The Witout Podcast, Episode 9: Gettin Close with Mike Marbach (featuring Kristen Schier)

In another special episode of The Witout Podcast, Mike Marbach debuts his new interview show where he sits down with Kristen Schier for an in-depth conversation about improv in Philadelphia. Listen below and and subscribe on iTunes.

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Comedy, Food, Sports Tomorrow Night

Tomorrow night at The Twisted Tail (2nd and South St. Philadelephia) Comedy, Food, Sports returns for another Philadelphia show. This month's show will feature the comedy of James Hesky along with 97.5 The Fanatic's Jason Ashworth. Hosted by Patrick Dodd, Comedy, Food, Sports is a talk show featuring discussions on the three topics between the host and his guests. For a little taste of the comedy you'll get check out this video from Hesky below.

Comedy, Food, Sports is FREE - tomorrow night, March 30th at 8PM at The Twisted Tail - 2nd and South St. Philadelphia.

The Mike Marbach Letters: Burger King

Mike Marbach is an improvisor living in Philadelphia. He is the Education Director and teacher at Philly Improv Theater as well as the coach of PHIT house team Asteroid. Sometimes he likes to write letters to companies.

Greetings and Salutations,

Here ye, Here ye. On this, the 26th day of March in the year two thousand and twelve, I hereby demand to hold court with the Burger King. The request herein I dare say be not a harbinger of well-done’s being sent your way. Had it been written in years past when my love affair with the king of burgers was built on ground more solid than the boulder on which I lay writing this correspondence on this warm summer morn, rather than a cracking and crumbling foundation akin to that of the Cumbra Vieja of the Canary Isles that will one day plunge into the heart of the Atlantic as my love once plunged into the heart of the king’s offerings, perhaps then these thoughts conveyed will have been done so in a kinder tone. Sadly this be not the case and my heart aches as a result. Wherefore it is such that this mind cannot easily forgive nor forget any offense against its master is a burden I, and now we, must bear. Aye, we. We are in this together now. So where then doeth we go from here? Perhaps to the reasons for which I’ve taken such action.

To get to one of the issues I further request that you travel back a few years with me. Figuratively I mean that of course. I have not a machine with which I can transport us through space and time the likes of Dr. Emmett Brown’s DeLoreon or The Doctor’s TARDIS. Had I such a machine I wouldst then have my hands full traveling through time preventing tragedies from happening. Terrible things such as the cancellation of HBO’s old west drama, Deadwood. I am not sure how much I could do with to prevent it even given the power of time travel. I guess I would have to somehow infiltrate the HBO organization as president so that I would then be able to sway the decision to keep or cancel when the time came. Maybe I could just go back in time and really try to drum up support for the show so more people would watch or gather up a bunch of money from people that have come to love the show after it had ended and then take it back in time to HBO and pay them to keep it on the air. What would they have to lose? They keep the critically acclaimed show on the air and don’t have to pay a dime. I guess I won’t waste your time with a personal debate on the method I’d use to save Deadwood. Instead let me jump into one of the issues at hand- the Spicy Tendercrisp Chicken sandwich.

I like chicken. I like liver. Meow mix meow mix please deliver. Remember that jingle? I actually do like both Chicken and liver. Not together though. Well maybe together, but I’ve never had it together. Many people don’t like liver. And to be honest, based on my eating habits I probably shouldn’t like liver either. I’m what you’d call a “picky eater”. At least I’ve been called that by others. I’m assuming you’d call me that as well. All my life I’ve been made fun of. Laughed at and persecuted for my very selective palate. I don’t particularly like many fruits or vegetables. I also don’t really like a lot of different condiments either. So if there’s a bunch of different things on a sandwich I order I probably won’t eat it. I always need to make a point to say “Buddy, hold everything but the meat and the bread” just so I don’t get any lettuce, tomatoes, mayo and what-have-you piled on. A lot of people will say, “Hey there, Friend. Why don’t you just scrape off the extra stuff?” To that I say, “Because you can’t”. You can’t just scrape off something liquid. It attaches itself to the chicken. Especially if said chicken is breaded. Maybe if it was a grilled chicken it could then be wiped off a bit easier, but a breaded patty doesn’t allow for that sort of “undo” button. The liquid infiltrates the meat just as I would have to infiltrate HBO to save Deadwood. It simply can’t be done. And don’t get me started on the effect it has on the bread…

