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 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 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.

"There Just Wasn't Enough Comedy in the Suburbs" - Interview with Dave Topor of 'Comedy Corner at Broad Axe Tavern'

by Chris Dolan

On Saturday, February 23rd, Comedy Corner at Broad Axe Tavern in Ambler hosted another show in its ongoing series of comedy showcases featuring regional comedians.  The show, a sellout, was headlined by Andy Nolan, and featured performances from Jim Ginty, Caitlin Feeney and host Alex Pearlman. Each month also features a performance from Dave Topor, the show-runner of Comedy Corner at Broad Axe.  A highlights reel of the show is available here.

Dave Topor sat down for a conversation the week before the show to talk about the evolution of Comedy Corner at Broad Axe Tavern and his personal comedy.

Chris Dolan: Talk about how you got started with shows at the Broad Axe.   

Dave Topor: I guess it just stemmed from an idea that there just wasn’t enough comedy in the least, a traditional show that’s [performed] the way it’s done in [Philly], just, outside the city.  I looked around and knew Broad Axe had  done some renovations and got lucky.

CD:  So do you know anybody at Broad Axe..?

DT: I didn’t. I saw the third floor [where the shows are performed] and kind of knew that was a space I didn’t want to pass up, and I set up a showcase before I set up an open mic. [Author’s Note: 'Comedy Corner at Broad Axe' has also hosted periodic open mics.]  [Broad Axe management] were cool with it...luckily enough, they were like, "we’ll try it out," and then, from there, it worked out really well.

CD: How long ago was the first show?

DT: April 27th of last year [2012]...and then the idea behind the first show was that it was gonna be a [one-time] thing and we'd see what happened. Just because of the success and the popularity, after I saw it come to life, I said that this is something I need to continue.

CD:  Who was on the first bill and how did the show flourish?

DT: I was just getting back into comedy myself, and my network was actually smaller, so I had to do a bit of research.  So I went to Helium, and at that time they were having the finals of the March Madness competition. I saw Alex Grubard there, Gordon Baker-Bone...I picked them up. And I was going to open mics so [I approached] some people that I saw who were working consistently and had a polished look to them...again, a lot of luck involved, but the ones who I picked were able to bring it and did really well.

CD: How involved was the venue in terms of promotion and getting the word out versus you and your network getting the word out?

DT: At first, [Broad Axe] was kind of just "do your thing and we’ll see what happens." I think when they saw what was developing, it didn’t take long for them to move quickly in terms of their involvement. They saw the benefits of having a show—a good show—and I think the first three shows they were letting me do my thing, then they started to do small things like put up table tents, send their own email...but they definitely are involved, they promote the show and they like it.

CD: How big was the audience for the first show?

DT:  To capacity. We sold out the first show; I would say we probably had about 95 people in the room. Y’know I’m always fiddling with the seating and stuff, trying to get it just right.

CD: Any particular shows that stand out?

DT:  I learned a lot after the first show. And maybe stuff that I knew but it wasn’t [top of mind]; I learned about what makes a strong line-up. Positioning positioning comics can make them have a better chance for success...the way you seat the room. Little things like that, that maybe audience members don’t really notice, but it really adds to the show. Once I was able to seat the room better, put my comics in better spots in a line-up to really make them succeed and really make all of the stuff run smoothly. Every show from there on was really great. Not that the first show wasn’t, but every show...I was lucky to have some of the best comics in Philly do the show.  Tommy Pope, Chip I’m just trying to continue to grow, 'cause it’s gained a lot of momentum.

CD:  Talk about the crowds. What do you notice about variability in age—local versus coming from a ways away...

DT:  I’d say I’ve definitely been surprised.  One thing stands out, I tend to tag a lot of the comics in posters and things like that. And David James had some fans that followed him out from Jersey. That was pretty cool. And there are a lot of people that attend from [the local] area. Some people have told me they’ve seen the promo inside [The Broad Axe], wanted to make it out to a show, and are glad they did. One lady came in September, October, November [...and all subsequent shows].

CD:  So talk about your own’d mentioned that you were in it for a while then got out.  What took you away and brought you back in?  

