Brendan Kennedy Petitions Kickstarter

Brendan Kennedy has a dream. That dream includes getting drunk and making web videos in which he heckles people's family photos while wearing a Batman mask. All dreams come at a cost; the price tag on Brendan's reads "$10.00". In order to help him achieve his goals of making Drunk Batman Heckles Your Family Photos a reality Brendan turned to Kickstarter, the online fundraising tool used by artists to raise money from people who support and believe in their projects. But Brendan was denied. The site that recently helped TV and movie-star Zach Braff raise over $3 million to produce a film told Brendan his project "...does not meet our guidelines." Brendan once again is turning to the internet for help; creating a petition where he is asking supporters of his to tell Kickstarter to "stop acting like Drunk Batman Heckles Your Family Photos isn't all that." We contacted the former Philadelphia comedian by email to ask him about his current situation.

WitOut: Can you please take a moment to describe your vision for your project Drunk Batman Heckles Your Family Photos.

 
Brendan Kennedy: I'd like to make a webseries in which i get drunk and make fun of weird old family photos I find on google image search. When you're trying to be a standup in LA, you're just another face in a sea of almost good looking faces. So i'm gonna put a mask on and talk shit on people who I don't know. I will make up backstories for these people and then claim they wronged me, or someone I know, who may or may not be real, depends upon the week.
WO: From my understanding after an initial proposal Kickstarter asked you to revise your campaign after which you were denied the opportunity to raise funds using their services. What were your thoughts on receiving news of your rejection? How have you handled it since?
 
BK: I thought it was predictable and disappointing. I revised my proposal per their suggestions (even though I was NOT in violation of their guidelines) and re-submitted. Then they just flat out rejected it, claiming that my project didn't fit within their guidelines. Which would be fine if I was in violation of their guidelines, but I am NOT. They made a judgement call. Either my goal of raising 10 dollars to buy an adult batman mask seems too silly for their super serious website. (A website that people use to raise money to make board games and concept albums.) Or 10 dollars wasn't enough money for them to waste their time, since after all, they take a percentage of the money raised. (Ya know, because they're good people who want to help...)
WO: How do you feel about sites such as Kickstarter in terms of giving artists without an "in" to big-budget financiers an opportunity to raise funding to help make their dream projects become a reality?
 
BK: I think they are a money making scheme. Zach Braff is already famous, that's why he's able to raise almost 3 million dollars. They remind me of the commercials on tv where the old man asks you if you think you are good at drawing, and then for money he will send you a test to see if you really are good at drawing. The people themselves are the ones raising the money, it's just an easier way to tell people about the project that you are trying to raise money for than making your own blog and paypal set up. I thought that maybe, even though they take some of the money you raise, they were still a good company that just needs money to operate. Now I just think that they are just a company that wants money.
WO: What are your thoughts on the recent wave of more high-profile celebrities and projects (Zach Braff, Veronica Mars) using Kickstarter as a way to raise funds from their fans to create projects? (To play Devil's Advocate some would argue this lets fans feel like "a part" of the production - and that paying to see a movie in the theaters is even similar to donating to the cause - just after the fact...)
 
BK: It's a publicity stunt. Which is why I wanted to use it! I figured that whoever gave me the 10 bucks to buy the mask would watch at least the first episode. Donating to help fund a movie is similar to buying a ticket, except that after you donate to help have the movie made, you still have to pay to go see it. I just checked, you have to pay 30 dollars to get to see Zach Braff's movie without paying any more money. Also, letting people feel like they are part of something in exchange for their money has been part of many great scams in the past. For example, the whole buy a star and name it craze.
WO: Usually Kickstarter campaigns give some benefits or rewards to donators; if your project does eventually get approved what can those who give to your project expect to receive as tokens of your appreciation?
 
