Upcoming Shows

  • July 31, 2014 8:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
  • July 31, 2014 9:00 pmThe Comedy Attic
  • August 1, 2014 7:00 pmThe Comedy Works
  • August 1, 2014 8:00 pmThe N Crowd
  • August 1, 2014 8:00 pmCrazy Cow Comedy
  • August 1, 2014 8:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
  • August 1, 2014 9:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
  • August 2, 2014 7:30 pmComedy Sportz Philadelphia
  • August 2, 2014 8:00 pmCrazy Cow Comedy
  • August 2, 2014 9:30 pmThe Comedy Works
  • August 2, 2014 10:00 pmComedy Sportz Philadelphia
  • August 2, 2014 10:30 pmImprov Comedy: PHIT House Teams
  • August 7, 2014 8:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
  • August 7, 2014 9:00 pmThe Comedy Attic
  • August 8, 2014 7:00 pmThe Comedy Works
  • August 8, 2014 8:00 pmCrazy Cow Comedy
  • August 8, 2014 8:00 pmThe N Crowd
  • August 8, 2014 8:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
  • August 8, 2014 9:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
  • August 9, 2014 7:30 pmComedy Sportz Philadelphia
  • August 9, 2014 8:00 pmCrazy Cow Comedy
  • August 9, 2014 9:30 pmThe Comedy Works
  • August 9, 2014 10:00 pmComedy Sportz Philadelphia
  • August 9, 2014 10:30 pmImprov Comedy: PHIT House Teams
  • August 14, 2014 8:30 pmFigment Theater: Sessions @ Studio C
AEC v1.0.4

Philly Comedy Round-up, Vol. 74

This Wednesday at Chris’ Jazz Cafe (1421 Sansom St.) the Tight Six crew will host Not Jazz 2, an evening of stand-up comedy featuring John Nunn, Mary Radzinski, Dan Scully, Trevor Cunnion, Gregg Gethard, and Keane Cobb.

The Sideshow Presents: Iron Lung’s 2 Year Anniversary Show/Party  this Friday at The Arts Parlor (1170 S. Broad St). The show will feature improv from Iron LungKid Twist, Cock Hat, and Bed Savage as well as sketch from The Flat Earth and stand-up from Sidney Gantt.

Comedian and ventriloquist Jeff Dunham will bring his array of characters to perform at the Wells Fargo Center (3601 S. Broad St.) this Friday. Tickets are available online.

In addition to their regular, weekly shows ComedySportz Presents: Adrift and ComedySportz’ The Blue Show will be held this Friday at The Adrienne Theater (2030 Sansom St.) ComedySportz Presents is “an ongoing series of fun, new comedy shows featuring your favorite CSz Players and Philadelphia comedians.” Always on the last Friday of every month The Blue Show promises to feature “your favorite players doing stuff no Brown Bag could ever rectify.”

The Center Square Fire Company (1298 Skippack Pike, Blue Bell PA) is celebrating their 100th anniversary this Saturday with a comedy show featuring stand-up from The Legendary WID, Mike Morse, Robin Fox, and Grover Silcox. Tickets for the show can be purchased online and include a souvenir cup, beer, soda, and snacks.

Jim Gaffigan visits Philadelphia for a show at the Tower Theater (69th and Ludlow) this Saturday. Tickets can be purchased online.

The Captain Action Comedy Show makes its Saturday debut this week at the Conshohocken Cafe (521 Fayette St. Conshohocken) with a show featuring Jim Ginty, Jon DelCollo, Aaron Nevins, Dave Terruso, and Dan Vetrano.

This Sunday Bedtime Stories Presents: Behind the Scenes at a Soft Rock Radio Station in Nahua, NH at Connie’s Ric Rac (1132 S. 9th St.). The show will feature comedians telling the stories behind WHFMTOWNDZ-FM (The Breeze On Top of the Mountain Near Nashua) — the number two rated soft rock/adult contemporary radio station in New Hampshire’s second biggest radio market.

