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

Steve Kleinedler Tells You Everything You Need to Know about His PHIT Improv Conservatory Class

As regular followers of WitOut may have already read, the Philly Improv Theater is currently accepting applications to their Improv Conservatory class that starts this spring. It is an intentionally small class (eight students) that takes place over eight weeks, followed by a four-show run at PHIT over the course of one month. The class will be taught by Hot Dish director and PHIT teacher Steve Kleinedler. I asked Steve a few questions about the class and how it works.

Matt Aukamp: So you came to Philly from ImprovBoston. How did you get involved with PHIT and the Improv Conservatory class?

Steve Kleinedler: The Harold team Marjean was one of many projects I was involved with at ImprovBoston. We came to Philadelphia for the fourth Philadelphia Improv Festival. There, I met a lot of people in the Philadelphia improv community. Marjean came back to three more PHIFs, and we were invited to one-off shows at the Actors Center with the N Crowd and for a special intercity Troika. Every time I came down I met more people and I’d run into them at other festivals, so when I was looking to leave Boston, Philadelphia was very appealing to me.

Right before I moved, I met with Greg Maughan and Mike Marbach, and they put me in the pipeline to teach classes at PHIT based on my experience teaching at ImprovBoston. I started teaching at PHIT shortly after I moved here in 2011. Mike started up the Conservatory last fall and was the instructor for the first one, and he’s asked me to take on the second one this spring.

MA: Could you explain how the program works and the differences there will be between last year and this year?

SK: I was teaching class during the time of [last year's] class shows so I didn’t have the opportunity [to see them.] However I’ve worked with many teams over the years to help them create a show or a format that showcases the strengths of the players as individuals and their groups as a whole. I have a lot of experience in helping groups develop unique structures.

PHIT’s improv program is designed to impart a variety of improv skills and techniques. In the Conservatory, the students use those skills to create a show of their own making. The goal isn’t to create an independent team. Rather, the goal is to give people the experience of team building and working with a coach to create a show.

Mike Marbach, as the Education Director, and I will go over the applications and discuss students with their previous teachers to see which group of students would get the most out of working together to create a show. Everyone must be available for all the classes and all the performances.

Benefits to the Conservatory include a smaller class size—seven or eight students, which means more individual attention and stage time. The shows are recorded and shared with the class so students can go over performances with their instructor.

So although each Conservatory creation is different, the underlying concept of what the Conservatory is is the same from session to session.

MA: How can performers expect this process to work? Especially performers used to learning traditional forms rather than inventing unique styles of play?

SK: In the first week, we simply have them play together and together we analyze how they play together and what their collective strengths and weaknesses are. From that we work together to develop a structure that plays into their strengths. It’s not that they are developing a unique style of play. Rather, they are using their style of play to develop a unique format.

The development is usually pretty organic, and I’m there to help the process along. Usually there are different options that can be explored, and we’ll go over all of  those, and then when we have a rudimentary framework, we’ll rehearse that structure and make tweaks along the way.

MA: What qualities are you looking for in applicants? What would you say to encourage someone who fits the requirements and is considering applying to your class?

SK: Improvisers who have been through the PHIT program have been taught a variety of techniques, and I’m looking for people who are interested in putting these techniques to work to create something new. There’s no better way to learn how to build up a team and have that team make its mark than by rolling up your sleeves and actually doing it. If people are considering it, I encourage them to go ahead and submit an application, because although it’s a lot of hard word, it’s going to be a lot of fun and intensely rewarding.

MA: The conservatory runs for eight weeks, after which, the class will be doing a run of shows at the PHIT for one month. What are your hopes for this show? What do improv fans have to look forward to?

SK: My hopes are that the students will have an enjoyable, fulfilling run while discovering how all the individual skills they’ve learned fit together.

Improv fans can look forward to four solid, entertaining, funny performances. Everyone wins!!


If you’re interested in applying, you can find the Conservatory application at http://phillyimprovtheater.com/classes/improv-comedy/march-2013-improv-conservatory-with-steve-kleinedler/. Applications will be accepted through EOD on 2/28/13.

Matt Aukamp is a writer, performer, and occasional improviser (The Win Show). You can usually find him bothering the world on Twitter at @mattaukamp.

