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.


Comedy Show Round-Up: May 18, 2013

Shows
The Bat - 7:00pm & Midnight at Philly Improv Theater

ComedySportz - 7:30 & 10:00pm at The Playground at The Adrienne Theater

Sarcasm Comedy Club - 7:30 & 9:30pm at The Crowne Plaza Hotel

Mo Mandel – 7:30 & 10:00pm at Helium Comedy Club

Jon Laster– 7:30 & 9:45pm at The Laff House

Polygon Comedy - 7:30pm at The Raven Lounge

It’s My Party: The Women & Comedy Project – 8:00pm at Plays & Players Theater

Kayfabe - 8:00pm at J.D. McGillicuddy's

Comedy-Gasm! Comes Again - 8:00pm at The Irish Pol

PHIT House Team Night - 8:30 & 10:00pm at Philly Improv Theater

Northeast Comedy Cabaret - 9:00pm at The Ramada Northeast

South Jersey Comedy Cabaret - 9:00pm at Casa Carollo Restaurant

Doylestown Comedy Cabaret - 9:00pm at Poco’s

Comedy Night at Extreme Pizza - 9:00pm at Extreme Pizza

The Comedy Works - 9:30pm at Georgine’s Restaurant

Cagematch - 11:00pm at Philly Improv Theater

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.


Reasons You Didn't Make Vulture's List Of 50 Comedians You Should and Will Know

by: Doogie Horner

1. Your name is hard to spell (and being Polish didn’t help either).

2. Congratulations, you’re number 51!

3. The editors at Vulture can’t remember whether or not you’re dead, and they don’t feel like googling it.

4. Maybe people refuse to take you seriously because you never stop clowning around?

5. Too edgy!

6. Not edgy enough.

7. You only perform in North Korea.

8. People should know you, but won’t.

9. People shouldn’t know you, but will.

10. You’re always eating a sandwich on stage and it makes it hard to understand you sometimes.

11. Your tenure as 42nd President of the United States overshadows your comedy career.

12. Crooked candy corn teeth

13. You’re not funny, so just knock it off.

14. Politics! (see reason 11)

Doogie Horner is a comedian, author, and graphic designer. He is a suppurating wound of comedy.

If you are a Philadelphia comedy performer that produces a podcast, web series, sketch video, humor column, or any other online content let us know by emailing us at contact@witout.net so we can share it!


It's Elementary with Dave Metter: Jen Curcio

“It’s Elementary” is a monthly column that asks comedians to share memories from their elementary school years that have informed their comedic identities. Or are just random anecdotes. Whatever they want, really.  This month spotlights the extraordinary Jen Curcio!

by Dave Metter

I have long been fascinated by what has influenced and inspired other comedy writers, especially during their youths when their comedic senses were still so nascent and less judgmental.  Be they films or television shows, random anecdotes or funny relatives, I ask comedians to share a few experiences or works they recall notably from their elementary school years.  This edition of “It’s Elementary” features Jen Curcio, member of improv troupes Mayor Karen and ApocaLIPS, and a former member of the late Hey Rube.

1st Period: Art

In 5th grade, my 3rd grade status of being hilarious was running out. I wasn't getting the attention any 10 year old girl craves, so I found an old bottle of AquaNet (they stopped making that in '91, so, it was old) and bought a bottle of purple Manic Panic hair dye and got some attention! First, I dyed my hair purple. Not like a faint purple tint over my blonde hair, I mean like I was not a blonde I was a purple. Then I held my bangs up in the shape of a wave (think Gwen Stefani circa '95) and went crazy with the AquaNet until that tsunami of hair would not crash down. My parents just thought it was creative and what they get for leaving a 10 year old home alone for some small (legal) amount of time. Mrs. Graham, my fifth grade teacher's jaw dropped when I walked in the next day. Susan, who was alphabetically required to sit next to me, refused to because of my new hairdo. A small group of girls (one girl) thought it was awesome and copied my style. It was from this day forward I knew I enjoyed getting attention for doing weird things.