BK: I had it set up so that for 5 bucks, I'd let you pick a photo that i'd make fun of in one episode. And for 25 dollars i'd mail you an autographed photo of drunk batman. Despite the fact that I only wanted 10 dollars, kickstarter suggested 25 as a good starting point for rewards. (because they just want people's money!!)
WO: How far do you think Drunk Batman Heckles Your Family Photos can go if just given the chance?
 
BK: I'm not gonna bullshit people and claim that this kickstarter will change the way webseries are made, because that would be stupid. Also, it's stupid to claim that people donating money to get a movie made will change the way movies are made!! So i'll just be honest, if given a chance, Drunk Batman Heckles Your Family Photos can go all the way to YouTube! Or maybe Funny or Die, I haven't decided yet.
WO: Finally, let our readers know why they should sign the petition so Kickstarter will let you raise money on their site. And also why they should donate if you finally do get approved.
 
BK: Cause fuck Kickstarter. This site is bullshit, and people need to know it. They found a way to profit off of fundraising. It's like if you wanted to buy a hot dog at a baseball game, and you handed your money down the aisle and a guy in the middle demanded one of your dollars, or he passed all of your money to the hot dog guy, but then took a bite of the hot dog that was passed to you. Kickstarter is just a crummy middle man who only goes to baseball games to steal bites of other people's hot dogs. But now they've tasted some big celebrity hot dogs, and no regular person hot dog is going to satisfy them anymore. Donate if you want to see me drunkenly making fun of weird family photos in a shitty batman mask. Probably I'll just use one of their competitors sites that don't take any of your money. But in the mean time, sign the petition so Kickstarter gets an email from change.org just to let them know they're assholes.
Brendan Kennedy is a Los Angeles comedian who formerly lived in Philadelphia. While here he was a stand-up comedian and member of sketch group Camp Woods and improv group Hate Speech Committee. You can sign his petition to Kickstarter online at change.org.

Comedy Show Round-Up: May 24, 2013

Shows

The Comedy Works - 7:00pm at Georgine’s Restaurant

The Good, The Bad, and The Funny – 7:30 & 9:45pm at The Laff House

Pete Holmes– 7:30 & 10:00pm at Helium Comedy Club

The N Crowd – 8:00pm at The Actor’s Center

The Flat Earth – 8:30pm at Philly Improv Theater

King of Prussia Comedy Cabaret - 8:30pm at Valley Forge Casino Resort

The Grimacchio Variety Hour - 10:00pm at Philly Improv Theater

Open Mics

Hodge Podge – 8:00pm (7:30pm signups) at Hodge Podge, 1212 South St., Philadelphia

If you run a Philadelphia-area comedy show or open mic let us know so we can share it on our calendar and in our daily show round-ups by sending us the information from our submit a show page to contact@witout.net.


Comedy Show Round-Up: May 23, 2013

Shows

Laff Therapy Thursdays – 8:00pm at The Laff House

Pete Holmes – 8:00pm at Helium Comedy Club

Figment Theater's The Vagabond Sessions - 8:30pm at Painted Bride Art Center

The Flat Earth – 8:30pm at Philly Improv Theater

A Few Answers Short – 10:00pm at Philly Improv Theater

Open Mics

Center City Comedy – 9:00pm (signups at 8:30) at The Raven Lounge, 1718 Sansom St., Philadelphia

Comedy Under the Disco Ball – 8:00pm (signups at 7:30) at L2, 2201 South St., Philadelphia

If you run a Philadelphia-area comedy show or open mic let us know so we can share it on our calendar and in our daily show round-ups by sending us the information from our submit a show page to contact@witout.net.


You Should Call Your Parents: Cait O'Driscoll interviews Steve and Andrea O'Driscoll

photo 1Cait O’Driscoll: Ready, guys?

Andrea O’Driscoll (AKA Mom): Oh, here we go. We’re getting interviewed. I think I need a smoke first. So, you’ll have to wait.

Steve O’Driscoll (AKA Dad): Do I need to leave the room then?

AO: What?

SO: I thought we were doing it separately. I object. I want to do it separately.

