Dates Episode 1: "Stand-up Stood Up"

Conceived as a way to showcase Philly's comedy talent in a unique context, this premiere episode of Dates features comics Dan Vetrano and Kevin Ryan.

Director of Photography: Clay Hereth
Edited by Aaron Nevins
Created by Alejandro Morales


Enter to Win a Copy of Doogie Horner's '100 Ghosts'

Stand-up comedian Doogie Horner has a new book, 100 Ghosts: A Gallery of Harmless Haunts, coming out this September—and GoodReads is giving away 50 free copies between now and July 17th! Enter to win here.

P.S. If you don't win, you can also pre-order 100 Ghosts on Amazon.


Full Line-up Released for Next Week's F. Harold Festival

WHAT: 3rd Annual F. Harold Comedy Festival
WHERE: Walnut Street Theatre, Studio 5
WHEN: Tuesday June 11th through Sunday June 16th

WHO: www.fharoldpresents.com

Tuesday 6/11 host Alison Zeidman
6pm Intro to the F Harold
6:30pm Cecily Alexandria Chapman (standup) / Christian Alsis (standup)
7pm Nicole Yates (standup) / Alison Zeidman (standup)
7:30pm Bulletproof Giraffe (long form improv)
8pm Bed Savage (long form improv)
8:30pm Cake Bear (long form improv)
9pm M Jacob Alvarez (standup)/ Tales From a Body Cast (sketch)
9:30pm The N Crowd (short form improv)
Wednesday 6/12 host Vegas Lancaster
6pm The Rich History of F Harold
6:30pm Couplet (long form improv)
7pm Ben Findler (standup)/ Zacherle (sketch)
7:30pm Gross Butler (long form improv)
8pm C*ck Hat (long form improv)
8:30pm Scary Mo'fo's (long form improv)
9pm Trevor Cunnion (standup)/ Vegas Lancaster (standup)
9:30pm The Future (long form improv)
Thursday 6/13 host Cara Schmidt
6pm Rosen & Milkshake (long form improv)
6:30pm R.A. Bartlett (standup)/ Patrick Dodd (standup)
7pm Natalie Levant (standup)/ James Creelman (standup)
7:30pm Jared Bilski (standup)/ Josh Bennett (standup)
8pm Kid Twist (long form improv)
8:30pm Snapshot (long form improv)
9pm Bad James (long form improv)
9:30pm McGrail & Calletta (sketch)
Friday 6/14 host Alejandro Morales
6pm David Topor (standup)/ Alejandro Morales (standup)
 6:30pm Big Baby (long form improv)
7pm Marx(long form improv)
7:30pm LaTice Mitchell-Klapa (standup)/ Sidney Gantt (standup)
8pm Adrift (long form improv)
8:30pm Mayor Karen (long form improv)
9pm Hot Dog (long form improv)
9:30pm Whip:Suit (long form improv)
10pm High Dramma (sketch)
Saturday 6/15 host Shannon Devido
6pm Doubloon Animals (short form improv)
6:30pm Chaperone (long form improv)
7pm King Friday (long form improv)
7:30pm ZaoGao (long form improv)
8pm Jess Carpenter (standup)/ Shannon Devido (standup)
8:30pm Apocalips (long form improv)
9pm Matt& (long form improv)
9:30pm Davenger (long form improv)
10pm Daring Daulton (sketch)
Sunday 6/16 host Mike Logan
6pm Let's Talk F Harold
6:30pm Kids with Rickets (sketch)
7pm The Really Big Shew (featuring Kristen Schier!) (long form improv)
7:30pm Duplicate (long form improv)
8pm Comedian Deconstruction (featuring Bed Savage) (long form improv)
8:30pm Mike Logan (standup)/ Mike Weiss (standup)
9pm The Dream Machine (long form improv)
9:30pm Hans Gruber (long form improv)

"Samesies" by Iron Potato

Iron Potato is a new sketch comedy collective in Philadelphia featuring videos by John McKeever, Chip Chantry, James Hesky, Mary Radzinski, Tim Butterly, Aaron Nevins and Dave Metter.  Here's their first project, "Samesies."

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!


