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.
This Tuesday Rittenhouse Comedy at Noche will put on its final open mic at the Chestnut Street bar. The night will be a celebration and a good-bye to the Tuesday night stage stand-ups have been testing out material on for the past two years.
This Thursday, Philly Improv Theater will host the return of Bing Supernova’s Cavalcade of Fools, a stand-up comedy showcase hosted by the legendary comedian himself. This time around Bing will share the stage with guests Brendan Kennedy, Juliet Hope Wayne and Mike Rainey, with more surprise special guests promised.
The First Ladies of Comedy Fundraiser will take place this Friday at PHIT. The show will feature jokes performed by the significant others of some of Philly’s best comedians. All proceeds will go to Angel 34, a charity set up by Michelle Somishka, whose 2-year-old daughter Aubrey recently passed away from neuroblastoma. The show will be hosted by Mary Radzinski and jokes will be performed by Jaime Mulhern (Mike Rainey), Timaree Leigh (Carl Bocutti), Shannon Brown (Brendan Kennedy), MaryJo Butterly (Tim Butterly), Kim Broadbent (Chip Chantry), Lorraine Dean (Darryl Charles), Dennis Nguyen (Steve Miller-Miller) and Samantha Russell Craig (Fastball Pitcher Bob Gutierrez).
This Saturday, Rookie Card at The Raven Lounge will return with a show featuring stand-up comedian Brandon “Ketchup” Wilson, opening improv group The Self-Esteem Motivators, and Rookie Card will headline with a set inspired by Edgar Allan Poe. Rookie Card will also be saying goodbye to founding member Jake Alvarez, as it will be his last performance with the group.
Chip Chantry has one of the most impressive resumes of any Philadelphia comedian. He tours the country as a feature act, has been a finalist in Helium Comedy Club’s Philly’s Phunniest Person Contest every year, and won last year’s Best Stand-Up Comedian at our very own Witout Awards for Philadelphia Comedy. Now he, along with Mary Radzinski, plans to share some of their knowledge about the art of stand-up comedy by teaching a class at Philly Improv Theater. We asked Chip some questions about his class, and what he plans to share with his students.
WITOUT:It may be a little known fact that your comedy career got started with help from a comedy class, do you hope to create some future Chip Chantrys with your class (and what, in your own opinion, would that mean)?
CHIP CHANTRY: Yes, it did. And it may be a little known fact that your full name is Aaron Gregory Jamiroquai Hertzog. But no. The world does not need any more Chip Chantrys- insecure, yet totally lovable and sexy comedians.
WO:There are some that say “funny can’t be taught”. Do you agree with this statement? If so, what are you going to teach in your class?
CC: Absolutely. Being funny (on purpose) is something that I feel you either have or you don’t. I’m just trying to help people hone the craft of stand up comedy. But I can’t MAKE someone funny. I can just give them some tools and encouragement. And people generally get out of a class what they put into it. Some aspire to be famous comedians and writers. Others might take the class for fun, or to conquer a fear of public speaking. To put it in terms that you would relate to, Aaron, it’s like teaching the craft of crocheting, or pottery. I’m never going to be great at those things, because I have the fine motor skills of a frightened goat. But I can learn some of the ins and outs and have some fun with it.
WO:How do you think your experience as an elementary school teacher will help you with teaching fresh-faced, hopeful, stand-up comedians?
CC: The classroom has given me some patience. It’s also taught me to break more complicated concepts down into simpler terms, and convey them in a more basic way at first, and then build up to the complicated mess of stand up comedy.
WO: Say some nice things about your co-teacher, Mary Radzinski? How do you plan on splitting up your teaching duties? Good cop/bad copy style, perhaps? Which one of you is which?
CC: Mary is one of my favorite comedy writers in this here town. Her joke crafting (as seen onstage and on the twitters) have a word economy and voice that are top-notch. Her tweets are like jazz. But, like, not the shitty kind of jazz that everyone’s mom has programmed on station #5 in her 2006 Hyundai Sonata. But we are splitting it down the middle. We are each trying to be good cops. I was thinking more Good Cop/Hot Cop, because I just bought myself a new pair of break-away pants.
WO: What have you learned in your years as a stand-up that you hope to share with your students? Are there some things you think it would be better for them to learn on their own through experience?
CC: I think I’ve learned just as much what NOT to do, than what to do. So hopefully I can help people avoid pitfalls, and take the right steps on their path… to GREATNESS. But, you also have to fail sometimes to learn, so some lessons can’t be taught by me. They’ll have to learn them on their own.
WO: Can you give some free stand-up advice here as a teaser for those on the fence about taking your class?
CC: Yes. BABY STEPS. I still tell myself this to this day. Write five minutes of new material. Try it out at an open mic. If everything bombs, except for ONE joke, you have succeeded. Do the same thing the next week. If everything bombs except for ONE joke? Great! Now you have TWO jokes. BABY STEPS.