AO: I’ll be right back. I have to get stoked for this.

CO: Do you think I’m funny?

(Laughter)

AO: It depends on what day it is.

SO: Monday, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. Not so much on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

CO: All right… That went well. Let’s move on.

AO: It depends on whether I’m being your mom, or going to see you in something.

CO: Was there a moment when I was growing up that you thought, “Hey, this kid might one day think she’s a comedian?”

SO: Yes.

AO: Every night at dinner from the time you were about… Oh, I guess a year… you would wait, everyone would sit at the dinner table, and you would stand up in your high chair and say, “It’s showtime.”

CO: Do you have anything else to add, dad?

SO: Always. Right from the beginning.

AO: Before you were even here, it was a joke. You were one of God’s little jokes. Should we get into that? Do you want to tell that story?

SO: No, don’t.

CO: Explain the Harold.

AO: Harold who? No. I know there’s beats. What do you know about it?

SO: What?

AO: The Harold.

SO: The Harold? I don’t even know what we’re talking about.

AO: The type of improv she does. There’s three sections and so many beats to each section, but I can’t figure it out from watching it. I need a drum to find the beats.

SO: Can I say anything about the other?

AO: Organic’s too noisy.

SO: I like it better than the other.

CO: How do you feel about improv?

AO: I like it. Some’s funnier than others. We can go back into that again…

SO: I think it’s really hard when you have 5 or 6 people on stage not to end up with one or two people who dominate… to be honest.

AO: I still don’t believe that you don’t use stuff that you did in rehearsal. If it’s failing and flailing and you have good stuff that you did in rehearsal. Why not use it?

CO: We don’t.

AO: Well, then I guess I just don’t get the rehearsals. But yeah, I like improv, I come see you all the time. Some nights are funnier than others, just like some days you’re funnier than others. I could have said it depends what side of the bed you woke up on.

CO: Do you have a favorite Davenger moment?

SO: I think there’s been a lot of funny moments. The only thing I can think of pointing to is always your first improv show is the best, because you don’t really know what to expect and it’s better than what you expect it to be. That’s the only way I can put it.

AO: The show where Hilary played Hans and you were in relaxation therapy, but you were afraid of rubber bands and they kept stressing you out with them; that was the therapy. Then you were doing bumper cars and Kevin made you kill a child, and the show ended with Hilary saying, “You’ve been Hans-ed.”

CO: When you brag about me to your friends, what’s the first thing you say? When answering, please remember this is a comedy article that all my funny friends will see (so maybe say something about how hilarious I am).

SO: I don’t know, I just say you’ve been performing on stage since as long as I can remember. What was she 7 or 8? And we’ve always enjoyed…

AO: I was always stunned when she started doing improv because I was always thought she was a drama queen.

SO: Oh no, I think she should do stand up comedy. That’s the natural extension.

AO: I’d always seen her in dramas and the first time I saw her in a role when she was funny, like overtly physically funny, all the physicality, expressions, timing. I was blown away by it. And the role in that play was dumb, so you took it to the absurd, and it was really funny.

CO: What do you think about me performing comedy?

AO: I’d like to see you push it more. You still look to me like you hesitate, and you allow other people to continue when I know there’s something hidden behind your little smile that’s probably funny.

SO: Well, I’ve always liked some of the more physical humor, like Dick Van Dyke, or people that do physical, Jack Tripper, people that do physical comedy. And I remember at the last show I went to, that was the remark I made to Dan the way, out of the blue, he does this contortion with his body. I think that the expressions and the actions are as important as what comes out of your mouth sometimes.

CO: Do you think I should try stand up?

SO: Yes. Absolutely. What are you waiting for?

AO: I think you should because I think you’re a good writer, and I think if you put your mind to it… but sometimes you’re lazy.

SO: A lot of people that do stand up comedy are afraid of the audience. A lot of them. I remember distinctly Johnny Carson was afraid of crowds.

