Q&A w/ Joe Sib -- Performing November 5th @ MilkBoy

Joe Sib

WitOut: How and why did you get into comedy?

Joe Sib: I got into comedy via spoken word. I wrote a spoken word show called California Calling that I performed for about two years all over the United States. It was about how one day of my life put me on the path I'd follow for the next 30 years. I know that sounds heavy -- it isn't.

Doing that show for two years got me into standup because I performed the show at the Hollywood Improv, the Largo in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Punchline. I just loved the vibe of those rooms and it made me want to get into stand-up.

WitOut: How would you describe your style as a comedian? 

Joe Sib - I'm a storyteller. At first, I shied away from that and tried to write jokes. It didn't work. At one point, I just started talking about what's going on with me in my life right now. I'm a dad, a husband and just trying to figure it out one day at a time. In that process, there are some pretty funny stories. It's my first time doing any of those things so there's a ton of room for error and that's where the comedy comes from.

As far as influence goes, I come from a different perspective because my whole background has been in music for 30 years. I was either a singer in a band, managing a band, putting records out, signing bands, etc. My whole life has been around musicians so my approach to comedy is directly influenced by that.

WitOut: What's your writing process like?

Joe Sib: My process for writing is this. I get up in the morning, drink 2 cups of coffee (maybe 3-- depends on where I'm at that day) and then I go for a 3-4 mile run. Mostly 3. While I'm running, I'm totally jacked up on caffeine and I start thinking of bits and ideas. It's almost like the combination of the caffeine and the adrenaline is the perfect storm for me to come up with my material. I'm constantly stopping my runs to write down ideas. If you saw me, you'd wonder what's up with the crazy guy who keeps stoping to scribble in this tiny notebook!

WitOut: What is it about stand-up that draws you to it?

Joe Sib: I just love being on stage! I love a good show. I love seeing the people walk into the venue, hearing the music they're playing, talking to the other comics, etc. I feel really honored that I'm able to jump up on the stage at this point in my life. I'm not some young 22 year old - I'm a middle aged man. I'm just so grateful that I can entertain people in some capacity and it feels like they're enjoying it!

WitOut: Do you have any bad experiences doing comedy that you can share? A particularly bad bombing or even an entire show gone haywire?

Joe Sib: Which one do you wanna hear? The time I bombed in Portland, OR and it ended up in a print review the week after? Or the time I bombed in San Francisco, CA and then 300 people walked past me after the set and none of them could even make eye contact with me because it was so bad? I made an awkward situation even more awkward as I stood by the door trying to inflate my ego as they walked by. But the good shows outweigh the bad at this point, thankfully. It's never as bad as I think it is.

WitOut: Do you have any personal goals for the future as you continue to perform comedy?

Joe Sib: My goals are realistic. I want to continue writing, touring and of course, become the best comedian that I possibly can. Coming from a musical background, my main goal is to be perceived as a comedian who can entertain people but at the same time, has something real to say.

WitOut: Tell us everything we need to know about the Nov 5th show!

Joe Sib: The thing that's crazy about the show at MilkBoy on November 5 is that it's a true homecoming for me. I was actually born in Philadelphia but have never spent any of my life there! All of my mom's family still lives there so there will be a ton of Italian slash red-headed Irish people there. To top it off, I'm doing the show with my best friend, Jesse Malin. He was the best man at my wedding, we've been so many adventures and tours together. He'll be playing music and telling some stories while I do some standup. It's gonna be a great night!

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Tickets are available online, visit MilkBoyPhilly.com


Q&A with Rory Scovel, Performing This Weekend @ Helium

Rory ScovelRory Scovel plays a supporting character on the TBS sitcom Ground Floor, and has a new standup comedy album called Rory Scovel Live at Third Man Records. He'll be performing this weekend at Helium.

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WitOut: On Ground Floor, you play a character named Harvard, who, I think, is the most interesting part of the show. How would you describe Harvard for someone whose never seen the show?

Rory Scovel: Thank you. I appreciate that. I am very lucky with this character. He is definitely the weirdo of the show, a role I've been preparing for most of my life. I'm not sure how to describe him really because I'm not a professional actor. I sort of just pretended I knew what I was doing at the audition and for some reason they liked that about me. That’s kind of who he is, Harvard. He just goes through life pretending he knows what he's doing and being an office weirdo. I love him. Yes, I said I'm in love with my own character that I play. Further proof I'm so ready to be this guy on camera.

WitOut: What's the experience been like in general? Is it intimidating being on the set with John C. McGinley?

Scovel: It’s been great. I've really loved it and I'm excited to get back for a second season, fingers crossed. It’s a great group to work with so I want to go back and have some more fun and see what we come up with. McGinley is a champion. Not only of the show and of the craft, but of people. He has an intimidating quality because I think he wants everyone working as hard as he is. He makes me a better actor, so it’s great to be around him. He is a pro.

WitOut: How'd you get involved with The Life and Times of Tim?

Scovel: A buddy of mine, BJ Porter, wrote on the show and recommended me to come in for it. We were working on a pitch for a show and it just worked out to go in and become one of the characters. I wish it was still possible to go in and do that show.