Philly Comedy Round-up, Vol. 76

A new open mic at Connie’s Ric Rac (1132 S. 9th St.) hosted by Dan Vetrano and Joe Murdock begins tonight. The stage is open to all comedy performers and the hosts also encourage bringing a video to show on the Ric Rac’s screen. Sign ups begin at 8:30 and the mic starts at 9:00.

Philly Improv Theater is now accepting applications to their Improv Conservatory class to take place this spring. The conservatory class will accept eight students to work with director Steve Kleinedler to develop a new “style of play”. At the end of the eight-week class, the ensemble will perform a one-month run of shows at PHIT. Applications are being accepted until February 28.

This Wednesday touring show Comedians at Law will visit Helium Comedy Club (2031 Sansom St. Philadelphia). The show will feature performances from lawyers-turned-stand-up-comedians Alex Barnett, J-L Cauvin, Kevin Israel, Matt Ritter. Tickets can be purchased online.

Also this Wednesday Accidents Will Happen returns to The Adobe Cafe (947 E. Passyunk Ave.) This month’s show will feature performances from: Rachel FoglettoDave TerrusoDan ScullyMatt MonroeMalwinaBino Brown, and Tommie Turner as well as a Dating Game and the “1st annual WitAccidents Open Mic Awards!” The show begins at 9:00pm and is immediately followed by an open mic.

This Thursday Bird Text brings their comedy show back to Helium Comedy Club for a night featuring stand-up from Mike Lawrence, Doogie Horner, Mary Radzinski, and Tommy Pope plus brand new Bird Text sketches. Tickets can be purchased online.

Comedy is Liberty will make their weekend show debut this Saturday at Liberties Restaurant & Bar (705 N. 2nd St.) with a show featuring headliner Tommy Pope. Tickets can be purchased online.

Chase N’ Laughs Comedy/Karaoke/Fish Fry is this Saturday at Treasures Banquet Hall  (5549 Germantown Ave). Doors open at 5:00pm with free martinis being served until 6:00 and comedy beginning at 8:00. Tickets can be purchased by calling 267-405-2025.

Joe Conklin’s 3rd Annual Comedy Showcase is also taking place this Saturday at Glen Mills Thornbury Rotary at Penn Oaks Country Club (150 Penn Oaks Dr. West Chester, PA). The night will feature a DJ, cocktail hour, dinner, and comedy from the “man of a thousand voices.”

This Sunday Propoganda!, a monthly comedy show from Denver, CO., will come to L’etage (624 South 6th St.) for a free show featuring comedy from: Alex Grubard, Alex Pearlman, Doogie Horner, Scott Sharp, Brett Hiker, and Ray DeVito.

Philly Improv Theater will also have shows all this week at The Shubin Theater (407 Bainbridge Street). Some of their regular shows have changed days and times so make sure you check out their full schedule online.

If you have any Philly comedy news worth mentioning – send it our way with an email to contact@witout.net

Top 5 of 2012: Steve Kleinedler’s Top Five People Whose Ability to Grow Hair I Covet

As the year winds down, WitOut collects lists from comedy performers and fans of their favorite moments, comedians, groups, shows, etc. from the last year in Philly comedy. Top 5 of 2012 lists will run throughout December–if you’d like to write one, pitch us your list at contact@witout.net!

I started losing my hair in high school. All of the fun things I got to do in the 1980s with hair dye are long gone. On top of that, I never had to shave regularly until I was in my late 30s. In the late 1980s all I wanted was cool sideburns, and I had to wait until the trend came back around a couple years ago to almost be able to take advantage of it. I didn’t even have armpit hair until I was in my 20s. I spent most of my teen years too mortified to wear a tank top. I view most men with hair and the ability to grow facial hair wistfully. They have something I’ll never have.

Whenever I see these five guys, I can’t help but think about their hair. And how much I want to possess it.

5. Vegas Lancaster (improv team The N Crowd)
His hair has super powers that I cannot begin to comprehend. If you encounter Vegas in a dark alley, you are simultaneously frightened and awed.

4. Jp Boudwin (sketch group Camp Woods)
He can go from full-on French Canadian couch-surfing drifter to slightly more respectable French Canadian couch-surfing drifter simply by getting a hair cut. Also, when he gets his hair cut, he loses ten pounds in one whack.

3. Jess Carpenter (improv team Iron Lung, Comedian Deconstruction)
If I had the ability to rock full-on Wolverine facial hair like Jess does, I would be an unstoppable sex machine. I would do so much with that superpower, but it remains unattainable.

