Gregg Gethard Has Some Ideas About Girl Parts

by Gregg Gethard

I was at an open mic recently when no less than six straight comedians did a bit about vaginal smell. This is not uncommon. Every open mic has a lot of comics who talk a lot about vaginal smell.

This is a problem.

Here are the reasons why this is problematic:

  1. If at least half of the performers are doing material about a topic, you should probably not do material about that topic. The main point about open mics is to get better and to find a way to get booked at an actual show. You think doing the same exact thing as everyone else is going to get you there?*

  1. If the material is something a doofus high school kid would say in the locker room, you should probably not do material about that topic. (I put something on my Twitter about this. A response from someone: “What, is everyone in Philly comedy 16?”)

  1. Doing bits about vaginal smell essentially boils down to saying “girls are icky.” Confusion about sex is a great concept for a bit that’s incredibly relatable. However, the joke should be about how confusing it is for both parties (or, even better, the performer). The joke shouldn’t be about vaginal smell. You’re just coming off like some creep wanna-be lothario bragging about doing a sex act.

  1. I put something about this on my Facebook wall. Here is a comment my friend Alanna (a girl and not my wife) said about vaginal smell jokes: “Anecdotally, I have found that men who trash women and their vaginas the most are the men who seldom have the opportunity to get inside one.”

    Just a head’s up as to what a girl who frequents comedy shows thinks about your jokes about girl parts.

  1. Making a joke about smelly girl parts is making fun of someone’s body. Would you make a joke about someone in the crowd who is overweight? I would hope not.  And I’m not saying this to be sensitive or PC. I’m saying this because making fun of an overweight person (or something similar) is just bullying.

  1. Stage time is precious. Open mics give you, what, five minutes at the most? You’re going to use five minutes of stage time to talk about something almost everyone else is talking about that most men have stopped talking about when they hit college? Be better than that. Respect the stage. Try to do something different and unique and new. That’s why I love going to comedy shows.

I’m not god’s gift to comedy. I know this. I’ve done really well at some shows and I’ve bombed at a lot more. But anytime I get on a stage I try to do something that the audience hasn’t seen or heard before that reflects my personality. You really want to tell a group of mostly strangers that your personality largely revolves around high school lunch humor?

* To show I’m not a PC prude – there have been a lot of pro-gay marriage bits lately. I support gay marriage. But again – if 10 people are talking about gay marriage, do you really want to talk about gay marriage?

Vaginal smell jokes are not a problem as serious as rape jokes, which has become the dumbest controversy in modern comedy because it shouldn't be a controversy since no one should tell a rape joke. I have to applaud the Philly open mic community because the amount of comics telling rape jokes at one point approached the 50 percent mark. It’s now down to roughly 25 percent, and it appears that most of the comics telling jokes about committing sex crimes with punchlines at the expense of victims are new to the scene.**

**I talked with a young comic who had a rape joke up front in his otherwise pretty brainy set and told him he (and hopefully he took it in the right way – I was trying to offer advice and hopefully I didn’t come off like a dick, but I probably did) should get rid of it because he was better than that. He seemed to agree with my statement. But he said he was nervous since the night was sort of dead and he knew that he’d get a laugh. I get that – god knows my earliest comedy used shock nonsense (and probably a rape joke) as a safety blanket. But then I learned the difference between a shock laugh and an earned laugh and I think this kid will get that difference soon. Respect.

Gregg Gethard has been performing comedy in some form since 2007 and is best known for hosting/producing the long-running Bedtime Stories and co-hosting The Holding Court Podcast. He will be hosting A Comedy Tribute to Boston on Sunday, June 23 at L'Etage (624 S. 6th Street) at 7 pm. He will also appear live on the Used Wigs podcast on May 21st at 8 pm (also at L'Etage). He can be followed on Twitter @holdingcourtpod.

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

"I Just Want to See New Jokes" - Interview with Jess Carpenter of R Open Mic

By: Peter Rambo

I went into Roosevelt's last Thursday knowing one person and having been in the audience of exactly one open mic before that night.

Before sign-ups were supposed to start, comedians gathered in a small room tucked away in the recesses of the bar, commenting on the handmade curtains and the absent bartender. (She was there by time the mic started.) It didn't take long for the room to fill, largely because it only holds a handful of people.

Jess Carpenter is one of the five founders of the new weekly event, now named R Open Mic. He wasn't hosting, so he had plenty of time to talk to me about the mic, which he thinks holds promise, both as a place to debut new material and as a place to film polished stuff.

Peter Rambo: So tell me about this open mic. How did it come about?

