Discussing a Bit with Matt Holmes - The "Best" Thing on 'SNL' Recently

by Matt Holmes

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez died on Tuesday, March 5. On Saturday, March 9, Saturday Night Live opened with host Justin Timberlake impersonating Elton John as he sang a dedication of "Candle in the Wind" at Chávez's funeral.

The lyrics were altered, as Elton John did after the death of Princess Diana, but to include bizarre facts about Chávez's life, including his radio show Aló Presidente, hat-wearing parrot, and comments he made about capitalism destroying a civilization on Mars.

I think this sketch was the best thing on SNL recently.

  • The sketch used the host's talents. He sang it well, and I think played the piano part too. He sold the jokes and did a good impression.
  • The sketch was topical. The live aspect of SNL allows—if not demands—that current events be used in the humor.
  • The sketch was funny. It had clever rhymes, good pacing, and insight about the subject.

It's the combination of these things that makes it stand out for me. It's SNL being SNL.The show has certainly had some other funnier stuff, but funny is subjective. What's funny is based on personal taste, awareness of the subject matter, how well it pans out, even your mood at the moment you're watching it.

Saturday Night Live is a live sketch-comedy show with a celebrity host who performs in sketches. SNL's DNA is funny, political, timely, edgy, and flavored by the guest host. With the right mix and balance, you can watch it live or 30 years later and love it just as much.

There's a certain timely element that gives an added impact in the moment. (You can't even find this sketch on Hulu or NBC.com/SNL because of music rights; you actually had to watch it live.) But if something's well-written and well-performed, it'll hold up later.Look at the Sarah Palin sketches or Dan Aykroyd playing a hemorrhoid-suffering President Carter, outlining his plan against inflation: Preparation I.

And certainly not every sketch is going to be that mix of current events and host talents. It shouldn't be even if it could be. There are other aspects of SNL that make up its identity.

  • My point is to know thyself and be the best you.

Comedy—and art in general—are often spoken of in mystical terms. There's an extra something that makes it all come together as more than the sum of its parts. That magical spark; it's you. It's the comic or group or show, etc., having a self-awareness and producing material that is representative.

There are ways to get people talking around a water cooler or tweeting, ways to get more video plays, ways to get remembered or imitated. Too often, though, these formulas can lead to comedy that is formulaic. It's more important to be a good example of yourself.When Chappelle's Show was about to come out, network executives said they weren't sure if the sketch about a blind Klansman who doesn't know that he's black would be a good representation of the show overall. Dave Chappelle said it was a perfect representation. 

When Bill Prady, showrunner for The Big Bang Theory, was working on Dharma and Greg, he woke up in the middle of the night with a perfect story, but the perfect story for Star Trek: Voyager. He got in touch with them and handed it over.

Even if something's good it has to fit and feel right. Comedians should become tailors.

It's a lesson to learn from any outstanding piece created out of knowing not only the message, but the medium.

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 May 1st.

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


Pizza Pals with Joe Moore featuring...Beirdo!

by Joe Moore

What's ups, Pizza Nuts?! So my entire life I have never liked black olives. I don't know why, but they just tasted like high-class garbage to me. For some reason this all changed...and that reason is pizza. I called in an order to pick up and out of nowhere just blurted out "A large pie with peppers, onions and black olives." The pie changed my life...and now I can eat olives.
 
Well enough talk about miracles, let's talk about Beirds. Philly improv group Beirdo features Dennis Trafny, Kevin Pettit and Daniel Jaquette. Dan moved to Minneapolis a few months back, but these gentlemen are still together in spirit. The power-trio will be physically reassembling for this year's Chicago Improv Festival and they are holding a fundraiser TONIGHT at 8PM at the Arts Parlor, which will feature one metric ton of fun from a bunch of great acts. In order to celebrate the event on Friday, Beirdo let me inside their inner circle to talk a bit about pizza. 
 
Ever wonder what would be on a "Beirdo" pizza? Answer below:

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

Dennis Trafny: This much (Joe, if you could include a picture of a person holding his or her arms like shoulder-width apart) 
 
Kevin Pettit: A whole Bunch!
 
Dan Jaquette: I like it like a mountain man likes bear traps and being alone with his thoughts.

PPJM: You are going to Chicago. What are your opinions on "Deep-Dish Pizza"?
 