2. Dennis Trafny  (Philly Improv Theater House Team Hey Rube)
Dennis gets the nod over his [improv team] Bierdo brethren because with his bald head and piercing eyes, his head shots make for the best meme generation.

1. Chris Calletta  (Philly Improv Theater House Team Hot Dish)
Chris has the perfect hair of every actor in every hair product commercial and/or Francis Ford Coppola film from the early 1970s. Chris, you probably think I’m constantly cruising you, but really, when I’m staring vacantly at you, I’m for real just coveting your hair.

Steve Kleinedler started doing improv in 1982 and studied and performed off and on in the 1980s and 1990s. He began performing at ImprovBoston in 2001 and teaching and directing there in 2004. He performed with IB’s Harold Team Marjean for three years. Steve directed numerous improv troupes and shows at IB, including The Family Show (2004-2007), Backstory (a ‘Memento’-inspired improv show, which he reprised with Hot Dish for the Philly Fringe festival in 2012), and IB’s sketch ensemble The Ruckus (2007-2010). He’s directed numerous one-person shows and scripted plays. At PHIT he currently directs PHIT house team Hot Dish and has appeared onstage in numerous guises, including Half-Life with Nathan Edmondson.  He is also a founding member of Shattered Globe Theatre in Chicago.

Comedy Love Letter – From Steve Kleinedler to the City of Philadelphia

This is a love letter to Philadelphia, and by extension, to the comedy scene that you have all created here and welcomed me into.

Philadelphia is where I actively chose to live after considering a wide array of options. Performing as a vistor in PHIFs, a Troika, some N Crowd shows, and several one-off shows exposed me to what Philadelphia has to offer. Inexpensive rehearsal and performance spaces mean that anyone with an idea and the drive can start a production. In addition to the established companies, numerous successfully produced shows in bars, empty store fronts, galleries, and the like, make Philadelphia’s scene reminiscent of the theatre scene in Chicago in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Discussions with Mary Carpenter, Greg Maughan, Matt Nelson, Alexis Simpson, Alli Soowal, Kristen Schier, and Jason Stockdale spurred me to move to Philadelphia 16 months ahead of schedule, and I’m glad I did.

The creative spark here is very strong. Across numerous companies and troupes, hundreds of people perform regularly. Groups of like-minded friends can form troupes (like Iron Lung, Malone, and Nielsen did) and what’s more important, they can get gigs. The structural framework of PHIT, ComedySportz, the N Crowd, and other existing companies in combination with the opportunities provided by the producers of Polygon, Comedian Deconstruction, Sideshow, and the Grape Room, to name just a few, means anyone with an idea or drive can get stage time. There aren’t that many cities that allow for this kind of opportunity—space is just too expensive in most cities—and people who take advantage of everything there is to offer have helped create a comedy calendar where something is happening almost every day of the month.

CONTINUE READING…

Duofest Interview: Half-Life

By: Alison Zeidman

Half-Life is Steve Kleinedler and Nathan Edmondson, two seasoned improvisers playing two scotch-drinking secret agents. They don’t get drunk onstage. They don’t give each other notes. They did not meet in a bathhouse. But they do have a subtitle (full name: Half-Life: Requiem for the Cold War).

Alison Zeidman: How did you guys meet?

Nathan Edmondson: It was at a bathhouse.

Steve Kleinedler: No. At the the Philly Improv Festival. That was the first time I saw you onstage.

NE: The first time we hung out though, it was after that one Troika.

SK: So we’ll back up. Besides the bathhouse. Did not happen. I saw him perform at a festival, and about a year and a half later some of my troupe in Boston came out to do a one-off Troika night. It was one Philly person and one Boston person and one out-of-town person, and I was on a team with whoever and he was on a team with one of my teammates, and that’s where we met.

AZ: And when did you decide to form Half-Life?

NE: Well Steve moved from Boston to Philadelphia 13 months ago, and Greg had him shadow my [PHIT 201] class, which was kind of funny.

SK: Yeah. I’d been teaching in Boston for seven years and I was gonna teach here. So the first class i shadowed him just because it’s a different curriculum and everything.

NE: So we did that, and about halfway through we decided to do a rehearsal and then we did a show as—what was it, Kleinedmondson?

