Meet Your Nominees for the 2013 WitOut Awards: Best Sketch Group

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 Sketch Group are:

The Feeko Brothers
The Feeko Brothers are a sketch comedy duo from Philadelphia, PA formed by Billy Bob Thompson & Christian Alsis in 2008 as an excuse to hug each other in front of strangers. Here's what the Philadelphia City Paper said about their last show: “Their writing decisions are so strong they seem to create the in-the-moment phenomena of improv theater with the razor conceptuality of modern sketch greats.” The Bros have performed at Chicago Sketchfest, Philly Sketchfest, and are regulars at Philly Improv Theater and Helium Comedy Club. Separately they’ve performed at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, the North Carolina Comedy Arts Fest, and The Boston Improv Festival. Recently, the Feeks have studied under Steve Kleinedler of ImprovBoston fame and Kevin McDonald of the “Kids in the Hall” fame. Their online vid-bits have been featured on the front page of FunnyOrDie.com and the duo won Best Sketch Group and Best Sketch at last year's WitOut Awards.

Cast:
Christian Alsis
Billy Bob Thompson

Camp Woods
Camp Woods is a sketch comedy troupe from Philadelphia, PA that was formed in 2009. The group blends sharp absurdism and energetic performances with homemade props, sets, puppets, and costumes to create a memorable live experience that is sometimes smart, sometimes stupid, and always fun. Camp Woods has performed shows in Philadelphia and New York, and as part of Chicago Sketchfest, The North Carolina Comedy and Arts Festival, and the Boston Improv Festival.

Cast:
Sam Narisi
Rob Baniewicz
JP Boudwin
Pat Foy
Brendan Kennedy
Madonna Refugia
Billy Bob Thompson

ManiPedi
ManiPedi was pieced together in the summer of 2011. Nominated for last year's WitOut Award for Best Sketch Group in Philadelphia and featured in the Ladies are Funny Festival 2012 in Austin, TX, ManiPedi brings on the laughs with their combination of irreverent wit and inherent un-femininity.

Cast:
Madonna Marie Refugia
Shannon Brown
Briana Kelly
Kaitlin Thompson
Aubrie Williams

Secret Pants
Secret Pants shows are like "TV sketch comedy on a stage." The members of the group all come from a film and video background, so when they're putting together a live show, they approach it the way you would sketch comedy for live (or live-to-tape) television. Secret Pants tries to replicate the TV experience live, even if that means building a seemingly unnecessary set piece or painting themselves black and white. And when they do it well, it can be pretty magical.

Cast:
Brian Craig
Brian Kelly
Bryce Remsburg
Larry Wiechecki
Paul Triggiani
Samantha Russell Craig
Steve Thorne

The Flat Earth

Gathering talent from the improv, sketch, standup and theater worlds, The Flat Earth debuted this year as Philly Improv Theater's first house sketch team.  Their sketch revue show had a five-night run at the Philly Fringe Festival, a two-night encore at the Shubin Theater, and received great praise from audience members they asked in the lobby afterwards.

Director: Paul Triggiani

Head Writer: Steve Swan

Writers:
Vincent DiCostanzo
Luke Field
Sean Landis
Jess Ross
Matt Schmid
Adam Siry

Actors:
Jacqueline Baker
Jim Grammond
Brent Knobloch
Rich Lee
Jess Ross
Molly Silverman
Harry Watermeier


Meet Your Nominees for the 2013 WitOut Awards: Best Short Run/One-Time 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 Short Run/One-Time Show are:

The Improvised B-Movie Double Feature (Asteroid!)
This fully improvised show celebrated the fun of the low-budget sci-fi/horror films from the golden age of Hollywood. The cast of Asteroid! performed not one, but two fully improvised B-movies, each based on a single audience suggestion with low-budget staples like aliens, monsters, Soviets, and mad scientists.

Fringe Festival Sketch Revue (The Flat Earth)
Philly Improv Theater’s first-ever sketch comedy revue featured The Flat Earth, some of the theater’s top writing talent and a cast of local comedians. The show brought audiences a darkly comic yet strangely sweet take on everything from the obvious targets to the bizarre tangents in everyday life.

