ComedySportz: Philly Fighting Amish Beat the NJ Turnpikes!

ComedySportz at Adrienne Theater

This past Saturday night at the Adrienne Theater, audiences enjoyed a great show-down between Philadelphia Fighting Amish and rival NJ Turnpikes.

In case anyone hasn't checked out one of Philadelphia’s longest running shows, ComedySportz follows a similar format to that of the television show Whose Line Is It Anyway? The hour and half long show consists of various short-form improvisation games. Topics are based on audience suggestions and or instructions from the referee. After all these years, their color-coordinated jerseys, tennis shoes and team spirit still excite audiences.

Prepared to sing, dance and act, ComedySportz's athletic form reminds us all that comedians are versatile athletes in their own right.Scoreboard fro ComedySportz

“The games were challenging, fun and clever, which made the show really funny,” stated a thoroughly pleased audience member. Games included “Story,” “Forward/Reverse,” and “What Are You Doing?” During the game “Story,” the entire team lines up on stage and either the audience or referee will suggest the concept of the story. Players have to make up the story as they go and have to stop talking as soon as the referee cuts them off.

Philadelphia ComedySportz runs classes on improv and corporate trainings on team building. In addition, they also do birthday parties and perform at corporate events. They also perform a kid’s show at 11:00a.m. on the last Saturday of every month.

** You can catch ComedySportz tonight at The Playground at Adrienne Theater (2030 Sansom Street, Philadelphia 19103) from 7:30p.m. to 9:30p.m. ($17/$14 for Students/Seniors/Military)


Following up... Q&A w/ Will "Spank" Horton

Will-Spank-HortonLast week we had the chance to catch-up with Philly Native, Will "Spank" Horton after his show at Helium Comedy Club
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WitOut: Can you tell us a little bit about your early days in the Philadelphia comedy scene?

Spank: My early days were a little rough; I wasn’t taking comedy very seriously. I was just told I was a funny guy, so I would just go on stage and play around. After the first year, I got a phone call to do comic-view. From then on, I took comedy seriously. I started to dress a little better and market my own brand.

WitOut: Is that when you really fell in love with comedy?

Spank: I fell in love with comedy after my fourth or fifth year. After the sixth year, I got a call from Kevin Hart. He told me he had been watching my shows and wanted me to go on tour with him. After that I got really serious and went dead-hard. That was in 2007. I started in 2001.

WitOut: What do you consider to be some of the biggest achievements in your career thus far?

Spank: A standing ovation as an opener for Kevin Hart.,Iit was one of those shows where everyone was paying $40-$50 to see Kevin Hart and for me to come out and do my 15-20 minutes and receive a standing ovation, I thought, “I could definitely do this.” Kevin helped me get to where I am at. I used to be known locally, but now I am known world-wide.

WitOut: If you could perform comedy anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

Spank: It is going to sound real cliché-ish, but I am going say my hometown, Philadelphia.

WitOut: I had a feeling you might say that...

Spank: I am so Philly, man. A lot of people say stuff about their hometown like, “Ahh no, you gotta get outta here,” but I have been here all my life and I am still flourishing.

WitOut: You were recently in the movie, Ride Along. How was your experience working with Ice Cube and Kevin Hart?

Spank: It was fun. Even though I worked with Kevin on the road it was completely different on set. And Ice Cube kept telling me I was doing really well. He made me feel as if I were a veteran. It was great; I had my own little trailer. I was the only actor with four lines that had his own trailer and I think that was because the producer and everyone thought of me as one of the boys.

WitOut: What was different about working with Kevin Hart on set as opposed to working with him on the road?

Spank: On the road there was more “silly, silly, hey-hey, buddy-buddy.” The movie was serious [work]. He wanted to be in character. I was in my trailer before my lines, he was in his. On the road, we just wile out!

WitOut: Who are some of your comedy heroes?

Spank: Eddie Murphy, Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock, Martin, Bernie Mac. I am a fan of all the greats and all of those that do open-mic. My number one would have to be Eddie Murphy.

