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.
Hot Dish will perform “Backstory” at the Philly Fringe Festival using a form that not many improv fans have ever seen. They will create a completely improvised show that unfolds backwards in time, similar to the movie Memento. A single story is told in about forty five minutes that begins with the curtain call and ends with the opening suggestion, similar to a backwards one-act play. “Backstory” will be a unique experience for audiences and performers alike.
Director Steve Kleinedler says, “This show will be unlike anything the audience has seen before. What really makes it interesting is seeing how the actors are able to manage telling the story backwards.” Steve calls this approach “mind-blowing” because of the associated difficulty level. Since it is hard to pull off, not many shows use this format. Cast member Jim Burns confesses that he has never seen a show like this nor has he himself performed this way. He says, “In prepping for this show we have to reorient our appreciation of time and augment our understanding of basic language concepts to follow our director. The brain begins working in ways it hadn’t before. It’s exciting and daunting and perplexing and fantastic all at once.”
So where did such an idea come from? Steve says he originally conceived the idea about eight years ago while directing at Improv Boston and thought it was very interesting. He showed the cast members a short clip of how he previously directed this form and they were intrigued. Jim labeled Steve as a “fearless director” for his determination to pull this off.
Not only are cast members excited to see how audiences respond to their show, they are also eager to see how they as performers respond to this form of improv. This style will certainly keep these improvisers on their toes. Steve reminds the cast that this sort of form demands rehearsals in order to deliver a smooth performance. While Hot Dish is focusing right now on their performance at the Fringe, they think it would be cool to use this format for future shows.
Backstory plays Wednesday, September 19 – Saturday, September 22 on the Mainstage at the Adrienne Theater (2030 Sansom St.) Tickets can be purchased online.
Last night, the seventh annual Philly’s Phunniest Person Contest continued at Helium Comedy Club with Jim Grammond, Jim Ginty, and Andy Hudak moving on to the semi-finals. The competition continues Sunday, August 12 and Monday, August 13 with the semi-final rounds being held on Sunday, August 19 and Tuesday, August 21.
Also tonight, Free Improv at Connie’s Ric Rac celebrates its one year anniversary with a show featuring Deleted Scenes, Bad James, Cock Hat, Sleep Walking, Kait and Andrew, Medic, The Amie and Kristen Show. Doors open at 8 and the show starts at 9.
This Wednesday, Accidents Will Happen returns to Adobe Cafe for a night of comedy featuring Alex Pearlman, Darryl Charles, Jenn Tisdale, Joe Murdock, Mariya Alexander, with sketches by ManiPedi, and story from Guy Guy. As always, an open mic follows the show at 11pm.
PHIT will be holding open-call auditions in search of actors for our Fringe Sketch Revue on Thursday, August 9th, 2012 from 7:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m.. Auditions will be held at the PHIT Offices, 1616 Walnut Street, Suite 1800, Philadelphia, PA 19103.
Auditioners do not need to have prior improv, sketch or even acting experience (although none of these things will hurt!), and auditioners who have taken classes at PHIT will not be given special preference over those who have studied elsewhere, although we will have had more time to see you perform which may help.
Actors in the Fringe Sketch Revue will need to be available for rehearsals twice a week in August and the first week of September, as well as the run of shows each evening from Monday, September 10th through Friday, September 15th. Actors will be expected to learn their lines outside of rehearsal. We are also looking for a few skills, if you have them:
Ability to sing confidently (please note, you do not have to sing well… just be willing to sing).
Guitar playing, specifically someone who can play something like this.
Actors who can do German accents.
Someone who can walk on stilts, with extra points if you own stilts.
You must be available for the audition times to be considered. No other audition times are available. You must be available for the performance dates and not be out of town for any rehearsals to be cast.
HOW TO SIGN UP FOR AN AUDITION:
Sign-ups begin immediately. To secure an audition time please email your name, phone number, and a preferred time (if any) to email@example.com. If you possess any of the special skills listed above please also mention that fact in your audition request!
You will receive a confirmation message within two (2) business days – for example, if you contact us on Monday you’ll hear from us by Wednesday, or if you contact us on Friday, you’ll hear from us by the following Tuesday). At the time you are sent your audition confirmation you will also receive a packet of brief sketch excerpts from the show that we will ask you to read from (off-book if possible, though this is NOT required) during your audition slot.
We will accept sign-ups until no audition times remain. All specific audition times are first-come-first-served. There are no alternate times. If you are not available for these audition dates and times, please do not email or call to ask for an exception – you simply will not be able to audition. If you are interested in auditioning, you must sign-up for one of our announced timeslots.