DT:  I’ve been back at comedy now for about a year...putting a lot of work in since last February. And before that I’d been on hiatus since, like, 2006 or 2007. I’ve been on stage since then, but no real commitment. Between ‘04 and ‘06 I was on a real strong run, doing a lot of clubs and [performing] with a lot of guys like Chip [Chantry], Pat House and Aaron Hertzog.  I guess the moment that got me to stop comedy at that point was I lost a booking, my first major booking.  I got booked to do five shows, and the club I got booked at got closed down. And that took the wind out of my sails. I dropped out for a little while—well, not a little while [laughs]—came back last year and I’m glad I did. I started this show, and it started the gears moving quickly too. It gives me stage time, and allows me to perform with some of the better comedians in the city, see what they’re doing. If you’re on a great show it’s always a great experience.

CD: How has your material evolved from your first run at comedy to now?

DT:  I think as a more mature comic now I try to pay a little more attention to joke structure. As a younger comic, I think my material was a little more all-over-the-place.  Now I pay more attention to premises and punch lines...the science part of it. As well as staying outside the lines when it's appropriate.

CD: What I’ve found is a lot of guys will—while it’s important to find your own voice—want to tell a story the way that you would standing around having drinks...versus developing the science, as you called it.

DT: I’ve tried to pay attention to how concise my ideas are, and that’s something I try to alert myself of, when I see an idea start to run on too much...and that ideology has allowed me to get better jokes, and I’ve even "refurbished" some old jokes.

CD:  Cool. Anything else you want to say?

DT:  Just thanks to the whole Philadelphia comedy community for supporting the Comedy Corner at the Broad Axe, and me...and I think this show is good for everyone; I’m excited to have a bunch more people come and perform.

The next 'Comedy Corner at Broad Axe Tavern' is March 23rd at Broad Axe Tavern (901 W. Butler Pike, Ambler). Doors open at 7:30pm; show starts at 8:30pm. Admission is $10 online in advance; $15 at the door.

Chris Dolan is a comic who lives in the Philly burbs.  He’ll be performing at the Taproom Sportsbar in Morton PA on Thursday, Feb 28th as part of the Trulove Entertainment Totally Free Comedy Show II. Follow him on Twitter @CMDolan99. 

LawnBoys Comedy's Ben Fidler and Jimmy Williams on Comedy in the Burbs and Collabs with B.a. Comedian

by Chris Dolan

The growth of the Philadelphia comedy scene has not been limited to the city proper.  Comedians are taking to the stage in greater numbers and, as a result, more mics and showcase opportunities are opening in the suburbs.  Mics in Delco, Montco and Bucks serve both to bring comedy to suburban audiences who might not venture in to the city, and to provide stage time to the comics who seek it out.

Tuesday nights in Doylestown, the venue Puck Live hosts a comedy open mic at 8pm, presented by LawnBoys Comedy.  LawnBoys co-founders Ben Fidler [who hosts the mic most nights] and Jimmy Williams [writer of LawnBoys Comedy videos] sat down to talk about the origin of their group and their early video work; the Puck Live Tuesday night open mic; and video collaborations with the B.a. Comedian comedy troupe.

Chris Dolan: Talk about LawnBoys…what the LawnBoys are, how LawnBoys Comedy got started...

Ben Fidler: Jimmy [Williams] and I went to college together.  We were in the same fraternity and we never really hung out that much in college. Then I think we were talking on Facebook or something the year after we graduated and I mentioned I’d been trying to get back into stand-up [after college]… I’d been doing a couple sets at Helium once in awhile, and he had mentioned  he liked making stupid videos for the Internet and I said, “Hey, me too!” And we met up. I had tried to start a comedy group with my buddy in college called the Jokers Wild but when I moved down here it just kind of fell apart.

[At this point the interviewer takes Ben & Jimmy through a brief, painful primer on the decades-old Jokers Wild game show.]

So Jimmy didn’t live that far away, he came over one day and we were just kicking around ideas. And the first thing we ever filmed was a Gatorade commercial [parody] with Keith Jackson.

Jimmy Williams: It’s a couple years old but it’s about the origins of Gatorade with University of Florida scientists...So we made "Baterade" for lonely university scientists...helps replenish protein and hydrates...