AO: Oh boy, Dad’s gonna give you a history lesson. I think it’s hard for females. A guy can get away with any raw comment, but when a female does it…

CO: What do you think my opening joke should be?

AO: One time at band camp… No.vDon’t say the lawn mower joke, Steve.

SO: No, you don’t do jokes. You do more like something that happened to you on the way to the place… or…

AO: Let me tell you about my mother…? That’s always a good place to start. Here’s to the mothers, it’s their fault.

SO: You could open it with the two girls in diapers.

CO: What?

AO: No idea what you’re talking about.

SO: Dogs in diapers it’s a funny image.

AO: Oh, the girls.

SO: To me part of doing stand up is relating stories about people that you know.

AO: Well, God, you better know funny people than. She’s up shit’s creek then.

CO: Who’s your favorite comedian? Other than me guys, geeze, you’re making me blush!

SO: Uh, so I’m just gonna say you to get it out of the way then. Current comedian? Probably, Lewis Black. I like Seinfeld.

AO: I pick Robin Williams.

AO: Yeah, I like Robin Williams. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

SO: Oh yeah, Tina Fey.

CO: Anything else you want to add?

AO: I think you should push it. I think you should pursue it.

SO: You could create a character like um… what’s her name did… SNL… Gilda Radner.

AO: Oh, I know who I love, Gilda Radner’s husband, Gene Wilder.

SO: When you can develop something where you get into character, you can really go with it, rather than standing there and telling jokes, you can be in character.

AO: You do that well. I can see your acting experience. I like when improv has a connection to the acting.

Cait currently improvises with Philly Improv Theater house team Davenger directed by the amazing Maggy Keegan. She can also be seen in improv duos DupliCate and Mr. and Mrs.

If you are a Philadelphia-area comedian who’d like to interview one (or both) of your parents send us an email to contact@witout.net for more information. Go ahead, do it. You should really call your parents more anyways.

Comedy Show Round-Up: May 22, 2013

Shows

PHIT Sweeps Weeks – 7:00pm at Philly Improv Theater

Pete Holmes – 8:00pm at Helium Comedy Club

Conklin’s Comedy Night – 8:00pm at Parx Casino

Guilty Pleasures – 8:30pm at Philly Improv Theater

TV Party! - 10pm at Philly Improv Theater

Open Mics

Rogues Gallery – 7:30pm (signups at 7:00) at Rogues Gallery, 11 S. 21st St., Philadelphia

Northeast Comedy Cabaret - 8:00pm (signups at 7:30) at The Comedy Caberet, 11580 Roosevelt Blvd., Philadelphia

High Note Humor - 8:00pm (signups at 7:30) at The Taproom Grill, 427 W Crystal Lake Ave., Haddonfield, NJ

Comedy is Liberty – 7:30pm (signups at 7:30) at Liberties Bar & Grill, 705 N. 2nd St., Philadelphia

If you run a Philadelphia-area comedy show or open mic let us know so we can share it on our calendar and in our daily show round-ups by sending us the information from our submit a show page to contact@witout.net.


Comedy Show Round-Up: May 21, 2013

Shows

Select Start + Rowbit - 7:00pm at Philly Improv Theater

A Bunch of Improv – 8:00pm at The Grape Room

PHIT House Team Harold Night – 8:30pm at Philly Improv Theater

PHIT Improv Jam – 9:30pm at Philly Improv Theater

Open Mics

Helium Comedy Club - 8:00pm (online signups) at Helium Comedy Club, 2031 Sansom St., Philadelphia

The Headhouse Cafe – 8:00pm (signups at 7:30) at The Headhouse Cafe, 122 Lombard St., Philadelphia

No.2 (#2)(Number 2) – 8:00pm (signups at 7:30) at St. Stephen’s Green, 1701 Green St., Philadelphia

LawnBoys Comedy – 8:00pm (signups at 7:00) at Puck, 1 Printers Alley Doylestown, PA

The M Room – 9:00pm (signups at 8:30) at The M Room, 15 W. Girard Ave., Philadelphia

If you run a Philadelphia-area comedy show or open mic let us know so we can share it on our calendar and in our daily show round-ups by sending us the information from our submit a show page to contact@witout.net.


