Philly Comedy Round-up, Vol. 26

This week is another full week of shows at Philly Improv Theater. Tomorrow night is panel comedy night Reasonable Discourse with Jerks and A Few Answers Short. Thursday will feature the sketch comedy of Local Holiday Miracle and The Hold-Up and afterwards Jessica Tandy will defend their Cagematch title. Friday night begins with Hey Everybody! continues with Local Holiday Miracle and The Hold-Up and concludes at 11 with Sketch Up or Shut Up. The shows begin early Saturday with the Graduation Shows from Kevin Allison's sketch class and continues with House Team Night at 8:30 and 10:00.

There will be another Free Improv @ Connie's Ric Rac show next Tuesday, December 6 at 9:00pm. This month's show will feature Bed Savage, Kait and Andrew, Deleted Scenes, Horner and Davis, Gross Butler , Mayor Karen, and Hate Speech Committee.

Today is the deadline to apply for The Grand Opera House in Wilmington Delaware's LOL @ The Grand Competition. Ten comedians will be chosen to perform on their baby grand stage on March 2, 2012 to compete for the grand prize of opening for one of their future headliners.

Comedian Joe DeVito will headline at Helium Comedy Club this week (originally, Mo Mandel was scheduled, but had to cancel.) DeVito was a semi finalist on season five of Last Comic Standing and has also appeared on Comedy Central, the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Chelsea Lately, and more.

Witout is still accepting submissions for Top Five of 2011 lists - year end recaps of our favorite things in comedy from Philly and beyond. Ideas can be sent via email to

You can also still vote for your favorites in the 2011 Witout Awards. Voting will close in a few weeks, and an announcement will be made soon on the date and location of the award ceremony.

Philly Comedy Round-up, Vol. 25

Starting Wednesday, November 30th there will be a new, weekly open mic at The Level Room on 21st and Market. Comedy at The Level Room is produced by the folks of Rittenhouse Comedy and will be the latest in the ever growing comedian produced open mic scene in Philadelphia. More information is available on Facebook.

Myq Kaplan (Last Comic Standing, Comedy Central Presents) will be performing at Tabu Lounge and Sports Bar on Saturday, December 3rd. The show is a fundraiser for animal rights presented by the Peace Advocacy Network. Also featured on the show will be Rob Desantis, Alex Grubard, Alex Pearlman, Lisa Yost, and Matt Lacy. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased in advance online.

Witout is currently taking submissions for Top Five of 2011 Lists. Comedians, producers, and fans of comedy can feel free to submit a Top Five list of anything comedy related to us for publication near the end of the year. Past years lists included favorite bits, sketches, shows, moments, quotes, specials - it can be related to Philly comedy or national comedy.

Voting is still open for The 2011 Witout Awards. Members of the Philadelphia comedy community can cast their votes by clicking on the links here.

Philly Comedy Round-up, Vol. 24

Tonight The Sideshow returns to The Arts Parlor (1170 S. Broad St) for a night of improv comedy. Tonight's show will feature a brand new team performing for the first time, Iron Lung will be debuting a new form, and Get a Room and Fowl Play will make their Sideshow debuts.

Next Tuesday, at L'etage (624 S. 6th St.) Camp Woods brings us Camp Woods Plus - an evening of sketch comedy featuring the group and two special guests. This month the show will feature Philly sketch group Local Holiday Miracle, and 2010 ECNY "Best Sketch Comedy Group in New York" award winners Murderfist.

Last week, TU Comedy, Temple University's stand-up comedy club put on a show at Pub Webb on campus. The show featured six members of the club, plus James Hesky and Aaron Hertzog, two Temple alumni. City Paper's Critical Mass blog wrote an article about the show here.

New York comedy/ sex show Paid or Pain is coming to Philadelphia and is looking for performers. Paid or Pain is a show where comedians perform and the crowd votes whether to pay the comedian, or have them tortured by their "house dominatrix." The show will feature a burlesque act, sex toy giveaways, and sex therapy with a special guest comedian. Sound like fun? interested comedians can send their clips and info to

Another reminder that voting is ongoing for The 2011 Witout Awards. Any member of the Philadelphia Comedy Community can take the survey and vote for their favorite performers, bits, and shows of the past year.

The Mike Marbach Letters: Bissell

Mike Marbach is an improvisor living in Philadelphia. He is a teacher at Philly Improv Theater as well as the coach of PHIT house team Asteroid. He is a cast member of improvised telenovela Pasiones de Pasiones and improv show in real time twenty-four. Sometimes he likes to write letters to companies.

Dearest Bissell,

I’m writing to thank you for quite possibly saving my life and/or the life of someone else in my house. I’ll explain how this happened, but first the story needs some set up.

