Review: The Grimacchio Variety Hour

By: Alison Zeidman

Dutiful fans of Philly's favorite pair of half-Italians prone to playful bickering and off-beat tangents braved Monday night's drizzle for the premiere of The Grimacchio Variety Hour, and the dynamic duo (Jason Grimley and Ralph Andracchio) did not disappoint.

The lovely Sue & Cait (caitblack.com) opened the show on acoustic bass and ukulele, respectively, with Sue jangling the jingle bells around her ankle in time to to the music while Cait crooned silky, smokey vocals into the old timey microphone at center stage.

After two songs, Grimacchio strolled out from behind the curtain—dressed in suits for the occasion—to applaud the two ladies, compliment Cait's gold shoes, and go off on a riff about a Buck Rogers television special which revealed the actor's staggering weight gain and declining health, forever marring their memories of their childhood hero. Then, they acknowledged the audience and welcomed us all to the show, blushing (Ralph) and sweating (Jason) with gratitude that everyone came. To warm up the crowd, they improvised some banter around current news items suggested by the audience, speculating on how Barack Obama decided to come out in favor of gay marriage ("fuck it, let's do this") and relating the Devil's Breath street drug sensation to the campy Wes Craven flick The Serpent and the Rainbow.

They cut themselves off long enough to bring storyteller Hillary Rea onstage ("you will love her, damnit!") for a brief conversation about her current projects and an adorably confusing explanation of her multiple online aliases. Rea told a fun and wonderfully detailed story about her first frenemy, a frizzy redhead with an in-home elevator who slutted it up through an Our Changing Bodies video in the sixth grade and ruined Rea's retro-themed seventh grade birthday party with a Nirvana mixtape and an illicit game of Spin the Bottle, which young Rea excused herself from by hiding in the bathroom for thirty minutes.

Rea was followed by a Grimacchio sketch interlude, featuring the fellas as hipster record store employees (complete with "douchebag hats") ignoring their customer to challenge each other with obscure music trivia. Sue & Cait followed, returning to the spotlight to literally sing the praises of Theodore Roosevelt, accompanied by a goofy framed black-and-white portrait of the President.

After a brief telling of the origin of the Grimacchio name (Jason didn't know how to pronounce "Andracchio," and Ralph didn't correct him), comedienne LaTice took the mic to talk about the lack of joy in marriage, race relations in the suburbs, reality TV, and Flo the Progressive girl's insensitivity to racial stereotypes. There were a number of slyly hilarious jokes worth quoting, but I wouldn't want to ruin the punchlines for you.

Maureen Costello and Corin Wells of Ebony and Ivory closed the show, joined by Grimacchio for an improv set inspired by an interview with an accountant sitting in the audience. Highlights included Grimley as a talking dead goldfish in Costello's cocaine-induced hallucination set in a cubicle in the '80s; Wells as a five-year-old demanding apple juice before getting to work saving the company's finances with her prodigious knowledge of QuickBooks and TurboTax; and a final scene with a Grimacchio-led game of double-speak, where Andracchio opposite hired Grimley from the accounting office, leading Grimley to threaten that he would opposite sleep soundly that night, forcing Andracchio to opposite tell security not to come upstairs and opposite let Grimley leave of his own volition.

After the blackout, Grimacchio invited all of the night's performers back onstage to receive another round of applause, Sue & Cait played one last sweet little tune, and everyone filed outside praising the evening's entertainment. For future editions of The Grimacchio Variety Hour, be sure to check the PHIT schedule and look for updates at facebook.com/Grimacchio.

Alison Zeidman lives in South Philadelphia, has a superfluous second Facebook page for work, and spends her evenings running around with the new indie improv team Malone.


Philly Comedy Round-up, Vol. 45

Tonight, Polygon Comedy continues their series of independent comedy shows at a new venue: Milkboy Philadelphia (1100 Chestnut St.). Tonight's show will feature improv from ApocaLips, Rosen & Milkshake, Adrift, and Rintersplint. Doors open at 7:00pm and showtime is 7:30. You can purchase tickets for tonight's show online.

