him to his fate as a “true impersonation” of the swingin’ sixties spy character. Depressing, but hilarious.
Camp Woods – Mystery Science Andre 3000
This sketch made its debut at The Theme Show. I’ll let it speak for itself.
Secret Pants really kept peeling back the layers on this onion-of-a-sketch they performed at November’s Camp Woods Plus. The concept involved the Secret Pants of today travelling back into time to Meg and Rob’s Last Show to inform the Secret Pants of that day that it would not, in fact, be Meg and Rob’s last show. More visits from more versions of Secret Pants from more distant futures created a hilarious rapid fire back-and-forth between all of the groups that eventually lead to the discovery that even though Meg and Rob would not be gone forever Bryce would have to cry like they would, because the fate of all humanity depended on it. Thank you, Bryce, and thank you, Secret Pants.
ManiPedi – Suicide Gary
Suicide Gary is ManiPedi’s cautionary tale of a man (Briana Kelly) who, after failing to commit suicide, is left to hang under the bridge where he tried to end his life as a lesson for teens that life is worth living. It’s like an “it get’s better” campaign, only nothing ever does. A teacher (Aubrie Williams) leads a group of students (Kaitlyn Thompson, Shannon Brown, Madonna Marie Refugia) to learn from Gary and ask him questions like “does it hurt” (it does) and “how do you eat” (sometimes a bird flies near his mouth). One of the more morbid students becomes infatuated with Gary’s situation while another antagonizes and bullies him into trying to once again live up to his nickname. Neck-snappingly funny.
In case you missed it, sketch group ManiPedi was featured as the cover story for last week’s Philadelphia Weekly. Pick up a copy while they are still in newsstands around the city and read the article online.
The next Camp Woods Plus at L’etage (624 S. 6th St.) will be next Thursday, December 6th and will feature sketch comedy from New York group We’re Matt Weir as well as Philly groups Daring Daulton and American Breakfast. As always, the show will be headlined with a set of brand new sketches by Camp Woods.
Oh hi, everyone! It’s me, Andrea! You probably haven’t seen me much lately because, well, I haven’t been to many shows, nor have I been standing awkwardly outside of the Shubin hoping to tell you how great you are. (Trust me, I STILL think you are the bee’s knees!) But here’s what I am here telling you. Don’t give up on your dreams.
Here are 4 ways to keep your budding comedy writing career blossoming after, you know, you’ve got important diapers to change:
1. Work-share options: And by this I mean, share your work! Get an amazingly funny and responsible sketch partner! Make her learn all the hard lines so you don’t have to. Bonus points if she’s toddler-friendly, and also can tolerate your unique quirks! (Like, for example, losing your costumes the day before your show. How were you supposed to know they looked exactly like your “donate immediately” pile?)
2. Flexible Scheduling: Ok, if you are lucky enough to have the option to be Stay At Home, as we say in the business – you’re in luck! You no doubt have a short roster of creative un/under-employeed folks to keep you company at the playground. Pitch these people your ideas, and take advantage of their after-dusk freedoms! This is how you find out what’s really happening in Comedy World, when you are home wrestling certain people into a slumber.
3. Affordable Child Care: What’s that? You are shooting a video and your only trustworthy babysitter has bailed? No problem! Your pride-and-joy is now in your sketch. Rejoice. Your YouTube videos now stand a chance at getting tens of viewers.
4. Utilize your audience: Lastly, don’t forget that being a family-person means you have a built-in audience. What more could a budding comedian ask for? Tell them your jokes, recite your hilarious monologues, polish your stand-up routine! Chances are, your family could ignore you completely, and go right on loading Elmo into the dishwasher. But you should get used to that kind of thing. After all, you want to be a comedy writer right? Silent rejection is just part of the territory.
This Tuesday, Comedy Dreamz at The Barbary (951 Frankford Ave.) returns for a night of comedy featuring Body Dreamz, Chris Cotton, Malwina, ManiPedi, Sharkee Katz, Bradley Beck, Nercorsexual, Joe Bell and more. With videos from Joe Stakun, Jared Dyer, and Down the Show. Doors open at 9, show starts at 10.
Myq Kaplan returns to Philadelphia this Wednesday to headline one night at Helium Comedy Club. Kaplan has appeared on The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien and has since gone on to appear on The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson and in his own half-hour Comedy Central Presents... Tickets can be purchased online.
Tickets are still available to see Jim Norton at Helium on Thursday and Sunday night. Friday and Saturday shows are sold out. The comedian is known as the “third mic” on The Opie and Anthony Show as well as from his own HBO specials One Night Stand, Monster Rain, Lucky Louie, and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
ManiPedi is debuting a new show this week at Philly Improv Theater. The sketch group will perform on Thursday and Friday night at 8:30 at PHIT (407 Bainbridge Street), with American Breakfast joining them on the first night and Local Holiday Miracle on the second. Next week they’ll be at it again with a second show, No More Wire Wangers (a remix of old sketches in preparation for their submission to Spank’d at UCB) on Thursday (7:30) and Friday (8:30). Tickets can be purchased online.
Philly Improv Theater will be holding open-call auditions in search of actors for their next Sketch Revue—written by PHIT Sketch Team Codename RZA—on Saturday, November 3rd, 2012 from 3:00 pm until 6:00 pm. Sign-ups begin immediately. To secure an audition time please email your name, phone number, and a preferred time (if any) to firstname.lastname@example.org. More information can be found online.