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The Feeko Brothers combined all of the Yasmine Bleeth interludes from their 2012 Philly Sketchfest show into one video for easy enjoyment. Here it is!
If you are a Philadelphia comedy performer that produces a podcast, web series, sketch video, humor column, or any other online content let us know by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can share it!
If you didn’t know ahead of time, you wouldn’t guess that The Clay & Calhoun Sketch Comedierie’s first show was Monday night. Despite tech problems that plagued each of the night’s performances, Clay & Calhoun put on 15 minutes of tight, well-acted sketches and videos that featured faces familiar to anyone who follows comedy in Philadelphia. Perhaps that’s because the man behind the outfit, Vincent DiCostanzo, isn’t new to Philly comedy. He’s been part of the city’s sketch scene since 2003, and in addition to Clay & Calhoun, he’s one of the writers for Philadelphia Improv Theater’s house sketch team, The Flat Earth.
Vincent led the night with a sketch that tested the limits of an NPR presenter’s willingness to stay true to the source material during banned book week. Awkward moments continued through sketches that touched on dating, the news and birthdays, before the set wrapped with Secret Pants’ Paul Triggiani on stage to help with a new take on the bit made famous by Abbot and Costello, “Who’s on First?”
I spoke to Vincent after the show and then again on Tuesday.
Peter Rambo: How do you think the debut went?
Vincent DiCostanzo: I think, all in all, the show went well. There were some tech set-backs, but you have to accept that some things are out of your control. I jokingly told Hillary [Rea] downstairs that “my set is 90% awkward silence—so the crowd will be nice and warmed up for ya.” I didn’t realize how accurate I would be. One GOOD thing, though: There was an outro and a credit sequence set to play after “Huckleberry Finn,” then I added “Happy Birthday” at the last minute to pad for time and give myself time to change clothes. The tech skipped the credits and jumped right to “Happy Birthday,” so it’s a good thing I took my shirt off before my pants or the next sketch would have been very awkward, or—awkwarder.
PR: What kind of prior sketch experience do you have?
VD: I started doing sketch comedy back in 2003—or thereabouts—with a group called SKITSoid. It started as part of the Fringe Festival and there were only a handful of shows after that, and I didn’t start writing until late in the game. As SKITSoid wound down, I started writing and producing my own work as part of The Gentlemen’s Rotary Auxiliary.
PR: And how long have you been working on Clay & Calhoun?
VD: Clay & Calhoun started making its way into my brain just over a year ago. I had a stack of sketches left over after the Gent’s Rotary’s demise and ideas just kept populating in my brain. I kept going to shows and really missed making comedy. I jumped at the chance to write for a PHIT House Team, now known as The Flat Earth, to get my legs back under me. Unfortunately, halfway though the process, my hours at work changed and I couldn’t make as many meetings, rehearsals, etc. That panic and anxiety over the loss of control over my material—which I expected to an extent—lit the fire under my ass. I had challenged myself to start writing sketches that could be performed by one person, but ended up failing at that pretty quickly. I think the only two good ones I came up with were performed Monday night. I’ve always preferred performing with other people, plus, there are too many voices in my head for a one-man show. I applied for Philly SketchFest on the last day submissions were being accepted to sort of force my own hand.
PR: What are some of the benefits and/or pitfalls of running things by yourself?
VD: Well, I haven’t been doing everything myself. When I sat down to start to dive into the work for SketchFest, I invited a few friends over for B.S. sessions. Matthew Schmid, whom I met while working with The Flat Earth, has been at my side the whole time—acting as a sounding board, cheerleader and helping hand. Also, as corny and cliched as it is to say, the comedy community is very supportive. Anyone and everyone I approached for a hand was happy to offer.
PR: So, how many people did you end up working with on Monday’s show?
VD: In total, I was able to harness the talents of nine different people—10 if you include Miss Nikki Black whose sketch was cut at the last minute.
PR: Where did the name come from?
VD: Anyone who knows me knows that I am a history junkie. Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun were the two polar stalwarts of 19th century American politics. When he was leaving the Presidency, Andrew Jackson said he had “but one regret: not shooting Henry Clay and not hanging John Calhoun.”
PR: Is it hard splitting your time between two sketch entities?
VD: It hasn’t been hard yet. The Flat Earth is on a hiatus—which gave me time to work on Clay & Calhoun material. But rumors (and email threads back and forth) have it that The Flat Earth will be starting back up soon. I don’t expect it to be too difficult, because as any good parent knows: It’s easy to tell which of your children you want to raise on your own, and which you want to give away to be someone else’s responsibility. Disclaimer: I am not a parent.