There has actually only been one condiment that I’ve been able to get at Burger King that I would gladly have on my chicken sandwich. The spicy sauce that was served a few years back on the Spicy Tendercrisp Chicken Sandwich. What happened to that sauce? It was there and as fast as you can say “James Gandolfini” it was gone. Why? Where did it go? It was fantastic! It was there one day and gone the next. I’ve snuck in Burger Kings from Kiev to Carolina. Even went from Berlin down to Belize. I then took a slow boat to China. I even went from Nashville to Norway, Bonaire to Zimbabwe, Chicago to Czechoslovakia and back! But tell me where in the world is the Spicy Chicken sauce? It was a bit of a wasted trip. Did you know that there are no Burger Kings in Zimbabwe and that Czechoslovakia isn’t even a country anymore? Yeah, it’s actually two countries now, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Apparently there are a slew of new countries that formed shortly after I finished learning European geography in 6th grade with Sr. Fran Small. As soon as I’m done writing this letter I have taken off some time from work so that I am able to update my map room. I also have many apology letters to write to the makers of Trivial Pursuit. It would seem the cards were correct.

The point remains- where’s the sauce? Much like Czechoslovakia disappeared, the spicy sauce seems to have vanished without a trace. Erased from existence. Actually that’s what I’ll do if I get a time machine. Maybe THIS is the tragedy that I’d work to undo. I’d go back in time to before the Spicy Tendercrisp Chicken Sandwich was eliminated from the menu and do something to somehow make it so it doesn’t get removed from the menu. Clearly the specifics of this plan need work with lack of time machine notwithstanding. Again I ask, where’s the sauce? In its place was something far less superior- the value spicy chicken sandwich. Those are $1 compared to the $3.50 or so for the Spicy Tendercrisp Chicken Sandwich. Sure, they are as tasty as they are cheap, however my buds deserve more than that. I speak of both my taste buds and buds in the friends sense. Also, I have a friend named Bud, so I guess I also speak of Bud’s as it relates to him. He was a big fan of the spicy tendercrisp chicken sandwich as well.

I just miss it is all. I’d go to BK all the time to get it. And the sauce just did it for me. Please get back to me when you can and let me know what’s become of it and if I might ever see it again. If I can’t see it on a menu, perhaps you can send some to me. There’s got to be a stockpile of it somewhere in the Burger Kingdom. By this time though it may be past its expiration date. Actually, that’s what I’ll do with my time machine. Drive into the Buger Kingdom to where the sauce is storedd- most likely guarded by gun toting henchmen- and get it. Again, the plans need work. First I don’t think I’d need a time machine so much as a car. Oh and someone to drive it since I do not yet have a license. Though if I’m ready to break into the Burger Kingdom, driving without a license shouldn’t phase me. I’d also like a team assembled to assist me with the theft or dare I say, burglary. Probably 11 people with different skill sets that would come in handy throughout the operation. Of course, I shouldn’t be telling you all this. Forget what you heard. Hey, what’s that over there?

A few months back I saw on my television that new chicken tenders were being introduced. I raced over as soon as I could and picked up a box of 20. They called my number, I snatched the bag and ran outside with my box of 20 of the new nuggets. Actually, it was two boxes of 10 as that particular Burger King, I’m guessing, had run out of the 20 piece boxes. I pulled out one of the boxes and opened up the box ever so carefully, and as if it was the arc of the covenant, I didn’t look directly at it at first. As soon as I was sure my face would not melt like the faces of Nazis in Raiders, I looked at the new tenders. Now, before I get to what I think of these new nuggets, I gotta say that I had no issues with the original nuggets. As a matter of fact I preferred them to McDonalds McNuggets and certainly to Wendy’s whatever they call thems. The only thing I didn’t like about the BK Chicken Tenders was that the shapes always changed. They’d go from being simple strips to dinosaurs or cartoon creatures. What was the deal with that? I think I remember years ago when Jurassic Park or one of its sequels was out that there was a promotion that changed the shapes do dino shapes. Though long after the movie had disappeared from theaters and the public mind the shapes of the tenders remained dinosaury. That annoyed me, since the tenders were all about the same size. Dinosaurs are different sizes. So if I got a box of 10 regular shaped tenders that could equate to about 6 dino shaped tenders sometimes, depending on how many T Rexes I got. It’s an average. I’m sure if I got 10 T Rexes it might mean an equal amount, but that would be like hitting the lottery. Only I can’t quit my job. So anyway… I liked the old tenders so I was weary of the new ones. The first thing I noticed is they were more nugget than they were tender shaped. I took a bite and I was pleasantly surprised! They actually tasted pretty good. Though I have to say, I still prefer the taste of the classic chicken tender.