ComedySportz for Kids — a “fun-sized version of our long-running comedy show only shorter, sillier and kiddy-er” will be this Sunday at The Adrienne Theater (2030 Sansom St.) The monthly comedy show for children will take place at 11 am. Tickets can be purchased online.

Philadelphia Live Arts Festival & Philly Fringe are looking for new artists. Live Arts will select up to 5 artists through an audition process. If selected, artists will be presented in a showcase format for two nights, will receive a stipend of $500 and 5 hours of rehearsal time in the LAB in preparation for their performance. Live Arts is seeking work which demonstrates a commitment to forward thinking ideas and aesthetics. Any live performance genre is acceptable including theater, dance, music and performance art. Visit www.livearts-fringe.org/jumpstart to sign up and read the guidelines, eligibility, and FAQs.

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

Philly Comedy Round-up, Vol. 73

Remember we told you to check out the latest issue of Philadelphia Magazine for an article on Juliet Hope Wayne and the Philly comedy scene? Well, now that article is available online.

Philadelphia will have three chances to see Louis CK at the Merriam Theater (250 South Broad St.) this Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

Comedian Deconstruction returns to L’etage this Thursday with their annual Dirty Show. This month stand-up comedians Dave Terruso and Kricket Lee will be deconstructed by improv groups Cock Hat and Bed Savage.

This Friday Wyatt Cenac (The Daily Show) will perform at The Trocadero Theater (1003 Arch St.) Tickets are available online.

The Day Drinking Americans Comedy Tour will make a stop at The Raven Lounge (1718 Sansom St.) for a show featuring John Tole and Ian Stuart with locals: Ryan ShanerJohn Nunn, and Tim Butterly.

The Sideshow returns to The Arts Parlor (1170 South Broad St.) this Friday with a show featuring stand-up comedy from Trevor Cunnion, improv from Cake Bear and Whisper, and necrosexuality from The Necrosexual.

Saturday is Durty Comedy Night at Durty Nelly’s Irish Pub (701 E Macdade Blvd Folsom, PA) with a show featuring stand-up from: Kricket Lee, Mike Rainey, Rick Mirarchi, James Hesky, John McKeever, and Mike Jansen.

Philly’s Comedy Underground comes to Circa 1212 (1212 South St.) this Saturday for a show featuring comics Mikey Garcia, Lou Misiano, Alejandro Morales, Pete Steele, and Caitlin Feeney.

This Sunday comedian Todd Barry brings his Crowdwork Tour to The Urban Saloon (2120 Fairmount Ave.) for two entire shows of riffing and bantering with the audience. The 8pm show is already sold out, but tickets are still available online for the 10pm show.

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

“I Allow People to Do Whatever the Hell They Want to Do” – Interview with Mike Marbach on Plans for ‘The Sideshow’ in 2013

by Pat Reber

The Sideshow is a real gem. It’s the epitome of the local, DIY, low production/high entertainment experimental variety shows that we comedy nerds go crazy for. I attended last Friday’s The Sideshow: Happy New Year featuring Malone, Gross Butler and Daring Daulton. The show was already packed when I arrived, with audience members filling every seat and standing against the walls of the cozy studio. More impressive than the audience’s number, though, was how truly engaged we all were from start to finish. Our laughter rolled consistently throughout the entire two-hour show, and turned from chuckles to outright squeals during each set. We were treated to seamless and hilarious improv from Malone and Gross Butler, awkwardly brilliant sketch comedy from Daring Daulton, and a fantastic reading by host Luke Field of a rambling 12-page apology letter to Claritin written by Sideshow creator Mike Marbach.