Tickets are available now for a stand-up comedy benefit show for the Childrens' Hospital of Philadelphia. Pat Barker has put together a lineup featuring Chip Chantry, Darryl Charles, Tim Grill, James Hesky, and Doogie Horner to perform on Saturday, June 2 at the Stone Grill (1300 Blackwood Clementon Rd, Clementon NJ). Tickets are $20 and can be purchased by emailing Pat at pat@patbarkercomedy.com

If you haven't already seen it, Bird Text's new sketch The Return of Pat Burrell  has been racking up the views on YouTube. Yesterday, the video was featured on Sports Illustrated's website. The Bird Text guys are looking to capitalize on the popularity of their newest sketch, offering t-shirts for sale on their website.

Philly Improv Theater is offering two classes that begin this weekend. Improv 101 (with Jessica Snow) and Improv 201 (with Steve Kleinedler) will run Saturdays, May 19 through July 14 and will be held at The Adrienne Theater, 2030 Sansom St. Get your spots now, before classes fill up.

This Saturday, May 19, Rookie Card's monthly show at The Raven Lounge (1718 Sansom St.) makes it's weekend debut. The free show begins at 7:00pm and will feature stand-up comedian Tommy Highland, a secret improv team, and will end with an jam open to anyone in attendance.

This weekend, High Dramma Sketch Comedy will host another round of shows at the Walking Fish Theater (2509 Frankford Ave.) The show will run May 17-19 at 8:00pm and May 20 at 5:00pm. Tickets are $15 at the door and are also available online  with a special "pay what you can" showing on May 17.


2012 Out of Bounds Comedy Festival

The Out of Bounds Comedy Festival  is now accepting online applications from improv groups, sketch groups, and stand-up comics. The festival will take place in Austin, Texas from August 28 to September 3 and will feature comedians from all over the country. A few performers from Philadelphia attended the festival last year, one of which was Becca Trabin, who had these things to say to encourage more of our city's finest to apply for this year's festival.

The Out Of Bounds Comedy Festival is accepting submissions for their 2012 festival, which takes place Labor Day weekend in Austin, Texas. I attended last year as a stand-up and half of the improv duo Get A Room, and I can't recommend this festival enough. You get lots of perks for a tiny submission fee, Southern hospitality, adventures in a kooky city, and access to legit Mexican food (get the fish tacos at Chupacabra). The people are charming and the after-parties were some of the best I've been to-- one was a house party with a taco truck in the driveway, and another was a swanky karaoke bar with a TV next to the dance floor hooked up with Super Nintendo. We drank, danced, sang, and played Mario Kart. Great festival. Highly recommend it. And do the mini golf tournament.

Online applications are now open for the 2012 Out of Bounds Comedy Festival. Submission fee is $20 until 3/27 and $30 until the 4/30 deadline.

Becca Trabin is a stand-up comedian and member of improv groups Mayor Karen and Apocalips. She will be performing at Mayor Karen Presents this Friday at Plays and Players. 


ComedySportz Presents Stage Fright: An Improvised Homage to Hitchcock

This weekend, as part of their Final Fridays series which features new shows on the final two weekends of every month, ComedySports Philly will host Stage Fright: An Improvised Homage to Hitchcock. The show, which was recently nominated for Best in Long Form at the 2012 INNY Awards will play Thursday, February 16 at 8:00PM, Friday, February 17 at 10:00PM, and Saturday, February 18 at 3:00PM  at The Playground at The Adrienne (2030 Sansom St. Philadelphia). Tickets can be purchased online or at the door.

Stage Fright is conceived and directed by Philadelphia Improv Festival co-creator Matt Nelson and it's cast features local improv talents Alli Soowal, Jason Stockdale, Jessica Ross, Joe Sabatino, Kristin Finger, Mary Carpenter, Nathan Edmondson and Rob Cutler. The show explores the dark corners of the world through tension and levity, while bringing to life Hitchcockian characters that are delightfully definitive of his style.


Philly Comedy Round-up, Vol. 33

Writer and comedian Ryan Carey posted this detailed ranking of 17 George Carlin albums on his blog. Carey gives each album two ratings, one based on laughs and one based on philosophy. 17 albums is a lot to dig through, but this type of stuff is right down Ryan's alley.

Tonight at L'etage, the second monthly Camp Woods Plus will feature the namesake group plus Philly favorites Secret Pants as well as visitors from New York Skinny Bitch Jesus Meeting. Doors open at 8 and the show starts at 8:30. You can hear Camp Woods talk more about their comedy in last week's inaugural episode of The Witout Dot Net Podcast.