***Spank married his long-time sweetheart in 2012 and still is a resident of the Greater Philadelphia Area. You can find him up in the township, arguing with his neighbors over parking spots “township style.”


Philadelphia’s Will SPANK Horton at Helium Comedy Club (Review)

Will “Spank” Horton & WitOut.net's Priyanka Oza
Will “Spank” Horton & WitOut.net's Priyanka Oza

Philly native, Will “Spank” Horton’s performance at Helium this past Saturday can be perfectly summed up by his very tongue-in-cheek closing line:

“Bye, everyone! I am not Hollywood and I never will be.”

After meeting him, I couldn’t agree more. Completely cool, laid back and friendly are just a few words I would use to describe this humble and talented comic.

Opening acts included comedians Anthony Moore and Darryl Charles. The absolutely amazing and adorable Moore had the audience roaring with his introductory line, “I am graduating this semester, so if y’all don’t laugh at this shit, I got a back-up plan.”

Both supporting comedians hilariously chronicled modern racial misunderstandings like professors asking for “black input” in classes as objective as math (Moore) or numerous requests to have his picture taken with locals during a trip to China (Charles). If you ever get a version of the Chinese Facebook, Charles warns you that you may see pictures of him awkwardly posing with the Chinese. He reminds us in this 2014 WitOut-Award-nominated bit that, this is not by choice.

Our headliner has been busy. You may have caught Spank on Nick Cannon’s Wild N’ Out, on tour with Kevin Hart during Let Me Explain and Laugh At My Pain, or in the recent hit movie Ride Along. However, Spank started his comedy career at the just-closed-down Laff House. And if y’all didn't know, Spank has officially moved into the township. The energetic and well-projected comedian weaved the little tid-bit into every joke, reminding us every chance he got. “I can’t get into it with y’all, I live in the township now, we don’t do that!” he joked with a particularly charming group of hecklers.

Philly is glad to know things are going well for Spank. I honestly cannot think of one topic Spank did not cover during his show--relationships, marriage, college life and his own personal life. Spank’s method of comedy flirts intimately with the line between appropriate and inappropriate, pushing the boundaries of racial humor.  Experiencing his comedy live, it becomes obvious that this acclaim is very much well-earned. Tame one minute, risqué the next.

"I don’t want any trouble now, my wife is in the audience,” he joked. But I'm sure Mrs. Horton knows, all is forgiven in love and comedy!


Q&A with The Comedy Attic Hosts @ The Raven Lounge

raven lounge

 Brian Six, Jon DelCollo, Matt McCusker and Setoiyo sat down to talk about their new role as hosts of the Raven Lounge.

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WitOut: Can you refresh our readers on the Raven Lounge and its history?

Comedy Attic: Absolutely. Center City Comedy (CCC) started comedy shows at the Raven Lounge five years ago. Raven Lounge follows a seniority format. The structure is performance-based, in terms of who gets to go first. It’s a place where you can earn your way up. Whoever gets the most laughs gets to go first.

WitOut: What is like to be the new hosts at the Raven Lounge open mic?

Comedy Attic: We are just four good guys keeping up the momentum that has been built over the last five years. In the beginning, when we took over the show we decided to keep the show the same format as CCC. Comedians start signing up around 8:30pm when they come in. We look at the list at 8:50-8:55pm. We have about 14-18 comics during the first half of the show. We take a ten minute break before the second part of the show and make a list of comics for the second half. The second half usually consists of 20-27 comics. Then, we have a third part for new talent where we try to squeeze in as many fresh faces as we can.

WitOut: What are some challenges of hosting a show?

Comedy Attic: The hard part is putting the list together. We know everybody and we have to make decisions for the crowd and make sure they enjoy the show. It is an intimidating show to host. Even though it is once a week, it is a long night. We just have to make sure we promote the show, and keep the comics as well as the audience happy.

WitOut: Are there any changes in the structure of the show?