DT: I think there should be a giant layer of sausage patty on everything. 
 
KP:  Deep Dish Pizza I view as the fat cousin of East Coast Pizza.  I haven't seen him in awhile and I'm very excited to rip into his saucy middle with my teeth.
 
DJ: I have a high opinion of them because they look more like pie, and I also love pie. Especially pizza pie!
 
PPJM: What day is/was "Pizza Day" in your house?
 
DT: I lived in a home so not sure about house. (Joe, I lived in an apartment complex. If you reword it I can maybe answer better.) 
 
KP:  Pizza day was Fridays and I assume my parents still order pizza for five every Friday to fill the void me and my two brothers have left.
 
DJ: For a long time, every Friday was pizza and movie night for my wife and I. Now we are trying to be more spontaneous, so it could be any night.
 
PPJM: If there were a pizza named "The Beirdo" what kind of pizza would it be? What kind of toppings?
 
DT: sawdust + maple syrup + chainsaw oil + arm hair  
 
KP: The Beirdo SHALL be a pizza.  I'm upset it isn't already.  It will have bacon, pepperoni, jalapenos, and sweet BBQ rib meat on it and should be served with a side of ranch for dipping.
 
DJ: It would have extra sauce because we are so saucy and also extra cheese for the same reason. Also, a stuffed crust.
 
PPJM: What is your favorite appearance of pizza in pop culture (music, TV, movie, etc...)
 
DT:  It's appearance in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game was beyond unrealistic but notable. 
 
KP: Pizza's best role in television would have to be in the cartoon series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Michelangelo sure loved his pizza and that love was contagious!
 
PPJM: What is your favorite pizza place?
 
DT: Gino's East in Chicago. Kevin, would you like to go there with me? No? Dan, do you want to go there with me? I did ask you first.  
 
KP: Tacconelli's has been one of the greatest pizza experiences of my life.  AND it is BYOB so, you can have as many balloons as you want!  This ensures a fun pizza experience.
 
DJ: In Philly it was Little Italy, here in Minneapolis it's Pizza Luce.
 
PPJM. Anything else you'd like to add?
 
DTAdd to what? The pizza? Our statements? Have you ever conducted an interview before Joe? You need to be more specific.  (Also, don't include any parathenicals; those are for you only.)
 
KP: There is a midnight showing of TNMT at the Ritz or somewhere the night of our show.  I propose we party after the show, get some pizza and go see the movie!
 
DJ: I lived in Japan for 2 years (no big deal) and they put strange things on pizza. Once I had tuna and corn. Tuna wasn't great, but corn was surprisingly good. Also, I always think I'll like BBQ sauce on pizza, but then I never do. I do not like "white pizza" because I like sauce a whole lot. I've tried gluten-free pizza before and I don't like that either, but I'm glad that those with gluten intolerance still have a pizza option that won't terrorize their innards. I once saw a squirrel eating a pizza like a human and I laughed at that, I think my wife took a picture, but I don't have access to her photos so I can't send it along, but I'll describe it for you. First, to set the scene. It was in Madison, WI. For those that have never been to the Midwest, I'm sorry you won't be able to accurately envision this anecdote. Anyway, there was a tree with bark and everything. In this tree there was a squirrel. He had in his little squirrel hands a piece of pizza and he was holding it by the crust and eating the cheese parts like a human. I sometimes wonder if it was a human who was Kafka'd into a squirrel but didn't want to give up pizza. I hope that squirrel survived the winter and lived to eat more pizza the following spring. 
 
Awesome! One of the best groups of Pizza Pals a fellow could ever ask for, hands down. Be sure to come out and wish them well TONIGHT at the Arts Parlor at 8PM!! 
 
Joe Moore is a pizza enthusiast, host of 'Guilty Pleasures' and head writer for sketch comedy team Dog Mountain.

Interview with Comedian and Author Dave Terruso

by Chris Dolan

Dave Terruso is a genuinely funny guy; he hosts at Helium Comedy Club in  Center City and performs stand-up frequently around the Philadelphia area.

He is also an inquisitive guy, asking his married interviewer, "Where is your wedding ring?"...and, in doing so, getting a story about the ring’s whereabouts and inscription.

We met at Urban Saloon in Fairmount to discuss his latest project, an office murder-mystery novel he’s written entitled Cube Sleuth.  The book draws on elements from Terruso’s own (admittedly hated) former office job, and revolves around the main character's search for the killer of his best friend/coworker, set against the backdrop of a typical corporate cubicle farm.

