Review: Rant-O-Wheel

By: Tony Narisi

The Philly Improv Theater at the Shubin Theatre saw the last installment of the Rant-O-Wheel this Monday night. As the night got started, host Jaime Fountaine filled the wheel up with ten nouns shouted out by the audience and began bringing the finest Rant-o-wheelers in Philadelphia onstage to tell a story, real or made-up, in five minutes or less using three of these words.

First up was the pair of Darryl Charles and Sue Taney, tackling six words instead of three. Using “creamed corn,” “tortellini,” “Steve Buscemi,” “Jersey Shore,” “Skittles,” and “sabotage,” Darryl and Sue told the story of a boy who began an anti-Willy Wonka campaign. Jaime played the role of conductor and had some sadistic fun that really upped the laughs, switching the narrator every word at times or pointing to both of them and forcing them to speak in unison.

Next up was Tom Whitaker, who used “rain dance,” “lava lamp,” and “candle” to deliver a superb monologue, in the form of a video message to a recent ex, lamenting the fact that he’ll never find real love in the City of Brotherly Love. Perhaps most remarkable was his delivery, which consisted of a believable and consistently straight face and a stare into the distance, addressing his ex as “you” the entire time.

Following Tom was Larry Napolitano, who quickly breezed through his words of “donkey lips,” “nothing,” and “Dustin Hoffman” in a rant about how he is miserable regarding his aging to get to what was apparently on his mind all along—a hilarious tirade against Ferris Bueller that eventually ended in the murder and defiling of his corpse on his father’s broken car.

Next up was Hillary Rea who used “swing,” “guffaw,” and “side boob” to recount her childhood fears and embarrassments, which included earthworms being thrown at her and a perpetual fear of boys seeing her incorrectly worn Days of the Week underwear. While hearing her memories, the audience couldn’t help but laugh along with Hillary as they remembered their own rough patches in childhood.

Cara Schmidt came next, using “band,” “Jellies,” and “Aquanet” to reveal one of her deepest darkest secrets to the audience—she’s not that good at driving, as evidenced by her twelve cars in seven years. Throughout her monologue, the audience got a very funny peek into the mind of sixteen-year-old Cara and her six attempts at the driving exam, including her various attempts to sway (or bribe) the system.

Finally, Jaime herself finished the rest of the words on the wheel, using “vagrant,” “chicken soup,” “artichoke,” “yellow,” “burp,” and “Rain Man” to tell the story of Rant-o-wheel itself, in a final monologue that was both heartwarming and laugh-inducing. She then ended the show by saying that Rant-o-wheel isn’t dead, it’s just going into hibernation. So if and when the Rant-o-wheel comes out of its slumber, do yourself and these performers a favor and make sure to check it out and support some great local comics telling some very funny stories.

Pizza Pals with Joe Moore featuring Thomas J. Whitaker

After a recent pizzadventure, I took a few minutes to shoot the breeze about pizza, comedy and pizza with prolific improv-ist Thomas J. Whitaker. Thomas has an affinity for acting, a knack for laughing, a quick wit, and has an emotional attachment for a movie from the 90's featuring both Ninja's and Turtles. He also used to sneak pies when his mom wasn't looking... Hell yeah Thomas!! Thomas and his fellow improvsarios in Rookie Card  are all over the place for Philly's Fringe Festival. Be sure to check the out this Friday at their Philly Fringe Festival HOUSE PARTY!

Here's the good stuff:

Pizza Pal Joe Moore: How much do you like pizza:

Thomas J. Whitaker: I love pizza! When I was a kid, my mom never let us have it because it was so fatty. But when she went out of town, my dad would grab a large pie for my brother and I.

PPJM: What is your favorite slice in Philly?

TJW: Mad Greek in West Philly.

PPJM: How often do you eat pizza?

TJW: Once a week, I will eat a large pizza in an evening.

PPJM: Are you into plain pizzas or toppings? Which toppings?

TJW: Pepperoni has always been my default, but I love black olive, mushroom, and anchovy.

PPJM: What is your favorite use of pizza in film, television or music?

TJW: The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, when Mike and Don do the funeral music when they find the rotten pizza.

PPJM: Did your family have a pizza day? What day was it?

TJW: Friday, when everyone said "To hell with cooking!" or Tuesdays when mom was out of town.