For the rest of the year, we are going to run lists from you, our readers (and some that we wrote ourselves) of our Top 5 of 2011. You’ll hear from many Philadelphia comedians, as well as some fans of comedy about their favorite sketches, bits, shows, and moments of the past year. If you’d like to write a list – go ahead, do it! and send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Our first list comes from Executive Director of the Philly Improv Theater, Greg Maughan, and includes his favorite $5 passwords for PHIT shows from the past year.
5. “Everything You Like Is Stupid Dot Com”: I can’t say this password was really all that funny, but I do read Luke Giordano’s website as a result of having it’s domain merciless pounded into my brain every time I went to his show. (By the way Luke, I’ll be sending you an invoice for this product placement).
4. ”Meatspin”: Alex Gross‘ passwords for The Gross Show have taught me more about obscure – and in the eyes of religious conservatives, deviant – sexual practices than anything else since Steve Babcock’s asides in my 8th Grade Health class. For the love of God, please don’t say I didn’t warn if you decide to Google this one and end up offended.
3. ”I am the Dread Pirate Roberts, there will be no survivors.”: I think there were actually people who came to TV Party‘s show dedicated to Fairy Tales just for the privilege of getting to say this line and then give us $5.
2. “Boehner? I hardly know her!”: It was hard picking my favorite Chip Chantry pun-based password, but the political junkie in me won out on this one (even if it does require you to mispronounce the House Speaker’s last name). A close second was August’s ”So IRENE’S Over, and I Says to Him…” the day after the hurricane hit Philly.
1. “Friendship”: Aaron Hertzog completely ignored my rule that the $5 password had to be different each show all year long, but he was so friendly about it I didn’t have the heart to tell him he needed to stop. Now I’ve told him so publicly though, so if I had money to bet I would say that his next show will have a different word… but the root will still be “friend”.
Chip Chantry’s One Man Show (With Special Guests)
When Don Montry decided to end the run of his show Die Actor Die at The Khyber he handed the reigns over to the very capable Chip Chantry who continued the tradition of a Monday night variety show on stage at the Old City bar. When The Khyber decided to change their plans and eliminate live shows, Chip took his show to Philly Improv Theater, where it has flourished ever since. Mixing stand-up, sketch, improv, characters and games, Chip Chantry’s One Man Show (with Special Guests) is one of the places crowds get to see the best of all genres of Philadelphia comedy.
The Gross Show
Alex Gross’ mock Trash Talk show has been grossing audiences out at Philly Improv Theater since its’ premiere earlier this year. A mix of characters, written bits, and improv, The Gross Show takes the best of the worst of human behavior and displays it for crowds ready and eager to laugh at how low down and dirty the minds of Philadelphia’s funniest people can get.
Part of PHIT’s appropriately named “found comedy night” Guilty Pleasures is a platform for host Brendan Kennedy to call people out for their bullshit on stage. Brendan loves to find the best examples of terrible writing and have some of Philly’s funniest people read the scripts for an audience with hilarious results. Brendan’s also found the perfect sidekick in Roger C. Snair – willing to rap on stage, write his own scripts for the show – and participate in reading of rewritten “classic” movie scenes, tailored just for him by Brendan.
The Ministry of Secret Jokes
Doogie Horner’s monthly Ministry of Secret Jokes has been one of the best nights of comedy Philadelphia has to offer for years. Doogie packs the show with not only great stand-up and sketch comedy but games, contests, and audience participation. The show is run like a meeting of a secret society, and Doogie often opens his shows by having the audience recite an oath that they will not reveal what they see to anyone. Judging by the packed in crowds upstairs at Fergie’s every month, many people have been breaking that oath.
The Theme Show
Rob Baniewicz hosts this monthly show with various acts all doing their take on one common theme. The successor to Gregg Gethard’s Bedtime Stories, The Theme Show is a great chance for audiences to see the variety that comes when different groups get the same general topic and are allowed to let their imaginations roam free. It’s always a treat to see how performers approach the theme and where they find humor in the topic of the month.
Rob Baniewicz and Paul Triggiani get together on stage at Philly Improv Theater every month and have a TV Party. They find the best worst television from the past available and present it to a crowd full of often drunk and always eager fans waiting to laugh – both at the shows and with the hilarious commentary provided by the two. Paired perfectly with Guilty Pleasures on PHIT’s “found comedy” night, TV Party brings to the stage an experience we all have – laughing at things that weren’t necessarily meant to be funny.
The end of October is traditionally a special time for themed comedy shows. The Halloween season brings out special characters, theme shows, and other spooky surprises. Here is a run down of some of the special Halloween shows Philly has to offer in the upcoming week.
Hey Everybody – Friday, October 28 – 7PM – Philly Improv Theater
Aaron Hertzog‘s stand-up comedy showcase features all characters this week with comedy from Fastball Pitcher Bob Gutierrez, Bing Supernova, Joan Fisky, “Dad”, and more!
The Theme Show Presents: The Twilight Zone – Friday, October 28 – 10PM – Philly Improv Theater
Rob Baniewicz‘s monthly variety show pays tribute to the strange, freaky world of The Twilight Zone. Will sketches end in ironic twists? You’ll have to attend to see.