Chris Dolan: A book is a big endeavor.  How did you decide to write a book, and settle on the subject matter and whatnot?

Dave Terruso:  I’ve been writing books since I was 11. I wrote a short story—it was both sides of one page—about vampires. I read it to my parents and they clapped. So I said "This is what I’m gonna do for my whole life."  And then I got my own typewriter and wrote my first 100-page novel.  I wrote six more before the one I just published. So it’s always been y’know, what’s the next project?  When I started my job, the job that I talk about in the book, I started writing screenplays.  I wrote five of those.  This novel was the first one I wrote after the screenplays, so I was kind of going back to my original form. And the idea for the book just came from hating my job so much and being bored there and just thinking this would be a really strange place to set a murder mystery.  Murder mysteries are usually about exotic things and characters, locations…interesting people with dark secrets.  I wanted to write about boring people without anything to hide.

CD:  Were any of those books you wrote when you were younger murder mysteries or was this your first?

DT:  I wrote a book after Cube Sleuth which is another murder mystery. I’ve written a bunch of different things but this is the one that I feel at home with the most. As a kid I liked murder mysteries and watching all those movies. Presumed Innocent was like a big inspiration for me. It’s partly an inspiration for this book.

CD:  Greta Scacchi….whoa.

DT:  It’s a good movie. As a kid I recognized it as a good movie and as an adult, I read the book and knew this was something cool.   I did write a murder mystery when I was 13 or 14 and I made my mom the main character. So this is kind of the adult version of that. I won’t always write mysteries.  I write straight comedy things and I like sci-fi and stuff, but in general I think I’m a mystery writer. Even if I write a sci-fi thing it’ll be a sci-fi mystery.  I think that’s the way the human mind works. You’re trying to figure out the puzzle of something. You go on a date with someone, you’re trying to figure them out. And you ask them questions and you listen to their answers and you learn from what they ask you.

CD:  Did you solve the Cube Sleuth mystery in your mind and then work your way back? Or did you evolve the story to the point where you ended it the way you wanted?

DT: I’ve heard some mystery writers don’t have the ending when they start writing; I don’t understand that. I know. I do a ton of planning before I sit down. I knew the ending first.   I have five main events that I know are going to happen that flesh out the story, and then I outline, and I leave the rest to the moment. The five events remain the same, but there are other little twists and turns. That’s the fun part for me. I’ve got to let the characters go where they want to go.

CD:  There’s a line that describes a female character’s voice “like tiny marshmallows melting in hot chocolate.” Do you have turns of phrase that are in your head and you apply them to specific characters? How do you know when you want to use simile or metaphor?

DT:  I try to just write the way I speak. And I usually speak in a visual sense...even the stand-up that I do I’m trying to get an idea into your head, so I compare something to something else. I could never explain how that woman’s voice sounded to me...the key or the tone of voice, but I could say it sounds to me like tiny marshmallows melting in hot chocolate. And hopefully the reader’s brain can put that together. But no, I don’t have anything prepared ahead of time.

CD:  Do you have an editor?

DT: I’m an editor myself. So I do that myself. I read somewhere that you never finish a book, you just stop revising. For me, I write the rough draft, I revise it to where it’s readable and then I give it to a bunch of people that I trust—I have a lot of English major friends and editors—I let them read it. And [as it relates to the mystery] I see what they figured out and what they didn’t, and then try to scale back. I think I err on the side of giving too many clues. People [reading the draft] are like “I’ve figured it out already”...So then I scale it back.

Then there’s this thing of...like knowing you’re in love or something, you just go, “it’s done." So I get this settled feeling in my mind.

CD:  You’ve mentioned you have another book project or projects in the queue?

DT:  I just finished the rough draft of the new book 3 weeks ago. So now I’ll revise it to where it’s readable and give it to my friends. I quit my job and I need to sell the book soon so this will be like a faster thing.

CD:  Will you have a launch event?

DT: I will probably do an event. I was thinking about doing a show where people would pay $15 for the show and get the book for coming.

CD:  So you do sketch, stand-up, writing...improv too?

DT:  I did improv. When I was 24 I joined an improv group for a year.  I did sketch for eight years, and then five years in I started doing stand-up 'cause I kinda knew I’d be going off on my own at some point. And now stand-up has been my sole comedy thing for the last four years.

