"Everyone in Comedy is a Jerk in One Way or Another" - Interview with Jim Grammond of 'Reasonable Discourse with Jerks'

Philly comedians aren't just funny—they're consistently up on current events and super well-informed on what's going on in local and national news.  Or at very least, maybe they bone up a bit when they're about to be guests on Jim Grammond's monthly panel show Reasonable Discourse with Jerks.  Here's Jim with more details on the concept, how he puts the show together, and this month's jerks:

WitOut: To be honest, I get most of my news from your Twitter feed. What drives you to turn current events into jokes?

Jim Grammond: The misguided belief that I can turn making jokes about news into money.

WitOut: Is some of that joke writing "research" for topics that will end up on Reasonable Discourse with Jerks?

JG: Honestly, the joke writing process for the show is so much better than how I write for stand-up or anything else. I take a news story or interesting bit of trivia, try to come up with a funny headline for the PowerPoint presentation, and then make bullet points that are jokes about the topic. It's methodical, whereas my regular, daily joke writing is more stream of consciousnesses, which means a lot of my regular, daily writing is garbage.

WitOut: This month's panel is Jess Ross, Alex Grubard, Paul Triggiani and Mike Rainey. How did you assemble that line-up? And what makes each of them a jerk?

JG: Actually, Paul Triggiani had to cancel because he has a prior engagement that probably involves him dressing as a Nazi, so Philly's Phunniest™ 2012 James Hesky will be taking his place. Jess is a fellow member of The Flat Earth and a stand-out funny improvise, Alex is a very funny, very loud comedian, Rainey is one of the best of people with one of the darkest (and best) of senses of humor, and Hesky is a dynamo in the sack.

Everyone in comedy is a jerk in one way or another. Either we think we're better than most people, or we use humor as a weapon on people who don't deserve it. A lot of us are paranoid and insecure, which makes us lash out in weird, jerky ways. Liz's high school reunion episode of 30 Rock is the best reference material for this.

WitOut: I don't want to ask you to give too much away, but can you give us a preview of what might come up at this Wednesday's show?

JG: You can't give away what you don't know. I almost never come up with the topics until the day before and the day of. I'm always putting the presentation together up until near show time.

WitOut: Are there any news items that have come up between the last show and this one that you'd love to talk about, but aren't recent enough? If so, can you give it the RDWJ treatment here? Or just pick any historical event you want—e.g., how would RDWJ break down the War of 1812?

JG: One story that broke earlier this month that I would've been all over but is too far gone is that Vladimir Putin hired Boyz II Men to play concerts in Russia explicitly to get Russians in the mood to procreate. I don't know if it's 100% accurate, but that doesn't matter because it sounds so great and believable.  I can just picture Putin getting on the jumbotron at the concert, taking his shirt off and having women oil him up, saying "Da, you in crowd, you do like me now, okay? Pants removal now. Go on, Moscow, get freaky." Also, unlike his policies on breakaway Russian republics, I guarantee in nine months we'll see that this plan worked.

The next 'Reasonable Discourse with Jerks' is this Wednesday, February 27th at Philly Improv Theater at The Shubin (407 Bainbridge Street).  Show starts at 8:30pm. Tickets are $10 at the door; $8 online in advance.

Meet Your Nominees for the 2013 WitOut Awards for Philadelphia Comedy: Best Regular Show

It's almost time for the 2013 WitOut Awards for Philadelphia Comedy!  As we get closer to the show, we'll be rolling out a series of posts to help you get more acquainted with this year's nominees. Read all about 'em, and then be sure to get your tickets for the big event on January 13th at World Cafe Live!

The nominees for Best Regular Show are:

Camp Woods Plus
Camp Woods Plus was a monthly sketch comedy showcase hosted by Philly sketch comedy juggernauts, Camp Woods! Every month they brought two sketch comedy groups from around the country plus a hilarious all new show of their own to L'etage. The show had its last edition this past December, but from the time it debuted to a sold-out crowd it quickly became a must-see event within the Philly comedy scene.

The Theme Show
The Theme Show is a monthly variety show at Philly Improv Theater hosted by Pat Foy (Camp Woods) and Steve Swan (The Flat Earth, Mayor Karen). Each month sketch groups, stand-ups and more create material around a new theme to show audiences just how much comedy can come from the same starting point.

Reasonable Discourse With Jerks
Reasonable Discourse With Jerks is a monthly panel comedy show hosted by Jim Grammond and produced by the good people at the Philly Improv Theater. Every month Jim is joined by a four-person panel of comedians and other professional-grade talkers to cover a variety of topics.

The Monthly Hour with James Hesky
Part late-night talk show, part stand-up showcase, and mostly one giant desperate attempt to get the approval of others, The Monthly Hour with James Hesky brings some of Philadelphia’s top talent to the Philly Improv Theater to help you catch up on all the major (and minor) events of the month. Each month, Hesky (CheaPodcast, The Gross Show) and his merry band of writers will recap the month through stand-up, sketch, video and interviews with top newsmakers (or completely made up no-names).

Guilty Pleasures
Comedian Brendan Kennedy has his finger on the pulse of all things awful—from terrible scripts to embarrassing poetry, YouTube videos and stage plays—and each month he hosts a dramatic reading of everything he's found. With assistance from co-host Roger C. Snair, who regularly submits his own plays to the show, Brendan and a group of Philly's top comedians are sure to surprise you with how hard they commit to the crap they have decided to stage for your amusement and the bizarre improv riffs they go on as inspiration hits them.