The new nuggets also came with several sauce options. Around this time a friend of mine introduced me to a sauce presumably imported from the Far East. She called it “sweet & sour.” I had never had it before. I’m not too much into exotic foods as I discussed earlier, but she had me try it on some Chick-Fila chicken and I loved it! Before this I would eat the nuggets dry and was content to do so. Not anymore. Whenever I have the option to put it on something I will. I don’t think it’s actually that great. It kind of tastes like syrup. As in syrup that you would put on pancakes or waffles or dip some pork roll in if you had made some that morning for breakfast. It’s ok, but it’s not that good. Not what I’d expect of the sweet & sour sauce my friend introduced me to that late summer evening. We don’t hang out as much anymore so I haven’t really tried any new sauces, so my sauce has stayed sweet & sour. Much like my relationship with her has become. Heyo! Take my sauce, please! No, don’t take my sauce. You’ve already taken the spicy sauce.

I addition to the new nuggets you’ve already recently changed up your french fries. Why are you doing this? Who are you talking to that is saying to change up all the things that I’ve grown to love about Burger King? Is it my ex? Is she putting you up to this? Oh god. Has the King been under a spell just as Theodon of Rohan was under the spell of Saruman? Made to do his bidding and treat friend as foe? Now everything makes sense! Why else would the King pull or change everything that is great about his kindom? Although I’m mostly convinced there’s been some sort of curse put upon you, I’ll also offer the potential there was some sort of test panel where people tried the foods, data was collected and bad decisions were made. That’s what I’ll do with that time machine. I’ll go back in time and get one one of those panels to try and stop these tragedies from happening. Then I’d have my spicy sauce back. I’d have the original tenders back. And I’d have the shoestring fries I’ve loved for years back. Of course, if it is in fact a curse, the time machine will do no good. You’ll need a white wizard.

King, you’re making it really tough for me to have it my way. In fact I can’t have it my way anymore. My way keeps getting pulled or changed. If I want to have things my way, now I have to make it myself or go to, what has become my new favorite place ever, Chick-Fila. The only thing that I don’t like about them is that they are not open on Sunday. Ok, two things. That they don’t have Spicy Chicken Tenders like they have the Spicy Chicken Sandwich. It’s not a big leap. Just cut up some of the sandwiches or something. Maybe I’ll write to them about that. Yes, I think I will.

In closing, please stop. I posted this here, because on your website there is a 500 character limit and I’m no mathemagician, but this is longer than 500 characters. You may contact me in whatever method you choose, but please no telegrams.


Mike Marbach

Secret Pants Helps Launch Narragansett's Cream Ale

We let you know a while ago that Philly sketch group Secret Pants named Narragansett their "official beer". Now, the group is helping with the launch of Narragansett's Cream Ale. In addition to these hilarious spots featuring Fastball Pitcher Bob Gutierrez, Secret Pants will also help host a launch party for Cream Ale at Bar (1309 Sansom St. Philadelphia) this Thursday, March 29 from 7:00 - 10:00 PM.

Philly Comedy Round-up, Vol. 40

The 2012 Troika championship was held Saturday at The Sideshow with 3AM (Rob Baniewicz, Maggy Keegan, Jason Stockdale) taking home this year's title. The team utilized a more traditional style of improvised scenes with their hook being that they all took place at, you guessed it, 3:00 AM. Runners up in this years competition were the CB Radio improv of the Mother Truckers (Mandy Dollar, Jess Snow, Sue Taney) and the improvised first date of Chaperone (Frank Farrell, Steve Kleinedler, Meredith Weir)

Rittenhouse Comedy's 2012 March Madness Comedy Competition continued last night at The Famous International Variety Show with Mike Logan and David Ray Ageykum moving on to the finals. Round 3 continues this week where four comedians will compete each night to move on to the finals, held on Tuesday, April 3 at Helium Comedy Club. Tonight, Laughs on Fairmount will feature Josh Bennett, Tim Ryan, Kevin Hurley and Alex Grubard. Tuesday's show at Rittenhouse Comedy will feature Gordon Baker-Bone, Jeff McManus, Steve Lichtenstein, and Alex Pearlman. Thursday's show at Center City Comedy will feature Steve Miller-Miller, Lisa Yost, Omar Scruggs, and Trevor Cunnion.