Marbach is clearly very passionate about this show, and with good reason.  After the show, I caught up with him to find out what exciting plans he has for The Sideshow in 2013:

Spellbound (January 12th)

“The twelfth is going to be pretty different.  Kristen Schier is going to be doing clowning.  There’s an improv trio that formed out of the Sideshow Troika last year, called Chaperone. Lizzie Spellman, who is a local improviser but also sings and plays ukulele, is going to be the host/musical guest of the show, so she’ll be doing different songs throughout the show, in between the other acts.  And then the Necrosexual, which is Jimmy Viola’s thing. I’ve never seen it, I really don’t know what it is, which just goes to show I’ll allow people to do whatever the hell they want to do. I’m sure it’s going to be a good time.”

The 2013 Improv Oscars Jam (February 22nd):

“This will be the third year we’ve done the Improv Oscars Jam, which takes place the weekend of the Oscars. People get dressed up and come out. They have the opportunity to play a bunch of movie-related short-form improv games, some with different multimedia connections. We’ll show a 30-second clip of a movie that came out in 2012, and then people do scenes inspired by that clip. We’ll do live sketches that are movie-inspired. People are encouraged to film different parodies of films that came out in 2012, and we’ll show those on the [projection] screen. There’s food, there’s drinks. This will be the third year, and each one has gotten bigger, and better attended, and it’s always a really good time.”

Freaky Friday (March 15th)

“There is one coming up in March, which I’m calling Sideshow: Freaky Friday, where a bunch of improvisers who haven’t done stand-up before, that’s their chance to do it. And then I want to grab a bunch of stand-ups who haven’t improvised before, and have them do that. So people will get a better appreciation of each other’s art, and how difficult it can actually be, and fun at the same time. So that could be really funny. Or it could be terrible, which is okay. Like I said, I allow people to experiment and do whatever the hell they want to do.”

Musical Revue (Date TBD)

“March or April will be probably one of the biggest things we’ve done with Sideshow. We’ve done one-acts, we’ve done the Oscars Jam, we hosted the Troika last year, but this is going to be a musical revue. It’s going to be a love/hate theme, where it’s going to mix Broadway songs, popular songs, and some original stuff thrown in there as well. It’s going to be all tied together through different stories, and personal things like that. The idea is to be funny, but there will be a lot of vulnerability in there, too. The cast is made up, so far—it’s not official yet, so I don’t want to say just who—but there’s stand-ups in the show, there’s sketch comedians in the show, there’s improvisers in the show. People will get to see them do things that they’ve done in the past, but may not have the opportunity to do now, being involved in the arts that they are. They can show off their singing, or their dancing, or anything like that. It’s going to be a good time.”


The next January dates for ‘The Sideshow’ are the 12th, 18th and 25th.  For more information, check out The Sideshow on Facebook.

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 thinks you’re nice.

Philly Comedy Round-up, Vol. 72

Local comedy website It’s Always Funny In Philadelphia, with some help from some favorite local comedians, released their list of Comedians to Watch in 2013.

Philebrity is starting an Ask Juliet Hope Wayne advice column in which you can anonymously ask for the guidance of the comedian and storyteller.

Space 1026 Comedy Nightz Presents Martin & Lawrence and Others this Tuesday at Space 1026 (1026 Arch St. 2nd floor). The show will feature comedy from Martin & Lawrence, Joey Dougherty, Aaron Nevins, JP Boudwin, and The New Dreamz.

Also this Tuesday you can check out Polygon Comedy: The Perfect New Year at 8pm at L’etage (6th and Bainbridge) featuring stand-up from David Piccolomini and Vegas Lancaster and improv from Nielsen, Steve Rogers is Dead, and Grimacchio. Or you can go to Free Improv at Connie’s Ric Rac (1132 S. 9th St.) at 9pm to see improv from Deleted ScenesThose Two Nice LadiesBad JamesThe Five “Best” Male ImprovisersGross ButlerAngry People Building ThingsCock Hat, and Vertical Scream.

This Wednesday a new Open Mic at Liberties Restaurant & Bar (705 N. 2nd St.) will debut. The mic will be produced by Sonny Vellozzi and Michael O’Donnell and promises to be “a room with a lot of potential” as well as having “beer specials and other benefits in the coming weeks.”