2nd Period: Phys Ed
My cousin Steve lived with my family when I was in elementary school. He recognized my talent for billiards when I was 8, so naturally he started taking me to seedy pool halls in downtown West Chester, PA, to play against (he would place bets on me) large, burly men with long beards. I hate to brag, but I was pretty great at pool. I almost never lost a game. This was the first time I had to face stage fright, or really it was normal fright because I was a little kid in a seedy pool hall.

3rd Period: Indoor Recess

I was always very shy and struggled to make friends in elementary school, but one day in 3rd grade I decided to come out of my turtle shell in a grand way. I was going to go for the gold (as it was the Winter Olympics of '94 and Tonya Harding was my idol) and make everyone in the class crack up. I walked over to the arts and crafts area in the class room and grabbed some clay to form what resembled human feces. Then I walked into the middle of the play area, surrounded by the other children, and I made a noise to get everyone's attention. When I was certain everyone was looking at me, I dropped the clay feces from behind my back and announced that I had crapped myself. All the cool kids were rolling on the floor laughing; the teacher immediately scolded me and I acted like I didn't care because I was a bad ass. I realized that day I could use my brilliant sense of humor to win over the cool kids and look like a rebel.

4th Period: Talent Show!

When I was in kindergarten my grandmother lived with us and would take care of me after school. She was in for a real treat every day, because after school every day I would hop up onto the step in front of our fire place (I don't know the proper terminology because I am an interior design school drop-out) and put on a talent show. Sometimes I would tell, "Why did the chicken cross the road…" jokes and sometimes I would belt out my rendition of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme song, and other times I would have a live cooking demonstration. God bless that woman for being patient, eating whatever was made during my cooking demonstrations, and for always pretending like it was a great show.

You can see Jen performing with Mayor Karen this Saturday at Philly Improv Theater at The Shubin Theatre (407 Bainbridge Street) at 8PM.

Dave Metter is a comedy writer from the Philly burbs. Check out his show Your News, Philadelphia! on May 22nd at The Shubin Theatre (407 Bainbridge Street), part of PHIT’s Sweeps Weeks. Follow Dave on Twitter @DaveMetter.

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Discussing a Bit with Matt Holmes - The Secret to Improv

by Matt Holmes

I learned improv in a way that wasn't helpful for me logically or in the moment. Eventually, I boiled it down to a simple, underlying 3-step process.

How to Answer
The first lesson I learned for improv was "Yes And." You agree (saying Yes) and add (starting with And). This made sense; you can't waste time arguing about invisible stuff, and you can't have a scene without moving forward.
 
This had some problems, though. The theory was all about responding. This was step two. What do you do first? I, and my partner, needed something to agree with. Plus, it was so verbal. We were just standing there talking and agreeing. 
 
Also, this led to a lot of concern and pressure about being agreeable. I was worried that I might be doing it wrong; it almost felt like I was a bad person or "didn't play well with others." 
 
Saying "Yes And" to everything and anything led to a lot of starts that didn't go anywhere and tangents that either derailed or fizzled out. 
 
Accepting the facts of the situation is important, but I wanted to know how to begin, and I wanted to get somewhere with it. 
 
First What to Say
Then I learned to get the Who, What, and Where in the first three lines, including names and relationships and a kernel of conflict. This made sense, too. It was a checklist, a to-do list.
 
The problem for me was the pressure of getting all those details right away. Plus, the end result was a lot of awkward exposition, and I still wasn't sure what to do next. 
 
It felt like the whole scene was puked out in the first three lines and I was still stranded, but now with a lot of facts nobody cared about. A lot of the information seemed unimportant, too. Sometimes, the location doesn't really matter. Sometimes, it doesn't really matter whether you're playing sisters or just best friends.
 
I went from "What do I do?" to "What do I do now that we're twin pirates at the DMV?" 
 
Thinking about Playing
Then I learned "Finding the Game." How you find it and what exactly a game is were both a bit mysterious. 
 
Jumping on the first unusual thing that happened and asking, "If this is true, what else is also true?" worked and led to some really clear-cut scenes. It was almost like sketch comedy that we made up on the spot. 
 
I had something for the scene to be about and stuff to do based on that premise. I learned that plot was bad and game was good, because plot got people "in their heads." 
 
The only problem was that I still got stuck in my head thinking about what was also true and what to do next; only now I was confused by the mystic nature of the theory. Plus, I found that every scene was about an usual thing. 
 
