The 2011 WitOut Awards for Philadelphia Comedy were last night at World Cafe Live. The Philadelphia comedy community gathered together to hand out the awards which they themselves nominated and voted for. In case you missed it, here’s a full rundown of the winners in each category.
Best Host: Chip Chantry – host of Chip Chantry’s One Man Show (with Special Guests) and Facetime with Chip Chantry
Special thanks to World Cafe Live for allowing us to have our “clown friend clubhouse goofball jerkoff party” in their establishment. Also thanks to everyone who helped produce the show. The writers: Aaron Hertzog, Chip Chantry, Doogie Horner, Rob Baniewicz, Mary Radzinski, Jim Grammond, Becca Trabin, Joe Moore, Luke Giordano, Billy Bob Thompson, Greg Maughan. The video spots were put together by Rob Baniewicz and Shannon Devido. Also thanks to all the presenters and of course, the host of the evening Joe Moore.
This weekend, Camp Woods and The Feeko Brothers are heading west for the Chicago Sketchfest. The groups will perform two sets each while visiting the windy city for the festival and will be sure to represent Philly as only they can. You can check out sketches from the groups on their websites.
The Philly Improv Theater is looking for interns. Students who are enrolled in a degree granting college or university program are eligible to apply for Winter/Spring (January through April), Summer (May through August) or Fall (Sepember through December) internship experiences with the Philly Improv Theater on an unpaid or college/university credit basis. Interested students can get more information online.
Saturday night will bring back the Laughs on Fairmount Showcase to The Urban Saloon. Carolyn Busa and Mary Radzinski have branched off their weekly open mic into a booked showcase featuring some of their favorite comedians. This month’s show will feature Chip Chantry, Aaron Hertzog, Jim Ginty, TJ Hurley and Mike Roberts.
4. When Fastball Bob dressed like a baby angel or something.
3. Some Peanut Butter bullshit song.
2. When Secret Pants killed Snoopy or whatever.
1. WHEN BENNY MICHAELS PULLED THE CHAIR OUT FROM UNDER MR. TARTAGLIA AT CONNIE’S RIC RAC. This was seriously the most funny/immature/base humor/brilliant moment in my life. Rainey and Mayo were doing a benefit show at the Ric Rac a couple of months ago. From what I remember, those two, Benny Michaels, me, the Feekos, and I’m sure some other funny folks were on the show- it was a fun time. At one point, Mayo was onstage. I was sitting in the back row of folding chairs, at the end of the aisle. Christian Feeko was sitting a few seats down from me. Benny walked over from the bar, and naturally wanted to sit next to me, because I am awesome. I was at the end of the row, so Benny decided to pull back the chair from the end of the row in front of us. As he does this, he goes to whisper something to me. He is so focused on whatever the contents of that whispered message are, that he does not see/realized that Mr. Tartaglia, a man in his 70’s, I’d assume, was attempting to sit down in the chair that Benny was now pulling out from under him. Christian and I both saw it happen in slow motion, but were powerless (according to us) to do anything to stop it. Mr. Tartaglia went down hard. Benny was shocked and horrified at what he had just done. Mr. Tartaglia then pops right up and yells, “WHAT IS THIS, SOME KINDA MAGIC SHOW???” Benny grabs the chair, sits the gentleman down, and makes sure he is OK, which, thank God, he was. Meanwhile, Christian and I were in tears, hyperventilating, like a couple of 12 year olds. We both had to leave the room. Benny Michaels, as many of you know, is one of the sweetest, kindest human beings you will ever meet, and funny as hell besides. And he felt AWFUL for what he inadvertently had done. But in doing that, he gave Christian Feeko and I the greatest gift you could ever give another person. Besides your virginity. Or a Lexus. Or a kidney. Speaking of kidneys and body parts, it should be noted that Mr. Tartaglia had undergone heart surgery just two weeks prior to the incident. As of this post, he is in wonderful health, and is, as many of you know, a great man with a great big heart.
Thank you, Benny Michaels, for all you have done, in this, 2011, the year of our LORD.
This sketch just debuted at Keep The Change Ya Filthy Animal: A Yuletide Variety Show – Secret Pants’ now annual holiday sketch show at Johnny Brenda’s. I stood in a room full of laughing audience members and fellow comedians who were amazed at the consistent, fresh, hilarious concepts and execution Secret Pants always brings to the table. This sketch is a prime example of that. Do yourself a favor and just enjoy this sketch, don’t do as I did and sit there wondering who plays the back of Paul Triggiani’s head (my guess is Brian Kelly).