SK: Yes. Kleinedmondson(sinjin). It’s a reference to A Fish Called Wanda. Anyhow. We did that rehearsal where we were just dicking around after class, and we did a show, and we realized that a lot of our scene work had in common this sort of Twilight Zone element..like we’re being watched, or there’s an “others” quality to it.

NE: They were really serious. And some of the shows we did there would be some of that spy element, kind of. And then we actually had an espionage scene. It just happened and then Steve called me one day and said I know what we should be doing instead of this show that isn’t really working yet.

SK: I identified—and this is what I would do with any troupe that asked me to direct them. I see what they do and then I identify their strong points and base the show around them. Obviously our strong point was this espionage style thing. So we developed this format around that.

AZ: Can you describe your format?

NE: Steve’s smart, and I’m kind of stupid, and we’re both spies, in the Cold War era. It’s pretty much a monoscene.

SK: We get from the audience an event that happened during the Cold War. It can be a real political thing, or—this hasn’t happened yet, although we allow it to be like, “oh my grandfather got married,” or anything. We take that and we put ourselves in that situation, and go from there.

NE: Another thing that’s fun about the way we’ve been doing this is we always play the same two characters, so any backstory that develops, we try to hang onto it.

AZ: How do you keep track of that?

SK: You just do.

NE: Steve remembers everything.

SK: But it’s basic stuff.

NE: But it helps us because it gives us stuff to pull form.

SK: He has a wife named Sheila who he fools around on.

NE: Yeah and I have a kid. Although we’ve never decided if that was a boy or a girl.

SK: So yeah, every show builds on the other, and they’ve been really well received.

NE: Yeah, they’ve been really fun. And we drink whiskey during it. Scotch?

SK: Scotch.

NE: We drink scotch.

AZ: Can you explain that decision?

NE: Well, I think Steve had the vision of us just being onstage in a spotlight. If we were to produce it on our own it’d be like a dark stage with us in a spotlight. Not a lot of movement. So we started the show with the idea that we’re just standing there, and I think we did a rehersal where we just had drinks in our hands?

SK: I think so.

NE: But it fit. It made sense to the era.

AZ: Are you drinking enough alchohol to impede your abilities onstage?

SK: It’s real alcohol, but over the course of a show, it’s maybe a shot.

NE: Maybe two shots.

SK: At most, but over twenty-five minutes. And we start completely sober.

AZ: So drinking isn’t a pre-show ritual. Are there any others?

NE: Bathhouses.

SK: What?

NE: We go to a bathhouse. Nah, we don’t really do anything. We dress up. We wear ties.

SK: We wanted to go with the black and white look. The footage we’ve shot for the web is black and white, just because it evokes that era. And a shirt and tie…

NE: We’re just like company men, from the ’50s and ’60s. But no, we don’t really have any pre-show rituals.

SK: We don’t even warm up. We just hang out and connect. When you find the right scene partner and it just kind of clicks, the warm-up comes from us knowing each other, and our weekly banter whenever we see each other.

NE: And in shows where things didn’t feel like they were going well, I’ve noticed it’s because we aren’t looking at each other or checking in. As soon as we actually look at each other, and make eye contact, it’s like oh fuck, ok, it’s easy. And the show gets better.

AZ: Do you guys have any sense of what’s behind that connection? Or specific strengths that you each have that make the two of you a good fit?

SK: I think it’s idiosyncratic. I think it’s just the personalities.

NE: Yeah, I think we complement each other well. I ‘m not a total idiot, but Steve knows so much factual information, it’s mind-blowing, and I don’t remember that kind of stuff, so he’s kind of the brain of the group, and—

SK: He’s the sex symbol.

NE: [Laughs] Yes, I’m the sex symbol. Embarrassing. But yeah, it’s a good dynamic, because I personally always love the “Joey” character from any show, the dumb guy, so this is my opportunity to play that. Although I wouldn’t say that my character’s totally dumb.

AZ: It seems like you guys have given a lot of thought to this act conceptually, visually…have you thought about doing something more with it, doing a Fringe show, or something like that?

SK: Well we’re doing Duofest, and we’ve applied to Baltimore and Detroit. We’ll apply to some other things. We’ve done some web shorts.

NE: I would like to do more of those, too. We’ll probably get two or three videos out of our first footage.