Philadelphia’s own Big Jay Oakerson will headline Helium Comedy Club this week. The comedian will perform six shows from Wednesday to Saturday at the club. Tickets can be purchased online.

The Sideshow returns to The Arts Parlor (1170 S. Broad St.) this Friday with a night of variety comedy from Lizzie Spellman, Chaperone, The Necrosexual, Kristen Schier, and more!

The Humor Has It Comedy Show (Maximillian’s Restaurant, 3001 Naaman’s Creek Road, Boothwyn, PA) this Saturday will feature performances by: Bradley Beck, Fastball Pitcher Gob Gutierrez, Mike Rainey, John McKeever, and headliner Tommy Pope. Reservations can be made by calling 610-485-3500.

Don’t forget The 2013 WitOut Awards for Philadelphia Comedy are this Sunday at World Cafe Live (3025 Walnut St.) Tickets can be purchased online.

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

Philly Comedy Round-up, Vol. 71

Still looking for plans for New Year’s Eve? Last week we gave you this round-up of comedy shows around Philadelphia tonight.

Chip Chantry wrote this piece about his ten most awkward moments of 2012 for Philly.com.

In case you missed it (or if you want to see it again) Emily and Micah McGraw‘s set from Secret Pants‘ Christmas show A Banner Year at the Ol’ Bender House has made its way online.

Pick up a copy of this month’s Philadelphia Magazine to check out an article on comedian and storyteller Juliet Hope Wayne. The article also talks about the comedy scene here in Philly and mentions a certain website that reports on it (it’s us!).

The Sideshow: Happy New Year! show will take place this Friday at The Arts Parlor (1170 S. Broad St.). The show will feature performances from improv groups Gross Butler and Malone and sketch group Daring Daulton plus more!

This Friday will mark the first of three shows of The New Dreamz Experimental Residency Performance Art Program. The New Dreamz is the comedy performance duo of artists Andrew Jeffrey Wright and Rose Luardo. During the residency, the audience can expect to engage with material that will never be performed again and material that will be indoctrinated into The New Dreamz fat folds. Each of the three performances will be unique. The residency will be held at Space 1026 (1026 Arch Street) a Philadelphia collective art community and institution that was established in 1997.

Philly Comedy Round-up, Vol. 70

This video from Jason Messina (formerly of The Sixth Borough, current New York comedian) is a holiday reminder your aunts and grandmothers would be sure to thank him for.

Just because tomorrow is Christmas does not mean that Open Mic at the Headhouse Cafe will be taking the day off. A Very Funny XMAS at the Headhouse will start at 8pm and continue throughout the night for those comics finished with their celebrating, or the ones that aren’t celebrating at all.

This Friday The Sideshow presents: Know When to Leave, a show hosted by Brendan Kennedy and Shannon Brown featuring performances by ManiPedi, Fastball Pitcher Bob Gutierrez, Bing Supernova, Tim Butterly, Carolyn Busa, Sam Narisi, Kait & Andrew, and more.

Saturday the New Year’s Party at HodgePodge (1212 South St.) will feature “music greats: John Francis, James Klueh, GRIZ and a hodgepodge of standup, improv and sketch comics.”

Delaware Today magazine ran a series of short features on native comedians Ian Fidance, Mikey Gleason, Todd Chappelle, and Shari Short. The article also covers emerging venues for comedy in Delaware and shares some jokes from each of the comedians.

Improv duos can mark your calendar as Duofest has announced registration dates for their 2013 festival. Submissions open February 2, with submission deadlines of February 22 for early submissions and March 2 as the final deadline. Applicants will be notified on March 22 and the lineup announced on April 2. The 2013 Duofest will take place from June 6-9.

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

Philly Comedy Round-up, Vol. 69

Chip Chantry’s debut comedy album Across From the Adonis is now available on iTunes. The album was recorded live in front of a packed crowd at Helium Comedy Club and can now be downloaded and enjoyed from the comfort of your own home for $9.99.