CD:  Do you still watch sketch or improv?

DT:  I’m still into all forms. I’m probably going to be doing sketch again soon. Kevin Regan and Alli Soowal asked me to do something with them. Sketch is my number one love, comedy-wise. It combines the things that I do the most which is write, act and perform. Stand-up does it, too, but I like to be a character. Sketch gives me that. I’ll always come back to sketch.

CD: Apropos of nothing, I interviewed Sidney Gantt recently about the Captain Action Comedy Show and he just raved about you. Your sketch and improv abilities have definitely helped you in terms of thinking on your feet, in  that particular forum.

DT:  I feel like every comedian should do improv because it just informs everything you do. If you get heckled you’re like "I got this." You can’t really throw me on stage. Because for a year I got on stage with nothing in my head except for what the audience yelled out. It’s a different kind of confidence.

CD:  Who are the comics that you like and have influenced you, from any genre?

DT:  My big five of living comedians right now are Patton Oswalt, Louis CK, Bill Burr, Paul F. Tompkins and Dana Gould. I got to open for Dana Gould and he was amazing. I begged the club to let me open for him. You don’t get to ask who you open for. I said I’d work for free, and I didn’t get it, but the guy who was supposed to do it was in LA and they called me. The manager of the club, Jeff, who likes to give me shit, came back stage and told the [Gould] how much I idolized him. [But] I try never to be starstruck I don’t want to make them uncomfortable.

CD:  People say it’s a bummer to meet your heroes. What was that like?

DT:  It’s not true. Dana Gould does this huge bit about meeting Bob Hope and how it was terrible and how Hope was a shithead to him, and [Gould] said "Don’t meet your heroes." When I heard  that I laughed, 'cause he was so nice to me, he’s a writer, he [at the time] was writing a pilot for a show...

CD: He wrote for The Simpsons, too.

DT:  Yes, he’s amazing. And I was sitting backstage and editing my new book 'cause there’s so much down time. And he saw me and asked what I was writing and he said "that’s a really good idea for a book." So he was totally cool. I haven’t been disappointed by anybody [who I’ve hosted for].

CD:  Any last words about Cube Sleuth?

DT:  It’s dirty in a fun way; people should know that if they decide to buy the book.

'Cube Sleuth' is on sale in paperback at createspace.com and for the Kindle via Amazon.

Chris Dolan is a stand-up comic who lives in the Montco burbs.  He’ll be appearing in the Comedy Showcase at Puck Live! (1 Printers Alley, Doylestown) on March 28th.


Awkward Moments with Hilary Kissinger: Getting Pimped

“Awkward Moments” is a monthly column that asks comedians “What do you do when...” In this installment we talk about improv, pimping, and how performers’ real-life identities shape the offers they get on stage.

Improvisers have various definitions for “pimping,” and many discussions (and arguments) about the subject seem to stem from a difference of semantics. Most can agree that “to pimp” implies the act of setting up another player to do something very specific that they might not ordinarily do. This is a silly generalization because, in improv, making stuff up on the spot makes us do a lot of stuff we wouldn’t “ordinarily do.” Whether you view pimping as playful or malicious depends a lot on your perspective, the context of the scene, and whether there is trust between the performers.

Examples of pimping range far and wide, from “here, read me this poem. It’s in French,” to “remind us of how good a break dancer you are.” Some will say asking a lot of questions and forcing your scene partner to provide information for the scene is a form of pimping, although I think that’s more like wimping. Pimping can seem like a cheap gag or a mischievous prank. It can be a way for players to gift their scene partners with something fun to do, but it can also be an excuse to control their behavior and the direction of the scene out of fear. Like all improv “rules” or guiding advice, one size does not fit all.

Ralph Andracchio, the new Artistic Director of the Philly Improv Theater, says it can be tricky to pimp:

“Pimping, if done sparingly and well, can be really funny and add a really playful element to a show. I say this should be left to the more seasoned groups, as pulling off a really well-done pimp is tricky. The danger being the person doing the pimping can come off looking like a heavy-handed jerk. Pimping in certain short-form games or during a group game can be acceptable and fun, though. I prefer to steer my students or teams I coach away from pimping, simply because it can be read as mean by other players and the audience. And it more often than not pulls everyone out of the story you're trying to tell into a game that doesn't have the legs to carry through the rest of the piece.”