BF: And Jimmy did the Keith Jackson voice. I remember it’s a two- minute clip and we probably had forty minutes of tape. And when we were done I was just laughing so hard, and I was on this endorphin high.  We just had a blast.

CD: So did you write it before the fact or did you write as you go?

BF: We had it written out, you [to Williams] had pretty much written it; it was his idea and he wrote it, and I was just sticking in [ideas] with some of the lines. And I was the actor.  We started doing more and more…webisodes, with recurring characters, we were just screwing around, hanging out and having fun. Right around the time the webisodes ended was when we started doing the open mic here.

CD: Is it just the two of you, or are there more LawnBoys? Officially or unofficially?

BF: Officially there’s more but…one of our buddies Jerry lives in Scranton. And our other buddy Al left. But we’re like the two band members that are always kind of there.

CD: The Mick and Keith.

BF: Yeah. We’re the two that have just stuck with it. It’s been so much fun just getting back into it.

CD: How did the mic [Tuesday Nights at Puck Live in Doylestown] come to be?

BF: I could not afford to go to Helium. That was before they had the internet sign-ups, so I’d drive down. I’d have to leave at 4. I’d sign up, find out at 7:30 I wasn’t on, watch the other comedians, get home at 11 and have to work the next day. It was like forty bucks (per trip) for parking and gas.  I’d been moonlighting here [at Puck] for awhile …in the back, cooking.  And I thought the venue would really work for comedy, but [at the time] it was just music. After I stopped working here, my buddy still was working in the kitchen. He mentioned that new management was coming in and they were looking for fresh ideas, so a year ago this past August they said "We’ll give you one Tuesday every month, for three months, to show us if you got something. And if that works  we’ll extend it for another couple." So we got Alex Grubard, Alex Pearlman…I padded the first open mic with some names. Started the show with just the five comedians that were going on that night, but ten people ended up going up. Everybody had a great set and people (in the audience) left going “this is great that you’re doing this."   Facebook and social media were such a huge help getting the word out.  It built up and this past July we started going every Tuesday.  And just this past January we got the last Thursday of every month for showcases.

I find I really enjoy putting together the comedy [shows], organizing them. I don’t have as much time to write as I’d like but just being involved in any way is just so fun. Meeting new comics, getting comics to come in…seeing different styles.

CD: So you’ve done "city mics" and "suburban mics"…What’s the contrast there that you think about?

BF: City mics, for me, when I was at Helium…[it's a great room, but] coming down from outside the city, I kind of felt like a stranger. Everybody knew everybody.  Here [at Puck] I’ve tried to cultivate an atmosphere of, like, anybody who wants to go up, give it a shot, try it. I don’t think we’ve ever cut anyone from the list.

JW: It’s a great place for people to try stuff that they might not be comfortable taking downtown.  We get a lot of first-timers who come out and say, "Hey, I want to try [stand-up]," and they might not want to try it in front of people who are doing stand-up every day.

CD: It’s funny, there are more and more younger people doing stand-up, and the first time they make the sign-up list at Helium it’s a big deal.

BF: The first time I made the list [at Helium] I was just like "Oh, shit."

CD: [to Williams] So do you do stand-up too?

JW: No, I don’t perform on stage.  [Both laugh.]

BF: He’s the funniest bastard I know.  His stories just kill me. He can’t get up on stage though.

JW: Maybe one day, we’ll see.

BF: He’s said that if he goes up on stage, we’ll have to have an ambulance on standby because of the amount of alcohol he’d need [to go through with it].

CD: How’d the B.a. Comedian video collaboration come about?

BF: Tim Raymus was the first one to come up to the mic. I thought he was funny. He started bringing Dan [King] and Brian [Six…Andrew [Sposato] came up a couple of times. And they’re just really cool guys. And I’ve always wanted to cultivate a bunch of people getting together and being creative. And one of our problems, even when we were a  [bigger] group [as Lawnboys], was just limited numbers.  One of us would have to play two roles, or we didn’t have someone to hold the camera. Dan mentioned that he had a sketch...

CD: "Cards on the Table."

BF: Right. We filmed it in a day. He edited it and threw it out there and that was it. And I find, with those guys, it’s almost like the more cooks you have in it, the better the broth, just because you keep each other rolling, you don’t procrastinate.