Comedy Attic: Every Thursday we have a variety of acts coming big and small. The most consistent people are the ones that go first. Apart from that, the structure of the show will remain the same as it has the past five years.

 WitOut: Any new faces or comedy acts coming to the Raven Lounge?

Comedy Attic: Us four (laughs). It is hard to single out one person, there are about 20-30 really good comics. We have all different types of acts, big and small. It is great for the younger guys to see. We have a headliner from Helium come in. We try to make it a good show for everybody.

WitOut: What are your comedic styles?

Comedy Attic: Well Matt talks about relationships, Setiyo likes to talk about himself (laughs), DelCollo talks about the Olive Garden and I (Brian) am trying to prove that Mayor Nutter is an alien and not from this planet.

WitOut: Well, so much for being politically correct!

Comedy Attic: He passed a law banning outdoor feedings for the homeless, a plan that hates homeless people!

WitOut: Fair enough!  What advice would you give to aspiring comedians?

Comedy Attic: Well to aspiring comedians in general, write everyday keep writing. And to those that perform at the Raven Lounge, keep coming out and don’t ever think the hosts aren't watching. Keep coming out, it’s gonna happen!

**The Comedy Attic hosts weekly comedy shows at the Raven Lounge every Thursday. Sign-up starts at 8:30p.m. and the show starts at 9:00p.m.


"The N Crowd" Improv Tonight @ The Actors Center -- Interview w/ Vegas Lancaster

vegas lancasterThe N Crowd has a weekly Friday night show at 8pm at the Actor’s Center. This April marks the 9th anniversary of their short-form improv show (think: 'Whose Line' games). This February, the N Crowd will be performing at the North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival. Visit their website phillyncrowd.com.

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WitOut: Who is your comedy inspired by?

Vegas Lancaster: Lewis Black, I think I was trying to emulate him when I first started. The political humor always makes me laugh. He has this way of building energy that is really impressive. His timing is amazing. He starts down low and builds up to a crescendo of emotion. A crescendo of anger. I have a smile on all the time, so I don’t know if angry works best for me. But the building of emotions up to the level of fireworks for something as silly as candy corn is really cool. Comedy in front of a live audience and the shared experience of laughter is what I really like. I think it is very special.

WitOut: Who are your other favorites?

Lancaster: I would have to say Steven Colbert and John Stewart. They take such a dry, otherwise boring material and make it super entertaining. The make things people should know about interesting to hear about. Comedy is such a silly field and they are doing important work at the same time. Other than that, I would have to say I also like Flight of the Concords.

WitOut: What is your favorite type of comedy?

Lancaster: I watch comedy cartoons late at night. I also really enjoy live comedy. The experience of laughing with an audience feels really special. It is easy to stay home and watch YouTube videos, but I hope we always have live entertainment because I think it is really special.

WitOut: What is the main difference between The N Crowd and Whose Line is it Anyway?

Lancaster: We can say dirty words. It's also really special about The N Crowd that the majority of our audiences every week are people who have never been to an improv show.

WitOut: What do you think is The N Crowd’s success mantra for bringing new people and turning them into improv lovers?

Lancaster: Everything we are doing is based off of audience suggestion. At the beginning of the show we will ask for a relationship between two people, or a word. We try to get on their level and take their verbal and non-verbal feedback. Whatever they are responding to, we hit on and keep doing.

WitOut: What is your favorite controversial issue to talk about?

Lancaster: I really like hitting on current events. Whatever is on people’s mind in the past week; some things I don’t want to gross people about by talking about it soon. It is really easy to do that during improv because you have to make stuff up. But I also like to do it in standup.

WitOut: Is there any particular show or topic you can remember when you really pushed the limits?

Lancaster: We do so many shows, I forget what we did after we are done. The audience hopefully remembers forever. A couple weeks ago I was doing jokes about Rich Incognito and his racial jokes. We Occupy Wall Street. Election season is also a fun time for us.

WitOut: What side is The N Crowd on?