Bird Text – The Real Househusbands of Philadelphia Occupy Philly
The Bird Text fellas combine their breakout characters with the hot-button-issue-of-the-later-half-of-the-year-that-disappeared-as-soon-as-the-cops-chased-everybody-out to make for some great moments in man-on-the-street comedy. This was the perfect third act for the Househusbands characters, a great way to keep the idea fresh and branch out to new territory.
Camp Woods – Detective Berry
Camp Woods has been killing it lately. Every show is packed with tightly written sketches that start with strong premises and are full of fearless performances from each of their members. I probably spend too much time over-analyzing comedy, and lately I’ve been thinking about Camp Woods and their group dynamic. The group is full of versatile performers who know how to write for each other and where they all fit in. They also know how to take a great premise and squeeze every laugh out of it with a combination of big, balls-out performances, and small nuanced hilarious moments. This sketch is a great example of that. The idea it self is laugh-out-loud silly, but the sketch is jam packed with little moments that make it great. From Billy Bob Thompson’s facial expressions to Brendan Kennedy’s reaction shots to JP Boudwin’s bewilderment to Sam Narisi’s great delivery of the line “it all makes so much sense”. Even the way Billy says the word “cum” makes me laugh.
I’m sort of cheating here by including The Feeko’s entire set from this year’s Philly Sketch Fest. Only “sort of” because the entire show ran together and was connected beautifully so it seemed like one complete sketch. The show started with a “body switch” premise, so I was hooked from the start. The set continued with a mix of new and previously seen ideas blended together to take us on a trip to see the Feeko Brothers’ British counterparts, watch Billy as he became possessed by a Demon hell bent on getting some marijuana, and watch as Billy and Christian frantically tried to return to their own bodies. Plus, the whole thing was sponsored by a quaint little restaurant on the corner of Market and Fifth.
The sketch community is close knit, driving each other and suffering with that always comical combination of camaraderie and competition. We had members of each of the nominated groups comment on the other groups. Here are some of the comments:
Members: JP Boudwin, Sam Narisi, Pat Foy, Brendan Kennedy, Billy Bob Thompson, Rob Baniewicz and Madonna Refugia
“Camp Woods have quite literally grown a lot in the past year. They’re the “Katamari Damacy” of our comedy scene. Absorbing some of the best performers and writers in Philadelphia, their voice has only gotten stronger and sharper, and I can’t wait to see what they bring going forward.” – Brian Craig, Secret Pants
“Our community is privileged to have a group like Camp Woods in its ranks. We all want a proper comedy community in Philadelphia but Camp Woods defines the proper pursuit of it. Their work ethic is unparalleled. If they aren’t on stage performing you can bet they are in the crowd watching. They are genuine. They are respectful. They are involved. Their love of comedy and the craft is undeniable. And where most groups would falter with so many different voices and performing backgrounds (stand-up, theater & improv), Camp Woods is only stronger for it. They effortlessly weave in and out of concepts both silly and cerebral and when they do it, they do it well. Camp Woods is a deliberate, thoughtful, humble and consistently hilarious sketch comedy troupe and they deserve your attention. Oh, and I almost forgot… they can do almost anything with cardboard.” – Brian Kelly, Secret Pants
“Camp Woods is unique. Their sketches are weird, funny, and most importantly smart. Their homemade costumes, props, puppets and sets paired with their constantly new material makes them both entertaining and admirable.” – Shannon Brown, ManiPedi
The Feeko Brothers
Members: Billy Bob Thompson, Christian Alsis
“I think the biggest reason why I, and everyone else, loves the Feekos is that they’re such a joy to watch. Billy and Christian have such great chemistry together onstage, and they always commit to everything 100%, as anyone who’s seen them at the Dirtiest Sketch Competition can tell you.” – Patrick Foy, Camp Woods
“The Feeko Brothers are bat-shit brilliant; they’re sick, insane, and fearless. ” – Madonna Refugia, ManiPedi & Camp Woods
“I’m gonna go way back to LHM’s 1st Sketch Up, when we hadn’t been exposed to much Philly sketch, and the Feeko Brother’s performed Coach and Kid. We were really blown away by the commitment to the performance and how awesome of a song it was, and it just made us really excited about deciding to do sketch in Philly.” – Aubrie Williams, Local Holiday Miracle & ManiPedi
Local Holiday Miracle
Members: Andrea Kuhar Isom, Aubrie Williams
“I’m really glad LHM is around; they add a unique voice to the scene and they’re a blast to work with. They’re offbeat and hilarious and I look forward to watching them continue to do good things.” – Pat Foy, Camp Woods
