Upcoming Shows

  • October 31, 2014 8:00 amNationally Touring Headline Comedians @ Helium
  • October 31, 2014 7:00 pmThe Comedy Works
  • October 31, 2014 8:00 pmThe N Crowd
  • October 31, 2014 8:00 pmCrazy Cow Comedy
  • October 31, 2014 8:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
  • October 31, 2014 9:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
  • November 1, 2014Nationally Touring Headline Comedians @ Heliun
  • November 1, 2014Nationally Touring Headline Comedians @ Helium
  • November 1, 2014 7:30 pmComedy Sportz Philadelphia
  • November 1, 2014 8:00 pmCrazy Cow Comedy
  • November 1, 2014 9:30 pmThe Comedy Works
  • November 1, 2014 10:00 pmComedy Sportz Philadelphia
  • November 1, 2014 10:30 pmImprov Comedy: PHIT House Teams
  • November 5, 2014 8:00 pmComedy Masters
  • November 6, 2014 8:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
  • November 6, 2014 9:00 pmThe Comedy Attic
  • November 7, 2014 8:00 amNationally Touring Headline Comedians @ Helium
  • November 7, 2014 7:00 pmThe Comedy Works
  • November 7, 2014 8:00 pmThe N Crowd
  • November 7, 2014 8:00 pmCrazy Cow Comedy
  • November 7, 2014 8:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
  • November 7, 2014 9:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
  • November 8, 2014Nationally Touring Headline Comedians @ Helium
  • November 8, 2014Nationally Touring Headline Comedians @ Heliun
  • November 8, 2014 7:30 pmComedy Sportz Philadelphia
AEC v1.0.4

Review: House Team Night – ZaoGao + Mayor Karen

By: Tony Narisi

The audience at Philly Improv Theater at the Shubin Theatre was treated to a great double-shot of local improv comedy Saturday night when two house teams kicked the evening off at 8:30.

First up was the six-person team of Mayor Karen. Basing their set off of the audience suggestion of Gandhi, the team started with some rapid-fire scenes. From a man deciding to stop abusing his wife after achieving inner peace to two men using “violent” protest methods to get a Dairy Queen re-opened, these scenes were short and sweet, with cuts coming in after only about three to five lines but still providing the audience with big laughs. As the form went on, the audience saw three recurring scenes being explored more in-depth—young Mother Theresa’s scandalous love affair with Jesus, people in eerie places surrounded by animals making extremely strange noises, and a little boy, Timmy, whose newly single father is trying to get him to clean his room and learn that actions have consequences. In their last scene, Timmy was executed while his father looked on hoping that he had learned his lesson. With this scene and many others throughout the night, Mayor Karen exhibited their skills in beat structure and stake-raising to the audience.

Next up was the five-person team of ZaoGao. Going with the audience suggestion of “penny coat,” the team performed an interesting form I’d never seen before, where characters remain on stage amidst the action the entire time, freezing in and out of movement as needed. As with Mayor Karen, they had good singular scenes, but their strongest moments came when they developed ideas through a number of scenes, as seen in the story of a woman who buys a house haunted by teen angst or Bad Luck Travis, the time-traveling explorer with a knack for destroying ancient relics. Possibly my favorite premise of the night was the one of Mr. and Mrs. Host. This couple is under the impression that their neighbors are constantly trying to see them having sex, while the neighbors actually have fake heads set up in the window, based on their thinking that the Hosts constantly want them to watch them having sex. With smooth transitions and good mental connections and references between scenes, ZaoGao put on a great twenty minutes of comedy that kept the laughs coming.

Philly Comedy Round-up, Vol. 33

Writer and comedian Ryan Carey posted this detailed ranking of 17 George Carlin albums on his blog. Carey gives each album two ratings, one based on laughs and one based on philosophy. 17 albums is a lot to dig through, but this type of stuff is right down Ryan’s alley.

Tonight at L’etage, the second monthly Camp Woods Plus will feature the namesake group plus Philly favorites Secret Pants as well as visitors from New York Skinny Bitch Jesus Meeting. Doors open at 8 and the show starts at 8:30. You can hear Camp Woods talk more about their comedy in last week’s inaugural episode of The Witout Dot Net Podcast.

Tomorrow at L’etage marks the return of improv showcase Polygon. This month’s show will feature sets from Gross Butler, Apocalips, Rintersplit, and Angry People Building Things. Doors open at 7:30 and the show starts at 8:00.

The lineups for the first annual NYC Improv Festival have been announced and several Philadelphia teams have made the cut. The festival, which will take place from March 21-24 will feature Philly groups Mayor Karen, King Friday, Asteroid, Hey Rube, and Iron Lung.

This Wednesday will mark the debut of the Philebrity Showcase, a free monthly evening of comedy and music, hand-selected by the Philebrity staff, at Fergie’s Pub. This month’s show will feature comedian Tommy Pope along with music from Ladies Auxiliary.

Philly Comedy Round-up, Vol. 32

Signups have already begun for the second annual March Madness Comedy Competition. Comedians will compete in opening rounds held at various open mics throughout the city where audience vote will determine who moves on to the next round. To sign up, send an email with your name, phone number, email address, and how long you have been performing stand-up to bobbyfinstock77@gmail.com.