Lancaster: As a group we do not take any political affiliation. The demographic of the N Crowd, I think, aligns pretty well with the political demographics of Philadelphia. The N Crowd, LLC has no political affiliation.

WitOut: If it weren’t Philly, what city?

Lancaster: That is really difficult to say. The N Crowd is a Philadelphia grown show; we are an independent comedy group. We are close to NY, there is a lot going on up there. In a city like NY, or LA you have got a whole industry for entertainment and a whole industry preying on them; there is a lot of
nonsense. You don’t have so much of that in Philly. The comedy scene has been growing steadily for the past few years. It is more of a niche to fill here. There is a lot of great stuff in Philly. There is room for us to do our thing.

WitOut: What are some of your favorite comedy groups in Philly?

Lancaster: Suggestical, they make up a musical on the spot.

WitOut: Anything else you would like to leave our readers with?

Lancaster: We put on a fun show, if they haven’t seen it. It is all about coming out and laughing!

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Check out previous WitOut interviews with members of The N Crowd w/ B.J. Ellis, and last year's new members.

More about The N Crowd:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwze6iwAjrU

From Philly Improv Festival
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MlY9z1G7fhs


Polygon Comedy Tuesday Night -- Q&A with Rick Horner

polygon comedyTonight is Polygon’s Holiday Spectacular at L'Etage (624 S 6th Street). Doors open at 7:30pm, show starts at 8pm. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online or at the door. There will be ample parking and booze available. That’s right folks, booze. If that doesn't motivate you to put on your scarf and gloves and come out to a comedy show, I don’t know what will!

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WitOut: Can you tell us about the formation and history of Polygon?

Rick Horner: Sure! I would say it is a collection of people more interested in comedy than their egos. We are promoting comedy acts with members that have a passion for comedy. A few years ago, Improv duo Rosen and Milkshake did a show and the audience loved it. The audience asked for cards, but they didn't have any. They reached out to me and we got this idea to not only make cards, but start a website to promote comedy. We have been doing monthly comedy shows at L'Etage ever since.

WitOut: That is a unique way to start a….comedy group? If you could describe Polygon in one or two sentences, what would it be?

Horner: A passion driven machine of comedic talent; an optimus prime built out of sketch, improv and stand-up. It is a collective, like a bee-hive where all bees go but there is no Queen Bee.

WitOut: Can you tell us more about tonight's show and the line-up?

Horner: Sure. The show will be hosted by Rosen and Milkshake. The line-up includes Cecily Chapman, Bill Parks and Demonikus Rex. So, improv, stand-up, improv, improv [laughs].

WitOut: Anything else you would like our audience to know about Polygon?

Horner: Look forward to 2014, because Polygon comedy has a lot of big plans on the horizon. We had a terrific year in 2013, and I feel lucky to work with people that are funny and talented. We have had most major Philly comedy groups perform at our shows such as The N Crowd, PHIT house teams, ComedySportz and Figment. However, if we haven’t had you, we would love to have you. Improv is like a team sport, you don’t have to be Babe Ruth, you just have to swing the bat.

WitOut: Is Polygon involved with any other regular events?

Horner: In addition to monthly shows at L'Etage, Polygon runs and improv incubator in West Philly at the Community Education Center on 35th and Lancaster. Whether you want to try it for the first time, get back into it or practice it more, they would love to have you. They simply ask for a small donation to pay for the room.

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**Small chance of cancellation due to weather conditions. Please check polygoncomedy.com for updates.


A Bunch of Improv @ The Grape Room Tonight -- Q&A with Sam Fran Scavuzzo

bunch of improv poster
Caroline Scavuzzo

Bunch of Improv is at the Grape Room (105 Grape Street) in Manayunk tonight @ 8pm. See what creator Sam Fran Scavuzzo has to say about his group, Cock Hat, his thoughts on improv comedy and memorable guests from the show.

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WitOut: Would you mind telling us about the history and comedic style of your former group, Cock Hat?

