"I Don't Like Girl Comics Either" - Interview with Mary Radzinski

by Alison Zeidman

Mary Radzinski is the sassiest lady-comic to ever hoist up a pair of ovaries and get 'erself up on a stage full o' people ready to laugh at her unique lady-take on wimmin stuff and—just kidding, I'm not going to do that to her.

Mary Radzinksi is the co-host of the Monday night open mic Laughs on Fairmount at Urban Saloon (along with friend and fellow funnyperson Carolyn Busa), and one of the newest additions to the Helium Comedy Club hosting roster.  She's one of the friendliest faces in the Philly comedy scene, an exceedingly talented writer and performer, and really, really funny.

In short, Mary is swell.  For further proof, read on:

 

Alison Zeidman: For people that maybe aren't familiar with you, can you talk about how you got started in comedy?

Mary Radzinski: Six years ago I took a comedy writing class as part of Main Line School Night, and there was a graduation show at the end.  So the first time I did stand-up it was a graduation show, and then I did a couple ones-y little things with people in the class because we were like "We're rockstars, this is amazing!" And then I didn't do anything. I waited a couple years, and four Julys ago I got onstage at an open mic and I've been religiously doing that since.

AZ: What made you want to get started again?

MR: My best friend lives in Fairmount and at the time there was [another] open mic here [at Urban Saloon]. And she was like, "Oh let's go to this bar, there's an open mic, it's Monday nights"—which is funny, same night—and that got me to do it.

AZ: You're one of the newest Helium hosts. Did you do anything special to prepare for your audition?

MR: I think having done the audition a couple years ago and then...you know, we're all still so new in this game, but I think just getting onstage all the time [was the most helpful]. In terms of specific preparation for that show, just being confident in my jokes and trying not to second-guess myself. When I first heard about the audition again, I was like "I need to write all new material!" The self-doubt sets in and stuff. But then I was like no, and I just tried to tweak a few jokes and maybe  strengthen some things that had been going well, and just tried to do my jokes and get out of my own head.

And I have hosted in some clubs, so I think that's helped more in preparation of that longer set for a club show, and knowing like what's a good five minutes, what's a good ten minutes, what's a good fifteen minutes.  And being at Helium while my friends are hosting and watching it, more than anything, I think has given me a little confidence and prepared me.

AZ: Now I'm going to try to not ask you the question you're not going to like—because I think it's a touchy question for any female comic.  So I don't want to ask, "What's it like to be a woman in comedy?" or even "What's it like to be the first female comic on Helium's regular host rotation?", but more like, how do you celebrate that accomplishment, and acknowledge that, yeah, that is significant, but at the same time, keep the focus on the fact that comedy should be comedy, regardless of gender? How do you strike that balance?

MR: I think about it all the time, because I do think it's a numbers game. Helium in Philly has not had a female host [in their regular hosting roster] yet—but I mean, I know Helium's not against females by any means—so I'm excited and I'm proud and I hope that it's because it's at the time that I'm a good comic, or that I will be a good host or an asset for whoever they pair me with as the headliner and that sort of thing.  I do think it's a numbers game where—I was just talking to somebody about this, where if in a lineup of ten comics, there's only one girl, and if that girl's not funny, that just leaves a bad taste for a lot of audience members [in terms of female comics in general].

But I'm trying not to let that "girls aren't funny" thing get me down, and knowing that I wasn't going to become a host there until I was a funny comedian, regardless of gender, makes me feel confident now. I do have as one of my openers, "I don't like girl comics either," and that can be taken several ways—some females can be like, "Why would you do that?"—but I also feel like it's just sort of knocking that sort of preconceived notion...

AZ: Oh totally. It's commenting and poking fun at the idea that that's even a thing.

MR: Yeah. And a lot of times, when people ask, "Who are your favorite comics?" I don't necessarily immediately think of women. I think of people who have made me laugh.  So I want that. And I think that stereotype can be negative, but I also think it's a fun challenge to break through.  There's always going to be someone who's like "You're really funny for a girl, I don't usually like girls," and you get that all the time, and I've learned not to take that the wrong way because there are fewer female comics, and so a lot of times when people don't see a ton of comedy—it's totally a numbers game.

AZ: Your first hosting gig is going to be with Hal Sparks, right? What are you excited about for that week?

MR: Honestly it's so funny, in my head I'm just like "I don't care who it is! I would want to open for anyone there!" But I'm excited. I don't know a ton about Hal Sparks—I'll clearly do my homework—but from what I understand I think he does have a decent female following, and you know, could that be why they paired me with him? Probably, but I also like that—because I'm just looking forward to a full room.

AZ: OK, and this will hopefully be a fun question: What would be your fantasy hosting gig?  Who would feature, who would headline, who would heckle that you would get to shut down, and who would come up to you afterwards and tell you that they really liked you? Anyone in the world.