Review: Reasonable Discourse With Jerks

By: Anthony Narisi

A packed house crowded into the Philly Improv Theater at the Shubin Theatre on Wednesday night for the most recent installment of Reasonable Discourse with Jerks. Host Jim Grammond took the stage and introduced the audience to the panel for the night, Philly’s popular sketch group Camp Woods, minus member Madonna Refugia.

For the next hour, this panel generated some very entertaining conversation, filled with jabs at each other, themselves, and just about anything even remotely related to any of the topics covered. And they covered many topics, ranging from the Faces of Death film franchise to childhood bullying and 9/11 conspiracies.

One of the funniest discussions of the night followed Grammond showing an Oreo filled with rainbow colored cream and explaining that people who are not supportive of the gay lifestyle are in outrage over this advertisement and threatening to boycott. From Brendan Kennedy’s image of a fat bigot giving in to temptation and eating an E.L. Fudge cookie of two elves fellating each other to various members’ outrage over the fact that the rainbow cookie doesn’t actually exist for consumption, the discussion was wrapped up neatly by Rob Baniewicz’s question, “Who gives a shit if a cookie’s political?”

One of the best aspects of the night was the chemistry not only between the members of Camp Woods, but also between them and Grammond. This was exemplified when Grammond raised the question, “What foods will you not eat?” and began going around the table one by one to get answers. However, as expected with such a lively panel, the order was quickly abandoned. Actually, it was abandoned as soon as JP Boudwin offered up the first answer: “Pass.” The conversation then turned to how Camp Woods would eat anything, from Boudwin and Kennedy’s recent dinnertime breakfast pizza topped with gyro meat to Billy Bob Thompson eating cake out of a used motor oil can. Even when the conversation was brought back to its original question, the members provided their usual absurdity and quirkiness, with Patrick Foy stating that Qdoba is better than Chipotle because the onions are easier to pick out of the pico de gallo and Sam Narisi announcing that he’ll still eat one, but he’s “never really been happy to see a baked potato.”

Other highlights included a recurring theme of hipsters prompted by Grammond’s experience with a conspiracy theorist referring to “mainstream” archaeology, Thompson’s ignoring the racist implications of a McDonald’s advertisement due to his disturbance by the fact that everyone was holding food and none of it had bites out of it, and Kennedy’s impression of a racist Elmo trying to make it in show business.

Bock’s Scores by Gerry Bock: Reasonable Discourse with Jerks

Well it’s shaping up to be another Philadelphia Summer sports fans! And we all know what that means... RUN FOR COVER! The Phillies have a lot of baseball left in the season to make up for lost time and lost base runners, the Eagles are looking more and more like the grid-iron roustabouts of yester-year, and rumor has it, the Philadelphia Major League Soccer Team is doing miserably! But don’t take my word for it. Don't be so glum chum, let’s not throw out the baby with the bath water! We’ve got plenty to be proud of – the 76ers had a Dream of a Season… but that alarm clock always gets ya!

Let’s head to the tapes and check out the highlights from Jim Grammond’s Reasonable Discourse with Jerks (and I use that term loosely).

Here is each mention of professional sports from the entire show, along with who said it:

Jim Grammond – Terrell Owens*, Arena Football, Baseball, Hunter Pence

Mike Rainey – Ref, Ball, Houston Ramblers, Starting Line-Up Figurines

Steve Miller-Miller – Interception, Terrell Owens*, Tim Cheatwood, Offensive Lineman, Matt Bahr**, Cleveland Indians, Cleveland Browns, Webster Slaughter, Donovan McNabb*

Tim Butterly – Soccer, Mets*, Cowboys*, Mets*, AFL

Pat Barker – Kobayashi***, Jim Thome, Baseball Jerseys, Mets, Hockey Stick, World Wrestling Federation, Ultimate Warrior, “Wild Thing” Rick Vaughn****, “Fastball Pitcher” Bob Guiterrez*****

What a performance! If you ask me, this line up is batting 1.000! See you at the bookie’s!

** Philadelphia’s Own!
*** Considered a sport, not by me, but I don't make the rules. Counts!
**** Almost didn’t make it, but still counts!
*****Definitely counts!!

Gerry Bock is a freelance sports writer and former Publisher/Reporter-in-Chief for the Port Richmond Gazetteer, which he published independently for 37 years before gladly fell prey to the siren call of retirement last May.

What They Wore with Joe Moore (Reasonable Discourse with Jerks)

On Wednesday July 27th, a packed Shubin Theater witnessed the dawning of a new era – Jim Grammond’sReasonable Discourse with Jerks”.  For the unlucky ones who weren’t able to secure a ticket, here is what the host and his four panelists were wearing:

Jim Grammond – An orange, black, yellow, green plaid collared shirt with short sleeves, 5 buttons buttoned, one button left undone at the top showing a white under shirt, blue jeans, grey and white sneakers with a large “N” on both sides of each.

John Kensil – Grey button down short sleeved shirt, 5 buttons buttoned, one undone at the top, no undershirt, a necklace with a cross, blue jeans, white sneakers with some black, wrist watch on left wrist.

Blake Wexler – White soccer jersey 3 buttons unbuttoned, with an embroidered small red diamond inside of a larger red diamond over the right breast, a patch on the left breast with 3 blue lions and 10 red “O” shapes under a small white star, a grey undershirt, brown shorts, white ankle-high socks with 3 black bars on each, orange/red, black and white sneakers with the letter “N” on both side of each shoe.

Mary Radzinski – A black blouse with wide arms and a neckline that went to the shoulders, silver feather pendant on a silver chain necklace, silver slippers, dark blue jeans, red bracelet on the left wrist.

Mike Rainey – Black t shirt with a white Philadelphia Flyers logo, with the word “FRESH” in all capital letters underneath also in white type, light blue jeans, black, grey and white sneakers with a grey wavy line on the side.