Jess Carpenter: Actually, I told Brian that I was looking for a room 'cause, I'm sad to say, I was getting sad going to open mics and seeing the same comics tell the same jokes. So I was telling Brian that I wanted to do a room where we would have a theme, and every week or every two weeks, we could have a list of words or a list of subjects and people could do [jokes inspired by that.] It gives them a reason to write.

So we decided we're going to do that once a month, and just have the mic as a regular mic [the rest of the time]. He found the room, 'cause he does Quizzo here, and it looked pretty good. It looks small enough. It's small enough to where it'll feel full, and the comics can also be out here [in the main room] to talk.  Most comics, after they get off stage, they have that adrenaline going, and you don't really want them in the mic talking during someone else's set.

PR: Yeah, you can't really hear anything [out here]. You can't hear them in there, and vice versa.

JC: That's what I like about it. It's a great little room. We'll see how it works though.

PR: There's not a whole lot of seating.

JC: No, 18 people [are on the list] so far, and there's standing room. And there's the pole there. That pole is actually a great place--I put the curtains up so you can actually film here, and since it's a small enough room it'll always feel like [you're getting nice applause].

PR: Is there a rotating cast of hosts?

JC: Yeah, the third Thursday I won't be here cause I have my other show.

PR: Comedian Deconstruction?

JC: Right. There's five of us, so we're always going to just try and take [turns with] hosting. To be honest, I could care less about hosting. I just want to see new jokes.

I want to see Philly become a hotbed. Boston was a hotbed in the '90s I think, and that's where comics were coming out with the new concept of comedy. Why can't Philly be that?

PR: Do you know the other hosts very well?

JC: Yeah, they actually do B.a. Comedian. Brian and Andrew are B and A, and Tim is the musical part. He does guitar. And Dan and I are literally opposites. He does jokes about being a straight guy that seem really gay, and then I love to follow him 'cause I'm a gay guy who seems really straight. If I make it, he's going to be my opener. It just works out really well.

It was really nice, because we met at an open mic, we were very-like minded and liked talking after. We liked going outside and talking during the mic while other people were doing their sets. And just going and popping in to see the people we liked. And that's what so good about this room, you can do that. You can pop in and out.

PR: This mic is really close to the Raven Lounge.  How do you think that's going to affect the night?

JC: It's great, 'cause we want to make sure people can get to both. I think it's like eight or nine minutes to get from one side to the other. Maybe 12 minutes. People can do both. If you can have comics hit multiple mics a night, you can have a comic totally screw up a joke or a set and they can make a note and try that set 15 or 20 minutes later, versus waiting a week or two weeks to try it again.

And this is a bar, they're fine with staying open, so people can either go here early and go there late, or vice versa.

PR: When's the first theme open mic?

JC: The second Thursday of the month.

Dan King: We'll give ourselves two weeks to do it, and then on the second one ...

JC: Yeah, so on the first Thursday, we'll come up with five different subject matters, and then the second Thursday, that's when they can do jokes. You don't have to, but you can choose to. I think we'll go out of a hat, so people can put suggestions in. We pull five because we don't want a bunch of comics feeling that they just wrote the same joke another comic wrote, but it shows that there's less stealing than people think. There's a lot of ideas floating out there that people just grab.

It's funny because, Jerry Corley, who's one of my favorite comedy coaches out there, says every day, just write stuff from the newspaper, even if you're never going to use it, but if you write a good enough one and you're watching TV and you see it, you know you're on the right track.You see a lot of that on Twitter.

I see Chip [Chantry] doing a lot of that. I like the way Chip tweets, 'cause he makes it condensed. Brevity is everything when it comes to comedy.

PR: Do you have any words of wisdom for someone who's just starting? Like at this open mic? Like me?

JC: Respect the light. Always respect the light. Always thank people. It sounds corny, but they remember you. You're going to meet more comics at open mics that are going to get you work, than you're going to meet by calling people. If you like another comic's stuff, tell them, "That's a great joke." Don't offer advice out of nowhere. It could be good advice, but some comics can't take advice. But if they ask, tell them.

Oh, rule number one. Rule number one. Don't say "good set" if it wasn't a good set. Don't say anything. But don't say "good set." If someone had a shitty set, and they walk off stage, do not say "good set." They know they had a shitty set. But if they had a good set, and you said "good set," but you never said good set or shitty set [before], they know that you meant it. "Good try," say that, but don't say "good set."

PR: It sounds a little patronizing.

JC: Yeah, you don't want to sound patronizing. But you'll see it, trust me, you'll see it. Actually, watch. [Turns to Hillary Rea] Hey, do you hate when someone says good set and you had a shitty set?

