Tomorrow Night: The Ministry of Secret Jokes

Doogie Horner's monthly show returns tomorrow night for another of what was named Best Funny Night Out by Philadelphia Magazine. You can check out information at The Ministry's Website, or on the Facebook Event for tomorrow night's show, but we've decided to just post it here for your convenience.
STANDUP COMEDY: Juliet Hope Wayne, Josh Rabinowitz, Mike Rainey, and Animosity Pierre (although Animosity will be sketch, not stand-up. Or maybe they're doing an inspirational speech? Unsure.)

THE RUBY HATS OF DEATH: Chip Chantry, Pat Barker, and Daryll Charles dip their hands into the blood red hats and see what jokes they must tell. Can they survive the ordeal?!

ALSO: A man wearing a red carnation will tell you a secret joke if you tell him the correct password.

OMNIANA BATTLE: Reigning champion Brendan Kennedy battles Gregg Gethard, in a very special appearance as himself instead of a weird character, for once.

The show begins at 8:00PM at is held upstair's at Fergie's Pub, 1214 Sansom St. Philadelphia.

Ten Questions With...Brendan Kennedy

Brendan Kennedy is a stand-up comedian, a member of improv groups Hate Speech Committee and The Hendersons, sketch comedy group Camp Woods, and the host of the Philly Improv Theater show Guilty Pleasures.

How and why did you get into comedy? When I was a kid my dad and uncle would always show me episodes of Monty Python’s Flycing Circus, and I loved it. I would make comedy videos on my parents’ S-VHS camcorder with my cousin. In high school I was one of the kids that ran the tv studio and I’d make comedy videos that I’d show during the morning show. I continued my refusal to be serious about anything by going to film school and while there I made almost nothing but comedy videos. Then eventually I got the balls to do stand-up, which to me is the purest form of comedy and expression out there.

How would you describe your style as a comedian? What influences and factors do you think contribute to that? I’d describe my style as a stand-up as selfish. If you don’t like what I do, then I don’t care to entertain you. And I hate comics that try to be what they think everyone wants them to be. There are billions of people on the earth, enough of them will have similar interests and sensibilities to me, and those are the people I want to speak to.

Plus, stand-up is an inherently selfish endeavor, so claiming you have some greater goal is at least 50% bullshit. And I say 50% because out of that desire for immediate self-gratification (the selfish 50%) you can reach people who otherwise might feel isolated, because they haven’t found a way to express themselves or people who think and feel the same way they do. But you can’t reach them by pretending to be something. You can only reach people by being honest with yourself and about yourself. That’s what I love about stand-up, and that’s the type of stand-up comic I try to be.

Do you have a favorite show or venue you like to perform at? What about it makes it fun or special for you?  I loved performing at the Khyber because it was dirty and grimy and shitty and you had to really want to see comedy to go there. Which made the audiences there great, and I felt the most comfortable there. I enjoy doing stand-up at the Ric-Rac, the Shubin, and any place where people have come to specifically see the people who are performing. People who go to comedy shows not knowing anything about who they are going to see baffle me. And I lack the ability to relate to them. I can entertain them, but only if I do a bunch of crowd work. It’s like I’m the host of some awful party that a bunch of random dopes showed up to, like the one Rick Moranis throws in the first Ghostbusters. And most times I am doing crowd work I am fantasizing about a demon dog crashing the party and making it more interesting than, “You do that job? Well you should talk to other guy I just talked to, he does a job that if combined with your job would be really funny!”

That being said, I really enjoy the open mic at noche that Jack Martin and Paul Goodman run. Those two guys are smart guys who run a good room, and are really supportive of everyone who shows up there. (If you’re thinking “I don’t think they are supportive.” You’re thinking that because you’re an asshole, and you’ve behaved in a way that makes it impossible for someone to be supportive of you.)

For sketch and improv I like theaters.

Do you have a single favorite moment in Philly comedy or one that stands out? Anytime Roger C. Snair crushes in front of an audience that has never seen him and doesn’t know who he is. I use how people interact with Roger as a bit of a litmus test, because he’s so overwhelmingly and unflinchingly positive. It is my opinion that you have to be a piece of shit to not like him. Anytime a room full of strangers gets him and accepts him it makes me feel more optimistic about the world.

I’m friends with Roger, we do a monthly show together, but I’m also his number 1 fan. I’d love nothing more than to see Roger have a talk show on television, just to see some of the douchiest celebrities squirm in their seats, not knowing how to handle him. Talented, funny, decent people, if put in that same scenario will come out looking amazing. For example, I had last month’s guilty pleasures be somewhat a talk show, and one of the guests was Andy Moskowitz. Roger kept asking him about his sexuality (Roger is rather immature in regards to his opinions on sex), and Andy handled everything so amazingly that he ended up becoming the hero of the show. It was so funny and genuine that I felt like I was interrupting when I had to chime in to have us read a script.