SK: I live in a loft building, so we spent a day there.

NE: We shot like twenty-five minutes of footage, and we’ve just been mining it for little thirty-second skits.

AZ: You’ve both had the experience of being on a duo and also on a team. Can you talk about things that you prefer about being in a duo, and/or things that you dont like as much about being in a duo, if there are any?

SK: It sounds silly, but honestly it’s huge: Logistically, it is so much easier to arrange stuff when you only have to deal with one other person instead or five or six other people.

NE: From rehearsals, to who’s in the next scene.

SK: I’ve been in a fair number of troupes, and I love them dearly, but when there’s a lot of people you have to take all these schedules into account. On the flip side, I know I have a very narrow range. I’m primarily a teacher and a director. One reason I like Half-Life is the character I play is about the only character I can play. That’s not exactly true, but it’s close enough.

NE: Well it’s playing to your strength. And it works really well.

SK: So in that regard, something like this suits me better than a team that is doing montages. I think what’s key for any improviser is to find a group that plays to your strengths, and the fewer the number of people in the cast, the more you have to find a structure that plays to your strengths.

NE: Yeah. And just to go back a little bit, I don’t think we responded to [your earlier question] much, we did think about what the show was going to be like. There was a lot of thought put into it over a long period of time.

SK: Our first rehearsal was last summer, and then we goofed around for a couple months before we had a show.

NE: As soon as we had a concept that fit, it made everything so easy. And I think it’s good to put that work in for groups, like, “what are we doing? what are we trying to accomplish?” It’s just easier.

AZ: How much time do you guys spend discussing things and working out details for the show?

SK: For regular shows and festivals and stuff, it’s just taking into account what space we’re in, and making tweaks, but as we’ve done it the show has been tweaked here and there, and before the first show we did a couple rehearsals where we would just run twenty minute scenes and see how it felt, and we would just try different techniques. Originally we were going to have a certain number of flashbacks done in a certain style, and it’s kind of morphed into this thing where there’s probably one flashback in a twenty-minute scene.

NE: Every show we learn, and we talk about it right afterwards.

AZ: Can that be difficult, when you’re sort of directing your own show and maybe even critiquing each other’s performance?

SK: A lot of people in the community have heard me rail against improv troupes that don’t have a director or a coach, and as a general rule I think that’s absolutely [necessary]. Improv groups need a coach. This is a little different. You have a little more leeway when it’s a two-person show I think, because when you get more than two people a tiny bit of ego gets in the way, whereas when you’re paired up with someone you work well with that’s less of an issue. And I’ve done this long enoguh that I kind of have a sense about what we’re doing. I still encourage people to have coaches, but I’m just not following my own advice. And we don’t really give each other notes. We talk about what we like and what didn’t work and we’re usually in agreement.

NE: I think also, we’re very self-critical. So we’re giving ourselves notes constantly. A lot of the note-giving is me talking about my stuff, and then him giving response, gauging whether my interpretation of what happened is right or not.

SK: And vice versa. I’ve been doing this off and on for thirty years, and after about the ten-year point, things just kind of click in a way, and then after you start directing and teaching it clicks even more, and the more you direct and the more you teach, the easier your work becomes.

NE: And also at a certain point you realize if you get your hands too much in it, you’re just gonna screw it up. You just have to let it breathe and let it happen.

SK: And that’s what I do when I direct groups too, or scripted plays. I just come up with a format and let them loose. After the first table read I get them up ontage with a script and have them move around and I write down what they do, and a lot of that works its way into my blocking. So I guess I’m giving myself—oh no, I’m not going to say that, that sounds so pretentious.

NE: Giving yourself a blowjob?

SK: No, giving myself the trust that I give other actors.

NE: Oh OK. That is pretty pretentious.

AZ: So just to wrap up, what are you guys looking forward to about Duofest?

SK: I did Duofest two years ago [when I still lived in Boston], and it’s a lot of fun, and there’s a lot of really great groups, and it’s nice to be in Philly representing Philly.

NE: I’m looking forward to being interviewed by WitOut. And I’ve missed every Duofest, because I’ve been either out of town or had other commitments, so I’m looking forward to just seeing shows, and being a part of it. And I like that it’s specific. Are there other Duofests?

SK: No. There are so many improv festivals, but this is something—every city has a festival, but this is a very specific thing unique to Philly.

