Photos from February's A Bunch of Improv @ The Grape Room

Sam Scavuzzo's monthly improv showcase ran Tuesday night in Manayunk. Parking was actually not atrocious despite large deposits of snow on the ground, and it being Manayunk. Laughs were had. PBR's were $3 bucks. You should come to the next one. 

Members of Cake Bear hunt a tiger that has learned to pick up their weapon!
Members of Cake Bear hunt a tiger that has learned to pick up their weapon!
Members of 4AM in Thailand participated in the Olympic event for unqualified suburban bobsledders.
Members of 4AM in Thailand participated in the Olympic event for unqualified suburban bobsledders.
Dave Terruso kills it with bits about his girlfriend leaving hair-merkins on the shower wall and falling asleep while "driving stick shift".
Dave Terruso kills it with bits about his girlfriend leaving hair-merkins on the shower wall and falling asleep while "driving stick shift".
Members of Bed Savage convene the Kitty Council.
Members of Bed Savage convene the Kitty Council.
Members of The Corpse of Dan Rodden are paranoid that a high-school crush is really an android.
Members of The Corpse of Dan Rodden are paranoid that a high-school softball star is really an android.

Are you running a comedy show in Philly? Send us photos so you don't have to get captured on my iPhone 4!


Ask a Philly Comedian -- What Are You Thankful For, Dave Terruso?

Dave Terruso hoodieEach day this Thanksgiving Week, WitOut asks a Philly comedian what he or she is thankful for. Today we asked Dave Terruso.
~~~~~

What I, David Anthony Terruso, am thankful for this year:

1. My funny and beautiful ladyfriend, Carrie.

2. Having awesome supportive parents who love me and always make me feel welcome. And a cool brother, and a goodhearted and funny nephew. My extended family is also supportively awesome.

3. Having close friends I can count on for help and support, and also a jillion acquaintances I can have really silly banter with on a daily basis.

4. Finding a literary agent who believes in me and that I can connect with on a personal level.

5. The 700 people who bought my novel this year.

6. The nine months I got to devote solely to writing and comedy. (This is me being thankful to myself, since I depleted my own savings to do it.)

7. My health.

8. The laughter of kittens.

9. My two penises: the really big one that doesn't work but draws in the ladies. And the way smaller one that does work and has closed the sale for many a disappointed gal.

10. Judd Hirsch.

11. Being a host at Helium Comedy Club and getting to hob knobs with my comedy heroes.

12. My little-known but oft-used telekinetic powers. (Yes, I freely admit I'm not naturally that good at claw crane machines. It's my push power that wins me so many stuffed pals.)

13. The Criterion Collection.

14. The inexpensive price of Chocolate Juniors. Mmmmm.

15. My landlady/ex-coworker for letting me live in a big three-bedroom house in Manayunk for way less than the rent should be.

16. The way farts never stop being funny.

17. The reason all of us are alive right now: photosynthesis.

18. All the music that gets me through the day, the comedy that makes me laugh, and the literature and films that teach me what being human really is.

19. Did I say Judd Hirsch already? Let me check. Oh, yeah, he was #10. Well, I reiterate: I'm thankful for him.

20. God.


Tweets of the Week, Vol. 30

Follow Witout on Twitter for updates from our site, as well as retweets of more of the best 140-character-or-less jokes from Philly comics.


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 of...like 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 createspace.com 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.


Highlights from February's Captain Action Comedy Show

On the final Saturday of every month co-hosts Sidney Gantt and Dave Terruso bring The Captain Action Comedy Show to the Conshohocken Cafe (521 Fayette St. Conshohocken). There, comedians take the stage to perform and then are put on the hot-spot as they are interviewed by the hosts. Check out this highlight reel from the latest edition of the show featuring: Anton Shuford, Michael Donovan, Elise Thompson-Hohl, and Clarissa Gavin.

If you are a Philadelphia comedy performer that produces a podcast, web series, sketch video, humor column, or any other online content let us know by emailing us at contact@witout.net so we can share it!


"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.

Philly Comedy Round-up, Vol. 73

Remember we told you to check out the latest issue of Philadelphia Magazine for an article on Juliet Hope Wayne and the Philly comedy scene? Well, now that article is available online.

Philadelphia will have three chances to see Louis CK at the Merriam Theater (250 South Broad St.) this Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

Comedian Deconstruction returns to L'etage this Thursday with their annual Dirty Show. This month stand-up comedians Dave Terruso and Kricket Lee will be deconstructed by improv groups Cock Hat and Bed Savage.

This Friday Wyatt Cenac (The Daily Show) will perform at The Trocadero Theater (1003 Arch St.) Tickets are available online.

The Day Drinking Americans Comedy Tour will make a stop at The Raven Lounge (1718 Sansom St.) for a show featuring John Tole and Ian Stuart with locals: Ryan ShanerJohn Nunn, and Tim Butterly.

The Sideshow returns to The Arts Parlor (1170 South Broad St.) this Friday with a show featuring stand-up comedy from Trevor Cunnion, improv from Cake Bear and Whisper, and necrosexuality from The Necrosexual.

Saturday is Durty Comedy Night at Durty Nelly’s Irish Pub (701 E Macdade Blvd Folsom, PA) with a show featuring stand-up from: Kricket Lee, Mike Rainey, Rick Mirarchi, James Hesky, John McKeever, and Mike Jansen.

Philly's Comedy Underground comes to Circa 1212 (1212 South St.) this Saturday for a show featuring comics Mikey Garcia, Lou Misiano, Alejandro Morales, Pete Steele, and Caitlin Feeney.

This Sunday comedian Todd Barry brings his Crowdwork Tour to The Urban Saloon (2120 Fairmount Ave.) for two entire shows of riffing and bantering with the audience. The 8pm show is already sold out, but tickets are still available online for the 10pm show.

If you have any Philly comedy news worth mentioning – send it our way with an email to contact@witout.net


Top 5 of 2012: Hillary Rea's Favorite 'Tell Me A Story' Moments of the Last Year

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 contact@witout.net!

#5: Lost and Found: Andrew Whitmire
Andrew tells a story about a re-gifting incident with his mom, Velma.

Read more