Do you have any sort of creative process that you use with your writing or your performance? Or a sort of method that you use to develop comedic material? For stand-up, I always just write about whatever I’m currently obsessing about.

For sketch, I write basically two types of sketch. Quick, one joke sketches that are bookended with title cards. And 2 character stream of consciousness sketches. The short sketches, which are basically blackout sketches, are just based around a joke I think of that I like. But I write them to be very very short, because I think sketches that are 5 minutes long but only have one joke are stupid. If you have a sketch that’s just one joke, then just tell the one joke and end the sketch. It’s not a college paper, there’s no minimum length sketches have to be.

The longer sketches I write are always me trying to write interactions between two people that are more absurd and honest than most real life interactions, because to me the funniest parts of life are the moments in which someone is being really honest, and at the same time really odd.

What is it about stand-up / sketch / improv that draws you to it? Comedy allows you to discuss topics that are just too sad or taboo to talk about casually with people.  Its not creating any solutions, it just helps people stress less and be more ok with the world they live in. That’s what has always drawn me to comedy.

Do you have any favorite performers in the Philly scene? Why are they your favorites? Roger C. Snair for reasons I’ve already mentioned.

Steve Gerben for his willingness to be honest with himself and about himself onstage and his abilitiy to make his own personal struggles, physical and mental, hilarious.

Andy Moskowitz for the same reasons.

The people in the groups with me, (Hatespeech-CampWoods-Hendersons) for too many different reasons to list.

Do you have any bad experiences doing comedy that you can share? A particularly bad bombing or even an entire show gone haywire? Recently I ended a set at a bringer contest by saying, “That’s why I think we should burn down churches.” Most of my bad experiences with comedy show stem from my inability to accept people who I’ve decided are shitty. That, and tech problems.

What do you think the Philly comedy scene needs to continue to grow? More of what it already has. More people who are passionate about performing comedy. More people who run good rooms. More people supporting each other’s shows and rooms. More original ideas.

The first three are obvious. The 4th seems like it should be obvious, but its apparent to anyone who’s watched comedy before and is seeing shows in the city now that its not. You can’t stop random people from showing up at open mics and doing other people’s material. But you can make sure not to book them ever. You tell internet jokes, you tell Bill Hicks jokes, you tweak internet jokes and then tell them, you tweak Bill Hicks jokes and then tell them, you don’t do shows. That should be the rule that everyone follows. Hacks (thieves are a type of hack) aren’t going to kill the surge in popularity that comedy is experiencing in Philly right now, but eventually they will. That was one of the main killers of the comedy boom.  You can listen to countless interviews with comics who were part of that and they all talk about how there were so many opportunities to get onstage in front of large paying crowds that people started taking shortcuts to take advantage of it, and comedy suffered as a result. Crowds started staying home because there was no point in going out to see a show if you were just going to see comics telling jokes that they saw on tv.

If you see someone doing stolen material, yell at them, tell them to go fuck themselves. They are insulting the art form you love, and they are being a self-serving asshole.

Do you have any personal goals for the future as you continue to perform comedy? I want to just keep getting better. That’s my only real goal. That and to make Roger C. Snair famous.


First and Last Words with Joe Moore: Ministry of Secret Jokes

Much can be, and has been, said about the Ministry of Secret Jokes. I was present for the show on August 8th, and since there was no oath taken beforehand, I am free to reveal events of the evening.

Below are the first and last words from each comedian who appeared on stage:

Comedian : First word / Last word

Steve Gerben: Hello / Story
Doogie Horner: Thank / Night
Chip Chantry: Hey / You
John McKeever: Give / Attention
Micah McGraw: Hi / Yeah
Baby Doug McGraw: Is / Ok
Corey Cohen: Yeah / Phone
Conrad Roth: Thanks / Horner
Bing Supernova: More / Not
David Terruso: Hello / Much
Black Wexler: You / Mother
Brendan Kennedy: Something / University

It should be noted, some of the performers appeared on stage multiple times through out the night. The words listed are their first from when they first spoke into a microphone, last words are final words spoken in the entire evening.

Joe Moore is a comedy fan and sometimes-performer. You can follow him on Twitter.


Philly Comedy Round-up, Vol. 12

This week at the Shubin Theater, Philly Improv Theater continues its two-week run of shows. PHIT has recently changed their schedule, shifting showtimes to 7:00, 8:30, and 10:00PM. You can check out their full schedule here.

Monday night open mic Comedy XChange has gone through a bit of a facelift, and will now be known as Comedy on the Corner. Not letting the closing of their venue, Bar Xchange, stop them from putting on a show, hosts Chris McGrail and Dan Vetrano have decided to go guerrilla and hold their open mic on the street, at the corner of 20th and Ludlow.