Darryl Charles of ComedySportz and Beatbox Philly is an advocate of the pimp. “Being pimped is fun because it can take a lot of the 'what am I going to do?' out of improv,” he says. “It's fun to screw your friends over in front of people. Forcing them to display a behavior or holding them to something they ralphed out can be fun and funny. I've noticed that audiences tend to like when something that was probably a mistake gets held instead of thrown away and forgiven, especially when it's magnified and played with.

“One time in a Rookie Card show, Marc Reber set himself up to be a blind cop and while he was staggering around the stage in a scene I tagged out his partner and removed all of the chairs. He was just left walking around for like a minute before anyone did anything. The crowd loved it.” Does Darryl think it’s important for the improvisers to be pretty comfortable with each other if they’re going to pimp? “It helps in general and with pimping. It helps if you know someone’s sensibilities and strengths and play to those things, or away from them, when pimping them.”

How you view pimping might have more to do with how you view improv in general, and what your process is as a performer. Ralph emphasizes investment in the world you’ve built over quick bits. “I'm a fan of honest character work and emotional responses in improv,” he says. “We are storytellers, and the audience is there to hear and get lost in that story. Any kind of game-playing (like pimping) can be a distraction and ultimately pull the scene into an unintended and superficial direction where all involved are just looking for the next laugh. If you are truly present, listening, and responding truthfully your scenes and your show will ultimately lead to those hard-earned laughs that we all crave. No pimping required.”

The art and the crime of pimping is one that’s been discussed at length on the IRC message boards at ImprovResourceCenter.com, where improvisers can get pretty far into the weeds talking shop. On a thread asking about how to defend oneself against a pimp, responses vary wildly. Jill Bernard counters the sentiment that there even is such a thing as a pimp, writing “Why is there anything your partner could ask that you can't do? Who told you you can't fly? What's the point of doing these silly make'em ups if you're just going to say, 'No I don't have a Bill Cosby impression'? It's only a pimp if you're a wuss.” Ben Hauck, on the other hand, advises that “too much pimping may make for some really funny scenework, but it can undermine the group mind as it potentially humiliates the other player. Humiliation can threaten the trust a person has in a group.”

I think that the potential for humiliation ultimately lies in the intention and inspiration behind the offer made. Improvisation has a way of exposing instincts and biases as performers are forced to behave intuitively, and the added pressure of fear can sometimes push us toward shortcuts that sell out our scene partners. This is where “pimping” can gain the additional baggage of labeling or endowing improvisers based on superficial or inherent aspects of their identity. By this I mean one improviser pimps out another improviser because of their physical appearance or off-stage life.

Dennis Trafny of Beirdo says this happens to him often. “Mostly by newer improvisers but it happens often,” Dennis says. “How it goes is, they usually reference my character being bald and almost always I can see in their eyes that they immediately regret saying it. I think it's a combo of worrying about hurting my feelings as well as realizing they aren't playing pretend too well.  That's usually when I "yes and" the shit out of it so they get comfortable and to let them know it's totally OK.  But hopefully baldness is just a detail and not the game of the scene. My favorite response is to do a hair flip and go "yeah but the stuff on the sides is super badass though.” Only once did I ever leave someone hanging. It was a class show and my character was a son who left the scene. The improviser playing my "dad" started to panic and in desperation was calling for me to come out. As I was about to take a step out he goes "yeah, my super bald son. Man is he bald. I'm so embarrassed for his baldness. I have so much hair,” (plays with his own plentiful hair) “and he has none. Bald bald bald bald." There was no mention of my character being bald prior. He was talking about me the improviser, not my character. I just stayed on the back line. He was drowning and I stared into his eyes while he flopped around to a dead silent audience.  If I was in that scene again though, I would've played the game and gone "What's up my dad who is painfully unfunny."

“I actually haven't run into it myself,” says Ralph of these kind of pimps, “but I think at least from my perspective, someone's race or gender would affect how I play, and not necessarily how I respond to my scene partner. Meaning, I wouldn't pimp my scene partner out about eating if they're fat or periods if they're a woman, but I may take on a different persona depending.”

“I've been in scenes where I was labeled as a black person when it wasn't particularly relevant,” Darryl says. “I'd offer the advice of acting naturally to the situation. If it's offensive, you're probably not the only one taking it that way so find a way to respond (in character, if you can). If you're not offended then no harm no foul, I guess?”