“I think I almost hurt myself laughing at their Expectations video. It had such a weird pacing that gave it that up all night watching tv feel. And the extended pickle-ice cream porn at the end was nice. I love seeing how duos play off each other and these guys are an awesome match.” – Rob Baniewicz, Camp Woods
Members: Madonna Marie Refugia, Aubrie Williams, Shannon Brown, Briana Kelly, Kaitlyn Thompson, and Jen Curcio
“A staple of shows at Tabu and Sketch-Up or Shut-Up, this supergroup of ladies from improv and sketch keeps growing and growing. I’m really excited to see what they come up with and where they’re going to next.” – Rob Baniewicz, Camp Woods
Members: Brian Craig, Brian Kelly, Paul Triggiani, Larry Wiechecki, Steve Thorne, and Samantha Russell
“I think the main thing that makes Secret Pants so great is their attention to detail. Props, costumes, makeup, lighting, cinematography — they always get everything right. All the grunt work that comes with being in a sketch troupe, they nail it every single time. Plus they’re great performers, every last one of them. I think Samantha Russell is one of the most underrated comic performers in the city.” – Patrick Foy, Camp Woods
“Secret Pants was the first group I ever saw at the Philly Improv Theater, and I remember walking away being so inspired by how smart, and also not afraid to be totally silly – their sketches were! They have such a balanced and strong ensemble. Plus, their videos are just beautiful. There is a fun artfulness to their work that puts them at the top of my list. “ – Andrea Kuhar Isom, Local Holiday Miracle
“Holy shit. These guys are the reason I do sketch. They’re so consistently good and they’re my favorite group — so to say I’m competitive with them is an understatement. They drive me to try to out do them – in production, acting, and laughs – because they own all three on a regular basis.” – Rob Baniewicz, Camp Woods
This week, Comedy Month wraps up with the first annual City Spotlight, a week showcasing many of Philadelphia’s diverse comedic talents. Tonight, the Old Comedy Buffet features all comedians over 40 for a night of classic Philadelphia comedy. Later this week, Pat House hosts In The Beginning…, where comedians will show a video from their early days of comedy and roast themselves making fun of how far they’ve (hopefully) come. Friday night features Broad Comedy, an all female show hosted by Mary Radzinski and Carolyn Busa.
This Tuesday, Face Time with Chip Chantry returns to Helium Comedy Club. This month’s show will feature James Hesky, Brendan Kennedy, Darryl Charles, Glen Tickle, and as always will feature co-host and house band Amir Gollan and Chip Chantry doing the news.
Philly Improv Theater will feature a week of shows they are calling “Pilot Week” which will showcase all new shows looking for a permanent spot in the PHIT lineup. Tonight, Becca Trabin presents Town Hall a debate show in a mock town hall meeting format. Tuesday will feature True? The Roger C. Snair Interview Show hosted by Brendan Kennedy‘s Guilty Pleasures sidekick. Wednesday will be the debut of a new panel comedy show A Few Answers Short.
Tonight at the Shakespeare Theater Philly Sketchfest will continue a tradition started in 2007 at Don Montrey‘s Die Actor Die – The Dirtiest Sketch in Philadelphia contest. Sketch groups from Philadelphia and beyond will gather to perform their filthiest, most disgusting, most depraved sketches in order to gain the hearts and minds of the audience and win the grand prize, along with the bragging rights of being the dirtiest minds in a group of supremely dirty minds. Defending champions The Feeko Brothers will take the same stage they actually vomited on last year, along with two-time champ Secret Pants, Camp Woods, out-of-towners Angel Yau and Thunderstood, Philly stand-up Joe Mayo and more. To make sure you know what you are getting into, we’ve put videos of some of the previous Dirtiest Sketch winners (and Secret Pant’s second place finish from last year) below. Enjoy.
The QComedy Fest is also set to take place this week with shows at various venues around the city including The Philly Improv Theater at The Shubin Theater, Tabu Sports Bar & Lounge, and Club Voyeur. The festival will be headlined by Alec Mapa, of Desperate Housewives and Ugly Betty fame.
Doogie Horner’sMinistry of Secret Jokes returns again this week with a show featuring new videos from Secret Pants and Joke Summer School and stand-up from Chris Cotton, Alex Grubard and Trey Galyon.
How: My entire life, the only thing I’ve ever taken seriously was comedy (that’s how my auto-biography is going to start). I first realized that comedy was something I would like to pursue, when I was in a barbershop quartet called “The Half Steps” during high school. We would perform super cute little comedy bits between songs which I wound up enjoying more than the actual singing itself. Fast forward a few years, blah, blah, blah, and now I’ve become extremely successful at being an unsuccessful comedian.