NE: And duos are an important part of the improv world, so I think people that do them appreciate it. I think it becomes this thing that happens to most improvisers if they stick with it, so it’s a different kind of show than a group of even three or four. It’s a whole other entity. It’s nothing really special, but it’s something.

See Half-Life perform in Duofest at the Shubin Theatre on Thursday, June 7th at 10 pm. Get advance tickets (or full weekend passes) online.

Wrapped: The Web Series

Wrapped is a web series that debuts tomorrow about a group of Production Assistants working on a movie trying to get by without causing the ire of any of their higher ups. The series features work from many Philadelphia comedians including Maureen Costello, Corin Wells, Andy Moskowitz, Steve Kleinedler, and Bert Archer. You can see the entire web series online starting tomorrow, and check out a trailer and clip below.

Fringe Show Review: twenty-four

Twenty-four is an improv show in real time. There are no cuts or edits, no jumps in time or space. All of the action takes place in one location in the same amount of time it takes to watch the show. The format leads to the actors being able to portray rich characters and develop deep relationships in the twenty four minutes they are together on stage. Last night, the cast of this Philly Improv Theater Fringe production put those skills on display expertly.

Twenty-four is a two act show, with the cast performing two separate monoscenes. Last night’s performance featured two halves that showed off the cast member’s range of styles and characters. The first scene took place in a hospital where a cast of characters all waited for their mutual acquaintance, played by Emily Davis, to give birth to her child. The story revealed a busy career woman, eager for her baby to arrive so that she may return to work and the people in her lives effected by her lifestyle. Her sperm donor (Mike Marbach) was curiously present at the hospital, while it was later revealed by her sister (Cait O’Driscoll) that there may be something more than just a one time donation going on. The future nanny of the child (Jessica Ross) handed out balloons and worried if she would be a good fit to take care of the child. The “facilitator” of the sperm donation (Bobbi Block) continued her role in the hospital as she calmed people down and was there to lend a helping hand in all the madness. The mother-to-be’s assistant (Becca Trabin) came to deliver a present from the office, and ended up delivering something far more important (the baby!) All the action took place while an in-over-her-head candy stripe (Corin Wells) raced around a hospital she seemed to be the only employee of.

The strengths of the first act were in the strong character choices made by the cast. Each improvisor brought their own idea to their character and stuck with it to the end. Emily Davis showed the non stop work ethic of her career driven character even in the last moments of pregnancy. Mike Marbach did his best to remain supportive of the mother of his child even while those around him questioned their relationship. Corin Wells was overworked and exhausted as the seventeen-year-old candy stripe just trying to get community service hours so she can graduate. Becca Trabin portrayed the do-all assistant of a powerful business woman hilariously, showing how prepared one would have to be to be the right hand woman of a non stop workaholic.

The second act begins with director Steve Kleinedler telling the audience that a character of their choice will return for the second scene, and all the other actors would portray someone new. Becca Trabin’s character was selected by one audience member, to cheers of approval from others. The second scene took place in a beauty salon while the patrons prepared for their prom, or “practice wedding” or were just there to have their hair done by the saucy salon staff. The first act of last night’s show had characters entering and exiting the scene fluidly, changing focus and centering on different relationships at different times while the second act had more convergence. The scene began will all but one character (Marc Reber‘s salon worker – who would soon enter) on stage. Most of the performers were all on stage and in the scene at the same time, and the cast members handled the crowded scene excellently. Most of the time the conversation took place between a few characters while the rest of the cast patiently waited, flipping through magazines, or styling hair – but a few times, the stage was full of action with multiple conversations happening at once. The performers were adept, not letting the conversations become just a jumble of noise, but speaking up and quieting down to let the audience key in on the funny parts of what they each were saying.

Twenty-four is a sharply put together show with a diverse, skilled cast of improvisors that will make you care about the characters, draw you in to this moment in their lives, and make you laugh along the way.

There are still three chances to see twenty-four, tonight at 5pm, Tuesday, September 13 at 7pm, and Friday, September 16 at 830pm. All shows are at the Mainstage of the Adrienne Theater. Tickets can be purchased online.

 

Ten Questions With…Steve Kleinedler

Photo by Ben Snitkoff

Steve Kleinedler is an improviser and director who recently joined the Philadelphia scene after working at ImprovBoston. He is currently directing the PHIT Fringe Festival show twenty-four.

