Philly Improv Theatre at the Shubin (407 Bainbridge St.) runs a series of shows called "Found Comedy". PHIT has a great thing going with a recurring set of hilarious shows that sort of write themselves (after just a bit of research finding the subjects).
The first is comedian Brendan Kennedy's "Guilty Pleasures" @ 8 (with underground Philly comedy sensation Roger C. Snair). "Guilty Pleasures" has been cracking up Philly for three years now with awful, un-produced movie and TV scripts--the worst Brendan can possibly find--which are acted out on stage. Here's an [NSFW] video from one of the shows.
"TV Party" @ 9:30, with Paul Triggiani (Secret Pants) and Rob Banewiecz (Meg and Rob), takes a look — Mystery Science Theatre-style — at crappy TV shows from the past. The resident Philly sketchperts exhume ghastly shows that would have hoped for a quiet, un-noticed death and take them to task, because it's one thing to jot down a terrible script idea, it's another thing to be brought a terrible script and go ahead with producing it.
Tickets for each show are $10. For more information visit phillyimprovtheater.com.
You’re kind of connected to this divine silliness.
I called up comedian Eddie Pepitone to chat, and he just rolled stream-of-consciousness style through an entire interview’s worth of info. I never even asked any questions. Here it is (almost) in its entirety, mostly unedited.
Eddie Pepitone: Hi Ryan. I’m staying in New York. Do you mind if we just start talking? I’m from New York. I’ve been living in LA for the last 8 years, and it’s taken me, for some reason, over a year and a half to get back to New York this time. So right now I’m sitting on my friend’s back porch, it makes me feel like an old guy, like I wanna feed the squirrels or something…
Doing comedy is like going to war, on stage. I was just thinking about it just now as I was drinking my coffee, I go back and forth between having this incredible confidence in what I do on stage and this incredible doubt about what I do. When I’m feeling really good I feel like I could do anything on stage. Like, I had two shows last night in New York. I started out addressing the audience, “Hello corporate whores!” Whenever I say stuff like that I’m always half-kidding and-half serious.
Well, the audience didn’t take it well...
But I feel like I’m at the point where I can rescue any set, but I had to work hard. And when comedy becomes work, you might as well sell shoes… Comedians get into it in order to have this ecstatic, funny… televangelist...
When you’re doing well it’s like you’re preaching. Not in any kind of negative way. You’re kind of connected to this divine silliness. And last night, the first show I did, it was such a contrast, I kinda love performing in New York because I can bop around from club to club, and it’s always interesting to see the differences between shows and crowds…. and me… If I have a better set later that night, it’s like, “okay, don’t call them corporate whores.”
I get cocky when I have really good sets for a long time, and then I get slapped in the face by an audience and it’s like, “who the fuck do I think I am?” Sometimes you never get out of it. An audience either loves you or hates you. If you ever here someone talk about a comics like, ‘meh’ they really don’t like them.
I like to do stuff with a political edge, because I feel like the corporations, the right wing, but the corporations in general have really fucked regular people. It’s a tricky thing for a comic because you have to have a strong point of view in order to be effective on stage and funny. I have really, really been angry, and now in Wisconsin, the Republicans wanna take away collective bargaining. I try to talk about this stuff in my set, because so many comics talk about their dick and minutia. And I think that’s fine, but I’m getting older. I’m 52, my dick barely works anymore.
For me and the audience, it’s good if you can really get into some things that affect people’s lives. And then you run into hard-asses, where people wrap themselves up in the flag, and military… I try to stay away from that. My first job is to be funny, and my first thing is to make fun of myself and my pathetic-ness… That’s why so many comics kill with relationship stuff. My girlfriend and I have run out of things to say to each other. We’ll have a long ride with an hour silence and then she’ll say out of nowhere, “Did you know the grey parrot lives to 200?” I’ll say, “You wanna fuck with me? I’ll tell you some shit about Sacco and Vanzetti...”