I recently moved from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Greenwood, Indiana. That is a city south of the Hoosier State’s capital, Indianapolis. Greenwood is a nice place to live should you ever consider moving here. The only thing that I can really count as strikes against it is the fact that there aren’t really any sidewalks. So, walking to and fro the place of your choice will have to be done in grass, mud or in the street next to the grass and mud nearly getting hit by cars. I plan on writing to the City of Greenwood about this matter. By that I mean writing to the City Council, not writing to every resident of the city. That would consume too much of my time- one of my most valuable assets. So, you know that by taking the time to write to you it must be of some importance.

In Philadelphia I worked at a Best Buy. I got a job at Best Buy so when I move to Los Angeles, a move I hope to make in my lifetime, I’ll have a job upon arriving. You see, I’m able to transfer between stores. Sure, there are times when I wish I were doing something that put the degree hanging on my wall to use, but I like the job. Actually, I have a confession to make. The degree is not on my wall. It’s in a box in my closet, which oddly enough, is next to an unopened 3-pack of Degree Antiperspirant/Deodorant. I never liked "powder fresh". Why would I want to smell like an infant? At any rate, I transferred to the Best Buy here in Greenwood located right up the street from my house. This is good, because I do not yet drive. Though walking back and forth to work with no sidewalks is quite frustrating.

When I moved, I took about a month before starting at the Greenwood Best Buy. I did this with the intention of doing some writing, which didn’t really happen. I just sat around playing Halo 2 on the Xbox I bought for the purpose of sitting around playing Halo 2. Before actually starting at the Greenwood Best Buy I spent a lot of money there. My discount was still in tact. My mom and I went one day and got a new washer and dryer, a toaster that is quite a disappointment and also a vacuum. This, my friend, brings me to the reason for this letter to you.

My family has never had much luck in the vacuum area. The earliest vacuum memory I have is of this lime green one we had when I was growing up. Maybe more of a forest green. Well, somewhere between the two shades. That vacuum looked like something we had made ourselves. I’m still not sure how I didn’t electrocute myself with that thing. The wires were exposed in several areas and each prong was somewhat twisted. On top of that, toward the end of its life, it began to put down more dirt than it would bring in. I’m not really sure how that would happen, but it did. I’m not sure how or when that vacuum’s end came, but it was replaced at some point. I know that much.

The next vacuum was a Eureka Boss. After several months we fired the Boss. The belt kept breaking! You knew it was coming too. You’d be vacuuming and all of a sudden you’d catch a whiff of burning rubber followed by some smoke. You’d think we were trying to vacuum a bed of rocks or something, but we weren’t- just carpet. I also think that Eureka discontinued the bags needed for this vacuum, shortly after we bought it. We had to keep settling for a larger bag, that didn’t quite fit. So, the vacuum would sometimes spray a puff of thick dust up into my face upon turning it on. It wouldn’t do it every time, just every so often. It was like a game of Russian Roulette, only with vacuums.

Following the boss was the Eureka FeatherLite. We should have learned after our first experience with Eureka how the next experience would go. This vacuum actually worked pretty well- at least as far as cleaning up dirt. There was something that, though invisible to the eye, could not hide from the nose. The FeatherLite somehow made the vacuumed room smell like freshly spewed vomit. That is not a joke. I wish that it were. During and after the use of this vacuum, the smell of vomit would fill the house. This was a smell of barf so strong that it would make the user dry heave. It affects me to this day. When most people smell vomit, they associate it with someone being sick. I associate the smell of vomit with someone cleaning. Eureka hath ruined me. If that smell could somehow be bottled, it would make for some funny practical jokes, possibly even some TV bloopers.

This brings us to our present vacuum, which we purchased at the Greenwood Best Buy along with the Washer, the dryer and the toaster that I’m none too pleased with. The vacuum we picked up that day was the Bissell CleanView Bagless Deluxe with “Clean Carpet Sensor and wide cleaning path.” A bagless vacuum! Oh wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles! No more fiddling around with bags that may or may no fit the vacuum! No more puffs of dirt spraying randomly into my face! And no more late-fees! Wait, that has to do with Blockbuster. And a “clean carpet sensor?” That’s just great! I never know when to stop vacuuming. I never think the carpet is clean enough. Now, with this nifty new “clean carpet sensor” I’ll know exactly when I can stop. When the light is red, I keep going. When it's green, I know it's clean! What will you guys think of next? That’s an actual question, not rhetorical. Please let me know what you guys think of next. I could end this letter here, but I would have done so without getting to the event that prompted me to write the letter in the first place. So, I continue.