ProMania 2K12 (PHIT Fringe Festival)
ProMania 2K12 was a sport-stravagant celebration of the larger-than-life spectacle that is professional wrestling (with only some of the wrestling). Philly comedians paid homage to the flashy trash talking promos, slick video packages, and bitter rivalries of the squared circle.

Myths & Monsters (PHIT Fringe Festival)
Myths & Monsters was an hour-long improvised hero’s adventure following a basic structure parsed by Joseph Campbell. A team of actors moved and breathed in tandem to depict monstrous beasts and terrifying deities encountered during a spontaneously created theatrical tale of trials and transformation of a lone hero. Directed by Philadelphia actor and improviser Nick Gillette.

The David Lynch Show (Camp Woods and Secret Pants)
Camp Woods and Secret Pants presented a special David Lynch themed sketch show lampooning the work of quirky film director David Lynch.


Philly Comedy Round-up, Vol. 71

Still looking for plans for New Year's Eve? Last week we gave you this round-up of comedy shows around Philadelphia tonight.

Chip Chantry wrote this piece about his ten most awkward moments of 2012 for Philly.com.

In case you missed it (or if you want to see it again) Emily and Micah McGraw's set from Secret Pants' Christmas show A Banner Year at the Ol' Bender House has made its way online.

Pick up a copy of this month's Philadelphia Magazine to check out an article on comedian and storyteller Juliet Hope Wayne. The article also talks about the comedy scene here in Philly and mentions a certain website that reports on it (it's us!).

The Sideshow: Happy New Year! show will take place this Friday at The Arts Parlor (1170 S. Broad St.). The show will feature performances from improv groups Gross Butler and Malone and sketch group Daring Daulton plus more!

This Friday will mark the first of three shows of The New Dreamz Experimental Residency Performance Art Program. The New Dreamz is the comedy performance duo of artists Andrew Jeffrey Wright and Rose Luardo. During the residency, the audience can expect to engage with material that will never be performed again and material that will be indoctrinated into The New Dreamz fat folds. Each of the three performances will be unique. The residency will be held at Space 1026 (1026 Arch Street) a Philadelphia collective art community and institution that was established in 1997.


New Free/Pay-what-you-wish Sketch Comedy Album from The Stonewall Players

Local sketch group The Stonewall Players just released their new album on Bandcamp on December 21st, and it's available to fans for the low, low price of $FREE.99. (Or whatever you'd like to pay—might be nice to throw the group a few bones, right?)

Not familiar with the Players?  Here's a little background and more info on the album from team member Matt Schmid:

"The Stonewall Players are Andrew Kramcsak, Joe Pantalone, and myself.  We filmed some shorts here and there after high school but never really tried to do anything live, as none of us were aware of a live sketch comedy scene until I took the sketch 101 course with [Secret Pants'] Brian Kelly at PHIT.  After that we began attending Sketch Up Or Shut Up regularly which, so far, is the only live performing we've done of our material.  We decided to record these sketches as an album because we sort of wanted to flush them out and start writing new material.  I think it's a good format for us because we have more of capacity for writing than, I'd imagine, performing.  Also, jokes can be layered differently and more nuanced when you don't have to get that instant big laugh on a stage;it can be more low key.

As for the material itself, Andrew and I wrote everything on the album and then punched up each other's sketches.  We write in a really complimentary way, he's really good with details and specific phrasings and I really like the big picture, so it's easy to hand off stuff.  I also write a little more darker and absurd stuff and Andrew, who is very bookish, brings a sweetness and a sophistication to the characters.

We definitely look forward to performing live in the new year.  I was one of the writers for the PHIT Sketch House Team The Flat Earth and it was really awesome witnessing the show come together.  Watching [Secret Pants'] Paul Triggiani direct was bonkers and intimidating and an amazing learning experience, so I hope to bring what I learned from that show into our material."


