Every Friday, Ryan Carey takes a look at who and what's giving Philly the giggles. Today he talks to a group of younger Philly-bred comedians who are seeking professional careers in other markets. They were each asked:
did they start comedy & when did they leave Philly?
did they relocate?
has it been going?
were their favorite Philly comics or bookers in the Philly scene when they left?
can we find them performing should we happen to be in their town?
? I did my first open mic in the summer of 2006, and probably did about 20 shows the first year. When I moved to Philly in 2007 I started doing comedy in earnest. I moved to Chicago in May of 2010.
? I wanted to push myself in a bigger comedy scene. Also, my wife got a sweet job, and I don't make any money, so I go where she goes.
? It's been good, although breaking into Chicago feels a lot like breaking into Philly felt in that first year. For the most part, you're getting booked by other comics, so it takes a few months at least for them to accept that you're a funny guy (and that you're going to keep bugging them until they book you). I think Chicago is great, it's a bigger scene which means there are more open mics and showcases to get up at every night. That said, there are some great things about Philadelphia that are lacking in Chicago. For one, there isn't an open mic in the city that is nearly as good as Helium, or even the Raven Lounge. So it's harder to get a good gauge for new material because you aren't in front of real crowds unless you're doing a booked show. Secondly, because the scene is bigger, the sketch, improv, and stand-up scenes are very segregated. One of the best parts of Philadelphia is the extent to which the three comedy scenes support each other, to the point where they start to feel like a single community of funny people. Some of my best friends in Philly were comedians who never (or rarely) did stand-up, but instead focused on improv and sketch.
? If you want to see me in Chicago, you can check out the Lincoln Lodge. I am a cast member of this weekly showcase, which has been running for 11 years and has featured Kyle Kinane, Kumail Nanjiani, TJ Miller, and basically any other good comic from Chicago in the past decade. It's a fun room and I'm really proud to be a part of it.
? I began performing comedy my senior year of college, September 2006. I left Philly in October 2009 for San Francisco.
? I left because I found out that I could perform multiple times every night in SF and didn't want to move to NYC just yet.
? My act has gotten much better and also evolved due to experimentation. However, I'm paying dues all over again which is challenging and very interesting. It's simply a larger scene out here in the Bay Area, meaning more comedians and more venues, which translates into more opportunities. Also people (audience members) in SF go out every night of the week, where as in Philly, most people go out only Thursday - Saturday.
? I perform a few times a week at the Brain Wash then once a week at Deco, Nick's Crispy Tacos, SF State, Amnesia, Rockit Room, and Club 93. These are all places in SF proper because I don't have a car, but I will be going to more shows in the East Bay (Oakland and beyond) in 2011.
(The Prodigal Son)
? I started comedy around 1997. I left for L.A. in 2007, and returned in 2009. Now please don't think "Geeze Louise! He spent all that time here in Philly just doing Philly clubs?" I got tired right away. There wasn't a great room like Helium in Philly. I started going to New York about 3 nights during the week. It took me a bunch of auditions till I finally got passed at the Comic Strip. Now you may say "Jumping Jehosaphat! Why didn't you move to New York?" Well to be honest New York is only about 85 miles away from where I live and I could make that drive instead of paying enormous rent or have 6 roommates. Plus I did other comedy related things. I sold jokes to radio services, cartoons and a couple of comedians. I worked and learned at The Comedy Cabarets which had six or seven good clubs in the suburbs.
? I always wanted to get away and see what L.A. was like. And hey, you only go around once in this world! I'll be honest. LA is where you go to get noticed and picked up hopefully get a spot on a show or a Comedy Central presents. Or even better, a spot on a sitcom. And this is where it gets complicated. You start out being a comedian then you evolve into acting, writing, film making. But if you love being a standup you can do it wherever you live. I also found out there is way more paid work in the NE part of the country. I know several comics that "Live" in LA but they are on the road 3 weeks of the month to pay rent on their 1 bedroom apt in Sherman Oaks.
? The Improv on Melrose was the place for me. You see a ton of really talented people especially at the Upright Citizens Brigade and Largo. You have to do showcase nights, hopefully someone will see you. Nothing is going to fall in your lap--you have to make a name for yourself, then an agency will notice you. You don't get paid out there to do showcases so you have to get a day job to pay your rent unless you have a Sugar Daddy (yes the candy bar, it gives you plenty of pick up, I'll say!). I came back here because I realized I love my family and friends and I enjoy the east coast. Additionally, there is simply more paid work back here. I have no bad feelings about LA and would not discourage anyone from going out. I might mid go back in 2011 with a different game plan (I'm buying an organ grinder monkey--don't print my organ grinder plan or else everybody is going to get one).
? I think I'm staying in Philly, I love it here, the seasons change, I enjoy others with an east coast city mentality. I really dig the growing Sketch community here in Philly. I really enjoy Helium for letting me be original in front of smart inner city audiences. I have a couple invites back out with friends who have places for me to stay. I wouldn't mind alternating between coasts. I have been writing a couple of scripts (like that's never been said before). As I mature I see other outlets for my humor (i.e. talk-radio, short films, dunk-tank Clowning etc.). But Jimmy Fallon and Letterman are only an hour and a half away, and there are plenty of funny people here that inspire me.
? I started writing ideas and "jokes" in high school, but I was 19 the first time I stepped on stage to try stand-up. I did my first open mic October 13, 2004. I left Philly on Dec. 15, 2010 for Hoboken, NJ.
? I moved for comedy, for more opportunities to get on stage. I know people that perform 15-20 times a week in NYC and I really want to do that. I want to obtain all the stage time I can to become the best comic I can be.
? I've only been near NYC for a little bit. But my career had already evolved immensely since I started. I used to tell one-liners that were completely unrealistic and kind of bizarre. Then about two years in, I was telling the same quick set-up/punchline style of jokes, but the jokes were more personal and I found myself being more honest on stage. Still evolving, about four or so years into comedy, and much more comfortable on stage, I started to venture into telling stories and making my act even more personal. I hope I continue to evolve in this area because it's honest and there's so much to choose from. No one can steal you life experiences. Plus, it's so much more fun to just be yourself on stage.
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