Improvisers can throw their names in the hat for the 2012 Troika tournament. Nine teams of three performers will be chosen at random to form new trios and compete to be named champion. Interested performers can send their name, contact info, and names of groups they have performed with (one interesting twist, the teams will be made of people who have never performed together before) to troikashow@gmail.com.

City Paper’s weekly comedy column LOL With It featured this interview with comedian Alex Pearlman last week. Pearlman is hosting stand-up showcase Head First at The Dive (947 E. Passyunk Ave.) this Wednesday, January 25 at 9:00PM.

The North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival is rapidly approaching and Philadelphia will be sending some representatives from their stand-up and improv communities. The stand-up week (February 1-4) will feature Aaron Hertzog, Hillary Rea, Ian Fidance, Mary Radzinski, and Pete Kuempel. The improv week (February ) will feature local groups Death By Improv, King Friday, Mayor Karen, Nick & Nathan, Rookie Card, and The N Crowd.

Finally, this week marks the return of a full two-week schedule of shows at Philly Improv Theater. You can find their full schedule on the PHIT website and, as always, the shows are also listed on our calendar.

 

Ten Questions With…Becca Trabin

Becca Trabin is a stand-up comedian and improvisor living in Philadelphia. She is a member of Philly Improv Theater house team Mayor Karen and the host of Town Hall, a monthly show featured on The Sideshow.

How and why did you get into comedy? When I was about eight years old, I went on vacation to North Carolina with my extended family. We went to a huge, fancy seafood restaurant, about fifteen of us, and when the check came, the grown-ups were all a little taken aback. I said, “SOMEBODY’S gonna be doing dishes!!!” which is a joke I’d obviously heard on TV. Everyone lost it, and I was floored by the feeling that gave me. Later I realized they were laughing in part because, why would an 8-year-old say that? But I think that specific moment triggered something for me.

That’s the why. The how is that even though I was shy, I took a sketch-writing class at PHIT with Kevin Allison a few years ago, where you put together a show at the end, and performing in front of an audience immediately broke me out of my shell. I used to be so shy that I was afraid to call out a suggestion at improv shows. Seriously. Now I can’t get enough.

How would you describe your style as a comedian? What influences and factors do you think contribute to that? I feel like it’s kinda different every time and always growing. People have described my stuff as silly, cerebral, dark, weird, self-deprecating. I want it to be all of those things dynamically. I’ve definitely struggled in my life and have something to say, and am okay with making myself vulnerable to an audience.

Do you have a favorite show or venue you like to perform at? What about it makes it fun or special for you? Well Shubin shows feel like home. I also like the adventure of taking on new rooms and new stages. They’re fun in an exploration sort of way, while Shubin shows are fun the way having a party at home is fun, plus you don’t have to clean up afterwards. I’ve tried to clean the stage several times after messy shows involving confetti and iced tea and whatever, and was told to stop. So that’s nice.

Do you have a single favorite moment in Philly comedy or one that stands out? Not really. Lots of good times. Stuff I wouldn’t post online.

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? With stand-up, I usually come up with ideas accidentally when I’m hanging out with my friends or walking around, and then I flesh it out later. Many times, I’ve come up with the best parts of a bit right before I’m about to go up, because in my nervous energy I think of a great line or two.

What is it about stand-up / sketch / improv that draws you to it? I do mostly improv and stand-up, and I’m drawn to them over other kinds of comedy because you can get your idea out there without much rigmarole. Stand-up and improv counterbalance each other for me. With stand-up I have to be egotistical and with improv I have to let go again and become a small part of a whole.  It’s therapeutic and cathartic and keeps me feeling happy. Improv and yoga are proactive measures against mental or physical unrest for me, and they help me stay centered and present.

Do you have any favorite performers in the Philly scene? Why are they your favorites? Yeah, and they know who they are. I love watching comedy that’s grounded and honest and makes no apologies. I continually love watching performers highlight these small details of human behavior that I hadn’t consciously noticed before.

Do you have any bad experiences doing comedy that you can share? A particularly bad bombing or even an entire show gone haywire? I did a set a year ago at a gay variety show at a nightclub. I had to follow a larger-than-life drag queen who wore foot-tall platforms and a foot-tall wig and sang and danced and was delightfully hysterical. I wasn’t confident, and I pretended not to mind somebody heckling me, and I bombed really hard. Jess Carpenter bought me a drink afterwards and then I walked across town to do an improv show, and I cried for a minute in the bathroom and thanked god for improv. My team was like, “Let’s do your favorite warm-ups!”

What do you think the Philly comedy scene needs to continue to grow? I think one of us should just ask Tina Fey very nicely to make a donation for a permanent space for PHIT. Right? We need to shoot more videos and put more content online, and branch out to work with other venues and arts organizations. Gain more allies, to borrow activist parlance. We have to take fundraising more seriously and get better at it. Some improvisors are already generating ideas to get diversity programs started, so that, among other things, it’s not just white kids who get to do improv in Philadelphia. I’m sure other folks would like it too. Improv is weirdly white. Stand-up is just weirdly male. Anyway. We need a popcorn machine.

Do you have any personal goals for the future as you continue to perform comedy? I want to do more stand-up in character, more stand-up in general, put together some shows, keep an updated website, do projects with my favorite people and continue to grow and open up and have fun.