Gregg Gethard Has Some Ideas About Girl Parts

by Gregg Gethard

I was at an open mic recently when no less than six straight comedians did a bit about vaginal smell. This is not uncommon. Every open mic has a lot of comics who talk a lot about vaginal smell.

This is a problem.

Here are the reasons why this is problematic:

  1. If at least half of the performers are doing material about a topic, you should probably not do material about that topic. The main point about open mics is to get better and to find a way to get booked at an actual show. You think doing the same exact thing as everyone else is going to get you there?*

  1. If the material is something a doofus high school kid would say in the locker room, you should probably not do material about that topic. (I put something on my Twitter about this. A response from someone: “What, is everyone in Philly comedy 16?”)

  1. Doing bits about vaginal smell essentially boils down to saying “girls are icky.” Confusion about sex is a great concept for a bit that’s incredibly relatable. However, the joke should be about how confusing it is for both parties (or, even better, the performer). The joke shouldn’t be about vaginal smell. You’re just coming off like some creep wanna-be lothario bragging about doing a sex act.

  1. I put something about this on my Facebook wall. Here is a comment my friend Alanna (a girl and not my wife) said about vaginal smell jokes: “Anecdotally, I have found that men who trash women and their vaginas the most are the men who seldom have the opportunity to get inside one.”

    Just a head’s up as to what a girl who frequents comedy shows thinks about your jokes about girl parts.

  1. Making a joke about smelly girl parts is making fun of someone’s body. Would you make a joke about someone in the crowd who is overweight? I would hope not.  And I’m not saying this to be sensitive or PC. I’m saying this because making fun of an overweight person (or something similar) is just bullying.

  1. Stage time is precious. Open mics give you, what, five minutes at the most? You’re going to use five minutes of stage time to talk about something almost everyone else is talking about that most men have stopped talking about when they hit college? Be better than that. Respect the stage. Try to do something different and unique and new. That’s why I love going to comedy shows.

I’m not god’s gift to comedy. I know this. I’ve done really well at some shows and I’ve bombed at a lot more. But anytime I get on a stage I try to do something that the audience hasn’t seen or heard before that reflects my personality. You really want to tell a group of mostly strangers that your personality largely revolves around high school lunch humor?

* To show I’m not a PC prude – there have been a lot of pro-gay marriage bits lately. I support gay marriage. But again – if 10 people are talking about gay marriage, do you really want to talk about gay marriage?

Vaginal smell jokes are not a problem as serious as rape jokes, which has become the dumbest controversy in modern comedy because it shouldn't be a controversy since no one should tell a rape joke. I have to applaud the Philly open mic community because the amount of comics telling rape jokes at one point approached the 50 percent mark. It’s now down to roughly 25 percent, and it appears that most of the comics telling jokes about committing sex crimes with punchlines at the expense of victims are new to the scene.**

**I talked with a young comic who had a rape joke up front in his otherwise pretty brainy set and told him he (and hopefully he took it in the right way – I was trying to offer advice and hopefully I didn’t come off like a dick, but I probably did) should get rid of it because he was better than that. He seemed to agree with my statement. But he said he was nervous since the night was sort of dead and he knew that he’d get a laugh. I get that – god knows my earliest comedy used shock nonsense (and probably a rape joke) as a safety blanket. But then I learned the difference between a shock laugh and an earned laugh and I think this kid will get that difference soon. Respect.

Gregg Gethard has been performing comedy in some form since 2007 and is best known for hosting/producing the long-running Bedtime Stories and co-hosting The Holding Court Podcast. He will be hosting A Comedy Tribute to Boston on Sunday, June 23 at L'Etage (624 S. 6th Street) at 7 pm. He will also appear live on the Used Wigs podcast on May 21st at 8 pm (also at L'Etage). He can be followed on Twitter @holdingcourtpod.