Joe Coughlin of Cake Bear says he hasn’t necessarily been the victim of a pimp because of a personal attribute, but he does have to navigate some limits when responding to one:

“I think because I enjoy playing a lot of different characters that I haven't been pigeonholed too much in my improvisation and people have fun naming me all kinds of different things. But the real challenge when it comes to pimping for me is when I'm called to do something that my body might not really be capable of doing. As an "Improviser of Size" (formerly known as iOS until Apple sent me a cease and desist), I'm just not really capable of doing stuff like climbing on rickety chairs without fear I might fall to my death.

“For example, recently at the PHIT House Team auditions, I found myself playing a new yoga student. There was no way my body was going to be able to do the yoga pose I was instructed to do, so I saw two ways I could play it: 1) Do it differently, but funny or 2) Do it not at all because the character I'm playing wouldn't do it. I opted for choice 2. Because I hadn't done much in the scene yet; I had some wiggle room, I loudly exclaimed "Oh, HELL no!" and looked on with disdain. Then the edit came. The lesson is...I'll play the character, but the person playing it doesn't want to die on the floor because he couldn't get out of the pretzel move he was pimped to do. It's embarrassing, but you deal with the reality of the limits of your body.”

Singer and comedian James Bradford is familiar with being pimped out because of a real-life attribute in improv scenes. “I have so many instances of my weight being made part of a scene,” he says. “I could think of 20. Often it's in the form of the character making a jab/snark at my character's expense, in a scenario where the body of my character had never been brought into play before that moment. Steve Kleinedler taught me how to maneuver around things like that without destroying the scene or rejecting an offer, and I think I've become pretty good at it.”

“I think it comes from inexperience,” James says of why these offers happen. “In my Improv 101 class I found classmates constantly referencing my weight. It got to the point where I actually spoke up for myself, and the teacher backed that up and then everyone felt terrible and apologized to me after class. I just knew that if I didn't say something there in a learning environment it would keep happening. In retrospect, I should have taken my teacher aside and let him bring it up.”

Does James think that fat comedians are expected to approve of their weight being a source of humor?

“You know, it's funny, but I don't think that's it. And I just wrote a whole article about how society treats fat guys, and one of the things I talked about is that assumption that fat men are okay with being fat so everyone else can joke about it. Though you may be onto something, because rarely does my sexual orientation get brought into a scene in improv. HOWEVER...I do find that when I try to portray a female character, because I'm gay in real life my scene partners just assume I'm playing a gay male, and it throws me off my game because I thought I was being so obviously female. Like I was once playing a mermaid, and it couldn't have been more obvious. Laying on the ground, flapping my tail, talking about Ursula or some such. And my scene partner (another mermaid) commented on my beard. Having taken Steve K's classes, I would now in that situation say something like 'Oh, I know, this beard is the worst. I've just completely run out of Nair! I have to send my husband Prince Eric out to buy some.' Or something like that.”

The word “pimping” can and has been employed to mean many different things (and not just in improv). What seems clear is this: giving outrageous gifts to your scene partners is fun. But just like any other kind of improv move, it’s not fun if it’s all you do, and it’s not fun if you’re motivated by fear. The worst kind of pimp, in my opinion, is made by an improviser who feels she is failing and so she rears back and comments on the scene by pimping out her partner apropos of nothing. Another big factor is trust. Teams who have been performing together for a long time and are invested in each other as people are necessarily able to do things that classmates can’t. For example, the best improv teachers will make it clear at the beginning of their classes that students are expected to avoid sexually explicit scenework because they just don’t know each other well enough to navigate it responsibly. And trust me, there’s nothing more alienating than getting pimped into a blow job scene with someone you’ve just met. Improv and otherwise.

Join the conversation! Have you been pimped, either for something awesome or something awful? What’s the best or worst pimp you’ve even seen? Tell us in the comments!


Hilary Kissinger is a writer and improviser splitting time between New York and Philadelphia. She performs with Philly Improv Theater House Team Davenger and writes about movies for FilmMisery.com. Chat with her on Twitter @HilaryKissinger.

What Awkward Moment in comedy would you like to see Philly’s comedians tackle? Ask “what do you do when…” by emailing alison@witout.net.