Upcoming Shows

  • December 23, 2014 9:00 pmSecret Pants Presents: Cuban Tinsel Crisis
  • December 24, 2014 8:00 pmComedy Masters
  • December 25, 2014 8:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
  • December 26, 2014 8:00 amNationally Touring Headline Comedians @ Helium
  • December 26, 2014 7:00 pmThe Comedy Works
  • December 26, 2014 8:00 pmThe N Crowd
  • December 26, 2014 8:00 pmCrazy Cow Comedy
  • December 26, 2014 8:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
  • December 26, 2014 9:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
  • December 27, 2014Nationally Touring Headline Comedians @ Helium
  • December 27, 2014Nationally Touring Headline Comedians @ Heliun
  • December 27, 2014 7:30 pmComedy Sportz Philadelphia
  • December 27, 2014 8:00 pmCrazy Cow Comedy
  • December 27, 2014 9:30 pmThe Comedy Works
  • December 27, 2014 10:00 pmComedy Sportz Philadelphia
  • December 27, 2014 10:30 pmImprov Comedy: PHIT House Teams
  • December 31, 2014 8:00 pmComedy Masters
  • January 1, 2015 8:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
  • January 2, 2015 8:00 amNationally Touring Headline Comedians @ Helium
  • January 2, 2015 7:00 pmThe Comedy Works
  • January 2, 2015 8:00 pmThe N Crowd
  • January 2, 2015 8:00 pmCrazy Cow Comedy
  • January 2, 2015 8:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
  • January 2, 2015 9:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
  • January 3, 2015Nationally Touring Headline Comedians @ Heliun
AEC v1.0.4

Showfile: The Gross Show

The Gross Show is a sick and twisted view on the world of “trash talk shows” from the mind of Alex Gross. It makes its return to Philly Improv Theater in its new time slot this Friday at 11:30PM. 

WITOUT: Explain the format of The Gross Show.

ALEX GROSS: The Gross Show is just your regular live theater comedy talk show. We have guests, we drink some beer and we have some good old fashion fun.

WITOUT: Where did you come up with the idea to do an improvised “Trash Talk Show”?

AG: Growing up I didn’t watch the Price is Right when I faked being sick to stay home from school. When my Mother would leave for work I would race down the stairs and turn on Fox to watch nonstop Springer and Maury action. It was (still is) almost everything I hate about humanity and I could watch it without having to actually deal with it. I would scream at my TV until I was red and get really involved. I don’t think I actually enjoyed it, I think I really enjoyed fucking hating people on TV which is why I imagine people watch the Jersey Shore and other corny reality shows (hopefully).

Last fall I was bumming around my apartment with nothing to do until I saw Jerry Springer was on. I hadn’t watched it in years. The exact same feeling rushed into me as when I was a kid. I had so much fun watching and I thought about how I wanted to host a show like it someday. A few days later I saw Greg Maughan and realized I could host a show like it now! I had already pitched several ideas to Greg with no success but he was on board almost immediately with The Gross Show.

WITOUT: Who is your favorite Trash Talk Show Host? Do you pull your hosting style from any one person or do you try to grab bits and pieces of different people that you like?

AG: Jerry Springer is the best day time talk show host of all time. Oprah can suck it. Originally I tried to pull my style from Jerry but as shows went by I realized that it sort of sucks for me and for the show. It’s way too laid back and I felt like my audiences as a whole were too polite at times. Now I’m doing whatever seems right in the moment while still being kind of laid back.

WITOUT: What is your favorite segment of Trash Talk shows? (is it paternity tests? someones cheating on somebody? I’ve got a secret to tell you.? I’m a bad kid who’s getting sent to boot camp?) What do you like about it so much?

AG: On Jerry Springer, the cheating segments are classics. They are consistently sad, depressing and funny as hell. The guests show raw emotion which draws me to the edge of my seat, the fights are entertaining and the twists are awesome. I believe every time a man cheats on his wife with a tranny, that he wasn’t aware had a dick, an angel gets their wings. On Maury, the “I’m eating myself to death” fat segments are too much for me to handle. I love to hate it. You have people dying of hunger around the world but here in America we cry over fat kids who can’t stop eating and have half eaten roast beef sandwiches under their mattresses. I just can’t wrap my mind around it.

WITOUT: Your show has moved time slots a few times, do you feel like you are getting the “Freaks and Geeks” treatment or is it just something to add to the lore of The Gross Show?