PR: What are some of the difficulties of living in New Jersey and performing in Philadelphia?
VD: Honestly—the parking.
PR: Are you looking forward to any other Sketchfest events?
VD: Unfortunately, I have to work every night this week. So here’s what I’m looking forward to regretting that I missed. Specific Jawns: watching Chip Chantry’s transformation from stand-up to sketch comedian is like watching a butterfly turn into a butterfly. ManiPedi: Their No More Wire Wangers set blew my mind. What I’m really looking forward to is when I finally have Friday and Saturday nights off: grabbing a seat 15 minutes before the first act of the night and not leaving until after the last.
PR: Do you have any upcoming shows, or anything you’d like us to plug?
VD: Currently, nothing. But I’ll let you know ASAP.
I am truly disgusted. That doesn’t happen very often, but High Dramma has managed to do it. I’m watching a man, in his desperation to get laid, lick and suck on a young woman’s parasitic twin as it leaks a milky fluid onto his face and into his mouth. “It tastes like hot Miracle Whip!” he says in disgust. But this certainly isn’t the first liquid I’ve watched squirt onto the stage this evening. That’s right, I had the privilege of attending Philly Sketchfest’s “Dirtiest Sketch in Philadelphia” competition.
Let’s go back, though, about an hour. This audience is giddy. We know the show is starting in about five minutes, and we cannot wait. We have no idea what to expect. Tales of seeing real vomit and human testicles at past competitions are circulating the seats, and all we know is that every sketch tonight will try to top those stories. See, “Dirtiest Sketch” has become a staple of Philly Sketchfest over the last few years, developing a reputation for getting both grosser and funnier each time. Here we go.
House lights go down, stage lights go up, and we are welcomed to the show. We explode with applause. We’re ready. The first bit is to warm us up; make sure our gross/funny bones are in good shape. The hosts call two volunteers from the audience, who proceed to read a script transcribed from a pornographic film, line for line, including phonetic interpretations of every moan. It’s brilliant. The stilted dialogue can only be made more uncomfortable by the awkward readings from two audience members who had no idea what they were getting into. The laughter is already rolling.
Our first sketch comes from Accelerate Into Oblivion. Two groups of homeless people are feuding over a strip of land under I-95 that seems perfect for setting up camp, until one crustpunk goes into labor. The two groups are reminded of how valuable life is, and decide to share the land. The baby, of course, is dead, but the vagrants are already partying, so they (literally) toss it aside and become friends. Gross. Riotously funny. And this is only the beginning.
Next, pus shoots across the stage in Kids With Rickets’ sketch, as a doctor lances the boils caused by a man who has been wearing his zip-tie cock ring for a week straight. (“I got a little bit in my mouth!”) Merilyn Jackson reads us a medieval curse, loosely based on the Lord’s Prayer, about clergymen molesting children. (“Our Father, who art on top of me…”) Specific Jawns invites audience members to take part in a Rape/Murder Mystery Party. (The killer, we learn, is obsessed with young girls, genital mutilation, and the Spin Doctors’ “Two Princes.”) This night is going disgustingly well!
On comes High Dramma. An amorous young couple is ready to sleep together for the first time, when the woman reveals that she’s got a strange sexual preference. She takes off her robe to reveal her parasitic twin, googly-eyed and growing out of her hip. She insists that her date plays with it for her pleasure. Desperate for some action, he reluctantly starts kissing it, licking it, and sticking fingers inside of it. (“There’s teeth everywhere,” she says, “you’ll get used to it.”) And, as previously described, it squirts all over his face. Delightful! The applause, laughter, and appalled faces are all at their strongest yet!
The Feeko Brothers, reigning “Dirtiest Sketch” champs two years running, come out to close the set and do not dissapoint. We’re taken to the old West, where two men exchange murderous threats and prepare to fight. The sheriff pulls his hands out from his poncho to reveal two whole, defeathered ducks as fists. The other, ready to kill the sheriff, reveals that his fists are actually two giant catfish. The two men exchange dramatic dialogue while slapping themselves and each other with raw meat for a few minutes, until the sheriff emerges the victor. Tragically disturbing. Incredibly funny.
The lights go down, and the crowd goes nuts. These performers have done their job, eclipsing past performances and turning gross-out into an art form. We all vote for our favorites. As we wait for the tally, we’re treated to another audience-read adult script. Then, finally, High Dramma is announced as the winner! We all cheer and try not to throw up!
Afterwards, I interviewed a very excited High Dramma. The members present tonight are Jackie Wolfson, artistic director; D.C. Fisher, head writer; and the sketch’s two stars, Sarah Brown and Curt Riedy.