Hillary Rea: I don't tell people that if I didn't like it. I just run away or walk away. And if I feel like I did shitty, it's just ... Irish Goodbye.

JC: See! Ah, it's horrible. 'Cause, your tail's already between your legs, and someone says good set and you're like ...

PR: Were you there?

JC: Were you just there? I'm bleeding here.

PR: Do you use open mics to farm talent for other shows?

JC: I've been starting to do virgin comics at Comedian Deconstruction. I might take an opener from here and bring them over there. I think what I might start doing is one of the five things that we pull out of the hat, I might make one of those one of the themes we do at Deconstruction that month. If it works here, it gives me a week to put them on the show. I think that could work. If I have a theme and someone does a really good joke about it, and they have three or four minutes to follow it with, why not give them a real show to play with. There's nothing better than that feeling of being in a show. It's like, real claps, you know? Better than a bringer.


I got on stage for the first time as a stand-up and told six jokes in less than three minutes. The crowd laughed, probably because they knew it was my first time, and I felt good. I'll try not to exit on that high note.

R Open Mic happens every Thursday at Roosevelt's at the corner of 22nd and Walnut. Sign-ups are at 7:30pm and the show starts at 8pm.

Peter Rambo is @gunnarrambo and is part of American Breakfast. They receive likes at

"I Got Really Drunk and was Shirtless by the End of the Show" - Interview with Bradley Beck, Creator and Host of Accidents Will Happen at Adobe Cafe

One of the things that's so fun about comedy is that feeling that anything can happen. Anything can be said; anything can be done. Surprise and uniqueness are your friends; the mundane is your enemy. Bradley Beck seems to be a man who understands this. The other night at Accidents Will Happen, I watched him co-host (with Sarah Morawczynski, the latest in what is apparently an ever-increasing lineup of co-hosts) what was essentially a stand-up showcase where, throughout the night, he became increasingly drunker, progressively lost layers of clothing until he was shirtless, and rattled off Polish jokes at Sarah's expense while reading tweets from a Twitter fight he'd had on election night with numerous citizens of the states of Indiana and Kentucky.

And it's not just Bradley's hosting that drives this idea. The performers were just as unexpected a mix of stand-ups as one could imagine. We drifted from the storytelling of Brady Dale, to the character-based black metal comedy of Necrosexual, to the more traditional stand-up of the energetic Alex Grubard. The only thing tying the six performers' styles together was their strong talent and a sense of originality.

Of course, the other side to comedy is structure. Don't let me mislead you: Accidents Will Happen is certainly a well-structured show. Bradley Beck is more than competent as a host, regardless of where he is on the spectrum of intoxication. And the show, while at times chaotic, has a sense of cohesion. It takes place in the back room of the Adobe Cafe, a Southwestern-style restaurant & bar. With a small laminate wood-tiled stage (though the comedians all perform on the floor in front of it) facing a square room of tables and wire-framed, vinyl-coated chairs, you may feel like you're watching comedy in a sort of Tex-Mex themed bingo hall. But with the dynamic stage presence of the comedians, clear and professional sound, and a generally supportive audience, you will feel lucky to be there.

After the show, I sat down with a slightly drunk Bradley Beck and started off by asking him what his show was all about:

Bradley Beck: It's a show where we showcase some of my favorite young stand-ups and improvisers and storytellers and sketch groups from Philly. We also get performers from all over the Northeast. We also have a story that will play out over the course of the night—in between the acts—with me and a kind of a rotating team of co-hosts that usually involves me being the fool of some kind for the audience's enjoyment.

Matt Aukamp: How long has the show been running?

BB: It's been about nine months. This is our tenth one.

MA: How do you go about selecting all of your guests and features?

BB: Some of them are just people that I've been watching evolve over the stand-up scene and the storytelling scene for the last two years that I've been doing comedy. But some of the other acts come from [co-hosts] Alex J. Gross and Dan Vetrano. They know a lot of people from the improv and sketch scene so they'll recommend a lot of people and I think, between the three of us, we've been able to get people in the room that have never worked with each other before—so many people from different genres of Philadelphia comedy come together on one stage. It's very different from a lot of other shows.

MA: Is there an over-arching theme of the show?

BB: The over-arching theme of the show is alternative comedy. There's been a backlash in the last couple of years, I've noticed, against alt. comedy. They say that stand-ups should be able to go into any room and these alt. comedy rooms kind of coddle performers, but I put this show up in defiance of that. Like, I wanted these different performers to come together under the banner that we're doing something that's different. We're taking risks. And I want people to get together and it doesn’t matter what genre you are, as long as you're doing something different, something new, something that's going to excite the crowd—that's the people that I want.