It still felt like scenes worked just by luck. I knew what a game was and why to play it, but it was always a challenge to create the rules and play them. 
 
What's my Motivation?
Then I learned about some real acting. I tried to give my characters a "deal" or a "want" and figure out what my partners were giving their characters. I tried to play real people with back stories and core characteristics.  
 
It was confusing. I was thinking too much. In improv, there's no time for secrets, especially ones that never get divulged. 
 
This might be helpful for working with a script or improvising to develop one, but if your technique in every improv scene is focused on a want, then that's what every scene will be about. It's a good exercise, but it's not a technique to use every time.
 
So what do you do to do it?
I boiled down all these elements into three simple steps that I could follow.
 
  • 1. Do something.
 

It doesn't matter what. You can choose to be witty or physical or emotional. You can come up with an idea or just be a character. You can purposefully decide specifics or let them emerge later.You, and your partner, and the audience all just need

something.Start the scene and keep it going. It's okay if it feels vague and uncertain. The audience doesn't need every detail right away, and they're more patient than you'd think.

 
  • 2. Do it more.
 
In improv, you start with a blank slate and draw in some details. When we all have some idea of what's going on, then we just want to invest in it and get something back. 
 
If you start over or shift gears, it's like reading the first page from a few different books instead of getting through one story. 
 
  • 3. Do it bigger.
 
Even when something is working and making sense and getting laughs, it needs to go somewhere. Comedy is built on surprise. You can stay on track, but change it up a bit. Grab people by doing what you're already doing, but bigger in some way.  Go to the Nth degree with whatever it is. 
 
Improv can be trivial and ephemeral. Part of the show, even a really good one, is the aspect that it's being made up in the moment. You give improv a point and a purpose by picking out something to explore and use.
 
  • Imagine if Beethoven only did one "dah-dah da-DAH!" You'd want more.
  • Imagine if he did it exactly the same way ten times. You'd want it a little different, bigger, softer, played on a flute; not exactly repeated again and again.

3 is Funny, Conclusive, & Ingrained

"Omne trium perfectum" means every set of three is complete. In comedy, we just say that things are funny in threes: the rule of three. Thrice is nice.Two is the smallest number of points needed to establish a pattern with an expectation to follow. Doing something more and then "bigger" satisfies that expectation while still being some kind of surprise.
 
This is the 'how.' The 'what' is up to you.
You can follow this technique at any level, no matter who your partners are, no matter your energy level or mood, and it'll work.
These are the underlying basics. Everything else is personal taste and preference. You can still "Yes, And." You can still find the game. You can play real or clever or silly or whatever you like, but you can do it with a plan for how.
 

What you choose to play becomes the game, without having to think about it. You don't have to find something or hope for anything. You can actively create, just by repeating any choice.Any details missing from the scene aren't necessary or can be added in later as clarification or a reveal.

Sometimes, you don't need stakes or emotions or a setting or names, so long as something else is strong enough to fill that void.Sometimes, improvisers patiently explore, listen, agree, and add until they get a good idea. Then, on that good laugh, they edit and start over, grasping at straws again. It's so much easier to make the first thing that happens into something great and stick with it. There's less dead air, less to keep track of, and fewer dead ends.

 
In a story, the plot is created by having characters do something more and bigger. In a game, the moves are repeated (done more) and heightened (done bigger). Even when a scene or sketch takes a turn, that's just something else that'll be done more and bigger also. 
 

In improv, you might only see pieces of a larger narrative. If the show doesn't complete a traditional structure, wrapping up a climax and resolution, the audience won't care too much, as long as the pieces they saw were good. By repeating and heightening something, you create the slices of a larger pie.Plot asks, "What happens next?" Game asks, "If this is true, what else is true?" Deal asks "Who are these characters, what do they want, and how do they try to get it?" I think this 3-step framework answers all these questions in a pragmatic, practical way so improvisers can relax and play.

 
You're not lost; you have a map. Take a step in any direction and keep going.

Matt Holmes is an improviser in Philly. He performs a full improv comedy set with a complete stranger from the audience in Matt& (“playful and winning” –TimeOut Chicago). He also teaches improv, coaches improv groups, and co-founded Rare Bird Show (“Top Shelf Improv” –The Apiary, “arguably the best improv group Philly has ever produced” –AV Club).