I go through these jealousy things… I’m 52, I have a big ego, I’m waiting for my big break. I did an audition for Larry David, and it was so great to do a scene with him. We did a funny scenario, where we were at a diner, and I had a computer. I asked Larry to watch my computer while I went to the bathroom, and Larry left and let a black guy watch it, and then the black guy walked off with the computer. In the scene we’re both arguing about it trying not to sound racist.
At this point I said something about Woody Allen movies, which sparked Eddie’s interest in another direction.
Sometimes we’re our own worst enemies. Everybody is looking for ways to stop fucking our own lives up. That’s the thing with being a standup… there’s the craftsman and then the inspirational standup. I get loud and I like to hook in emotionally, but the writing thing is a struggle, to shape it out.
I’ll see ya in Philly.
Eddie Pepitone plays tonight, Friday, March 25, 8 p.m., $18, Connie's Ric Rac, 1132 S. Ninth St., 215-279-7587, brownpapertickets.com.
Every Friday, Ryan Carey takes a look at who and what’s giving Philly the giggles. This week, he chats with Last Comic Standing finalist Myq Kaplan, playing Helium Comedy Club tonight and tomorrow at 8 and 10 p.m.
Every year, Last Comic Standing producers manage to smuggle one or two comedians who are actually hilarious onto a major network reality show. In the past they’ve had Todd Glass, Doug Benson, Amy Shumer, and Louis Ramey. This past year, it was Myq (pronounced Mike) Kaplan, who represented hilarious, gimmick-free, non-demographical joke telling. And he finished fifth — which is about as well as genuinely funny, original comedians can usually hope to do on the show.
For the record, we comedy nerds don’t begrudge LCS. It’s like Ben Stiller said in Reality Bites, ‘You have this art, and you’re trying to feed it to the dumb masses, so you have to cover it in apple-sauce and say ‘the airplane’s flying in for a landing!"
In keeping with the feeding thing, Kaplan probably said it best himself: “Reality TV is sort of like cafeteria food. In general, it’s not ideal, but it can be good in a certain context.” Well enough about LCS, let’s get down to Myq Kaplan himself. Kaplan disproves an ancient mathematical law, and this will probably take you by surprise: Puns are not always awful.
If Myq Kaplan were a comedian super-hero, he would be the PUNnisher. And he would assail the jocks with razor-fast and lightening-sharp word play until their heads exploded. When Kaplan’s logic-puzzle mind produces them, puns are never alone, they roam in packs. And unlike any other comedian I’ve seen that uses them heavily, Kaplan’s puns are designed to make you smarter, not dumber.
On Wednesday, sketch troupe The Waitstaff rocked Helium Comedy Club with their St. Patty's Day edition of the Real Housewives of South Philly.
With a slew of sketches ranging from love and relationships to Rachael Ray, it was really the titular housewives who stole the show. With no offense to the gentlemen — who were all very funny, especially Eric Singel who would sometimes lay patiently dormant for long stretches with coiled-up sketch-making punchlines — the stars of last night were definitely the ladies.
The South Philly satire was tremendously on-point; the idiosyncrasies of the baby-pumping loud-mouthed South Philly pizan housewife were wonderfully exaggerated in three installments throughout the show. Acting and sketch writing proffessor Gerre Garret played the alpha housewive — the loud scary one who wouldn't hesitate to cut a bitch over a parking spot. At times Garret's face alone was potent enough to split sides. A part-time voiceover actor, she could easily be a comedic face-actor, if such a sector were to exist (silent films are on their way back, no?).
CP's own Sara Carano played off Garret as the slutty, wine cooler-drinking pregnant housewife. The bubbly and energetic Carano, who stole the show during the non-housewife sketches (I heard more than one "She's so funny!" exclamations from the admittedly talkative crowd), donned a hilariously huge pregnant belly as she got bullied around by Garret, only to have frequent make up sessions with her fellow housewife.