"Handsome Jones" by KittyKatBooty

Local sketch group KittyKatBooty has a new video:

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!


The HYDRA Speaks: PHIT Conservatory Students Share Their Experience

This Sunday, students from the latest PHIT Conservatory course will perform their first HYDRA, a format they developed over the eight weeks of the class. The group was instructed and directed by Steve Kleinedler, who also directs PHIT House Team Hot Dish.  Back in February, Steve told us what he had planned for his students—now, here they are to talk about what they learned, and what we can expect from their four-show run.

WitOut: Describe the experience of participating in a PHIT Conservatory course.

Meredith Weir: The PHIT Conservatory course gave me the opportunity to work with Philly improvisers I’d never shared a stage with. A decent number of the students in class had traveled through the PHIT curriculum over the last year together, so some chemistry was already there and I think that really helped move our team/class along. There was a lot of emphasis on group mind; we created our own warm-ups (that sometimes ran over an hour), and did 40-ish minute runs during the first couple weeks just to get accustomed to each other. It didn’t take long for those that already worked together and those that hadn’t to gel.

Tomás Isakowitz: Working on developing our own performance and more than that, performance style, is challenging, fun, frustrating, exciting, scary… all of that  simultaneously. I have grown tremendously improv-wise. At Conservatory each participant is given very specific pointers on what works, what does not, and how to improve. If you can take the criticism, it will force you to grow. And then, there is the fun exploration of creating our own style. It is a fantastic prelude for on-stage performance, especially for someone who has not performed on a team before.

Josh Depowell: Conservatory class is a really great transition from graduating from PHIT's core curriculum to establishing your own comedy troupe.  The conservatory encouraged us to think about different forms that our group of improvisers would be good at doing.  The guidance of a PHIT instructor helped us to realize which things worked and which didn't, and they guided us through the thinking process of getting to a place where we would have something to put on stage. I think that this is a great opportunity for people planning on putting together improv teams in the future.

WO: What was the most important thing you learned from your instructor, Steve Kleinedler?

Danielle Klaiman: To try to think of the most important thing I've learned from Steve is almost impossible. He has helped me hone my listening skills and in class we really focused on the relationship between two characters and how that relationship effects them. Probably the most important thing he's left me with is, "Don't drag the fucking chairs or I will come onstage and break that chair over your fucking head!" [Kleinedler adds: I didn't say this until week 7. But seriously, don't drag your chairs when editing, people!]

WO: The course is culminating in you and your fellow students performing your own original improv show, the HYDRA.  Can you describe the format?

Mike Butler: Without giving too much away, it's a fast-paced, multi-headed beast of a format.  If the Armando is a revolver, we're a full-auto mini-gun. I'm pretty sure the Hydra will set a Philly improv record for scenes in a show during its run.

Joe Coughlin: With an audience suggestion, we each state a brief line inspired by the suggestion. Then one of us will restate our line and that will inspire three brief scenes. We repeat this until all of us have performed our monologues at which time we will go into a run incorporating many of the ideas we've generated throughout the set to that point. It's fast and it's furious and it really fits the people performing it.

WO: How did you guys go about creating this totally new, unique form?

Mike Butler: It came together rather quickly.  Steve figured out our individual and collective strengths from the first class, specifically through a warm-up session that was only supposed to go 15 minutes but kept going for over 50 minutes.  In the next couple classes we found the root of the form through a monologue exercise that the group latched on to.  After that, we spent the remaining weeks refining the format and getting accustomed to playing together.

Meredith Weir: Talking, talking, and more talking. After the first four weeks we spent a lot of time focusing on what we noticed our strengths were as a group, and what we each prefer individually. There was so much to pull from because even though we had only been together for a short time there was a lot of repetition in those first couple weeks. Steve, although a great director, really left it up to us. He was there to guide us but for the most part we developed “The Hydra” entirely on our own in an organic fashion. (Even though it’s not an organic show at all—we all like structure!) We took what worked, “yes, and"-ed it and developed a show that PHIT audiences will enjoy.

WO: How do you think the show will evolve throughout its run? Does the group anticipate making any adjustments to the format from performance to performance?