WitOut: What are some of the responses you've gotten to your album Dilation?

Scovel: Pretty good I think. I try not to read reviews too much but with that being my first album, it was hard to avoid. I think overall people enjoyed it and anyone that reviewed it seemed to like it. I know there are some people that didn't like it and I hope those people die an awful death. Not soon or anything, I'm not a monster, but when it does come time for them to die, I hope it’s awful.

WitOut: Your new album is available on vinyl only. What influenced that decision?

Scovel: I recorded it on Jack White's label Third Man Records, it’s called Rory Scovel Live at Third Man Records. They primarily release stuff in vinyl format and I thought it would be cool to just release it as that. I'm sure it’s out there in digital form somewhere ILLEGALLY. We decided to do it as just vinyl since some of the material is going to show up in my upcoming special that I'm shooting in Charleston, SC on 2/21 and 2/22. Didn't want to have the same material over and over in different formats.

WitOut: Have you been watching the Olympics so far? What's your favorite event?

Scovel: I have not watched any of it. I’m not sure that I will. Maybe the hockey. I don't know, I really haven't thought about it. The pressure, it gets to me.

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For tickets, visit www.HeliumComedy.com. After the late show Saturday, check out The Dirty Dozen at midnight. Twelve of Philadelphia's most NSFW comics will regale you with stories too inappropriate to discuss on the internet!


Q&A With Philadelphia's Big Jay Oakerson at Helium Comedy Club

We caught up with Philadelphia native Big Jay Oakerson before his show at Helium. Here, Big Jay explains how his crude, yet conversational, style was crafted by comedy heavyweights Patrice O'Neal and Dave Attell and how he became a fearless comedian.

Big Jay Oakerson at Helium Comedy Club
Big Jay Oakerson

WitOut: What do you enjoy most about coming back to Philly?

Big Jay Oakerson: I come back once a year to do this club and maybe a few times a year to see family. My favorite thing every time is--I think I’m supposed to say the club--but it’s the goddamn food. I miss the food here. Even in New York, which has a wider array of cultural food, like, fuck that, I’ll eat cheesesteaks twice a day while I’m here.

WiOut: How long have you been doing stand up?

Big Jay Oakerson: 15 years. I started at the Laff House, that shut down recently, but me, Kevin Hart, and Kurt Metzger all started there together.

WitOut: What’s your favorite part about doing this job?

Big Jay Oakerson: The live performance. Going out there and interacting with the crowd. I like to talk to the crowd a lot. Mixing it up with them and trying not to do jokes for as long as possible.

WitOut: You talk to the crowd a lot.

Big Jay Oakerson: Yeah, as much as possible.

WitOut: When you’re writing, what’s your process?

Big Jay Oakerson: I don’t write. Sit and write on paper? I never do that. There’s a big chance that I’ll go out and have a bunch of things that I’ll just say just tonight, but there’s also a chance that, if I say something for the first time, off the cuff, that will take me on a tangent. That’s how I write. Kurt Metzger will call and bounce jokes off me and ask me for a punch, but I found that when I sat down when I was younger, I would sit and write simplistic jokes that a thousand other comics make. I think I’m very original in my genuine take on shit, so I’d rather just talk to them. I’m just not afraid of them not laughing.

Anyone who starts doing comedy who has any arrogance to them, the first time you say something to a crowd, that in your mind was guaranteed to be funny and they’re going to laugh, and they stare at you, there’s just no way to simulate that emotion. The thing I worked on the most in comedy was to be unafraid of that. I’m not afraid of the room being completely silent. Patrice O’Neal gave me the advice that you don’t go up there and say anything you can’t defend genuinely. You should defend your right to be funny and that comes with having no fear of the audience.

WitOut: You mentioned Patrice O’Neal, who else did you look up to when you started doing comedy?

Big Jay Oakerson: In Philadelphia, there was a guy name Turae, who ran the open mic at the Laff House. He was a big influence because of how smooth he was and his style and how comfortable he was. And Keith Robinson took me, and Kev [Kevin Hart], and Kurt [Metzger] out of Philly and to New York and got us acclimated up there. From there, Patrice took me under his wing and we became friends. I found my real mesh, in terms of opening for somebody for years, was Dave Atell. I went all over the country opening for him. I think those two guys are the two best at their type of comedy.

WitOut: I was actually warned that your act was kind of dirty.

Big Jay Oakerson: Kind of? That’s bad advertising. I’m trying to desensitize you and make you hear the message that I’m saying.

WitOut: What’s the biggest difference between the New York comedy scene and the Philadelphia comedy scene?

Big Jay Oakerson: Frequency. New York has between 8-12 pro clubs running 7 days a week. Dozens of rooms, comedy shows, open mics, one nighters, every night from 5pm to 3am. Philly, you can probably, if you hustle, get up twice a week. Because there are a decent amount of comics and we’re down to one club. If you’re going to get better at comedy, it’s repetition. Repetition will make you stronger at it. It’s part of not being afraid.