Secret Pants' "The Red Baron's Christmas" + Q&A with Team Member Paul Triggiani

WitOut: How would you describe Secret Pants for someone who's never seen one of your shows before?

Paul Triggiani: I would describe one of our shows as "TV sketch comedy on a stage." We (both as individuals and as a group) come from a film and video background, so when we're putting together a live show, we approach it the way you would sketch comedy for live (or live-to-tape) television. We try to replicate the TV experience live, even if it means building a seemingly unnecessary set piece or painting ourselves black and white. We have a lot of fun with it, and if we do it well, it can be pretty magical.

WO: Can you give a brief history of your annual Christmas show?

PT: We brought our previous variety/sketch show, Welcome to the Terrordome, to Johnny Brenda's in 2009. We had a couple of successful shows there, and that led to Johnny Brenda's offering us a slot a couple days before Christmas (which I guess had been historically difficult to bring in an audience for). We all agreed at the time that we might be committing event suicide, but we took on the challenge and put up our first all-Christmas show, Nobody Ever Dies on Christmas (Except Toshiro Mifune), on December 23rd, 2010. We got a good crowd that year, and more importantly, people drank a lot, so Johnny Brenda's asked us back again. Honestly, it's just the absolute worst time of year to put together a show, but as long as people keep showing up and Johnny Brenda's keeps asking us, we'll probably keep doing it. Until we finally decide to give up this silly, expensive passion project.

WO: What are you most excited about for this Sunday's A Banner Year at the Ol' Bender Household? (Alternatively, you can also just name everything that excites you about it.)

PT: It's hard to name something we aren't excited for. For starters, we're all pretty jazzed about our set. It's very different from any set we've ever done; it's a bit of an experiment and we hope the experiment is a success. We love and respect all of the groups that are on the show— and it's up to like, seven now—and we wish we could come and just watch instead of being in charge (sorta). We pride ourselves on putting together a show that more than delivers for the price, and we honestly don't think that you can get more entertainment and fun for $10 anywhere else, ever. Also, PS, Mad Elf on draft.

This year's Secret Pants Christmas show, 'A Banner Year at the Ol' Bender House', is THIS SUNDAY, December 23rd at 9pm at Johnny Brenda's (1201 N. Frankford Avenue).  The show will be hosted by comedian Chip Chantry, and will also feature sketch groups Camp Woods, ManiPedi and Specific Jawns; a burlesque showcase with Randi Warhol; music from Emily and Micah McGraw. Admission is $10.


Philly Comedy Round-up, Vol. 69

Chip Chantry's debut comedy album Across From the Adonis is now available on iTunes. The album was recorded live in front of a packed crowd at Helium Comedy Club and can now be downloaded and enjoyed from the comfort of your own home for $9.99.

On Tuesday A Bunch of Improv at The Grape Room (105 Grape St.) returns with a show featuring improv from Nielsen, No Wait, Matt&, and Cock Hat and will be hosted by Rob Gentile. Doors open at 8pm with the show starting at 8:20.

This Thursday Comedian Deconstruction presents Girls Girls Girls (and Bed Savage) at L'etage (624 S. 6th St.) This month's show will feature stand-up comedy from Mary Radzinski, Cecily Chapman, Erin Mullville, and Nicole Yates and improv sets from The Amie and Kristen Show and Bed Savage.

This Friday The Arts Parlor (1170 S. Broad St.) will host The Sideshow: Short Attention Span Theater. The show will feature shorter acts (no longer than 15 minutes) and will hosts a mix of magic, stand-up, improv, sketch, storytelling, music, and more.

Secret Pants' annual Christmas show at Johnny Brenda's (1201 N. Frankford Ave.) is this Sunday, December 23 at 9:00pm. A Banner Year at the Ol' Bender Household: A Yuletide Holiday Extravaganza will be hosted by Chip Chantry and will feature sketch performances by: Camp WoodsManiPediSpecific Jawns, and Secret Pants as well as music by Emily and Micah McGraw and a burlesque showcase with Randi WarholTickets are available online.