Joe Coughlin:  I think the biggest thing is adjusting to playing it in front of an audience. We've become comfortable with the format over the past few weeks, it's just time now to get it in front of a crowd. I'm sure we'll be up to tweaking it a bit depending on what seems to play or not, but the format is made of some pretty solid building blocks that are arranged in a different way for this show. I'm confident in our ability to adapt.

Danielle Klaiman: It will be very interesting to see how things play out over the run, mostly because not all seven of us will be there for every show. Whenever someone is absent from the group the dynamics automatically shift. Thankfully the format we have created is not reliant on the number of people we have and still works well when someone is absent. We've been rehearsing so long without an audience that I think all of us are pumped to reveal all the hard work we've been doing and to see how the audience responds. Maybe we'll tweak a few things here and there, but I feel like we've got a real solid format that showcases our individual talents.

Josh Depowell:  Throughout the last couple of classes we saw that the pacing of the show picked up and we realized that this helped the performance.  I believe that their is a possibility that we will continue to see this throughout the run as well.  I do not expect that there will be any major changes to the actual format that we are using.  I think that what we have right now is working and that any changes that may be made will be focused on how we are playing within the format.

WO: What aspect of the show do you think will be most exciting for audiences?

Tomás Isakowitz: Experiencing our new style and figuring out how it works! We mix monologues with auto-prompts.  The audience is smart and will feel remunerated as the show unrolls and they can see how the fabric is gently produced from the threads they have seen develop.

The PHIT Conservatory 'HYDRA' will be performed on May 19th at 7pm, May 26th at 5pm and 7pm, and June 2nd at 7pm at Philly Improv Theater at The Shubin Theatre (407 Bainbridge Street). Advance tickets are available online.


Interview with Rachel Fogletto of 'Comedy-Gasm'

This Saturday, stand-up comic Rachel Fogletto brings Comedy-Gasm back to The Irish Pol for another round of comedy from "the city's edgiest and unashamed performers and comedians." Read on for more about Rachel and the show.

WitOut: How long have you been doing stand-up? What got you started?

Rachel Fogletto: I've been doing stand-up for about 7-8 months. I had been doing other forms of open mics like spoken word and storytelling for some time, and I had recently been branching out to other types of performance and was in a Fringe show. I had numerous people tell me that I made them laugh when I would tell sex stories that were often uncomfortable and emotional situations. One woman I worked with in a show said, "You remind me of a comedian." I thought that was funny for some reason, and I had always wanted to do stand-up but never really felt that I had the balls. So I finally tried it and realized that I had it all wrong. It took balls to get up there, yes, but I had actually had to grow a dick to stay up there, and keep coming back.

Stand-up was the most challenging form of performance I had ever done, and I feel like anything you do that you love should challenge you. Once I started I knew I couldn't stop.

WO: When and how did you decide to start Comedy-gasm?

RF: I started to notice that as with anything else in life, there seemed to be a "majority" voice even within comedy, which always seemed to me, to typically be an art form of struggle. There are not a lot of women, most obviously. But I also wanted to see more comedy that was pushing boundaries from other perspectives. Not to get all affirmative-action, but I wanted to see more comedy from females, or people of color or from a queer perspective or even from a place that was not typical or already "acceptable edgy" comedy, like porn or jerk-off jokes. Not that I don't love a good dick joke. I love a good dick............joke.

WO: Can you explain the theme for the show? What do you mean when you describe it as comedy "by the unashamed, for the unashamed"?

RF: Following up on my last answer, I noticed there were actually a good amount of comedians that had a generally rogue sense of humor, or who were coming from a totally different walk of life that weren't as present at the more crowded open mics. Different perspectives allow for different voices, different authenticity and ultimately, jokes no one has heard before. I felt myself gravitating toward comics who tended to make themselves vulnerable onstage even if their jokes were risky. I feel like the best art comes from the ability to be unapologetic even if it riles people. And of course, it has to be good. It has to be especially good when you're ruffling feathers.

WO: How do you choose the line-up for these shows? Are you looking for a specific type of comic, or a comic with a certain type of material?