Today I was in my bedroom meticulously putting together a house of cards, when I heard my nephew running down the hall toward my room. He swung open my door and I leapt to block the opened door’s rush of wind from knocking over my house of cards. I was successful, though when he entered he kicked over my cup of Cream Soda. At any rate, he rushed in to tell my older sister needed my help. I went downstairs to her room, where I saw her standing outside the room staring into one corner. I asked what she wanted, to which she replied telling me to look close at the corner. No sooner did I look into the corner did I see a massive, furry, worm-like creature with more legs than the sky has stars, scurry across the floor out of sight. I knew then what I was called to do.

I fought many a bug in my day. The physical wounds have healed, but the emotional and psychological scars have yet to fade. There was the “Barbarian Bee” of the late nineties. That was a carpenter Bee that somehow made it into my room, probably through the window I kept open. Though the carpenter bees rarely sting, that doesn’t stop them from flying right into your face making you scream to the amusement of the all-guys dorm. After a long and arduous battle the bee disappeared, maybe through that open window. I fear one day he'll come back and try to finish what he started. Then there was the “Great Spider Scare” of aught one. I really dislike spiders, but I was forced to deal with this one due to my roommate’s outright fear of them. My roommate at the time was Jonah (yes, like the whale guy). He was a weight lifter and quite big. So, seeing him flee from a spider is quite a site. Sort of like the Elephant being scared of the mouse. This spider was one tough cookie. It appeared to be wearing those gloves with the fingers cut out on each leg, but I could be wrong. I do know that it had a mullet. The hair on this thing was so thick it could be combed. He definitely had a “business in the front, party in the back” look. After a couple whacks, he shook one of his fists at me and then fell to his death.

After having come out victorious in the aforementioned bug-fighting campaigns, I felt rather confident going into battle the many leg-ed creature that took up residence in my sister's bedroom. Before fighting, I wanted to know my enemy. I consulted my Entomological books to find out what I was up against. I checked the pictures against my quick sighting of the beast and concluded that it was a centipede. A centipede with no concern for me or my family that needed to be stopped. I had no reason to think that the standard weapons would not work. I reached into my bug-fighting bag of tricks and came out with a bottle of Windex. I’m not sure why, but that’s usually the first line of defense for me. Bug in the house? Get the Windex! That’s usually how it works. I sprayed the thing with the liquid and waited for its demise. Death was not to come. This beast shook off the Windex like a dog coming in out of the rain. This was the multi-surface Windex. I’m not sure if that helped or hindered its bug killing powers, but it had little to no effect. This startled me a bit, but it didn’t phase me. On to "plan B". I took off the shoe and waited for the monster to show itself. After moving several pieces of furniture, my opportunity to end this finally came. I swung at the thing with the orthopedic-looking shoe I bought for working at the Greenwood Best Buy, since the white casual sneakers I wore at my other store were not allowed. At first I thought I had missed, so I swung again. And again. And again. I was not missing. The shoe was having no effect! This could be because, being a comfort shoe, my shoe is made of a softer material than most shoes. It was as if the bug had some sort of steel exoskeleton, not unlike the mutant Wolverine of the X-Men. What could I do? I tried the Windex. I used the shoe. What’s left?

I went through the rolodex of bug-killing tactics in my head. I skimmed the room’s arsenal of every day objects turned weapons when I saw it. A beam of light shone down and around the Bissell CleanView bagless Deluxe. I couldn’t use it in the upright, push style, I needed some agility. So, I hooked up the hose and flipped the switch. I put my hand up against the tip of the hose to test its power and believe me when I say I’m lucky I still have my hand. You don’t want to toy with 12 amps of suction. I moved the bed out of the way and waited for the great beast to appear before me. And then… it did. It walked out like Maximus Decimus Meridias ready to defeat another unworthy opponent in the Roman Coliseum. Though I wanted this beast gone from the house, I couldn’t help but respect its power. As I neared the hairy creature with the telescoping handle of the Bissell, I could swear that some of its arms were waving in a “bring it on” sort of motion. I brought it on- all 12 amps. My sister claims to have heard it saying, “Oh no. A vacuum. Whatever shall I do?” in a very child-like and sarcastic tone. I can’t back that up, as I did not hear it. Anyway, I put the hose’s tip right up to the bug’s tail or head… I can’t be sure which it was… and prepared for the saga to end. But end it did not! This behemoth continued to move away from the 12 amps of suction! How could this be? I tried again. Still again this bug made a Herculean effort to evade the vacuum's wrath. A third time I went at the beast with the hose and the third time was the last. The gladiator-bug was sucked up into the hose through the tube and into the easy empty container of the Bissell Cleanview bagless Deluxe. The “clean carpet sensor” went from red to green and I knew the battle was over. Nearly a ½ hour after it began, the saga had ended.