On Tuesday A Bunch of Improv at The Grape Room (105 Grape St.) returns with a show featuring improv from Nielsen, No Wait, Matt&, and Cock Hat and will be hosted by Rob Gentile. Doors open at 8pm with the show starting at 8:20.

This Thursday Comedian Deconstruction presents Girls Girls Girls (and Bed Savage) at L’etage (624 S. 6th St.) This month’s show will feature stand-up comedy from Mary Radzinski, Cecily Chapman, Erin Mullville, and Nicole Yates and improv sets from The Amie and Kristen Show and Bed Savage.

This Friday The Arts Parlor (1170 S. Broad St.) will host The Sideshow: Short Attention Span Theater. The show will feature shorter acts (no longer than 15 minutes) and will hosts a mix of magic, stand-up, improv, sketch, storytelling, music, and more.

Secret Pants’ annual Christmas show at Johnny Brenda’s (1201 N. Frankford Ave.) is this Sunday, December 23 at 9:00pm. A Banner Year at the Ol’ Bender Household: A Yuletide Holiday Extravaganza will be hosted by Chip Chantry and will feature sketch performances by: Camp WoodsManiPediSpecific Jawns, and Secret Pants as well as music by Emily and Micah McGraw and a burlesque showcase with Randi WarholTickets are available online.

Just another reminder that the WitOut Caption Contest for this month is live.  To enter  submit a caption in the comments section on the  caption contest post. The winner (as chosen by the editors of WitOut) will receive two free tickets to a ComedySportz show of their choice.

Philly Comedy Round-Up, Vol. 54

The first semi-final of Helium Comedy Club’s Philly’s Phunniest Person Contest was held on Sunday night with Darryl Charles, Pat House, Sean Jackson, Vince Patterson, and Tommy Highland moving on to Wednesday night’s finals. The second semi-final round will be tonight at 8pm at the club.

This Friday, The Sidshow will celebrate it’s one year anniversary with a show at The Arts Parlor (Broad and Federal St.) featuring Malone, Martha Cooney, Hate Speech Sub-Committee, Asteroid!, Mani Pedi, Iron Lung, and The Amie and Kristen Show. The show starts at 8:30 and will be followed by a party in the Arts Parlor space.

Mani Pedi will be hosting another ManiParty on Saturday, September 1 to help cover their travel costs to the upcoming Boston Comedy Arts Festival. Joining them on the show (at L’etage, 624 S. 6th St.) will be fellow BCAF performers Camp Woods and The Feeko Brothers.

Tuesday, August 28 will be the next ComedyDreamz show at The Barbary (951 Frankford Ave.) The show will feature performances by: Body Dreamz, Aaron Hertzog, Carolyn Busa, Steve Miller-Miller, The Feeko Brothers, Alejandro Morales and more. Cover is $5 with the doors opening at 9, show starting at 10, and as always, a dance party following.

Philly Comedy Round-up, Vol. 52

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).

Submissions for Philadelphia’s Comedy Month are now open. Interested groups can apply for the 8th annual Philadelphia Improv Festival (November 7-11, 2012) and the 5th annual Philly Sketchfest (November 12-17,  2012) online. More details on the month-long City Spotlight will be available later. Early submission ($20) for groups is open until until August 17 and the final deadline ($30) is August 31.

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.

Creator Spotlight: Gettin’ Close with Mike Marbach of Gettin Close with Mike Marbach to Talk about The Sideshow

When he’s not logging hours as Philly Improv Theater‘s Education Director or piddlin’ away time on conversations with comedy unknowns like Rich Talarico (improviser and writer who’s worked on a bunch of stuff no one’s ever heard of like Saturday Night Live) and Greg Proops (from another show no one’s ever heard of, Whose Line is it Anyway?) for his Gettin Close with Mike Marbach podcast, Mike Marbach‘s other regular gig is producing The Sideshow at The Arts Parlor. We sat down before Mike had to coach a practice for PHIT house team Asteroid (yep, he does that, too) to talk about what goes into producing a successful comedy showcase, and what’s next for Sideshow this season.