MR: Oh my god...that's amazing. Oh god, there's so many. I mean my favorite comedians, like I love Louis CK, to open for someone like that...this is going to get me!

AZ: Have you ever seen High Fidelity? This is going to be like at the end when that reporter interviews him and asks for his all-time top 5 songs or albums or whatever it is, and he's calling her every fifteen minutes to change his list.

MR: Yeah! I will definitely think about this...

AZ: You can send it to me later if you want.

MR: Can I? Because I definitely love that question, and I totally...if I give you an answer now, I would be texting you later to change it.

 

A week later, after a lot of thought and apologies for the delay, Mary sent me her responses. She reserves the right to change them at any time.

Headliner: Louis CK
Feature: Hannibal Buress or Kyle Kinane
Heckler: Some self-important dick from Everywhere, USA, or Adam Carolla
Person Who Liked Me: Seth MacFarlane or Bill Murray, or Sarah Silverman—along with the entire waitstaff from the venue. And then long after the show was over, Adam Carolla.

 

See Mary weekly at Laughs on Fairmount at Urban Saloon (2120 Fairmount Ave.), and this week at Helium Comedy Club (2031 Sansom St.) with Hal Sparks from Nov. 29th-Dec. 1st.

Alison Zeidman is a stand-up comedian, improviser, and Editor for WitOut.net.

Tweets of the Week, Vol. 5

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.


The Complicated Mess of Stand-Up Comedy: An Interview with Chip Chantry

Chip Chantry has one of the most impressive resumes of any Philadelphia comedian. He tours the country as a feature act, has been a finalist in Helium Comedy Club's Philly's Phunniest Person Contest every year, and won last year's Best Stand-Up Comedian at our very own Witout Awards for Philadelphia Comedy. Now he, along with Mary Radzinski, plans to share some of their knowledge about the art of stand-up comedy by teaching a class at Philly Improv Theater. We asked Chip some questions about his class, and what he plans to share with his students.

WITOUT: It may be a little known fact that your comedy career got started with help from a comedy class, do you hope to create some future Chip Chantrys with your class (and what, in your own opinion, would that mean)?

CHIP CHANTRY: Yes, it did. And it may be a little known fact that your full name is Aaron Gregory Jamiroquai Hertzog. But no. The world does not need any more Chip Chantrys- insecure, yet totally lovable and sexy comedians.

WO: There are some that say "funny can't be taught". Do you agree with this statement? If so, what are you going to teach in your class?

CC: Absolutely. Being funny (on purpose) is something that I feel you either have or you don't. I'm just trying to help people hone the craft of stand up comedy. But I can't MAKE someone funny. I can just give them some tools and encouragement. And people generally get out of a class what they put into it. Some aspire to be famous comedians and writers. Others might take the class for fun, or to conquer a fear of public speaking. To put it in terms that you would relate to, Aaron, it's like teaching the craft of crocheting, or pottery. I'm never going to be great at those things, because I have the fine motor skills of a frightened goat. But I can learn some of the ins and outs and have some fun with it.

WO: How do you think your experience as an elementary school teacher will help you with teaching fresh-faced, hopeful, stand-up comedians?

CC: The classroom has given me some patience. It's also taught me to break more complicated concepts down into simpler terms, and convey them in a more basic way at first, and then build up to the complicated mess of stand up comedy.

WO: Say some nice things about your co-teacher, Mary Radzinski? How do you plan on splitting up your teaching duties? Good cop/bad copy style, perhaps? Which one of you is which?

CC: Mary is one of my favorite comedy writers in this here town. Her joke crafting (as seen onstage and on the twitters) have a word economy and voice that are top-notch. Her tweets are like jazz. But, like, not the shitty kind of jazz that everyone's mom has programmed on station #5 in her 2006 Hyundai Sonata. But we are splitting it down the middle. We are each trying to be good cops. I was thinking more Good Cop/Hot Cop, because I just bought myself a new pair of break-away pants.

WO: What have you learned in your years as a stand-up that you hope to share with your students? Are there some things you think it would be better for them to learn on their own through experience?

CC: I think I've learned just as much what NOT to do, than what to do. So hopefully I can help people avoid pitfalls, and take the right steps on their path... to GREATNESS. But, you also have to fail sometimes to learn, so some lessons can't be taught by me. They'll have to learn them on their own.

WO: Can you give some free stand-up advice here as a teaser for those on the fence about taking your class?

CC: Yes. BABY STEPS. I still tell myself this to this day. Write five minutes of new material. Try it out at an open mic. If everything bombs, except for ONE joke, you have succeeded. Do the same thing the next week. If everything bombs except for ONE joke? Great! Now you have TWO jokes. BABY STEPS.
I'm full of this crap, Aaron.