Tuesday night Philly will say good-bye to Luke Giordano, who is departing for Los Angeles, where he will continue his comedy career as a writer for the sitcom Two and a Half Men. Luke will not go quietly into the night, as he is being sent off with a "Trashing" [Facebook event] - which is similar to a roast, but from the mind of Brendan Kennedy.

Also this Tuesday The Bird Text Comedy Show will make its return to Helium Comedy Club. This week's show will feature sets from Tom Cassidy, Alex Grubard, Mikey Gleason, and David James.

The Theme Show will make its debut at 10:00PM this Friday night at PHIT. Hosted by Rob Baniewicz, The Theme Show continues in the tradition of Gregg Gethard's Bedtime Stories as a monthly variety show where all the acts are based around a common theme. This months theme is, fittingly, "The First Time."

Submissions are currently open for the 7th annual Philadelphia Improv Festival, being held October 3rd - 9th, kicking off the second annual Comedy Month. Applications forms are available on their website, and the deadline to submit is Sunday, July 17th.

Auditions will be held this week for two Fringe Festival shows being produced by Philly Improv Theater. Twenty-four is a show that will unfold in real-time and is described as "a twenty-four minute window on the realistic relationship dynamics of six individuals." Twenty-four is being directed by Steve Kleinedler and will hold auditions on Tuesday, July 5th and Saturday, July 9th. Dark Comedy is PHIT's take on the famous Chicago format "The Bat" an improvised show that takes place completely in the dark. Dark Comedy is directed by Jason Grimley and will hold auditions on Sunday, July 10th.


PIZZA PALS with Joe Moore …this week: ROGER C. SNAIR

Having a few minutes to pick the mind of Roger C. Snair is the most predictably unpredictable things I’ve ever done. I’ve seen Roger perform, and had a pretty good idea of his talents -- actor, playwright, dramatist, poet, and so much more ... but was he a pizza nut? After a passionate conversation about New Jersey geography, we got the answer to that question.

How much do you like pizza?

A lot. I love to be devastated and torn by a pizza with real pizzazz.

What is your favorite pizza topping?

Extra cheese, mushrooms, pepperoni, Pepto-Bismol.

What was your family’s “Pizza Night?"

I’m Jewish. We had a gefilte fish night. Hey, that would make a far better topping than anchovies.

Favorite slice in Philly?

Olympus on South Street

Favorite slice elsewhere?

Bellmawr Pizza, Browning Road, Bellmawr, NJ.

Anything else you want to add?

I like to eat pizza until I turn into a flatulent bomb. It isn’t pizza unless it makes you fart like a machine gun. Great pizza rips your GI system to shreds and leaves you in an entirely gaseous state.

So for those of you keeping score -- Roger is one of us, a certified pizza-haulic. You can catch Roger doing what Roger does at Brendan Kennedy’s Guilty Pleasures this Wednesday, May 4th at 8 PM at the Shubin Theater, alongside Kristen Schier, Andy Moskowitz, Doogie Horner, and JP Boudwin. You can bet I'll be there (and probably Lorenzo's later in the night!) Cool!


JUST THE MINUTES with Joe Moore (March Madness Comedy Competition Final Round)

The following is a report on last night's March Madness Comedy Competition Finale, the Rumble in Manayunk. The undertaking of "March Madness" has been as great as it is large. Center City Comedy took on an arduous task, and this show went on witout a hitch. For the last month we have been asking the great question: what happens when you pit 72 comedians against each over the course of a month in a competition to see who can win the audience over?

The great answer: this...

7:02 - 9:18 -- Emily and I arrive at Mad River. We are two hours early. We go to dinner, get coffee, buy some CDs, listen to them in my car, and then go to the show.
9:19 -- In patriotic fashion, the crowd at Mad River is treated to a rendition of the National Anthem, beautifully delivered by Erin Hess.
9:22 -- Host Tom Cassidy takes the stage.
9:24 -- Tom introduces the commentators, Shifty-Man Foley and Waddles Washington.
9:31 -- Tom removes his sweatshirt revealing zebra striped ref shirt and introduces the first contestant, Brendan Kennedy.
9:35 -- A man standing near me makes an awkward squatting gesture. I catch it but don’t know what happened, like a nervous twitch.
9:36 -- Brendan compliments Tom Arnold.
9:39 -- The man squats awkwardly again, and I realize he is trying to adjust his underwear with out using hands.
9:40 -- Jamil B is introduced.
9:41 -- Third squat from this stranger. Guys, just go to the bath room and use your hands. Whatever that is, it’s weirder than just tugging at your crotch.
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