And [for the latest video, "Magicians are Dicks"] Lou Misiano came in.  And now the ideas are coming faster and now that we’re producing stuff a lot of other guys are willing to jump in and try stuff out.  Tonight we’re filming something that Daren Martinez wants to try out so people have been calling up and asking if we want to help out. I just love getting out there and working.  It’s just fun.

CD: Anything else?

BF: Come on out, check out Puck. I’d love to see new comedians and get people for our showcases.

Check out the LawnBoys open mic at Puck Live (1 Printers Alley, Doylestown, PA) every Tuesday at 7:30pm, and their showcase show every last Thursday of the month. And now, for your viewing pleasure, here are "Cards on the Table" and "Musicians are Dicks."

"It's a Pretty Wild Show" - Interview with Sidney Gantt of Conshohocken's Captain Action Comedy Show

by Chris Dolan

On a chilly Saturday night I made my way to the Conshohocken Café on Fayette Street to spend a few minutes talking with Sidney Gantt – Philadelphia comedian, founder and co-host of the Captain Action Comedy Show.  Gantt was busy prepping the intimate room well before the 8pm showtime. Over the course of a ten-minute interview, he highlighted the uniqueness of the Captain Action format, shared some love for fellow Philly comics Mary Radzinski and Dave Terruso, and talked about a unique physical trait shared by multiple Philly stand-ups.

Chris Dolan: The name Captain Action Comedy Show kind of begs the question: are you "Captain Action"?

Sidney Gantt: Yeah, I am Captain Action … Captain Action is a comic book character that a few people say I remind them of.  He’s a comic book character from the '70s, and all he does is punch bad guys in the face and bang chicks.  That’s his whole M.O. He’s more of a vigilante, like Batman, so he has no rules.

CD: So talk about the show’s format. Where it started, how it’s come along...

SG: What we do is bring up a stand-up comedian, they perform, and afterward we interview that comedian in a game show format, where they present two lies and a truth. The audience has to guess which of the multiple choice answers is correct…so [the audience ] gets to yell out, and they use lifelines, and it’s fun. And the reason for the format, honestly, is that as a stand-up one of my favorite things to do is crowd work. But crowd work unfortunately isn’t the craft of stand-up comedy, it’s just a tool. So this gives me an opportunity to do that. I usually start off my opening set by talking to the crowd…go up cold and talk to the crowd, then do four or five minutes of material. Then I bring up my co-host which is usually Dave Terruso, and then he does some time,  and he gets to come back with me later on in the show and do some improv stuff with some of the interview  questions. It gets pretty crazy, it’s a pretty wild show.

CD: It strikes me that the format you just described might be fun for comedians that don’t have  a lot of experience doing crowd work…this would let them evolve toward  it in a more structured sense.

SG:  It definitely does 'cause it’s a very controlled environment for them to do crowd work…and it might not really even be considered crowd work, what they’re doing, usually I have them give me something personal, that people can’t tell just by looking at you. And when people are talking about their personal things they kind of just loosen up a little bit. Nobody has done badly in the interview portion yet.

CD: Has the show always been that way? Or did it start as like a straight-up show and kind of evolve?

SG: No, it started out as that sort of variety show right up front, the only thing that has changed is once Dave Terruso came on, about five or six months in, his  skill set just gave me the opportunity to do so much more with the questions…like, sometimes we have him do a one-man play about what you just heard about.

CD: What’s  an example of one of the questions, the "two lies and a truth"?

SG: A big one, with some of the comedians – you’d be surprised -- is a lot of comedians have more than two nipples. So, tonight the guy who has more than two nipples, [Note: I didn’t ask who this  was] his multiple choices are a) 4 nipples; b)  3 nipples; c) 0 nipples.

CD: How long have you been doing the show?

SG: A year and two months. This is the first time the show is going to be on a Saturday. Traditionally it had been the last Wednesday of every month. But we’ve been doing well, we’ve been filling the house, and [Conshohocken Café] is looking to serve dinner more consistently, and right now the only outlet for their dinner is this show.

CD: Any memorably great shows?

