The Witout Podcast, Episode 3: Pete Kuempel

This week, we sit down with comedian Pete Kuempel to talk his career in comedy. We talk about his start in Chicago, his move to Philadelphia, and his transition to New York. You can listen to the podcast below, or subscribe on iTunes.

[audio: petekuempel.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

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

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 Stand-up Bit

Aaron Hertzog - $30,000

John McKeever - Magnum

Pete Kuempel - Dolphins

Steve Gerben - Watching Sports

Darryl Charles - Hatchet

Unfortunately, video of this bit does not exist but his exasperation at the fact that a man could murder an entire building full of people with a hatchet, complete with out-of-breath act outs was the only bit Darryl did during his run to a second place finish at this year's Philly's Phunniest Person Contest. Check him out live to see the hilarious bit in action.

Unsolicited Advice: "Moving to New York" by Pete Kuempel

Comedians love giving advice, most of the time when they're not even asked for it! Unsolicited Advice is WitOut's chance to give Philly comics the opportunity to do just that, without looking like a know-it-all so-and-so.

Thinking about making the move to New York from Philly huh? Don’t do it man! Well don’t do it until you are ready. Of course only you will know when that is, but I don’t think there’s any need to hurry. It’s true you are probably less likely to get “discovered” in Philadelphia and yes, ultimately, if you want to “make it” in this business, you should make a move. I wouldn’t worry about that though. Try making sure all the local spots in Philly are recognizing your talent first, and then give the big apple a try. Philly has a great comedy scene with plenty of stage time and a good supportive community. It’s a really great city to develop who you are as a comedian.

I made the move to New York because of a job and not because I necessarily felt ready to take on stand-up comedy there. The move has mostly worked out for me, but making the transition into the New York comedy scene is a lot more difficult than Philadelphia or even Chicago, where I first started stand up. It takes some time to get any real comedy work at clubs or even the alternative comedy scene there. Shows will not be as frequent at first. That is why having established myself in Philadelphia was a great advantage to have over other comics in New York performing at my level. I could make the reasonable drive into Philly on any night of the week if I wanted to. I can’t tell you the amount of New York comics who have never had the opportunity for the valuable stage time I continue to get in Philadelphia. I will just say this, the occasional Philly show or open mic have kept me sane. Whenever I need to work on new material and I need an actual audience response to gage that material, I look forward to coming down and running through stuff there.

Speaking of actual audience, once you do get to New York, get out as much as possible, meet people. You can get on stage several times a night, every night. Be prepared though. Most open mics do not have much of an audience. You will be performing in front of crowds that are mostly just other comics. A lot of the time, they may not laugh. They will have seen you all week at every other open mic you do together. Don’t let it bum you out. It can. Instead use it as motivation to write as often as possible. There are plenty of friendly comics there too. For example, I live there. But it’s very competitive with a lot of hungry comics and it’s a much more treacherous scene to navigate. You have to be a bit more thick-skinned. Stick with it. If you are funny, you will get spots. It will get easier. I haven’t really figured it all out yet myself. Otherwise I would be doing more too. It’s not like you’ve heard of me. It seems to me, the old clichés are true for everyone I see having success at this. To recap: It’s basically, get up as much as possible, and write as much as possible. Work hard. Be friendly and nice to everyone. You are not better at this than everyone. Keep at it. Good things will eventually happen.

Pete Kuempel is a "Philly" comic who just so happens to live in New York City. We won't hold that against him, though.

If you're a comic and want us to post your Unsolicited Advice, send us an email at