Just another reminder that the WitOut Caption Contest for this month is live.  To enter  submit a caption in the comments section on the  caption contest post. The winner (as chosen by the editors of WitOut) will receive two free tickets to a ComedySportz show of their choice.


Top 5 of 2012: Aaron Hertzog's Five Favorite Sketches

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 contact@witout.net!

The Feeko Brothers - Two Doctors

The opening to Crotch the Throne, one of my favorite shows of the year, Two Doctors is an amazing sketch both in premise and execution. Watching the Feeko Brothers (Billy Bob Thompson and Christian Alsis) say the exact same thing at the exact same time (and discover that they say the exact same thing at the exact same time at the exact same time, and discover that they discover...you get it) for an entire sketch is pure joy. The two doctors ask each other fantastically detailed questions to find out how similar they actually are, and their answers are as unexpected as they are hilarious (“I don’t drive. It’s dangerous. I power walk everywhere.”) The sketch reaches its peak as the two sing together and try to harmonize their “all time favorite, trapped on a desert island forever with it” song; The Weight by The Band.

Camp Woods - Imposters

I think it’s pretty safe to say that Camp Woods created more comedy in Philadelphia than anyone else in the past year. They challenged themselves with a monthly show at L’etage at which they promised a brand new set every month, and they more than met their goals. With that much material created I could have done a list of just my Top Five Favorite Camp Woods sketches from 2012 - but I think I talk about them enough. Imposters was a great sketch about a mother (played by Billy Bob Thompson) who throws an 18th birthday party for her daughter (Madonna Marie Refugia) and hires an Austin Powers impersonator (Pat Foy) as entertainment. The sad man slowly realizes exactly how sad his life is as he tries to hit on the girl every time her mom leaves the room to get the cake (which she keeps forgetting because she’s “fucking stupid”). He finally realizes he is living his life in the past, as all of his choices in life have lead him to his fate as a “true impersonation” of the swingin’ sixties spy character. Depressing, but hilarious.

Camp Woods - Mystery Science Andre 3000

This sketch made its debut at The Theme Show. I’ll let it speak for itself.

http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/db8cf12b0d/mystery-science-andre-3000

Secret Pants - We’re You, From the Future

Secret Pants really kept peeling back the layers on this onion-of-a-sketch they performed at November’s Camp Woods Plus. The concept involved the Secret Pants of today travelling back into time to Meg and Rob’s Last Show to inform the Secret Pants of that day that it would not, in fact, be Meg and Rob’s last show. More visits from more versions of Secret Pants from more distant futures created a hilarious rapid fire back-and-forth between all of the groups that eventually lead to the discovery that even though Meg and Rob would not be gone forever Bryce would have to cry like they would, because the fate of all humanity depended on it. Thank you, Bryce, and thank you, Secret Pants.

ManiPedi - Suicide Gary

Suicide Gary is ManiPedi's cautionary tale of a man (Briana Kelly) who, after failing to commit suicide, is left to hang under the bridge where he tried to end his life as a lesson for teens that life is worth living. It’s like an “it get’s better” campaign, only nothing ever does. A teacher (Aubrie Williams) leads a group of students (Kaitlyn Thompson, Shannon Brown, Madonna Marie Refugia)  to learn from Gary and ask him questions like “does it hurt” (it does) and “how do you eat” (sometimes a bird flies near his mouth). One of the more morbid students becomes infatuated with Gary’s situation while another antagonizes and bullies him into trying to once again live up to his nickname. Neck-snappingly funny.

Aaron Hertzog will always be a Philly comedian. No matter where he may or may not currently live. You can be his #friend on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.


Secret Pants: Moon Bounce TV Show

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xznzdnWEqQc&feature=share&list=UUMZj1btf87x5PC4z9wJdrHw

Secret Pants will be hosting "A Banner Year at the Ol' Bender House: A Yuletide Holiday Extravaganza" on December 23 at Johnny Brenda's (1201 N. Frankford Ave.) You can find more info and purchase tickets online.