The point of this letter is that Bissell might have saved my life today. After consulting my Entomological books, I don’t believe this monster was life threatening, but rather was only capable of giving me an extreme case of the willies. Though, had it been a poisonous insect, I can rest knowing that the Bissell CleanView bagless Deluxe did what the exterminator could not- rid my house of pests. Yes, that’s plural. Earlier today, but after the bout with the beast, my sister used the Bissell to suck up a bunch of lady bugs congregating by her window. I hope that word spreads in the bug community about our new weapon so spreading fear.

Now I’m sure that Bissell didn’t intend extermination as a use for the Cleanview bagless Deluxe, but I’m glad that I had it on my side. The battled raged, the scales tipped from side to side, but in the end the Bissell came out on top. How could a bug compete with the makers of the Big Green Clean Machine? Bissell, you free my carpet of dirt, my house of creepy crawly things and my mind of worries about both. Keep up the good work!

--Mike Marbach

PS: It was definitely more of a sea-green now that I think of it.

PPS: Below is an artists rendering of what the Bissell CleanView Bagless Deluxe hepled me oust from my house.


Official Response from Bissell

April 18, 2005

Dear Mr. Marbach,

Thank you for writing BISSELL Consumer Services. It is always beneficial when a consumer takes the time to write, sharing with us their evaluation of a BISSELL product or service.

It was a pleasure to read your interesting story regarding the BISSELL Cleanview Bagless Deluxe Vacuum and how it saved your day! Your letter will be circulated to other departments within the company so others may share the same opportunity to read and enjoy it as well!

If you ever have any questions or need assistance, please do not hesitate to contact BISSELL Consumer Services through the toll-free number provided below. Any one of our representatives can help you.

Thank you.

BISSELL Homecare Inc.

Vote for the 2011 Witout Awards

The nominations have been announced - and the nominees have been written about - now it is time to vote for The 2011 Witout Awards. Remember, voting is only for those involved in Philadelphia Comedy as a performer, promoter, director, etc.

Click here to vote (part one)

Click here to vote (part two)

Announcements will be made soon about date, time, and location of The 2011 Witout Awards show.

The 2011 Witout Awards: Best One Time Show

The Roast of Meg Favreau

It's a funny tradition comedians have - when they want to honor someone they do it by saying the most terrible things they can think of about them, and all their friends. Before Meg Favreau moved to Los Angeles, Philadelphia made sure they gave her the proper send-off (you can see for yourself on PHIT's YouTube Account)

The Trashing of Luke Giordano

Luke Giordano also left Philadelphia for Los Angeles this year, but on much shorter notice. With a quick turn around time, Luke's friends put together a "trashing" of him - where they planned to make fun of his writing and stand-up work. Some of them did, but for most - it was just a good, old-fashioned roast. And there's nothing wrong with that.

Hate Speech Hall's Jesus is Really Galactus

Did you remember that the world was supposed to end this year? It didn't - but if it would have there was no better place to be on the front lines of the world's demise than Hate Speech Hall (the name given to the apartment shared by Brendan Kennedy, JP Boudwin, and Billy Thompson). An open mic/ open house in their living room that brought out a full house of Philly's funniest to laugh, drink, and possibly die together.

The Theme Show Presents: The Twilight Zone

It happened with Bedtime Stories and it's happening with The Theme Show - sometimes a theme just hits everyone perfectly - and the audience is treated to a night of extra inspired comedy. This was the case with the most recent Theme Show - where performers based their acts on the theme of The Twilight Zone. Ironic twist endings, Rod Serling impressions, and more than one reference to Vampires kept the audience laughing throughout the night.

The Dirtiest Sketch in Philadelphia Competition

For the second straight year The Feeko Brothers took home the trophy for Dirtiest Sketch in Philadelphia - but not before the night was filled with raunchy, dirty, depraved, and hilarious sketches from not only Philadelphia groups, but some of the visitors in town for Philly Sketch Fest. The Dirtiest Sketch competition has been a great night of Philadelphia comedy since it's days at The Khyber, and this year was no different.


The 2011 Witout Awards: Best Regular Show

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.

Guilty Pleasures

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.

TV Party

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 2011 Witout Awards: Best Sketch

Camp Woods - Eduardo the Crab

A hermit crab takes up life in the butthole of a beach bum.

Camp Woods - Sick Door

It's a door that gets sick.

Camp Woods - Space Shuttle Endeavor

The Space Shuttle Endeavour is a dead beat dad.

The Feeko Brothers - Jay Peebee's PB&J

A five-minute radio commercial for a restaurant that sells only peanut butter and jelly sandwiches... with an infamous, overbearing and ridiculously catchy jingle.

Secret Pants - Juggalo Sunday