AG: I think I was getting the “Greg Maughan is scared to have the cops show up” treatment after we got threatened by the neighbors at the first show for making too much noise. Good news though! Last month Greg called me after the Hopper Brothers decided to end their show and asked if I was interested in going to Fridays late night for good. With no thought I said yes and after being lectured about what I still can’t do on the show, The Gross Show has Friday shows until at least the end of the year!

WITOUT: You play a pretty straight-forward host on the show, do you ever get the itch to get down and dirty and gross with your guests?

AG: In the worst way. Before the first show I couldn’t wait to be weird, crude, strange, disgusting and offensive but while in the planning process I had a reality check. I realized I had to be the straight man or at least the audience’s point of view and a single tear rolled down my cheek. It was really heart breaking.

WITOUT: Is anything off limits? Has anyone come to you with a segment idea that is just too much to put on stage? Will the day ever come? Where is the line?

AG: Nothing is off limits, no idea is too much and there is no line. Example, I couldn’t get the actress for Friday’s show but I was really close to having Zombie Amy Winehouse throwing (fake) ketamine on audience members. My Father said it wasn’t funny but what does he know.


ShowFile: Rant-O-Wheel

There are a lot of regular comedy shows here in Philadelphia, and in our new feature ShowFile (it’s a profile of a show!) we are going to make sure you know a little bit about what is out there for you to enjoy. Our first Shofile is on Rant-O-Wheel, an improvised storytelling show held at Philly Improv Theater at 7:00PM on the first Wednesday of their two-week runs. We asked host Jaime Fountaine some questions about the show.

WITOUT: How long have you been doing Rant-O-Wheel?

Jaime Fountaine: The first Rant-O-Wheel show was held in August 2009, at The Dive, during my Second Stories show.  We’d put one on every few months or so, until July of last year, when Greg Maughan gave me the opportunity to do a monthly show at PHIT.

WO: What gave you the idea for the show?

JF: My friend Steve Martinez told me about a game he used to play when he was hanging out with some anarchists (he’s from California).  They had a giant wicker wheel into which they’d woven slips of paper with various ideas and issues relating to social justice.  You’d spin the wheel and then rant on the topic it had chosen for you.  We thought if you shifted it from social change to storytelling, it could be a lot of fun.

WO: Explain the format of the show.

JF: At the beginning of every show, right after I make sure everyone knows what a noun is, I fill up the wheel with audience suggested words.  Each contestant spins the wheel three times, and has five minutes to make up a story that includes all three of their words.  The only rule is that you can’t use all three words in rapid succession and then expect to talk for another four-and-a-half minutes.  Other than that, anything is fair game.

WO:Do you have any favorite moments from your time hosting the show (any especially memorable stories, or surprise guests?)

JF: One the most surprising performers was a man that volunteered under the name “Douche #7” who, instead of telling a story, warbled an off-pitch version of “I Can’t Live (If Living is Without You)”.  Then he disappeared into the night.

It usually helps when shows take on themes, whether it’s because I’ve put one in place (like when Steve moved to Baltimore), because the audience has agreed on a certain theme through their noun suggestions, or because of some other factor, like the time the show turned into a hotbed of awkward sexual oversharing that just kept snowballing.

There have been a lot of great stories to come out of the show, although I think my favorite is still the story that grew out of Steve and I trying to finish half a wheel of words by ourselves and turned into the story of how we, the illegitimate children of an itinerant Native American brush salesmen, came to find each other in a desert.

WO: What are the elements that make up a good Rant-O-Wheel story?

JF: Confidence, whether or not you’re faking it, is key. If you believe that you can sell a story about scalpings, vacuum cleaner repair, and Walla Walla, Washington, the audience is much more likely to go along with you.  Some people find it easier to go up there with the framework of a real-life experience or an existing story (like The Little Mermaidor Blood Meridian), but it’s not necessary.  It can also help to be a little, but not overly drunk.  It helps with bravado.

WO: What is it about comedic storytelling that you love? What about it is different from other types of comedy?

JF: I’m a writer more than I’m a comedian.  Even when I’m doing comedy, it’s more a character telling a story than straightforward jokes.  I’m a lot more interested in the backstory than I am the set-up and punchline, laying down an entire universe for the audience, and then trying to convince them to live in it for five minutes.  Some people can do that with jokes, which I admire, but I need the space to sprawl out.

The Rant-O-Wheel format is especially exciting, because it’s about beating the limitations of a few words and a few minutes.  It’s not exactly the stuff of OuLiPo, but it’s in a similar spirit – that a lot of fascinating things can still come out of a very controlled environment.

Since the show really depends on audience participation, the show is audience-driven in a very different way than a lot of other comedy shows.  They don’t just set the tone; they’re the impetus for the entertainment.  Everyone is responsible.