Tonight is the start of another two-week run for Philly Improv Theater at The Shubin Theater (407 Bainbridge St. Philadelphia). Tonight will mark the premiere of new show The Monthy Hour with James Hesky (9pm) and will be followed by the new night and time for Aaron Hertzog's monthly stand-up showcase Hey Everybody. At 7:30 the theater will kick off the night with a Comedians for a Cause Fundraiser Show. You can find the full PHIT schedule online.

Submissions are still open for the 2012 F. Harold Comedy Festival. Interested stand-up comedians, sketch groups, and improv groups can email festival producer Rick Horner at This year's festival will be held April 24 through 29 at The Walnut Street Theater's Studio 5.

Tonight, Rookie Card's monthly show returns to the Raven Lounge (1718 Sansom St. Philadelphia) with Rookie Card Presents: Obsessive and Compulsive. Tonight's show will feature improv comedy from Rookie Card and Angry People Building Things and the stand-up comedy of Hillary Rea.


The Witout Podcast, Episode 8: Mike Marbach

Aaron is joined by Philly Improv Theater Education Director Mike Marbach to talk about the improv scene in Philadelphia. Mike talks about the PHIT core curriculum as well as their new Conservatory program. They also talk about Mike's experience training and performing in Chicago as well as his approach to directing. Listen to this week's episode below and subscribe on iTunes.

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Rookie Card Holding Auditions

Philadelphia Improv group Rookie Card is on a search for new members and will be holding open auditions to add to their ranks. The group, which holds monthly shows at The Raven Lounge will hold auditions Saturday, April 7 from 11:00 AM until 5:00 PM. Interested improvisers should email to be scheduled for an audition time and location.

Rookie Card's cast currently consists of Jake Alvarez, Darryl Charles, Marc Reber, Sue Taney and Tom Whitaker. They are two-time performers at both the Del Close Marathon and North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival as well as a 2011 selection to the Philadelphia Improv Festival and invitee to the 2011 Toronto Improv Festival. Rookie Card Presents: Obsessive and Compulsive is next Monday, March 26 at 9:00 PM at The Raven Lounge (1718 Sansom St. Philadelphia).

For a sample Rookie Card performance you can check out the video below, or see more on Rookie Card's YouTube Page.

Pizza Pals with Joe Moore featuring Todd Glass

I have a theory that all of the planet’s most awesome people are fueled by pizza. I recently had an opportunity to test this theory by talking with one of the awesome-est people of all, Mr. Todd Glass. Todd’s the host of a killer podcast, The Todd Glass Show, and you can see him be awesome live on stage here in Philly at Helium Comedy Club on March 21-24. After a brief conversation with him, I can safely say that my theory still stands:

Pizza Pal Joe Moore: How much do you like pizza?

Todd Glass: I… fucking LOVE pizza. I’ve lost a lot of weight now, but my favorite thing to do on the road used to be ordering a large pizza, and then sitting in the hotel watching TV, and eating the whole thing. The first 3 slices are heaven, but the last… 11 slices are tough. It’s amazing that you can smoke a little pot, make a phone call, and in a half an hour, someone just brings you a pizza.

PPJM: What is your favorite topping?

TG: Well, I guess there are two kinds. I like ham and pineapple. But I also like chicken, olives, ham and pineapple. I figure the restaurant has chicken and probably olives, so I have them throw that on there too.

PPJM: When is/was your family’s “Pizza Night”?

TG: We always had pizza on Sunday nights when I was growing up. Now that I’m an adult… well every night could be pizza night.

PPJM: Do you have a favorite slice in Philadelphia?

TG: We used to go to Sal’s in the Gateway Shopping Center. I can remember scrambling for change to get a slice as a kid there. That’s probably my favorite, and I think it’s still there. (PPJM Note: It is!)

PPJM: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

TG: I’m still on the fence about “breakfast pizza.” I think that’s just the major chain’s way to getting you in the morning. But you know, even still, once I start eating a pie, I’m not going to stop. Even if it means taking a 10 minute break and telling myself I’ll finish it in the morning… I know I won’t.

And so the Todd Glass Pizza was born: Large pie with chicken, olives, ham and pineapple. I'm down with it, are you?!? See you at Helium!