Pat Reber: First of all, how proud are all of you of yourselves?
All: Way too proud! Super proud!
D.C. Fisher: I just told Jackie that I am more proud than I was when I graduated college.
PR: Why were you interested in doing dirtiest sketch?
Jackie Wolfson: We did the dirtiest sketch last year, and we didn’t come in first, but we got a really good feel for how funny and how dirty it was. This year, since we’re doing the Sketchfest for the first time on Thursday at 8, we decided to enter again because we were already doing the festival. Why not do as much as we could?
Curt Riedy: We really try to go for broke as often as we can. For our full shows, we try to give a nice balance of filthiness and good, clever, PG comedy every once in a while, too. We never really get to go full, full nasty, and this is just a great opportunity to make that happen.
PR: That kind of answers my next question, but I’m going to ask it anyway. How much of a stretch was this for you, as far as writing and performing goes?
CR: I think we just kind of let ourselves be more unhinged than we [usually] do.
JW: This is definitely further, what we did. [D.C., Curt, and I] sat around and tried to come up with an idea, and then Curt and I mostly wrote it, and then Sarah graciously stepped in to act in it with Curt, and D.C. was there to lend a hand…We really, honestly, haven’t done as much dirty, dirty stuff in a long time, so we kind of had to go back to a few years ago and think of what we think is dirty. But still funny.
JW: That’s the line that we didn’t want to cross: going too far into dirty, and not being funny anymore.
CR: Sometimes, when you’re trying to go as filthy as possible, you try to just get the gross laughs instead of trying to mix a little bit of creativity in it.
DCF: You’re almost going for more of just a straight reaction when you go for the real gross stuff. As opposed to “Hahaha, that’s funny,” it’s “Haha, that’s funny and gross!” We always try to aim for, when we’re doing something like this, a really unique take on the grossness.
CR: An amalgamation, if you will.
JW: I do think that this year, though, the other groups did a really good job of finding that balance, too. The other ones were really funny.
CR: All around, it was a really solid evening. Everyone just brought a great level of both gross-out and creativity. The Feeko Brothers, I thought, killed it. I was dying the entire time that was happening.
JW: We want to win Miss Congeniality, too.
DCF: We were especially proud of ourselves for being able to beat them, the guys who had absolutely dominated the last two years with incredibly gross stuff. That is another level of our pride, that we managed to out-gross the Feeko Brothers, at least on this one night.
PR: What was the parasitic twin made out of?
JW: That prop was actually made by Matt Gussie, who is not in the group, but he’s very artistic. It is styrofoam, molding clay, googly eyes, and very milky vanilla pudding. And plastic, of course.
Passer-by: I don’t know what you’re talking about, but it sounds good!
High Dramma will be appearing at Philly Sketchfest on Thursday, November 15th at 8pm at Prince Music Theater (1412 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia). They will also be at the Walking Fish Theater (2509 Frankford Avenue, Philadelphia) from December 5th-8th.
Pat Reber performs sketch comedy with the Win Show, and also has his hands in a constantly shifting menagerie of other projects. He’ll be on twitter @patreberyeah and he think’s you’re nice.
Nominations are now open for the 2013 WitOut Awards for Philadelphia Comedy. Performers may nominate up to three choices in 13 different categories for the awards, which will be held on January 13, 2013 at World Cafe Live. Nominations will be open until November 30.
Comedian Amir Gollan has been chosen as a semi-finalist for The Andy Kaufman Award and will perform in the semi-final showcase at Gotham Comedy Club in New York on Monday, November 12. The award was created to preserve the legacy of one of America’s most unique and influential performers in a dynamic way. The prestigious award honors Andy Kaufman’s creative spirit while simultaneously shining a spotlight on promising performers with the potential to impact the evolving culture of comedy.
This Tuesday, Free Improv at Connie’s Ric Rac (1132 S. 9th St.) returns with a night of performances from Deleted Scenes, Gaper Delay, TTNL (Those Two Nice Ladies), POUSAAIT, Malone, Bad James, and Shame Parade. They also promise to keep you updated with the latest election coverage so you don’t miss out.
The Improvised Musical Suggestical is holding auditions for a one-night performance to be held in March 2013. Auditions will be held on November 18 from 1-5pm at A & E Studio (1233 Vine Street, Philadelphia). Interested performers can contact Claire Halberstadt at Suggestical@gmail.com to set up an audition timeslot.