Look for the next installment of “Discussing a Bit,” Matt’s monthly WitOut column, on June 1st.

Have a comedy issue or theory you’d like Matt to examine? Email alison@witout.net.


The Panic Hour Presents "Four Twenty"

Did you know the comedians of The Panic Hour podcast (N.a. Poe, Steve Miller-Miller, David Piccolomini) write song parodies? It's true! Did you know they wrote one about pot? That shouldn't be surprising!

If you are a Philadelphia comedy performer that produces a podcast, web series, sketch video, humor column, or any other online content let us know by emailing us at contact@witout.net so we can share it!


Get Real - Comedy Cabaret of skeptic proportions

Description: Blasphemy is a blast at Philly's most irreverent comedy show, starring Sam Singleton, featuring Jim Grammond, Juliet Hope Wayne, The Necrosexual, hosted by Alex Pearlman, and introducing Mika Romantic. Plus, a live set from DJ Dave Clayton for a built-in afterparty from 11-2.

Style: Stand-up, Comedic Storytelling, Variety

Date: Thursday April 11

Time: Doors at 8, comedy 9-11, music until 2

Admission: $15 door. Advance tickets for reserved seats (fee added)

Location:  UNDERGROUND ARTS - 1200 Callowhill St. Phila, PA 19123

Contact: Tickets - Website


It's Elementary with Dave Metter: L.U.M.P.

“It’s Elementary” is a monthly column that asks comedians to share funny memories from their elementary school years, or “periods” (get it?? Like moments in time, but also like in school!) from those formative years that have informed their personal and comedic identities. Or, they’ll just submit some random anecdotes. Whatever they want, really.

by Dave Metter

I have long been fascinated by what has influenced and inspired other comedy writers, especially during their youths when their comedic senses were still so nascent and less judgmental.  Be they films or television shows, random anecdotes or funny relatives, I ask comedians to share a few experiences or works they recall notably from their elementary school years.  This month we have the acronymically-named L.U.M.P. (which I can’t read without thinking of the band The Presidents Of The United States of America since 1995 was a banner year for me insomuch as it was the year I first made a banner).  L.U.M.P. stands for Life’s Ugly Money Problem, and killer comedy.

1st Period: The Nun
When I was in the fifth grade at St. Michael’s, at 2nd & Jefferson, a Puerto Rican classmate named Peter told me to greet a nun by calling her some word in Spanish. So I did. And got suspended twice. One for what I said to the nun, the other for beating up Peter. The nun wasn't upset with me but I had never used any swear words in English, which means the first time I cursed was in Spanish.

2nd Period: Schoolyard Wrestling
When I was in the fourth grade, I moved from West Philly to North Philly. I started at a new school and instead of fistfights, everyone “TV wrestled." I had a record of 1-4, losing the first four, with the one win being over the schoolyard champion. My finishing move was the "perfectplex" and I retired after that fight as champ. I did not realize at the time that I would one day do stand-up, but being shy at a new school was a drag. The wrestling made me slightly cooler back then.

3rd Period: Valentine’s Day
Also in the fourth grade around Valentine's Day everyone in our class gave each other candy hearts and love letters. I gave my Valentine and a candy heart to Liza, the prettiest girl in class. I got rejected because the heart said BE MINE but I sweated the words off after holding it all day before I gave it to her. Trust and believe that I never sweated off any candy heart letters after that. She rejected me, but we were okay after that.

4th Period: Ghostbusters
When Ghostbusters came out, my dad got me and my brother out of school and took us to the movies and we saw that movie 3 times that day. Chilling that whole day with my brother and father made us bond more. My father raised us and was always at work, so playing hooky that once wasn't cool, but understood.

You can follow L.U.M.P. on Twitter @_LUMP, and catch him performing next at Comedy-Gasm on April 13th at the Irish Pol (45 S. 3rd Street).


Dave Metter is a comedy writer from the Philly burbs. See Dave’s show Your News, Philadelphia! at the Shubin Theater May 22nd, part of PHIT’s Variety Sweeps Week. Follow Dave on Twitter @DaveMetter.