MA: What sets Accidents Will Happen apart from other shows in the city?

BB: I think that it's a mixed show.  I think what sets it apart is that I'm trying to foster connections between the performers, where some of the people that do the show, or even performers that have been on the show before, who maybe aren't performing tonight and are just here, will see some of these different performers – people that they've never met before but live in the same city – and say, “I want to work with this person.” That's how it started with Alex J. Gross. I'd never met him before, and I had him on the show, and I absolutely thought he was fantastic and then decided to bring him on as a full-time co-host. If it wasn't for the show, I wouldn't have really gotten to know him.

MA: The second half of the show is an open mic. Do you ever look at that as a place to cultivate talent for your showcase?

BB: Yeah, there's definitely been a few performers that I've booked specifically because I've seen them on the open mic. But also I just really enjoy watching some of the younger guys and girls in their early 20s perform at the open mic. Some of the comedians that are performing tonight have been performing for just a few months and watching them every two weeks here, I've seen them grow as comics. And once I feel confident that they can do at least six minutes of their best material then I'll have them on the main show in front of a bigger crowd.

MA: What are some of the stand-out moments of the show?

BB: The first time I had Necro[sexual] on. He brought up someone to do a Black Metal makeover. The first time I had Lisa Yost on. I'd been watching her perform for two years and I felt like she just put so much emotion into her performance she really threw the crowd for a loop. There's just been so many. I've seen so many performers in Philly put forth a great performance in front of our crowd. These are people that I really love and...I don't get to go out much. I've got two kids at home, and this is the show I would want to see. If I saw these six performers tonight on a bill, I'd say “This would be a great bill.” And this way I get to host. It's like watching a comedy show for free.

MA: Any particularly bad moments?

BB: There was this one show I remember where I got really drunk and was shirtless by the end of the show—it was just like ten minutes ago.

MA: What, ultimately, would you like the show to become?

BB: I like the concept of having a story play out in between the acts. We've been doing that for a while. We had one story where we had a Battle of the Sexes. We've had an episode where I was fired and tried to get my job back. Tonight, obviously, we were talking about my Twitter wars and I was getting progressively drunker on stage. I want to give people something in between. I want it to be almost like a behind-the-scenes look at the drama that goes on at comedy shows but brings it to the front.

MA: Anything else you want to talk about?

BB: I just hope people come out. There's a lot of really talented performers in Philadelphia. And I guess I look at this show, ultimately, since it's free, as a way for people that are interested in comedy to sample what is available in Philadelphia. Since I am putting up every different genre of comedy, this is a way for you to come and say, “Oh, this is pretty interesting. Maybe I want to go to some other shows and pay for them. Maybe I want to see these performers at other shows.” And it's a way for the performers, since it is a free show and no one's making any money off this, it's a way to put themselves out to people who maybe haven't seen them before.  I started the show in South Philly to see if a show could work in an area that was a little off the beaten track. I wanted to bring the show to the young, hip people that live in that neighborhood, and make it a pain in the ass for performers to come down. I wanted them to want to do this show.  Since there's no money on either side, I feel it's a way for people that have never seen an indie comedy show to discover the alt. comedy scene in Philly. For the performers it's a place to try new things in front of a really respectful audience. I love when people take a risk on my stage. We try to book a mix of newer acts that are excited just to get booked, and will bring their friends, and more seasoned performers who can use it as kind of an extended open mic to prep for their weekend gigs.

Accidents Will Happen occurs on the 1st Wednesday of every month at 9pm with an open mic at 11pm.  South Philly Comedy Jawn, the open-mic-only spinoff of the show (open to any comedic act, with an emphasis on stand-up and storytelling), occurs on the 3rd Wednesday of every month at 10pm.  Both shows are held at at the Adobe Cafe (1919 E. Passyunk Avenue). Admission is free!

Matt Aukamp is a writer, performer, and occasional improviser (The Win Show). You can usually find him bothering the world on Twitter at @mattaukamp.

Philly Comedy Round-up, Vol. 63

This week, Comedy Month Philadelphia kicks off with the 8th Annual Philadelphia Improv Festival. This year, over 40 groups from cities all across North America will perform at the Prince Music Theater (1412 Chestnut St.) More information about workshops can be found and tickets can be purchased online.

Comedian Amir Gollan has been chosen as a semi-finalist for The Andy Kaufman Award and will perform in the semi-final showcase at Gotham Comedy Club in New York on Monday, November 12. The award was created to preserve the legacy of one of America's most unique and influential performers in a dynamic way. The prestigious award honors Andy Kaufman's creative spirit while simultaneously shining a spotlight on promising performers with the potential to impact the evolving culture of comedy.