RF: Thank you for asking! Everyone's biggest question is "Do all the jokes have to be about sex" Um, definitely not. The format thus far has been one "non-intentional" comedian, which is someone outside of stand-up performance but still is 90% comedic. Then follows 4 stand-up comedians. For the show's debut, this created exactly what I wanted, which was a cross audience from different scenes like The Erotic Literary Salon, so the performers were able to actually tell jokes to a fresh audience. I also arrange the lineup according to joke style and tempo, rather than experience to create a cohesive "set of sets" I guess you could call it. It could be in my head, but it seemed to work well the last time. Everyone had a blast.

Because I personally tell a lot of sex jokes, I have a way of looking at the world through sex. I think that art and comedy and the relationship between the performer and the audience is a power struggle, like sex. We go up...we try to make people laugh. We do this in different ways. Sometimes we get emotional, sometimes we try to relate, sometimes we just try to entertain. Everyone is turned on by different things. But after a while, crowds, like people, get used to the same type of "foreplay" ...they are desensitized to things that used to make them aroused, surprised, offended....and most importantly, impressed. I think that when you can craft a joke, especially a risky joke, in an unconventional way and make people piss themselves laughing, it's like you gave them an orgasm. Ta-da!

WO: If you had to narrow it down to one thing, what would you say is the funniest thing about sex?

RF: I feel like I'm supposed to make a joke here. Sex is always funny...if you can't laugh at yourself as a sexual being, you're doing it wrong. I work out a lot of my sex life on stage, because I owe it to people to talk about something that means a lot to me.

The funniest thing? Colored condoms.

 

The next 'Comedy-Gasm' is this Saturday, May 18th at The Irish Pol (45 S. 3rd Street). Admission is $5.


Interview with South Jersey Stand-up Championship Winner Paul Welsh

Throughout April, High Note Humor (based in Haddonfield, NJ) ran the South Jersey Stand-up Championship at The Taproom Grill.  On April 26th, Paul Welsh took home the championship belt. Here's Paul with more about his stand-up history, writing process, and upcoming shows.

WitOut: How did you first get into stand-up?

Paul Welsh: I was always the one to crack a joke or a funny line but about ten years ago my wife signed me up for a stand-up comedy class at Mercer County Community College as a Christmas present.  She said "You think you are so funny...now go and learn how to do it properly." I got the bug and a group of us from the class continued to work together, writing and performing wherever we could.

WO: What's your joke writing process like?

PW: I was born in England and I tend to notice little differences between  England and America.  I then use these ideas to develop material.  The process isn't always the same, sometimes I get an idea and write the joke within minutes...other times the idea languishes in a notebook for months or even years.

WO: How did you prepare for the South Jersey Stand-up Championships? Did you write a totally new set specifically for the contest, or was it all tried-and-true material?

PW: To be honest I had forgotten about the semi-final until the afternoon of the show...I was cleaning out my garage when I got a reminder email from the High Note guys so I scrambled to put my set together.  So for my semi-final I used all tried and tested material...but I was a bit better prepared for the final and wanted to do a different set so I threw in some new stuff...it seemed to work.

WO: Winning this contest probably felt pretty good, but since you're a comic, I'm assuming you've had plenty of onstage experiences that felt pretty miserable, too. Describe your worst onstage moment, and how/what you learned from it.

PW: I think the most difficult one was when I was starting out and was asked to host a show at a hotel in North Jersey.  They hadn't promoted it very well so nobody showed up...I mean nobody!  At show time the room was completely empty.  So the show's promoter was out in the hotel lobby pleading with people to come in...no cover...no drink minimum.  He persuaded two couples to come in and so I opened the show to those four people.  I learned that whatever the circumstances to perform my set with the same enthusiasm...it was my job to keep those four people entertained so they wouldn't leave.  They eventually did leave but not until after my set!!

WO: What's next for Paul Welsh? Any upcoming shows or other projects in the works?

PW: I am in the process of refreshing my material so I am in writing mode right now.
I have some shows coming up:
5/18 Hornets Nest, Browns Mills NJ
5/31 Hibernian Club, Hamilton NJ
6/1 German American Club, Hamilton NJ
6/7 Sandi Pointe, Somers Point NJ