Alison Zeidman: How did Sideshow start? Give me the origin story.

Mike Marbach: I [originally] wanted to do it in Chicago. In Chicago I was part of a group called Club Group Team, and we did a form that was very organic, very much like ZaoGao does now, a form called Punchline. And then there was also this form that somebody would do called Kumate, which was an improvised martial arts thing, and then what I wanted to do was have a revolving third spot, which would be something else that was completely different. It wasn’t picked up. So, when I moved to Philly, I still had the idea in mind and because PHIT only has The Shubin two weeks out of every month, and I wanted something to fill that space, because I teach a lot, and I had a lot of students in classes that weren’t seeing shows. There would be some weeks where there were zero improv shows to see, and I hated that. So that’s one of the main reasons I started Sideshow, just to fill the in the gaps between PHIT weeks, so there would be at least one improv show to see each week.

AZ: But the idea is that it’s its own entitity, too, right? It’s not just something to do because you can’t go to PHIT?

MM: Right. It’s not an extension of PHIT. Your [free student] pass is no good at Sideshow. Because one of the other reasons I started it is that I wanted to have a low-cost place that allowed me to just give the money back. I don’t make anything from doing Sideshow. The Arts Parlor costs very little to rent, and then any money above that goes right back to the performers, so it’s pretty much whoever they can get to come out, because I don’t do much in the way of advertising. Actually I didn’t used to, now I’m starting to do a little bit more, becuase of course the more people that come to the show, the more money the performers make.

AZ: So are those the primary goals? More opportunities to be able to see comedy and see improv, and also more opportunities for performers to make a profit?

MM: Yeah, and there’s a few other things to it too. There were groups that were popping up and premiering their act at places like CAGEMATCH or a festival, like the Philly Improv Festival or F Harold Festival or Duofest, and that’s cool and all, but if I was improvising in those gorups I would definitely not want my first show to be in a high-pressure environment such as a festival. I’d much rather do it in a more controlled, fun, supportive environment—not to say that those aren’t, but I mean, you can pack this place with as many people as you want, with your friends, with your family, and you have a lot less control like that at other shows.

AZ: So people can use it as a testing ground.

MM: Yeah. And that was one of the main ideas especially at the start, definitely more experimental. I really envisioned it just being more of a show for performers, rather than a show for anybody else. I didn’t think it would grow the improv scene by any means, I just wanted a place where people could cut loose and do something that was different. Then that started growing pretty fast.

AZ: Have you ever had to turn someone down, if they pitched an act and it was just too weird?

MM: No, nobody’s ever been turned down. People have been postponed, because [it's become very popular], but I’ve never turned anybody down for it.

AZ: Since it’s an extension of the improv scene and a place to see more performances but also a place for people to workshop things, who would you say is the primary audience? Is it more insular, or open to the general public?

MM: At first the main idea was that it would definitely be an insular show for performers, but even after the first show I quickly learned that that wasn’t really the case. Maybe because of the fact that it all comes down to the money of things, that people know that the more people they bring to the show the more money they walk away with. But we definitely do get a lot of performers too, because as friends of each other we love seeing people step out of their comfort zones and do things that they don’t normally do, or be in a space that they’re not normally in.

AZ: Yeah it’s interesting, whenever I’ve come to a Sideshow it’s always been really packed, even though you’re saying historically you haven’t done too much marketing for it. But you said you’re starting to try to do some more of your own promoting, instead of just leaving it to the performers?

MM: I could, but I kind of like leaving it to the people. I mean I produce the show, and I book the acts with the help of the guys from Beirdo, but it started off mostly just people that were in the shows doing the publicizing, and it kind of remains that way. I like the producing of it, the booking, but beyond that I don’t really want to have that much to do with it. I don’t know, it’s done well so far without me pushing anything: We’ve gotten the attention of different papers, different online blogs and things like that, and we’ve been able to do partnerships with Troika that have been really successful…plus, there’s only so many chairs.

