|Photo | Zia Hiltey
|Would you be OK with missing this?
Look, I know you have plans tonight. People are in from out of town, and the old gang is having a cocktail party or pub crawl. Not a soul in Philly gets Friday off from work without salivating about the Thursday night that comes before it. Hell, for the average 28-year-old, tonight
is the real holiday.
I'm not trying to discourage you from the same old festivity. Certainly pregame at the pow-wow or end up there for a night-cap. But at 8:30, grab as many of your jolly-ass chuckleheads as you can, and head over to Johnny Brenda's
for Nobody Ever Dies on Christmas (Except Toshiro Mifune)
Who's on the show tonight
: Brilliant Philly weirdos behind the Previously on Lost
Meg & Rob
: Philly sketch-smiths who recently worked with Gamervision on the Invention of Pong
: One of the up-and-coming sketch groups in Philly right now formed out of Philadelphia Improv Theater's sketch-writing class taught by Kevin Allison (of MTV's The State
Chip Chantry & Johnny Goodtimes
; Philadelphia's fourth- or fifth-best standup comic/quizzo DJ duo (as of 2008).
: Armed with Google Image Search and a razor-sharp wit, John is a master of PowerPoint comedy (which is a lot funnier than it sounds).
Emily & Micah McGraw
: This married couple have lived all over the country and put their experiences and observations into well-crafted, funny songs.
: Brings her special blend of burlesque and satire to the stage, mixing the ha-has with the hubba-hubbas in a way that leaves audiences respectfully requesting more. (Or, y'know, catcalling.)
|Photo | Zia Hiltey
|Christmas + Death = Yes!
I got to chat with Secret Pants' Brian Craig
and Bryce Remsburg
about their big holiday sketchtacular. Jump on to read the interview, and in the meantime, jot down this very important information about tonight's show.
Nobody Ever Dies on Christmas (Except Toshiro Mifune), Thu., Dec. 23, 9 p.m., $10, Johnny Brenda's, 1201 N. Frankford Ave., secretpants.net.
: Do you guys perform regularly at Johnny Brenda's?
: Our relationship with Johnny Brenda's has blossomed over the past couple of years. They originally tapped us to open for standup comedian Neil Hamburger. That show went really well and they asked us to move our big annual sketch show, "Welcome to the Terrordome" (where we gather the best sketch groups in Philly together for one big night) to JB's. After two successful "Terrordome" shows there, they asked us if we wanted to make it biannual and offered us the date of December 23. Rather than over-saturating our audience with the all-sketch "Terrordome" idea twice in a year, we thought it'd be fun to put together a holiday-themed variety show.
: How long have you guys been preparing for tonight's show?
: We've been kicking around Christmas ideas for sketches ever since the December 23 date was offered to us in the early summer, but we didn't kick it into high gear until this fall. We had a lot of ideas that included big productions and props and special effects. Some of the ideas were just impossible for us to do, production-wise, so we had to scrap them (though, if any Hollywood special effects people are reading this and want to work cheap, give us a call). We were able to realize a lot of the big ideas we thought up, specifically our new videos "Two Reindeer Get Into A Car Accident" and "Christmas of the Living Dead."
: Is this your first variety-show style show, or have you done others?
: This is the first time we've put together a full-blown variety show. There's a couple of shows in the city that have a variety flavor to them, including "Bedtime Stories," "Chip Chantry's One Man Show (w/ Special Guests)" and the late "Die Actor Die." So, we've performed with a lot of these varied acts, but we've never consciously gone out of our way to put together a show like this, which is really exciting. The audience is in for a treat.
: Where do you think we are in the life-cycle of the variety show?
: In terms of television, I'd say that the variety show is dead. The idea of this show certainly came from the classic Dean Martin or Bing Crosby-style "Hey, look who just showed up!" TV Christmas specials, which were largely a 1970s thing. In today's television landscape, there's just no place for it.
However, I think the format is perfect for the comedy community. It was two to three years ago that things really blossomed with the advent of Bedtime Stories and Die Actor Die. We, as a local community, are stronger than the sum of all of our parts. Being able to mix disparate audiences and expose them to new groups is invaluable for the community to thrive. I never would have considered going to a burlesque show before I saw Randi Warhol at "Bedtime Stories."
: What are your favorite venues?
: Easily, the best "venue where bands usually play" is Johnny Brenda's. They very rarely have comedy acts, so it makes it a little special the one or two times a year we perform there. We just recently performed at a great theater in the city, the Philadelphia Shakespeare Theater, which is like a hidden gem, tucked away above some church on Sansom. It's a really nice open space that got us excited about performing again. And our favorite blackbox theater is the Shubin, where the Philadelphia Improv Theater has a monthly residence. So many of our close friendships with other performers were formed in the basement green room of the Shubin.