I’m full of this crap, Aaron.
All through the month of October, Philly Improv Theater House Team Asteroid will present their B Movie format – an improvised tribute show celebrating the fun of the low-budget sci-fi/horror films from the Golden Age of Hollywood. The group has released this second teaser video for their shows.
The line-up for the November 1st Camp Woods Plus has been announced and it is a must see for fans of Philadelphia sketch comedy. Joining Camp Woods on stage at L’etage (624 S. 6th St. Philadelphia) will be Philadelphia’s longest running consistently active sketch group Secret Pants as well as the return of Meg & Rob for their first show together since Meg Favreau moved to Los Angeles last year.
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?
1. Don’t date someone in your improv group.
2. Don’t date someone in your improv group.
3. Don’t date someone in your improv group.
4. Don’t date someone in your improv group.
5. Don’t date someone in your improv group.
6. Don’t date someone in your improv group.
7. If you are considering dating someone in your improv group and you are both straight but of the opposite sex, consider talking yourself into having gender reassignment surgery. If that doesn’t work, convince the person you are interested in to undergo the sex change. This approach also works for homosexual improv group members who are both of the same gender at the beginning of the attraction.
8. Don’t date someone in your improv group.
All through the month of October, Philly Improv Theater House Team Asteroid will present their B Movie format – an improvised tribute show celebrating the fun of the low-budget sci-fi/horror films from the Golden Age of Hollywood. The group has released this teaser video for their shows.
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).
I felt compelled to write in to WitOut to share my feelings. I like to write, and I have a lot of feelings. Lately, a lot of my good feelings have been happening on Wednesday nights, when my Philly Improv Theater house team Davenger rehearses.
I recently moved to Brooklyn because my husband got a fancy new job there. But because of my feelings, I just couldn’t leave this group of people or give up the incredible experience of learning and performing with them. Here’s what keeps me coming back on a crowded Megabus, and what we will strive to share with you during our Fringe Festival run:
1. Our good friend Harold. A few years ago, I wouldn’t have thought that I’d be seeing the word “classic” cropping up next to this long form structure. Well-known in the improv community, the Harold has a long history stretching back to its development by Del Close in the 1960s, but it still felt revolutionary to me when I was first introduced to it in 2006. I feel like it is an excellent vehicle for a team to develop its skills and craft a cohesive performance, and I am really happy that Davenger has chosen to explore the Harold’s challenges and satisfactions. Our director Maggy Keegan has an excellent eye for both the macro and micro levels of attention that the Harold demands, and she encourages us to reflect on our work not only as collected bits of comedy but also as thematically-linked commentary. She also likes when we make creepy faces.
2. Chemistry. (You know, like on Breaking Bad.) Another thing Maggy’s done for Davenger (every time I drop her name I get to take the suggestion for another show) is really focus on the unique strengths of each individual on the team. We’ve done two rounds of “clinics” in rehearsal, where we’ll spend 15 minutes or so working with one particular improviser on something he or she has identified as a personal challenge. I love this. It’s really liberating to get to proclaim, “I think I’m bad at this!” and to have the group say, “We’ve got your back. Let’s play about it!” Maggy (+3) has created a really supportive space that encourages a lot of feedback. Usually that feedback is – “Fuck you, Dan.” This is a big compliment.
3. The Warm-Up. You won’t actually see it at a Davenger show, but somewhere, probably in the basement beneath your seats as you settle in with a PBR, it is happening. A manic, incomprehensible goulash of circle games is devolving into bits, and patterns are becoming infected with patterns in an ever-repeating comedy fractal. Ok, so basically we point at each other and clap our hands at the same time. But you can expect it to sound something like this:
Just know that everything you see on stage is informed by this ritual. Sometimes there are Stallone impressions.
4. Memes. Because Davenger is a thing, that means it needs a “social media presence.” That means that I have an outlet to create and share pictures with words over top of them. Here’s one that Alex made:
5. Cupcakes & Nicknames. At our first rehearsal, we selected nicknames for one of the circle games in our warmup. It looks like we’ll have them forever. We also really like cupcakes. Cait made these cherry limeade beauties for our potluck team dinner:
And Jess made these nickname-cakes back when we were still codenamed “Westmarch”:
Anyway. Be jealous of our cupcakes.
I seriously love improvising with Davenger, and I want to share them with the world. But not the cupcakes. I won’t share those.
Davenger is: Dan Corkery, Hilary Kissinger, Nicholas Mirra, Alex Newman, Cait O’Driscoll, Kevin Pettit, Brian Rumble, Jessica Snow, and Max Sittenfield. They are directed by Maggy Keegan.
Davenger performs Wednesday, September 12 – Saturday, September 15 on the Mainstage at the Adrienne Theater (2030 Sansom St.) Tickets can be purchased online.