Why: Crippling anxiety, the strange desire to be liked by people I don’t know, and dirty butt sluts.
How would you describe your style as a comedian? What influences and factors do you think contribute to that? I’m not sure how to describe my style, but here’s some stuff I’ve heard:
“Billy Bob Thompson is the closest thing Philadelphia has to Paul Rudd.” -–Pat Ackerman
“Billy is like a white Steve Martin.” – John McKeever
“You look like that Carey guy! Can I get some change for the bus?” – Guy outside of a 7/11
Do you have a favorite show or venue you like to perform at? What about it makes it fun or special for you? I’ve had the most fun on Chip Chantry’s “One-Man Show” and Doogie Horner’s “Ministry of Secret Jokes.” Anything goes on those shows, you knows! These two fine gentlemen have created even finer shows that are an absolute pleasure to perform on and watch. If you want a crash course in what is actually going on in Philly Comedy, go to these shows. Quick side note: If you run a show or a venue, please don’t throw hissy fits in front of your performers. It puts them on edge and makes you look unprofessional. The performers are there to help you. Stop it. I’ve seen this baby behavior happening all over the city. You’re being bad. Bad!
Do you have a single favorite moment in Philly comedy or one that stands out? For me personally, it’s either doing stand-up at Helium’s Philly’s Phunniest OR “A Slow Day at the Dildo Factory”:http://youtu.be/6i_DlJzsc7w But I’d have to say that “The Roast of Meg Favreau” was one of my favorite moments in Philly comedy. Everyone on the dais MurderDeathKilled with their sets! It was one of the funniest shows I’ve had the pleasure of being involved with. See for yourself: http://www.witout.net/2011/03/23/video-of-the-meg-favreau-roast/ Luke Giordano’s Roast was alright too, I guess.
Do you have any sort of creative process that you use with your writing or your performance? Or a sort of method that you use to develop comedic material? I use the 3 Ps* method.
What is it about stand-up / sketch / improv that draws you to it? I’m drawn to stand-up because to me it is hands down, the hardest of the three. When you’re alone on stage and it goes bad, it feels terrible. But when it goes well, it’s one of the greatest things in the world. I’m drawn to sketch the most because it fits me the best. There’s more creativity involved in putting together sketches which is why I think I gravitate towards it. I’m drawn to improv because it takes the least amount of preparation, and fucking around with your friends on stage is always a good time.
Do you have any favorite performers in the Philly scene? Why are they your favorites? HOW DARE YOU MAKE ME PICK WHICH OF MY FRIENDS I LIKE MORE!!! Okay, I pick Emily and Micah McGraw. They’re a married comedy duo that sings hilarious songs, every one of which is PURE GOLD. I love everything they do and you should too. Man, I wish I had a husband I could sing comedy songs with. WIFE! I MEANT WIFE! I’m also a gigantic fan of everyone I work with on a regular basis. Like the Camp Woods blokes and the Hate Speech Committee crew!!! We roll deep. But my super favorite would have to be my comedy husband, Christian Alsis. Awwwwwwww. He makes me laugh shit. There, I mentioned you, Christian. Are you happy now?! No? See! I told you you’d never be happy.
Do you have any bad experiences doing comedy that you can share? A particularly bad bombing or even an entire show gone haywire? Of course! But wouldn’t you rather watch a video of it? Here’s a well-shot video of The Feeko Brothers bombing at the late great Bedtime Stories: http://youtu.be/-RB3mPVh9pI Enjoy! I know we didn’t.
What do you think the Philly comedy scene needs to continue to grow? There needs to be more crossover within the comedy scene. HEY, YOU! Do you only perform stand-up and think improv is “gay?” Well, crowd-work is improv so that means you’re “gay” too! Go see an improv show! Do you only do improv and have never heard of Secret Pants? Well, there’s something wrong with you! Go see a sketch show! Do you only perform sketch? Good, keep doing it. There needs to be more people doing sketch. It’s much better than stand-up or improv, but also go see an improv or stand-up show anyway! Crossover within the scene will give everyone more exposure. Get out of your bubble!
Do you have any personal goals for the future as you continue to perform comedy? My goal is to hopefully make the transition from a Volunteer Comedian to a Paid Comedian. I already treat comedy like a job so all I’m looking for is a promotion and maybe a raise. Dental would be nice. I’d also like to be Mr. January in the “Beef-Cakes of Philly Comedy” Calendar, but it would be an honor just to be nominated.