Johnny Goodtimes interviewed Philly comics Chip Chantry and Doogie Horner about the issue of making jokes that poke fun of the Hurricane Sandy situation. You can read their thoughts on the subject here.

The full schedule for the 5th Annual Philly Sketchfest is now available online. This year, the festival will take place from November 12-17 at The Prince Music Theater (1412 Chestnut St.) as part of Comedy Month Philadelphia.

This Tuesday, Free Improv at Connie's Ric Rac (1132 S. 9th St.) returns with a night of performances from Deleted Scenes, Gaper Delay, TTNL (Those Two Nice Ladies), POUSAAIT, Malone, Bad James, and Shame Parade. They also promise to keep you updated with the latest election coverage so you don't miss out.

The Improvised Musical Suggestical is holding auditions for a one-night performance to be held in March 2013. Auditions will be held on November 18 from 1-5pm at  A & E Studio (1233 Vine Street, Philadelphia). Interested performers can contact Claire Halberstadt at to set up an audition timeslot.

Two new open mics will debut this week. First, this Tuesday will mark the inaugural Comedy Open Mic at the Headhouse Cafe (122 Lombard St.) Sign-ups begin at 7:30 with the mic kicking off at 8:00. Tight Six, "an open mic for stand-up, sketch, characters and more" begins this Sunday at Fergie's Pub (1214 Sansom St.) sign-ups at 8:00, and the mic starts at 8:30.

If you have any Philly comedy news worth mentioning - send it our way with an email to

Somebody Has to Go in the Second Half...Tips for a New Comedian to Survive in the Philadelphia Comedy Open Mic Scene

The fine gentlemen at Rittenhouse Comedy (Paul Goodman, Jack Martin, and Brian Finnell) have put together this handy list of do's and don'ts for comedians performing at open mics. These guys know a thing or two about running an open mic - you can see for yourself every Tuesday at 9pm at Noche (1901 Chestnut St.)
Over the past two years, I have performed on numerous open mics, produced comedy showcases, and been part of the Rittenhouse Comedy team running a weekly open mic every Tuesday at 9 pm at Noche (1901 Chestnut). Before running a show, I had no idea how challenging it was to organize a weekly comedy show that hopefully makes the comedians, audience and venue happy. Here is what I have learned through trial and error both on and off stage.

10. Don't ask when you are going to go before the show starts. The comedians running the show need to collect the 30-40 names on the list and quickly come up with a line up that has BOTH the comedians and audience members interest in mind. It's not a meritocracy. It deflates the energy in the room by having 5 consecutive comedians with little to no experience start a show. That being said all open mics try their best to give new guys a chance to perform in a “good spot.” However, I have learned a lot about myself as a comedian and person by performing at Raven at 1am. Sometimes those lessons are rewarding like making a tired audience laugh after 4 hours of comedy and some are on a different level like $5 PBR/whiskey shots help you calm your nerves and also forget your material.

9. If you have some type of special request (work, bus, you brought a girl you hope to hook up with), let the guy running the list know ahead of time so they can make a note, but realize unless you support the open mic on a weekly basis it may not be able to be accommodated.

8. Find out how long the set times will be and when the light will be given. Most of the time the light is a cell phone that signifies you have one minute left. Wrap it up in that one-minute. As noted, there are 30-40 comedians on the list.

7. Do not say anything negatively about the room and/or the number of audience members in the room. It's disrespectful to the comedians running the show and the audience members that have stayed to see you perform. If you do not like to perform in front of small audiences, simply ask for your name to be crossed off the list.

6. Outstanding advice from the hysterical James Hesky. “The only thing I can control is my performance and not my placement in the line up. With that in mind, all I can do is try to kill it each and every time I get on stage.”

5. If you need to leave before your turn, let the guy running the list know. It’s embarrassing to announce a person who is no longer there.

4. Be nice and funny in that order.

3. If you're new to the scene, stay around for a few comedians after you perform. Comedians’ function as audience members and it's frustrating for a comedian to ask to go by a certain time and then not stay to support their fellow comics.

2. If you have an issue to address with the comedians running the room, address it with them directly AFTER the show through email, a phone call or preferably in person. Passive-aggressive Facebook post do little to help your cause and the morale of the comedy community.

1. Feel fortunate that you are a new comedian in an awesome comedy scene. At the time of this article, there are 6 free "night of" sign up open mics in the city of Philadelphia. Have a good time, support your fellow comedians, and thank you for your support.