AZ: Can you talk a little more about what really goes into putting on your own show? What you’ve learned, or maybe what advice you might give to somebody who wanted to start their own thing?

MM: Find a place that’s cheap enough, because there may be nights when you’re not going to make the rent. Don’t pick a place where you’re going to consistently lose money—and that’s where the Parlor’s been fantastic.

AZ: How did you find this place?

MM: Asteroid has practiced here weekly for about two years, and there was a group I used to coach called Leo Callahan who used to do shows here about once a month before they split, so I just kind of picked it up after they were done. Um…what else…ask admission. Ask people to pay for your shows. Free shows are cool, but I really feel that what we do has value, and maybe I’m only putting the value of $5 on it, but that’s also because I want it to be super accessible. Plus it fits the space. This isn’t a theater; this is a converted, sweaty dance studio. And really think about what kind of show you ‘re trying to put on. Think about if you want to do a variety show, or if you really just want to do an improv show. And vary up the acts within that as well. On Sideshow I’m not going to book three duos in a row, not just because duos can bring in less people—that’s one of the reasons, sure—but also because I wouldn’t want to sit and watch three duos in a row. And just make sure it’s a good show, make sure it looks good. People that know me know that I’m very big on dress code. I’m not asking people to wear suits and ties when they come to a Sideshow show, but I want them to step up, I guess. Make it a production, just raise the production value. I have to do whatever I can do because of the fact that this is a sweaty dance studio, so I want to make sure that that atmosphere of a show overtakes the crappiness of the space.

AZ: Do you have any tips for somebody else who might be dealing with a crappy space? Does that come in with lighting, or hosting, or…?

MM: Yeah, hosting is huge. Make sure people can host. I’m not a good host, which is part of the reason why I don’t want to be up there. And look at what you can do with the space. If you can clean it up, clean it up. If you can flip some things around and make it so you can control the lights, do that. When they were doing shows in here before, there were no blackouts, everybody ended their own shows. I’m very big on light pulls, when I’m doing a show, [because] my sense of timing in a show is not good, and I don’t want to have that worry. So do what you can do with the space that way, as well.

AZ: What do you mean? Did you guys get the circuits moved or something?

MM: [Laughs] No, we just moved the space. Like when you look into the room, where the curtains are [on the side], that’s anticipated as the stage. And they have like six lighting switches on the far back wall [on the same side as the curtains], so we changed it so that when you walk in, all the chairs are facing the front [and then we have access to the light switches]. And I block the windows during the summer so that the sun doesn’t come in, and I have just the front two lights on. It’s a very cheap way to go about doing it, but when you walk in you wouldn’t really know that it’s a cheap way to go about doing it, you’re not thinking about it, it just looks better than it really is.

AZ: So you said you’re trying to be hands-off with marketing and not really trying to make the show appeal to outside audiences, but it does seem like there’s a lot of thought and professionalism being put into this. Is that just because this is the way you want your show and these are your personal standards, or do you feel at any level that you have to compete with what else is out there?

MM: No, I’m not really trying to compete at all. It’s just something that kind of now has…it’s just kind of associated with me, so I just want it to be as good as it can be. When I say I’m hands-off for the most part, that’s the night of. But leading up to that I do everything I can to make sure the show is going to be good. And even though I say I don’t really do any marketing stuff I do make all the Facebook pages, and I contact different news people out there from time to time to try and get some things, but beyond that, not too much more.

AZ: We already covered this a little bit with the mission of the show and the benefits it has for performers, but is there anything you feel sets Sideshow apart from other shows in the city, even if you’re not necessarily trying to compete with them? Something that’s just a different element that you have, from the audience’s viewpoint?