On the day of the audition…
PLEASE ARRIVE AT LEAST FIFTEEN (15) MINUTES PRIOR TO YOUR SCHEDULED AUDITION TIME. There will be a short questionnaire for you to complete prior to your scheduled audition time. Auditioners should wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Resumes are not required but will gladly be accepted. Please bring a headshot with you (if you don’t have headshots, a recent snapshot is fine).
Auditioners will be seen individually for 10-15 minutes each. You will be seen by some of the writers for the show as well as the director or head writer. Each auditioner will have 3 minutes at the top of the audition to do anything they would like. (This could be delivering a monologue, offering the writers a briefcase full of money, or something like this guy). After this you’ll read/perform some of the material that was sent to you in advance along with a writer from the show. We may also ask you to demonstrate one of the special skills we are looking for if you indicated you posessed one of them – we will let you know in advance if we are going to ask you to do this so you can bring anything that you may need (i.e. a guitar).
Will be made immediately after auditions end. You should hear from us about your status within 48 hours of your audition time. Everyone who auditions will receive a reply letting them know whether or not they have been cast.
Still have questions?
Send us an email (get our email address from the contact page of the site or the paragraphs above).
A packed house crowded into the Philly Improv Theater at the Shubin Theatre on Wednesday night for the most recent installment of Reasonable Discourse with Jerks. Host Jim Grammond took the stage and introduced the audience to the panel for the night, Philly’s popular sketch group Camp Woods, minus member Madonna Refugia.
For the next hour, this panel generated some very entertaining conversation, filled with jabs at each other, themselves, and just about anything even remotely related to any of the topics covered. And they covered many topics, ranging from the Faces of Death film franchise to childhood bullying and 9/11 conspiracies.
One of the funniest discussions of the night followed Grammond showing an Oreo filled with rainbow colored cream and explaining that people who are not supportive of the gay lifestyle are in outrage over this advertisement and threatening to boycott. From Brendan Kennedy’s image of a fat bigot giving in to temptation and eating an E.L. Fudge cookie of two elves fellating each other to various members’ outrage over the fact that the rainbow cookie doesn’t actually exist for consumption, the discussion was wrapped up neatly by Rob Baniewicz’s question, “Who gives a shit if a cookie’s political?”
One of the best aspects of the night was the chemistry not only between the members of Camp Woods, but also between them and Grammond. This was exemplified when Grammond raised the question, “What foods will you not eat?” and began going around the table one by one to get answers. However, as expected with such a lively panel, the order was quickly abandoned. Actually, it was abandoned as soon as JP Boudwin offered up the first answer: “Pass.” The conversation then turned to how Camp Woods would eat anything, from Boudwin and Kennedy’s recent dinnertime breakfast pizza topped with gyro meat to Billy Bob Thompson eating cake out of a used motor oil can. Even when the conversation was brought back to its original question, the members provided their usual absurdity and quirkiness, with Patrick Foy stating that Qdoba is better than Chipotle because the onions are easier to pick out of the pico de gallo and Sam Narisi announcing that he’ll still eat one, but he’s “never really been happy to see a baked potato.”
Other highlights included a recurring theme of hipsters prompted by Grammond’s experience with a conspiracy theorist referring to “mainstream” archaeology, Thompson’s ignoring the racist implications of a McDonald’s advertisement due to his disturbance by the fact that everyone was holding food and none of it had bites out of it, and Kennedy’s impression of a racist Elmo trying to make it in show business.
Last night, the seventh annual Philly’s Phunniest Person Contest continued at Helium Comedy Club with Pat Barker, Carolyn Busa, and Tim Butterly moving on to the semi-finals. The competition continues Monday, July 8 and the opening round continues on Sunday and Monday nights until August 13 (full schedule here).
The lineup and date for the next Camp Woods Plus has been announced. Joining Camp Woods on stage at L’etage on Wednesday, July 25 will be New York sketch group Listen, Kid!, and the show will also mark the debut of a full set from new Philadelphia sketch group Tap City (Aaron Hertzog and Luke Field).
This Saturday, Urban Saloon will host the Laughs on Fairmount Showcase the weekend partner to the weekly open mic from Mary Radzinski and Carolyn Busa. This weekend’s show will feature comedy from Blythe Wimbush, Alejandro Morales, Alex Grubard, James Hesky, and John McKeever. Doors open at 7:30 and the show starts at 8:00.