Joanne Cunningham may have been the most important housewife — her role reflects the reason Larry was my favorite stooge. It's easy for talented comedic actors to draw attention to themselves, but it's far more difficult for them to create 'straight-man' ambiance, effectively supporting the scene. Cuttingham did exactly that and more, getting laughs while developing the other characters and their conflicts. With virtuoso drawl on all her South Philly vowels, every long "o" out of her mouth was a hilarious shard of glass on my central nervous system — which would normally be torture, but tickled in the context of Real Housewives.
Check their website to keep an eye out for upcoming shows.
As we reported in this week's Agenda section, comedian Michael Ian Black is performing stand-up tonight at the Troc at 7 and 10 p.m. But first, we caught up with him to talk about tweeting, podcasts and some of his favorite snacks.
City Paper: First, I wanted to ask you about the “Very Famous” special you’re shooting for Comedy Central. Can you tell me a little bit about it?
Michael Ian Black: It’s the first stand-up comedy special I’ve ever done. I’m sort of new to stand up comedy even though I’ve been doing it my whole career. If you’re looking for jokes and you’re looking to be on TV, this is a good show. Comedy Central will be shooting me and the audience. So, there might be a wonderful image of you laughing or scowling or throwing up a little. I’m very nervous about it.
CP: Do you have any pre-show rituals to calm your nerves?
MIB: The only ritual I think that helps is to take 6 or 7 Ambien.
Every Friday, Ryan Carey takes a look at who and what’s giving Philly the giggles …
One of Philadelphia's sketchiest comedy duos, Meg and Rob, performed their final show last weekend; Meg is moving to California. But before she ships out, we caught up with them for a brief exit interview.
City Paper: How long have Meg and Rob been performing together.
Rob: We got started doing short films and writing bits for puppets at Puppet Karaoke (it’s exactly what it sounds like).
Meg: Our first official, booked performance was in late 2006; we did a sketch with puppets at a Pixies tribute night. We started performing sketches consistently and without puppets in mid-2007.
R: I’m not good at math. Let’s just pretend Meg & Rob have always existed... like math.
MAN CAVE: Man Cave is a testosterone-laden Monday feature that highlights the weekend haps of an everyday, pop culture-loving Philly dude.
On Friday I went to see Meg and Rob's final show, "Quality, Value, Convenience" at the Shubin Theatre. The Philly sketch duo had guests Bare Hug, the Feeko Brothers, and stand-up comedy from Aaron Hertzog (who didn't use a microphone in the small Shubin, and there was almost no difference). Meg and Rob incorporated a hilarious video series called "Goal Oriented Eagle". If you missed their last show, you can catch their next appearance at Helium on Tue. March 15 in Face Time w/ Chip Chantry.
Saturday, I saw the very sold out "Pretty Good Friends" with Eugene Mirman, Reggie Watts, Kumail Nanjiani and guests. Mirman drew huge laughs with his blown-up printouts of absurd Facebook ads, as well as original ones he created and claims to have paid the social network to run. He also brought a volunteer on stage and asked her about speed dating as an alien visiting planet earth (speaking through a vocal processor for effect).
Reggie Watts did a character that was basically a poorly informed, redneck and former lighting technician for Radiohead. This bit ended with a strange (and hilarious) song tribute to Thom Yorke through vocal loop and distortion processors. While I've gotten somewhat adept at explaining "why" things are funny, I have to admit, Watts had me completely stumped.
His semi-satirical over-modulated Radiohead-esque vocals echoed over one another, paired with absurd facial expressions and beat-box rhythms. I was howling the entire time. The second number was equally hysterics-inducing, and I can't even recall what it was, because his act is mind-erasingly insane.
When Watts finished, he brought the whole gang back up and they eased us back down to earth with a brief Q&A session. Before sending us home, Mirman had helpers hand out fake mustaches to everybody in the audience and took a group photo of us from the stage for his "Pretty Good Friends Tour" online scrapbook.
Phit schedule). Performing this Thu., Feb. 24 at 8 p.m. are Sean Quinn, Darryl Charles, Sidney Gantt, Steve Balbier, and Jim Grammond. Tickets are $5 dollars with the password "Friendship" (cash only).
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