How and why did you get into comedy? I was always interested in theatre, and I slowly slid into comedy in high school in the early 80s when I took part in a program for teenagers affiliated with the Flint Community Players. Every Saturday for 2 years, about a dozen of us would play around, and we gravitated toward improv without fully even realizing it was improv, per se. I don’t think I got into comedy intentionally, it just sort of happened.
How would you describe your style as a comedian? What influences and factors do you think contribute to that? I’m a verbal player. I’m quick to make connections and see patterns verbally, and I have a good command of the English language. I’ve done several hundred radio interviews for work, and I can talk fluently at length on many subjects. Doing improv is an extension of that skill.
Do you have a favorite show or venue you like to perform at? What about it makes it fun or special for you? After a while, venues blend together. Essentially they’re all rooms with an audience, so it really makes no difference to me as long as they’re acoustically sound.  My favorite show was not one I was in, but one I directed: Backstory, up at ImprovBoston, in which the story unfolded backward in time, like the movie Memento. The actors spent eight weeks rehearsing and then had an eight week run, and it was really intense, and they nailed every single performance. All the actors attended every single rehearsal (except for one person who missed one week because she was in Ireland), so it was insanely tight. Favorite shows I was in is my two-person show with Harry Gordon: Directions with Steve & Harry.
Do you have a single favorite moment in Philly comedy or one that stands out? The first time I did Adrift (PHIF 6, I think), I literally met Kelly Vrooman about 2 seconds before we went onstage. We took our places in the dark, the lights went up, and she and I locked eyes and *immediately* had a fully fleshed out backstory and we were both on the same page. Without saying anything! It was amazing. And then I got to make out with Kristen Schier. It was quite a show.
My favorite moment that I wasn’t a part of involves Mary Carpenter, both in Dangerous Minds at Duofest 2, and in Matt Nelson’s Stage Fright. I can’t narrow them down, but it’s a joy to watch her act.
Do you have any sort of creative process that you use with your writing or your performance? Not a conscious one. By now, it’s just sort of ingrained and I just sort of do it.
What is it about improv that draws you to it? When it’s on fire, it’s one of the most gratifying things to watch as an audience member. As a director, when you see your cast hit it, it’s also immensely gratifying.
Do you have any favorite performers in the Philly scene? Why are they your favorites? Right now, I’m going to say the entire cast of 24 (the fringe project I’m directing for PHIT).
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 this outgig — a Christmas party at the police union up in Boston. They were in a mood to party and they were NOT in a mood to watch a show; additionally, the three guys I performed with had gotten into an accident on the way there. (I got a call from them — I was stuck in the traffic behind the accident they were a part of!) When we saw how hostile the site was to us, we immediately cut our 45 minute set down to about 20 minutes.  We played ‘Interrogation’ — and when we asked for a crime that had been committed, one person responded from the back of the room: “Ate a crap.” That pretty much sums up the night. It was awful.
What do you think the Philly comedy scene needs to continue to grow? I moved to Philadelphia four months ago because I’m completely jazzed about the scene. When I decided to move on from Boston, I could literally have moved anywhere in the country I wanted to, and I chose Philadelphia in large part for the comedy scene that so many people from so many backgrounds have worked hard to create. The opportunity to perform here is greater than in most cities (mostly because rental spaces are so plentiful and relatively inexpensive), and it’s so nice to see performers and producers take advantage of that.
As the different groups and organizations work together more and more, the stronger the community will become. A rising tide lifts all boats. I see so many encouraging signs that everyone wants a vibrant comedy scene in Philadelphia. There’s plenty of room for all of the existing organizations (and then some). The movers and shakers behind PHIT, PHIF, ComedySportz, to name just three, all deserve a huge deal of credit for bringing the city to its current level of comedy offerings, and the addition of newer umbrella organizations like Polygon just point to the vibrancy of the scene. I can’t imagine doing this in any other city. The trajectory is definitely on an upswing.
Do you have any personal goals for the future as you continue to perform comedy?  My only goal ever, was to be in an opening credits sequence. I did some video sketch comedy in the late 90s, so I hit that goal. I am fortunate that I have a good day job, which leaves my evenings and weekends free to pursue theatre. My focus is on directing and coaching, so what makes me happy is helping other improvisers continually improve.