The Philly Improv Theater at the Shubin Theatre saw the last installment of the Rant-O-Wheel this Monday night. As the night got started, host Jaime Fountaine filled the wheel up with ten nouns shouted out by the audience and began bringing the finest Rant-o-wheelers in Philadelphia onstage to tell a story, real or made-up, in five minutes or less using three of these words.
First up was the pair of Darryl Charles and Sue Taney, tackling six words instead of three. Using “creamed corn,” “tortellini,” “Steve Buscemi,” “Jersey Shore,” “Skittles,” and “sabotage,” Darryl and Sue told the story of a boy who began an anti-Willy Wonka campaign. Jaime played the role of conductor and had some sadistic fun that really upped the laughs, switching the narrator every word at times or pointing to both of them and forcing them to speak in unison.
Next up was Tom Whitaker, who used “rain dance,” “lava lamp,” and “candle” to deliver a superb monologue, in the form of a video message to a recent ex, lamenting the fact that he’ll never find real love in the City of Brotherly Love. Perhaps most remarkable was his delivery, which consisted of a believable and consistently straight face and a stare into the distance, addressing his ex as “you” the entire time.
Following Tom was Larry Napolitano, who quickly breezed through his words of “donkey lips,” “nothing,” and “Dustin Hoffman” in a rant about how he is miserable regarding his aging to get to what was apparently on his mind all along—a hilarious tirade against Ferris Bueller that eventually ended in the murder and defiling of his corpse on his father’s broken car.
Next up was Hillary Rea who used “swing,” “guffaw,” and “side boob” to recount her childhood fears and embarrassments, which included earthworms being thrown at her and a perpetual fear of boys seeing her incorrectly worn Days of the Week underwear. While hearing her memories, the audience couldn’t help but laugh along with Hillary as they remembered their own rough patches in childhood.
Cara Schmidt came next, using “band,” “Jellies,” and “Aquanet” to reveal one of her deepest darkest secrets to the audience—she’s not that good at driving, as evidenced by her twelve cars in seven years. Throughout her monologue, the audience got a very funny peek into the mind of sixteen-year-old Cara and her six attempts at the driving exam, including her various attempts to sway (or bribe) the system.
Finally, Jaime herself finished the rest of the words on the wheel, using “vagrant,” “chicken soup,” “artichoke,” “yellow,” “burp,” and “Rain Man” to tell the story of Rant-o-wheel itself, in a final monologue that was both heartwarming and laugh-inducing. She then ended the show by saying that Rant-o-wheel isn’t dead, it’s just going into hibernation. So if and when the Rant-o-wheel comes out of its slumber, do yourself and these performers a favor and make sure to check it out and support some great local comics telling some very funny stories.
Last night, the seventh annual Philly’s Phunniest Person Contest kicked off at Helium Comedy Club. This year, over 150 comedians will compete in 11 preliminary rounds for the chance to move on to the semi-finals, and eventually the finals, where one will be named Philly’s “Phunniest”. Last night, James Hesky, Omar Scruggs, and Vince Patterson moved on to the next round. The competition continues next Monday, June 11 and the opening round continues on Sunday and Monday nights until August 13 (full schedule here).
This weekend marked the debut of two new Philly Improv Theater House Teams. Davenger (formerly Codename Westmarch) and Hot Dish (formerly Codename Strider) took the stage with UCB team Surfing Friday night to two sold out shows and returned to packed housed at PHIT again on Saturday night. If you missed it, you can read the two new teams introduce themselves to the world through Witout here (Davenger) and here (Hot Dish).
This weekend Philly Improv Theater will host the third annual Duofest, a celebration of improv duos from across the country. Shows start Thursday night and continue through until Sunday. Improv workshops taught by Jill Bernard, Joe Bill, Rachel & Dave, and Twinprov are also being held. Also – be on the lookout for more Duofest Interviews this week, here on Witout.
The lineup and date for the next Camp Woods Plus at L’etage (6th and Bainbridge) has been announced. Their next monthly show will be Wednesday, June 13th at 8:00PM and will feature brand new sketches from Camp Woods as well as guests The New Dreamz and Angel Yau.
Friday, June 15th, Mani Pedi will host their second ManiParty, this time at Connie’s Ric Rac (1132 S. 9th St.) Mani Pedi will welcome guests Carolyn Busa and American Breakfast. Doors for the event open at 8:00PM and the show begins at 9, with a dance party following the comedy. Tickets for ManiParty are $10 and include free ice cream.