Interview with Brian Six of B.A. Comedian

by Chris Dolan

Brian Six is a member of the B.A. Comedian comedy group (Six plus Dan King, Andrew Sposato and Tim Raymus).  Along with Philly comic Jess Carpenter, they have taken the former R Open Mic and relaunched it as Comedy Under the Disco Ball at L2 Restaurant & Bar, 2201 South Street.

I spoke with Brian Six at their one-month anniversary open mic at L2 to talk about the new location and other B.A. Comedian projects.

Chris Dolan:  Talk about the new space at L2 – how did you decide on it?

Brian Six:  We came to this one because my roommate, who’s a bartender, was coming here on Sunday nights for reggae night.  He was talking to Nate, the L2 owner, who expressed some interest in comedy. Then I talked to Nate and I was obviously blown back a little [looking at the room] cause I was like ‘This is different...” But we were on the same page.

When we were at RBar, we had an idea of our show, and they had their own ideas about our show. L2 seemed like a better fit for us.  So we came here, and the transition’s been really smooth.  It’s going great. The space is bigger….

CD:  You got a couch.

BS:  Yeah, we got a couch. The bathrooms are bigger.

CD:  I swear to God, last time I was here I didn’t get up off that red chair [a very comfy IKEA ‘Poang’ model adjacent to the couch] until I had to perform.

BS:  The only difference is [as of now] there’s no stage here.  But we’re making one.

CD:  But you have a disco ball.

BS:  Exactly.

CD:  Anything else stand out about the room?

BS:  Well, there’s the floor.you called it something…

CD:  I can’t recall, it was a Mayor McCheese joke [Note: the floor looks like its colors were pulled directly from the color palette of original McDonald’s restaurants].  

CD:  Who was involved in the transition?

BS:  I came up here, Dan King came with me. And all of us said ‘yup’. It’s a different room. We like it cause it’s unique, so we can have some fun with it. The location's great; we have a lot more walk-through traffic than at RBar. Every comic has been really positive about it. Nate has been nothing but supportive in terms of advertising and helping us out. We feel like we’re gonna be here a long time.

CD:  How did Jess Carpenter get involved?

BS:  We brought Jess Carpenter in at RBar cause he had ideas for shows and he’s been [running shows] a lot longer. Comedian Deconstruction, Not Just Comedy…so we brought Jess in and he’s  been only positive for the show, and the boys of BA Comedian have been all on board with Jess.

CD:  Talk about your video collaborations with LawnBoys Comedy & Ben Fidler.

BS:  What happened was Dan King, Tim Raymus and Ben Fidler had gotten together to do a skit: "Cards on the Table." They did that and I loved it.  I’ve known Ben since we started. So we started writing and it clicked. When B.A. Comedian  and Lawnboys got together it was an easy thing…it was awesome. So now we developed a new idea that features Mike Logan; we’re working on that.

CD:  Are all the scripts Logan-centric, or are there others?

BS:  Right now we’re still on the Logan idea.  But we have another concept which Ben, Mike DiAlto and Tim Raymus developed, which is more of a TV series type thing.  It’s kind of like 3 different stories…Ben, Mike, and Tim and all of their stories converge together. That should shoot the end of May.  Another is "Simple Answers with Ben Fidler." Those are two-minutes interviews that comics have with Ben, and you have to give honest answers to simple questions.

CD:  Wrapping up: any other shows or showcases?

BS:  We’re gonna start a monthly show here at L2. I think that’s also where Jess comes in, he does a great job with monthly shows.  And I think Jess will take the wheel for those. As for the mic at L2—I think everybody’s having fun.

 

Chris Dolan is a comic who lives in the Philly burbs.  Follow him on Twitter @CMDolan99.  You can also see Chris host the Totally Free Comedy Show on June 8th at Nineteen19 in Havertown, PA.