Stand-Up 101 at Philly Improv Theater begins this Saturday, October 6th from noon until 3pm and will run each week until October 27th. 


The Witout Podcast, Episode 14: Mary Radzinski

Aaron talks with Mary Radzinski about her start in comedy, her open mic Laughs on Fairmount, her status as a celebrated Twitter user and more in this week's episode of The Witout Podcast. Listen below or subscribe on iTunes.

[audio: maryradzinski.mp3]

Philly Comedy Round-up, Vol. 32

Signups have already begun for the second annual March Madness Comedy Competition. Comedians will compete in opening rounds held at various open mics throughout the city where audience vote will determine who moves on to the next round. To sign up, send an email with your name, phone number, email address, and how long you have been performing stand-up to bobbyfinstock77@gmail.com.

Improvisers can throw their names in the hat for the 2012 Troika tournament. Nine teams of three performers will be chosen at random to form new trios and compete to be named champion. Interested performers can send their name, contact info, and names of groups they have performed with (one interesting twist, the teams will be made of people who have never performed together before) to troikashow@gmail.com.

City Paper's weekly comedy column LOL With It featured this interview with comedian Alex Pearlman last week. Pearlman is hosting stand-up showcase Head First at The Dive (947 E. Passyunk Ave.) this Wednesday, January 25 at 9:00PM.

The North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival is rapidly approaching and Philadelphia will be sending some representatives from their stand-up and improv communities. The stand-up week (February 1-4) will feature Aaron Hertzog, Hillary Rea, Ian Fidance, Mary Radzinski, and Pete Kuempel. The improv week (February ) will feature local groups Death By Improv, King Friday, Mayor Karen, Nick & Nathan, Rookie Card, and The N Crowd.

Finally, this week marks the return of a full two-week schedule of shows at Philly Improv Theater. You can find their full schedule on the PHIT website and, as always, the shows are also listed on our calendar.

 


The 2011 Witout Awards: Best Host

2011 Witout Awards: Best Host Nominees 

 

Rob Baniewicz and Paul Triggiani

Rob and Paul get together on stage at Philly Improv Theater every month and have a TV Party. They find the best worst television from the past available and present it to a crowd full of often drunk and always eager fans waiting to laugh - both at the shows and with the hilarious commentary provided by the two.

 

 

 

 

 

Carolyn Busa and Mary Radzinski

Every Monday night Carolyn and Mary turn the back room at The Urban Saloon into one of the best open mics in the city, Laughs on Fairmount. The two take turns introducing acts and keep the show moving with their own charm and sense of humor. They often start the show with a short sketch that highlights the chemistry they have with each other and gets the audience ready for a night of great comedy.

 

Chip Chantry

Chip Chantry is a busy man. He is the host of two monthly shows at major Philadelphia comedy venues. Facetime with Chip Chantry is a talk show at Helium Comedy Club that features Chip performing sketches, jokes about the news, and conducting interviews with each of his guests. Chip Chantry's One Man Show (with Special Guests) moved to Philly Improv Theater after its' successful run at The Khyber and features Chip hosting for many of the best acts Philly Comedy has to offer.

Aaron Hertzog

Twice per month on Friday nights Aaron Hertzog hosts Hey Everybody! an evening of stand-up comedy at Philly Improv Theater. The showcase features many of the best stand-ups in Philadelphia and the occasional visitor from out of town. Aaron is known for yelling "Hey Everybody" at the top of his sets, and getting audiences ready for the show with his jovial invitations of friendship.

 

 

Doogie Horner

Doogie's monthly Ministry of Secret Jokes has been one of the best nights of comedy Philadelphia has to offer for years. Doogie packs the show with not only great stand-up and sketch comedy but games, contests, and audience participation. The show is run like a meeting of a secret society, and Doogie often opens his shows by having the audience recite an oath that they will not reveal what they see to anyone. Judging by the packed in crowds upstairs at Fergie's every month, many people have been breaking that oath.

 


Interview with Mary Radzinski, host of "Broad Comedy"

Friday night will be a celebration of women in comedy in Philadelphia. Broad Comedy is the City Spotlight's showcase of stand-up, sketch, improv and storytelling from some of Philly's funniest females. We caught up with Mary Radzinski to ask her about the show, her comedy, and attitudes about women in comedy.

First off, Women doing Comedy, what is up with that? I know.  It's like, I'm hungry.  Quit horsing around and make me a sandwich.

Obviously, my first question is a joke...what are your feelings about those kinds of attitudes that look at "female comedy" as a thing unto itself. I think it's a limited view by limited people, but I sort of understand it.  Comedy, like many things, has been male dominated.  It's a numbers game. As more and more women are becoming comedians, bringing hilarity to audiences of both men and women, hopefully "female comedian" will eventually become "comedian".