The Gross (Hallowiener) Show – Friday, October 28 – 11PM – Philly Improv Theater
Word on the street is that Alex Gross has been busy preparing buckets of (hopefully) fake blood for his trash talk show, and the Facebook event promises “pure fucking evil, more pure fucking evil” and “even more pure fucking evil.” Sounds like fun.
PHIT House Team Night of the Living Dead Improv – Saturday, October 29 – 7, 8:30, 10PM – Philly Improv Theater
PHIT House Teams Asteroid!, King Friday, and Fletcher along with special “Undead Guests” will perform special Halloween themed improv. Asteroid! plans on performing an improvised B Movie. The special guests on each show will be now defunct house teams reanimated for a special performance.
Hatespeech Committee Mischief Night Variety Show Nonsense Costume Party! – Sunday, October 30 – 7:00PM – Connie’s Ric Rac
Chip Chantry and Roger C. Snair the Vampire will co-host the evening while Otto Van Walmart serves as the house band. Costumes are manditory for all that attend, and ones will be available to rent at the door for $3 for those that don’t believe that’s true. There will be a prize given out for best costume and best Roger C. Snair impersonation. Plus Hatespeech Committee promises that they will be getting wild.
Chip Chantry’s One Man Show (With Special Guests) – Monday, October 31 – 8:30PM – Philly Improv Theater
Chip Chantry’s monthly spectacular has the distinct privilege of falling on Halloween night and will feature a sketch from James Hesky, Eric Todd, John Kensil and Mike Rainey along with performances from Pat House and Tom Cassidy, favorite recurring feature Storytime with Mike Rainey and movie reviews from the Westboro Baptist Church.
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.
We made a mistake last week when we said that Stage Fright, the improvised Alfred Hitchcock show ended this past weekend. It’s still running through this week and you can still pick up tickets. Also, check out the LOL With It interview with the creators in City Paper. [LOL With It]
Speaking of LOL With It, writer Ryan Carey sat down with Matt McCarthy this past Friday and got an interview with him. [LOL With It]
Rick Horner is organizing a Philadelphia comedy festival called F. Harold that will take place at the prestigious Walnut Street Theatre and feature exclusively Philadelphia comedy performers. Submissions have begun for all acts, stand-up, sketch, and improv. [Facebook Event]
Luke Giordano at Everything You Like Is Stupid posted on Friday giving his opinions on racism (he doesn’t like it). [Everything You Like Is Stupid]
Philly Improv Theater‘s two-week run at the Shubin begins tonight with The Gross Show at 8:00. The full schedule for the next two weeks is up on their website. [PHIT Shows Page]
Mike Rainey and Joe Mayo have been putting up a series of comedy show benefits for certain charitable causes. The next one is for Austism Speaks this Friday at Maggie O’Neill’s. [Facebook Event]
Paul Goodman on last week’s March Madness winners: “Jamil B, Ian Fidance, Brandon Ketchup Wilson, Jon DelCollo, Sean Quinn, Brendan Kennedy, Tim Butterly, and Dan Scully will compete in the March Madness Elite 8 Finals on Wednesday, April 6 at Mad River in Manyunk. Mark your calendars — it’s going to be an awesome show.” [Facebook Event]
Meg & Rob‘s Meg Favreau is on the road to Los Angeles. Rob Baniewicz helped her drive down to Atlanta. She has a blog about it. [Blog]
Improv group Fletcher is having a “Thing of Things” contest to win a free ticket to one of their shows. Check out the rules and the contest itself on their Facebook page. [Facebook Page]
James Hesky wrote an article on It’s Always Funny in Philly about Tragedy + Time = Comedy. Or does it? [It's Always Funny in Philadelphia]
The Gross Show hosted by Alex Gross is tomorrow night at Philly Improv Theater. To get a sense of what the show will be like, check out the video preview with footage from previous shows. [YouTube]
Luke Giordano has started his list of The 100 Greatest Americans on Everything You Like Is Stupid. Number one hundred: Grover Cleveland. [Everything You Like Is Stupid]
Aaron Hertzog and Gregg Gethard are claiming this week’s Holding Court Podcast is the best one ever. It’s up to you to verify. [Holding Court Podcast]
Alejandro Morales wrote an article on the use of anti-gay slurs in comedy called “Comedy and the Fag Word.” It got picked up by Philly Gay Calendar. [Philly Gay Calendar]
Rumblings of a new Philadelphia comedy roast this month are getting louder. We’ll be the first (maybe second) to bring you all the information about that when it’s released. You can check out video last year’s roast of Kent Haines on Pat Barker‘s YouTube channel. [Pat Barker's YouTube Channel]
Philly Improv Theater‘s The Gross Show has a new night and time — Tuesday, March 29th at 8:30. Perhaps this is due to the last two shows getting noise complaints for being so raucous (this is what it is). [The Gross Show on Facebook]
Speaking of PHIT, the powerpoint from last Tuesday’s State of PHIT address from Greg Maughan is up if you weren’t there to attend. [Philly Improv Theater]
The second round of the March Madness Comedy Competition is tonight at the newly-christened Comedy X-Change open mic. Details of last night’s packed show will come tomorrow. [Facebook Event]