Tomorrow at L'etage marks the return of improv showcase Polygon. This month's show will feature sets from Gross Butler, Apocalips, Rintersplit, and Angry People Building Things. Doors open at 7:30 and the show starts at 8:00.

The lineups for the first annual NYC Improv Festival have been announced and several Philadelphia teams have made the cut. The festival, which will take place from March 21-24 will feature Philly groups Mayor Karen, King Friday, Asteroid, Hey Rube, and Iron Lung.

This Wednesday will mark the debut of the Philebrity Showcase, a free monthly evening of comedy and music, hand-selected by the Philebrity staff, at Fergie's Pub. This month's show will feature comedian Tommy Pope along with music from Ladies Auxiliary.


Submissions Open for Second Annual F. Harold Festival

F. Harold is a Philly-only festival - to showcase comedy in and around Philadelphia, and the local area! F. Harold will be held at the Walnut Street Theatre's Studio 5, Tuesday April 24th through Sunday April 29th, 2012. F. Harold is an event designed to bring together and show off the talent in the comedy community, and continue fostering an atmosphere of creativity and collaboration! Each night the F. Harold will provide lots of great comedy shows and events - including long and short form improv shows, sketch and stand up comedy - to you at affordable prices, in the oldest theater in America. Much more information will be available soon, and submissions are open now!

No musical entertainment is allowed at this venue at this time, so please do not submit your musical act.

To submit, cut and paste this into an email.

Show Name:
Contact Person:
Phone:
Email:
Website (if applicable):
List of all group members:

Availability
Tuesday April 24th:
Wednesday April 25th:
Thursday April 26th:
Friday April 27th:
Saturday April 28th:
Sunday April 29th:

This show will be (select one):
1. Long form improv
2. Short form improv
3. Sketch
4. Standup
Any special notes - time conflicts, special needs, etc:

Once completed, send email to ick1019@gmail.com. Each submission costs $5, and must be paid either by PayPal, or in person to Rick Horner at your convenience. This submission is not a contract of participation and is subject to review and approval.

Remember to mark your calendars - set aside Tuesday April 24th through Sunday April 29th as YOUR opportunity to experience the high-quality comedy right here at home in Philadelphia at the Walnut Street Theatre. This is an event that should not be missed! For more information, email Rick Horner at ick1019@gmail.com!


Comedians Survey

Hey all you wanna-be professional comedians, take this survey to help determine what social services will be available for professional comedians in the future through the newly-created American Comedy Fund (put together by the Entertainment Industry Foundation and Comedy Central). Those of us who want to call comedy our profession can provide useful feedback to the ACF so that they can build a safety net for present and future American comedians. It's anonymous, it takes 15 minutes, and it's actually a useful way to do a personal inventory on your career path.


Philly Comedy Round-up, Vol. 29

The voting has closed for the 2011 Witout Awards and the time has come to start preparing for the actual celebration. The show will take place on Tuesday, January 10 at World Cafe Live. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased online.

This Thursday marks the return of the annual Holiday themed variety show Secret Pants puts on at Johnny Brenda's. Keep the Change Ya Filthy Animal will be hosted by Chip Chantry and will feature comedy from Secret Pants themselves as well as Norm Klar, Camp Woods, Local Holiday Miracle, The Feeko Brothers, John Kensil, Mike Rainey, and The Amie and Kristen Show.

If you are outside of Philadelphia this Thursday, Bird Text is throwing a holiday themed Bird Text/ Househusbands Christmas at Maggie O'Neal's in Drexel Hill. The show promises the premiere of the Christmas Episode of The Real Househusbands of Philadelphia as well as stand-up from some of Philly's best.

Looking for something to do on New Year's Eve? Johnny Goodtimes is hosting a 1960's themed night of comedy, music, and New Year's Eve fun at The Latvian Society (7th and Spring Garden). The night will start at 8:00 with a cocktail hour and move on to a comedy show at 9:00. After the comedy there will be music by Terrence Brown and the Hornets to cap off the New Year's festivities. Tickets are $40 in advance and $50 at the door (and include beer, wine, and champagne) and can be purchased by emailing 60snye@gmail.com or from Johnny Goodtimes himself at one of his Quizzos.

Here's a Christmas video from Chip Chantry and Bird Text to brighten up your day.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=nRTglKhAtC4