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You can catch Big Jay Oakerson tonight at Helium Comedy Club (7:30p.m. and 10:00p.m.) with Mary Radzinski and Aaron Berg.

Mary Radzinski at Helium Comedy Club
Mary Radzinski

 

Aaron Berg at Helium Comedy Club
Aaron Berg

 


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.”


Q&A With Comedian and Writer Dana Gould at Helium Comedy Club

Dana Gould at Helium Comedy Club
The calm before the storm. The storm being when Gould runs around the stage attacking like a chimp.

Dana Gould has written for The Simpsons and Parks and Recreation. He currently acts in the TNT series Mob City. Gould will be performing at Helium for four shows from Wednesday through Saturday. We caught up with him to talk about writing for television and his career in comedy.
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WitOut: What was it like working for Parks and Recreation? Can you tell us about a memorable contribution you made to the show?

Dana Gould: I wrote during Season 2 in the awkward years when it was taking a while for the show to gel. I coined the name "Duke Silver" for Ron Swanson's saxophone playing alter ego and created his album name "Memories of Now." It's funny because Largo, a place where I perform stand up in L.A., has a framed copy of that album that they had made up and put on the wall.

WitOut: What was one of your favorite creative contributions to The Simpsons?

Gould: I wrote an episode from Season 16 called "Goo Goo Gai Pan" where Homer and Marge go to China and adopt a daughter for Marge's sister which was based on my own experience of adopting my two daughters.

WitOut: Do you have any advice for comedians that want to write for TV?

Gould: My advice is to just do it. Don't take a class or anything, just do it. A writer who isn't writing isn't a writer. It takes discipline. You have to make a habit of getting up every day and doing it. Make it your top priority and don't leave the house until you get it done.

WitOut: What have been some of the highs and lows of your career?

Gould: When I first started out in stand up I was obsessed with Albert Brooks. Albert was at a Simpson's Party later in his career and I had met him several times before in a professional setting, but one time at this "Hollywood Party," all the sudden he just said, "Hi Dana." He was always this hero of mine and in this moment I saw him as a peer. Oh and everything since then was a low.

Dana Gould at Helium Comedy Club
"God only hits the Midwest with tornadoes because he's really far away and he must think farmers look like lesbians."

WitOut: Did you make any New Year's Resolutions this year?

Gould: It's strange because 2013 was terrible, personally. I got divorced. But, professionally, I released a new album that was number one on iTunes and I am getting to do amazing stuff on Mob City.

I'm just hoping for something in the middle this year.

WitOut: Any comments on the Chris Christie scandal?

Gould: I assumed the lane was blocked because Christie wanted people to know how it feels for him to squeeze down the aisle of an airplane.

Check out Gould tonight (7:30p.m & 10:00p.m.) and tomorrow (10:00p.m.) at Helium Comedy Club


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 WaitStaff Presents: Breaking Bad Santa This Weekend @ L'Etage

breaking bad santaThe Waitstaff are one of Philly's longest running sketch-comedy groups. Their "Real Housewives of South Philly" characters are a bona fide classic. "Breaking Bad Santa" runs Friday 12/20 and Saturday 12/21; both shows at 8pm.  Tix are $15, available at the door or online. We got some scoop from staff waiter Sara Carano...

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WitOut: Has The Waitstaff done Holiday shows before?

Sara Carano: The Waitstaff has done many Holiday shows in the past and we hope to continue the trend into the future. We LOVE delighting our audiences all year round but the Holidays are a special time of the year to spread joy to others - what better way to do that than with a Holiday show!

WitOut: How about that ending to Breaking Bad? Can fans expect plenty of Walter White references?

Carano: This year's Holiday show Breaking Bad Santa has plenty of Breaking Bad references and "spoiler alert" - if you haven't watched the last episode you might want to see it before coming to our show. The Real Housewives of South Philly are known for their big hair as well as their big mouths and we couldn't keep Marie from spilling the beans about how Breaking Bad ends.

WitOut: What have the members of The Waitstaff been up to since last we talked (like, way back!)?

Carano: In the Waitstaff's over-a-decade-long existence we have never done a fundraiser for ourselves. We decided this year to try a KickStarter Campaign to raise money for our 2014 season! Our campaign will end January 6, 2014 so don't delay - donate today!

WitOut: Will the Waitstaff be continuing their fine tradition of serving food and drinks to the audience members DURING their sketch comedy show?

Carano: Breaking Bad Santa is being performed at L'Etage Cabaret so our patrons can dine and drink during the show (drinking before, during and after the show is highly recommended!) But this weekend is the last chance to see the show so come, laugh, drink and get into the Holiday spirit!

WitOut: Which classic Waitstaff characters can fans looks forward to seeing this weekend?

Carano: Well I don't want to give the show away but characters you will see during Breaking Bad Santa: Santa, Rudolf, Hermey, Jesus H. Christ, Mary Mother of God, Speiderman and The Real Housewives of South Philly! We will delight folks of all religious backgrounds and Santa will be giving away some fun gifts too! Please note however that Waitstaff shows are not for children - 21 years of age and older please! Ho, Ho, Hoe!