Porn is everywhere. In fact, the idea that you are in front of a computer right now and reading this instead of looking at porn is somewhat amazing. Unless you have multiple windows open and you are reading this and watching porn at the same time, then I commend you for your multitasking skills. But you should pause the movie and focus on reading, because Dave Terruso has figured out everyone’s dirty little (no-so-much-a) secret – that all of us have some sort of experience with porn. All of us might not be comfortable talking about it and sometimes that makes for great comedy. This Wednesday night at L’etage Dave and some of the best comedians in Philadelphia will go on stage and talk about all things porn at The Pornologues. We caught up with Dave to ask him some questions about what you might find hidden underneath his mattress.
WITOUT: Do you think that porn is one of those things that almost everyone has a funny story about but might be embarrassed to talk about openly? Have you ever bonded with new or old friends over porn stories? Is this the purpose of the show?
DAVE TERRUSO: I think that all stories about watching porn are inherently funny when you think about them. Most likely you’re sitting in a computer chair with no bottoms on. Or you’re on your couch with no bottoms on. Or you’re in an internet cafe with no bottoms on. Even if you’re not touching yourself, you’re watching two people bonking, which is weird. So I think everyone has a funny story about watching porn, I just bet they don’t realize the stories are all funny.
Yes, I love to talk to good friends and total strangers about their porn experience, and their sexual experiences in general. The part of your brain that makes these intimate bits of information embarrassing, I was born without it. The reality of life is that we all get naked and make our genitals hum. It’s unavoidable. So why keep it a secret? In comedy and in life I gravitate toward the universal truths that unite us. I have no problem telling a bunch of people an embarrassing story about me ejaculating. I do it onstage. I do it at parties.* That’s just who I am. And that’s who many comedians are. Most of us were born without that embarrassment part of our brains.
This show was created from just such a conversation. I was at the bar at Helium talking to Ryan Carey (host of the PORNOLOGUES) and Alex Pearlman (one of the performers). We were talking about how kids today have it so easy because of the internet; they don’t know how to scavenge like we did. Life before internet porn was our version of The Great Depression. And other people around us started adding to the conversation and we were all laughing so hard. We realized there was something to this idea and that it should be a show.
*I should make it clear that I talk about ejaculating onstage and at parties. I don’t physically ejaculate at those places.
WO: Tell us about your first experience with porn?
DT: I do talk about my first experience with porn in the show, but that wasn’t really a porn, it was THE HONEYMOONERS. (What the heck do I mean? You have to come to the show to find out. It’s only $15.)
The first time I saw a porn movie was in seventh grade. I was at my friend Sal’s house. It was me and my best friends, Sal, Marc, Joey, and Matt (real names– sorry, guys). This was not the first time my friends had watched a porn in my presence. But the other times I hadn’t watched. I went into my friend Sal’s room and played video games because I thought porn was immoral. I really wanted to be a priest at the time (seriously, I wanted to be a priest until I was 14). They called me Father Dave for not watching porn with them. But this time they convinced me to watch it for the comic value. And it WAS funny as hell. And I didn’t expect that. The dialogue was so silly. The scene I remember was this woman in a restaurant talking to a man. They were both wearing business suits. And she said “Are you gonna fuck me, or am I gonna have to beat my meat?” And we all lost our minds at how funny it was to hear an adult woman say that phrase. Other than that, I remember how utterly uncomfortable it was to have a boner in front of a bunch of guys. I covered it with a pillow. (To this day I do not like to have a boner in front of other men. Going to a strip club? Guess who won’t be coming: Father Dave.)
WO: Porn and comedy seem to be forever connected. What do you think it is about the two that links them together?
DT: I’ve always wondered when jokes found their way into porn. Could it have always been that way? Did it happen when those weird Victorian porn stories first got written? I think it stems from the release of joy that happens during sex. It’s endorphin overload, and giddiness leads to spontaneous laughter. When you’re pounding your girlfriend, once you’re really comfortable with each other, things make you giggle. You keep it serious when you first start dating because you want them to be turned on. But eventually one of you will accidentally make a fart sound with your mouth against the other person’s thigh or butt or ballsack. And then it becomes okay to be silly. You crack jokes. Part of it is because it’s just funny to be naked in various Greco-Roman wrestling positions with another person. It brings you back to your animal state. No clothes. No social mores. You become a couple of feral cats playing with leaves in a forest, except the leaves are covered in pubes.
WO: What are some of your favorite stand-up bits or sketches about porn?
DT: I can’t think of a single bit that’s specifically about porn. Weird. I know there are plenty I’m blanking on. I love Dave Attell, he does a lot of it, but I can’t think of a single bit of his to reference.
It’s not technically about porn, but Patton Oswalt’s bit from Werewolves and Lollipops about cleaned-up filth in his own jokes for TV always kills me: “I’m gonna fill your hoo-ha with goof juice” never gets old.