Do you plan on introducing every act with a wink and a "this next performer's a lady" line or any special variation on that time honored tradition - or would answering that be giving too much away. I'm actually not hosting the show, so it won't really be up to me, but I assume there will be some poking fun at that.  The introductions of female comics is of great amusement to me.  I was introduced once as, "having a vagina".  As this is factually correct, I couldn't argue with the host, however, I would have been more impressed if he had used "labia minora".  It's annoying to me that this is how some comics get laughs and perpetuate a stereotype.  Be smarter.  Aim higher.  Talk about our tits.

How do you feel about articles like this one from Fox News that say things like this - "For women, frump isn’t funny any longer. The new female comedian has to be the sexual aggressor, sexually provocative, dominant and successful..." and "Rosie O’Donnell and Janeane Garofalo will be relegated to playing the female versions of Chris Farley. Hollywood doesn’t want a woman that is not sexually enticing like Rosie; it wants the sexual alpha female..." Whatevs.  Frump will always be funny.  Frump is typically what nurtures the development of funny.  Hollywood will always have it's eye on sexy; sex sells. Writing funny scripts for pretty actors will never get old.  I recently saw Jennifer Anniston on Inside the Actor's Studio.  During the interview she had the personality of an elderly chimp.  Referencing Anna Faris as a  face of female comedy is a jab at the more than likely frumpy person who wrote her most recent comedic script.  There are no absolutes.  Would it help your career to be beautiful, sexy, and hilarious?  Of course.  Necessary?  Nah.

Where does your personal style as a comedian come from? I really try to be myself on stage.  I'm not a very high energy person offstage, and this translates. I'm not entirely deadpan in my everyday life either, so I've been working on that as well.  This has, and continues to be, my biggest challenge.

Your show is going to be a mix of styles of comedy, it's going to have some stand-up, improv, sketch, and storytelling - traditionally these have been kept apart - do you see a growing trend in bringing them all together on one bill? I'm not sure I see a growing trend in doing this, but we wanted to represent different areas of Philly's comedy scene. We were given the title, "Broad Comedy" as part of Sketchfest, so we thought we'd incorporate a "broad spectrum" idea into it to, through different types of comedy.  I do think the variety jazzes it up for the audience.

Has running your own weekly open mic and booking shows given you any new insights or perspectives on comedy? Do you have any words of advice for someone looking to start their own show? It has definitely been insightful regarding the amount of work that goes into even an open mic.  It's not easy to please everyone but it's a goal to keep trying.  Words of advice: Get on stage every week and do time.  Host to a room of a hundred (even if there are 5 people and they are all comics).  Have fun and act like it.

You're somewhat of a Twitter aficionado - do your best job of summing up and promoting Broad Comedy in 140 characters or less. Broad Comedy.Friday,October 21st. Shakespeare Theater. 8pm.Broads doing comedy. Broadly. Like their broad mothers taught them. Come watch.

Broad Comedy is part of the first annual City Spotlight at the Philadelphia Shakespeare Theater (2111 Sansom St.) Friday night at 8:00PM. Tickets can be purchased online.


Philly Comedy Round-up, Vol. 22

This week, Comedy Month wraps up with the first annual City Spotlight, a week showcasing many of Philadelphia's diverse comedic talents. Tonight, the Old Comedy Buffet features all comedians over 40 for a night of classic Philadelphia comedy. Later this week, Pat House hosts In The Beginning..., where comedians will show a video from their early days of comedy and roast themselves making fun of how far they've (hopefully) come. Friday night features Broad Comedy, an all female show hosted by Mary Radzinski and Carolyn Busa.

This Tuesday, Face Time with Chip Chantry returns to Helium Comedy Club. This month's show will feature James Hesky, Brendan Kennedy, Darryl Charles, Glen Tickle, and as always will feature co-host and house band Amir Gollan and Chip Chantry doing the news.

Philly Improv Theater will feature a week of shows they are calling "Pilot Week" which will showcase all new shows looking for a permanent spot in the PHIT lineup. Tonight, Becca Trabin presents Town Hall a debate show in a mock town hall meeting format. Tuesday will feature True? The Roger C. Snair Interview Show hosted by Brendan Kennedy's Guilty Pleasures sidekick. Wednesday will be the debut of a new panel comedy show A Few Answers Short.

This Thursday and Friday The Feeko Brothers will present a new show at Philly Improv Theater. Billy and Christian, fresh off their second consecutive Dirtiest Sketch in Philadelphia victory will share the stage with New York sketch group Skinny Bitch Jesus Meeting. Tickets can be purchased in advance online.