MM: It’s going to be a well-balanced show. You’re going to see at least three different acts, whether that’s a stand-up, a sketch and an improv group, or three very different improv groups, you’re going to get a good sampling of comdy that night. There’s going to be something that you like. And it’s just the atmosphere in that room, in that sweaty dance studio, when it becomes Sideshow, which is so extremely supportive of people. We’ve had different teams debut there, we’ve had teams debut new forms there, and the mood is just kind of electric.

AZ: And where did the name come from? There are a lot of things that I could guess contributed to it, but is there an official backstory?

MM: Well, the original main idea was to show acts that you weren’t really going to see anywhere else, lots of new or weird things, almost like a carnival sideshow. People doing things they wouldn’t normally do, types of improv you wouldn’t normally see. Just weird concept things that people just wouldn’t be able to do anywhere else, that maybe aren’t quite right for PHIT.

AZ: Do you have an example?

MM: A lot of the Troika stuff. Troika in general—a lot of those things tend to be more concept-heavy, so that turned out to be perfect for Sideshow. So yes, it just goes back to seeing weird and different things. Which I’m still looking for. It’s not necessarily the prime directive anymore, so much as just giving people just another space to perform, and just making sure there’s a show once a week. We’ve been on a long hiatus because I also don’t want to take away from any shows that are happening. So when F Harold was going on I canceled a show, then PHIT had six weeks of shows, then we had Duofest, then more PHIT weeks, but now we’re back. And we’ve got the show this Saturday which I’m calling Short Attention Span Theater. You get up to 15 minutes to do whatever the hell you want to do. If you want to spin plates you can spin plates. If you always wanted to do a one-person improv set, or attempt stand-up, sing a song, whatever people want to do, they can do it.

AZ: What do you have scheduled as of right now?

MM: Right now it’s a little improv-heavy. I’m reaching out trying to get people to really vary up what we’re doing, to make sure we have some of that balance I was talking so much about.

AZ: From purely a producer’s standpoint, other than just scrambilng to fill in more acts right now, has there been any big challenge, or something that went wrong, that was a good learning experience? Or just a fun disaster story?

MM: Um, hm….not really. I guess I’ve been kind of lucky with things. It’s a very well-liked show, and there haven’t really been any problems.

AZ: How about any favorite moments?

MM: I’ve seen a lot of teams have their best shows here, which is awesome to be able to say.

AZ: Do you think that comes from the low-pressure environment?

MM: Yeah, I think that’s definitely one of the reasons, plus they get a crowd that’s full of people that they are bringing, so it’s all people who are there to support them. One of the days, if I remember the date exactly, it was November 18th, 2011—

Luke Field [coming in for Asteroid rehearsal]: Never forget.

MM: Yes, never forget. Iron Lung was debuting, there was the team Bed Savage having their first show, Get a Room also performed, and I think maybe Kristen [Schier] was doing some clowning. And there were about 100 or so people, and each team walked away with $85, and that was just the icing on the cake, because each team had awesome shows, in front of a fantastic crowd. So that was one of my favorite moments. Plus all of Troika, and I’m sure this Saturday and all of the rest that we’ll have will also be favorite moments.

AZ: Anything new that you’re planning for this season? It sounds like you’re really trying to push people to experiment.

MM: Yeah. We did a one-act play, Hidden in This Picture, which I directed last year, and this year I want to get some plays written by Philly people. That one was written by Aaron Sorkin, but I want to get some more original stuff so that we put on plays that were written, directed and performed by Philly comedians. So that’s one big goal this year to finally make happen, and also just to continue to put on some well-balanced shows and watch people continue to learn and grow. And to do whatever I can to keep Luke Field out of here.

LF: Did you get that on tape? He’s out to get me.

Look for updates on The Sideshow at http://www.facebook.com/#!/SideShowImprov and see the first show of the season TONIGHT (July 14th) at The Arts Parlor, 1170 South Broad Street (at Federal Street). As always, the show is just $5.