Scavuzzo: I performed short-form improv during college. Once I came back to Philly, we (college friends and I) formed a long-chain group, Cock Hat. Stylistically we are high energy, and use a “shooting from the hip” approach. We don’t mind being raunchy or gutsy. Oh, and we are not too sensitive or politically correct either (laughs). Improv is a lot about breaking out of your comfort zone, sometimes you surprise yourself with your true feelings on something or say something you don’t expect yourself to say. You are an actor in a scene, you have to say what is logical, not necessarily something you would say in real life.

WitOut: What has Cock Hat been up to since you all went your separate ways?

Scavuzzo: We performed together for two years, which is a considerably long time. We still perform together from time to time. Tonight's show is called “A bunch of improv at the Graperoom,” [Cock Hat member] Frank and I are performing alongside four other improv teams and a stand-up comedian.

WitOut: Who are the other acts on the show tonight?

Scavuzzo: Kid Twist is a silly team with very smart improvisers. All members are involved with the Philadelphia Improv Theater (PHIT). Demonikus Rex is a relatively newer team. Also performing are Bill Parks, Gross Reber and stand-up comedian Pat Dohony.

WitOut: Who are some memorable groups you have had on the show over the years?

Scavuzzo: Matt Holmes has an improv act called Matt &. He brings an audience member up and does an entire show with them. He is an absolute master at what he does. Stand-up comedian Dave Terruso is another one. Dave is a polished professional. He tours, he's an author and he opens at the Helium for national headliners. He is really smart. The way he uses language is unique. Dave knows the English language very well; there is no wasted word in his set. How do I explain it? He knows exactly how to emphasize a word. He knows his stuff.

CockHat Improv
Cock Hat members demonstrate their name-sake.

Sam Fran Scavuzzo will be performing with Cock Hat alum Frank Farrell at tonight's show. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $5.00 and event details can be seen at Graperoommusic.com.


Philly Improv Fest Ends With a Bang!

Amie and Kristen - Phif13 - PO
Amie tries to control Kristen's temper tantrum.

The final show of Philly Improv Fest had the crowd laughing along to dynamic scenes from duos Hot Dog (Jessica Ross and Luke Field), Billy Hawk (Brian O'Connell and Jeff Hawkins), The Amie and Kristen Show (Amie Roe and Kristen Schier) and Vox Pop (Karen Lange and Jordan Hirsch).  Each of the groups jumped from scene to scene and kept the audeince laughing at everything from the perception of white Jesus to the marital problems between a blind husband and his wife.

At some point, you don’t even know what you’re laughing at anymore... but you’re cracking up!

Hot Dog’s comedic timing and chemistry kept crowds in hysterics as they created funny scenarios on marriage, employment opportunities and awkward dates. Whether it was playing a blind husband or a jovial employee, Luke Field can change the scene faster than you can count to two. Complementing his comedic timing was Jess Ross, whose ability to adapt to her partner’s theatrics is equally impressive.

Speaking of awkward couples, who can deny the charm of a male duo that can convince you that they are an opposite sex couple. Billy Hawk’s ability to transform into characters and bridge gaps of physicality is truly amazing. Whether it was playing a husband and wife, God and his son, Jesus and Mary Magdalene, Billy Hawk had the audience on the edge of their seats waiting to see what characters they would play next.

Perhaps the most animated act of the night was The Amie and Kristen Show. It's no secret that they are one of Philly’s best comedy duos. Best friends and improv masters, their chemistry is evident as they put on a parody of a frog-prince and princess. “It’s a shirt with muscles sewn into it, now you look like the other princes!” says Amie to her (British) frog-prince Kristen. The scene changes in less than a millisecond from a mother trying to control her son who is throwing a temper tantrum to a couple cuddling and talking about the future. This girl-power duo consistently reminded us that the beauty of comedy lies in the power of words and how you say them.

Jordan Hirsch and Karen Lange of Vox Pop ended the night with their musical act consisting of parodies of work culture and every-day married couple problems. The musicality, the duo’s awesome facial expressions and comedic timing made the comedy and music flow together to provide a highly entertaining ending to a night full of laughter.