SG: Every show really has been better than the last, but if I had to say one stood out I’d have to say it was when Mary Radzinski was here…'cause that was the first time Dave Terruso, his value to the show, was absolutely obvious and I was glad that I had him come along. Mary gave her answers to her question, and each answer seemed like it was just a ridiculous fact that Mary wouldn’t want to reveal about herself. So what I had Dave do, is respond to that  fact, as if it were the only fact in her online dating profile…so he had to, on the spot, come up with a response email about that fact and each one was brilliant. It was pretty amazing.

CD: And Dave comes from improv, sketch and stand-up?

SG:  He does; and he just gives such a different flavor to the show 'cause even when he does his [stand-up] set…the vibe of performance that he gives off is just so different that it complements the entire show. You never know what’s gonna happen at the show. I don’t know if you get this but I love Dave Terruso.

CD: Anyone that you’re looking forward to having on the show that you haven’t had on yet?

SG: Anton Shuford...I think he was 2009 Philly’s Phunniest…originally I didn’t have him on right away because he’s my closest friend and I want to avoid the idea of just putting your friends on. But we’re gonna have him for the February show. He gave me the verbal okay in between arguing about whether  or not the Sixers would be good this year.

CD: Any closing thoughts?

SG: I just hope people find this type of show intriguing enough to come out, and if they want to see not only comedians that they wouldn’t expect to see on a bill together, but comedians that have something to share that you would never think they had to share, [this is the show].

The next 'Captain Action Comedy Show' is Saturday, February 23rd at 8pm. And here's a highlights reel from last week's show:

Chris Dolan is a stand-up from the Montco burbs.  He's appearing Thursday, Jan 31st at the Taproom Totally Free Comedy Show at Taproom Sportsbar in Morton, PA. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMDolan99.

"Most of it's Straight-up Real" - Interview with David Piccolomini

by Chris Dolan

This past Tuesday, January 8th, I checked out Polygon Comedy’s The Perfect New Year at L’etage. The show featured stand-up performances from David Piccolomini and Vegas Lancaster, and improv from Philly group Nielsen, duo Steve Rogers Is Dead, and 2013 Witout Awards hosts Grimacchio.

The show opened with a great, crowd-pleasing set from Piccolomini – touching on everything from his personal appearance (“disappointing Jesus”) to family and live-action role playing ("LARP-ing"). After his set, I talked with Piccolomini about his comedy background, his favorite comedians, and his good-humored take on his nominations for the "Witin Awards."

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Recap of Comedian Deconstruction: "Girls Girls Girls--With Bed Savage" + Interview with Producer Jess Carpenter

by Chris Dolan

For just over a year, Jess Carpenter has been producing a unique, multi-format comedy experience at L’Etage (6th & Bainbridge): Comedian Deconstruction.  The monthly show—each one built around a theme—is a merging of stand-up and improv.  Rather than use audience suggestions for the improv segments, the improv troupes construct scenes utilizing the material from the stand-ups’ sets.  Each show also features the debut of a “comedy virgin” to kick off the evening’s roster.

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Top 5 of 2012: Chris Dolan's Top Five Open Mic Moments

As the year winds down, WitOut collects lists from comedy performers and fans of their favorite moments, comedians, groups, shows, etc. from the last year in Philly comedy. Top 5 of 2012 lists will run throughout December--if you'd like to write one, pitch us your list at!

5: "Fruit cup? What's that, a jock strap in San Francisco?"

4: "I just saw an Asian woman in the parking lot -- she was all excited. I asked her why and she said it was Erection Day!"

Note: 4 & 5 were told by the same guy, same set, on Election Night 2012.

3: "I don't have a muffin top, I have a mushroom cloud!".

Note: That was told by a middle-aged woman and it sincerely made me laugh.

2: A guy on break from his dart league jumped up on stage during a very sparsely attended open mic at the same venue to announce "I want to tell a couple of black jokes. It's okay...I checked."

Note: Horrific, stupid and unforgettable.

1: [paraphrasing] "Honey Boo-Boo -- what a motherfuckin' train wreck that is...."

Note: I think that was the whole joke. And what 2012 compilation could ever be complete without a Honey Boo-Boo reference?

Chris Dolan is a standup who lives in the Montco burbs. He has emcee'd the Phila Comedy Academy Graduation Showcase, and placed second in several comedy contests, making him the Gold Medalist of Silver Medalists, kinda. You can follow him on Twitter @CMDolan99