Louis CK does a great bit on Word about how porno actors work so hard that if we put them to work doing something altruistic the world would be a better place. If only dudes could get off on seeing people do charity work: “Ohh, yeah, giving those kids a chance! Ahhh, that’s fuckin hot!”
I love the Kids in the Hall skit where the Chicken Lady calls a phone sex hotline.
And Boogie Nights, though a great art house film, has 45 minutes of the funniest lines and observations about porn ever assembled. To name just one: “I like simple pleasures, like butter in my ass, lollipops in my mouth. That’s just me. That’s just something that I enjoy. ” Thank you, Paul Thomas Anderson.
WO: Did you pick the line-up for the show based on material the comedians already have about porn, or a gut feeling like they’d be masters on the subject? If so, what made you think so?
DT: I wanted a real spectrum of the porn experience. I had a pool of hilarious comedians in my mind who I knew wouldn’t mind working blue, and from those I picked ones that fit different parts of the spectrum. So my first thought was How do I dice up porn? First, by era: magazine/VHS, then slow-loading JPEGs and MPEGs, then streaming porn. Kensil is old enough to remember the 70s and 80s. Pearlman has a great bit about waiting for a JPEG to load. And Joey Dougherty is young enough to not remember a time before streaming porn.
I wanted to have people talk about gay porn, married men and porn, black porn, what women watch and read, etc. So I filled each of those slots with someone who cracks me up. (I just said “filled each of those slots” and “cracks” in the same sentence. You’re welcome.) Some of them I picked because I’ve heard them be really dirty, like Darryl Charles and Juliet Hope Wayne, but for most of them I haven’t heard them be filthy, and knowing that they will be filthy in this show is an exciting prospect. And Mary Radzinski suggested Timaree Schmit to me, telling me that she has her PhD in Human Sexuality. That added a category I hadn’t thought of: the expert opinion.
WO: Ted Bundy blamed his addiction to porn for his violence and once said: “I’ve met a lot of men who were motivated to commit violence just like me. And without exception, without question, every one of them was deeply involved in pornograpy.” What would you have to say to Ted Bundy?
DT: Ted, I have watched thousands of hours of porn. Defiled a million tissues. And I have never struck a woman. Unless she wanted me to because we were having rough-times sex.
Ted, most killers are loners. Everyone is somewhat into porn, or at the very least naughty thoughts. Loners are obsessed with porn because it’s their only outlet for a simulacrum of human intimacy. But most loners are just nerds, not killers.
Ted, I bet every single man who perpetrates violence against women is deeply involved in eating pizza. Are you suggesting that we outlaw pizza? Are you suggesting that pizza has blood on its hands? That’s not blood, Ted, that’s sauce. Don’t be crazy, Ted.
Oh, you can’t help being crazy? That was actually insensitive of me to say? Well, I apologize.
Hey, Ted, do you need help getting that couch into that van? You probably can’t do it yourself with your arm in a sling. Here, let me get the front end of that for you…
WO: On the other hand, defenders of porn (like Dirk Diggler) say that viewers can use it as a learning tool. What have you learned about comedy from porn?
DT: [Dave Terruso has been missing for the past 24 hours. If you have any information about his whereabouts, please come to L'Etage at 8:30 on October 10.]
THE PORNOLOGUES are (as the robot filling in for the missing Dave Terruso just said) this Wednesday, October 10, at L’etage. Tickets can be purchased online.
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Last night, the seventh annual Philly’s Phunniest Person Contest continued at Helium Comedy Club with Aaron Hertzog, Joey Dougherty, and Paul Easton moving on to the semi-finals. The competition continues Sunday, July 29 and the opening round continues until August 13 (full schedule here).
This Wednesday, Camp Woods Plus returns for another show at L’etage (624 South 6th St. Philadelphia) This month’s show will feature the debut of Philadelphia sketch duo Tap City along with New York group Listen, Kid! As always, the show will feature brand new material from Camp Woods.
Also this Wednesday, comedy variety show Accidents Will Happen returns to Adobe Cafe (1919 E. Passyunk Ave. Philadelphia) for a night of stand-up from Jim Grammond, Omar Scruggs, John Nunn, Rachel Bensen, Lisa Yost, storytelling from Jamie Fountaine, sketch comedy from The New Dreamz and “Black Metal Legend” Necrosexual. The show is free and begins at 9pm and is followed by an open mic at 11.
This Saturday, The Sideshow makes another appearance at The Arts Parlor (1170 South Broad St. Philadelphia). The show will feature improv from Chaperone, Hot Dog, and Iron Lung as well as clowning from Kristen Schier. The show begins at 8pm and is $5.