Super Crappy Funtime (SCFT) is a podcast hosted by Philadelphia comedians Dan Scully and Kevin Lau. Like most of our local comedy podcasts, it's just two comedians talking about stuff. No gimmicks. No shtick. It’s just two laidback funny guys tackling big issues, like pop culture, local comedy and other weekly podcasts. (They often have guest comedians from the Philly scene.) Recently, Dan and Kevin sat down with us to talk all things crappy and fun.
City Paper: How did you guys get started?
Dan Scully: Podcasting always seemed like a fun, low-effort way to essentially "get more stage time." I had toyed with the idea of starting one, but didn’t have the technological know-how to do IT. Kevin had the geek cred, so we just started winging it and, before long, fell into a great rhythm.
Kevin Lau: I used to have a podcast before I started comedy in Philly, but the idea of SCFT stems from Dan and [Philly Comic] Dan Eastman wanting to do a podcast that I was going to produce. Then I dropped out of the comedy scene because I didn't love what I was doing and I wasn't sure if it was for me. On my time off, all I could do was think about comedy and what current life experiences I could turn into a joke. So one day I texted Scully from a Barnes and Noble to ask if he was still interested in doing it and he said "Fuck Yeah!"
CP: Has SCFT affected your craft outside of the podcast?
DS: Forcing myself to follow a schedule, and to record podcasts even when I'm not in the mood has curtailed my lack of discipline. Speaking in hourlong intervals about minutiae has helped cut the fat out of my comedic voice. Also, between promoting the show and scouting guests, I've become more active in the scene and have made important friendships and connections with other comics.
KL: Having a weekly show has definitely been good, because [it forces me to meet] deadlines. Artists, especially comics, are the laziest people you can ever come across and I am no different, but I am better about now because I don't want Dan mad at me.
As Philly becomes more and more of a comedy-farm market for big-industry cities, we continue to say goodbye to beloved acts. One of them, Aaron Hertzog, Helium emcee and host of Philly Improv Theater's "Hey Everybody" showcase (final show tonight at 10 p.m.), emigrates to L.A. this week — but not before a little farewell one-on-one with us.
City Paper: So what's the plan?
Aaron Herzog: This Wednesday, I leave for L.A. [Temple grad] Luke Giordano has offered to let me stay in his apartment for the first month. Then in January, [Philly comedians] Brendan Kennedy and Shannon Brown are moving out and we're all gonna get a happy home together.
CP: What's the career strategy?
AH: I started out with standup, and then gradually got into sketch and improv. So the plan is to hit standup the hardest, because that's what I'm most ready to showcase. I'll do open-mics and try to cash in on any connections I have out there. I think [former Philly comic] Blake Wexler still runs a show out there. I recently opened for Kyle Kinane at Helium, and he told me I could contact him when I get out there, and he will recommend me for some shows.
CP: In terms of paying bills, do you have money saved, or a job lined up?
AH: No, I'm in no position to do this financially. I'm taking a huge leap. I have a few day-job connections that I can possibly cash in on. I have a little money saved up but not a lot at all.
CP: Who's going to be the new editor of your very successful Philly comedy blog, witout.net?
AH: Alison Zeidman. Last spring, I put a message on Facebook that I was going to look for some contributors, and she started writing some articles and show reviews, and everything she did was fantastic. I knew I was moving about four months ago, and I told her that she was my No. 1 choice to take over the site. And she was not smart enough not to accept it. (It's a completely thankless job!) But we've been tag-teaming it together for a little bit now. I had started slacking off a little because I was sort of checked out, but she lit a fire under me to get more new writers, so we've had a lot more content over the last few months.
CP: This is one of the bigger waves of talent leaving Philly. Are we ever gonna attract comedians?
Check out these links to vids by out-of-town sketch groups, and then see them perform live at the fifth annual Philly Sketch Fest at the Prince Music Theater (1412 Chestnut St.), tonight and Saturday. For time and ticket info, click here.
Onassis (NYC) — "Pushing Rod Stewart"
A twisted sketch recorded live at Upright Citizen's Brigade Theatre in New York. It's about pushing Rod Stewart — literally. Onassis performs tonight at 9 p.m.
Brick Penguin (D.C.) — "Put It In My Mouth"
This is a ransom-negotiation scene between a kidnapper and his wealthy, weird hostage. Brick Penguin performs tonight at 10:30 p.m.
Friends of Gertrude (Boston) — "The Origin of Party in the USA"
A dramatic re-telling of how Miley Cyrus's hit single came to be. Sat., Nov. 17, 7 p.m.
Boosh Kla-Klau (NYC) — "Sex In The City For Dudes"
What if the HBO hit had a different demographic? Sat., Nov. 17, 9 p.m.
Missin Earl (NYC) — "The Ballad of O.J. Simpson"
A Bill Brasky-style musical tribute to O.J. Simpson. Sat., Nov. 17, 10:30 p.m.
I don’t care much about basketball, but I’ve always gotten a kick out of the Holding Court podcast — mainly because hosts Gregg Gethard and Aaron Hertzog make it more about comedy than sports. So it’s a shame that, after this week, Holding Court will adjourn since Hertzog is moving to Los Angeles in pursuit of bigger comedy dreams. The good news is that the show will go out in style, with its first (and last) ever live show. In fact, this Sunday night at Connie’s Ric-Rac is a two-fer, as Gethard is also reviving his Bedtime Stories comedy show. It's only five bucks at the door, and the money goes to help out a Hurricane Sandy victim. I caught up with Gethard over Facebook to shoot a few.
City Paper: So, Aaron Hertzog is moving to L.A.? Philly’s losing a funny, funny guy.
Gregg Gethard: Yes, my co-host Aaron is indeed moving to LA. I cannot stress enough how those of us in comedy will miss him. And it’s doubly that for me, personally. I tell this to Aaron all the time: No one has improved more than he has in comedy from the time he started until now. He has the rare combination of being ridiculously talented while also working harder than anyone in Philly at comedy. On top of it, Aaron is also the single nicest person I know. One of his favorite things to do every year is go Christmas caroling. How awesome is that?
CP: Tell me about Bedtime Stories.
GG: I started Bedtime Stories about six years ago. Every month, I come up with a different theme. All of the performers then have to do some sort of bit regarding that theme. The show’s been on hiatus for about two years but I decided to restart it again since I missed performing was more than I thought I would. This month’s theme is REVENGE.
CP: As for Holding Court, have you figured out the logistics for doing a live podcast?
GG: In true Holding Court Podcast form, we have no idea of the logistics of that sort of thing. When we started the podcast, we tried to plan the topics to talk about. But then we just went off topic as soon as we started. So, we stopped planning for the podcast. We also had very “lo-fi” technical equipment, too — a microphone and a laptop precariously balanced on Aaron’s windowsill.
The man who invented jackass comedy is still kicking, and has been on tour performing standup comedy for about two years. True to form, his standup act is very strange. It’s funny in the same vein as his patently asinine antics, thanks to an unfathomably weird delivery. The subject matter of his act is fairly unoriginal (“Things were better when I was a did, before texting.”) Still, Green's honest chaotic mania lets you know he's genuine, even if it’s unsophisticated.
For all his weird "alien inhabiting a human body" shtick — which he's still unofficially doing at 42 years old — there are a few surprising and impressive nuggets of cerebral philosophy to be found in his routine. A bit about how robot servants and texting will start to reverse evolution recalls the existential backdrop of Wall-E. And his rant about how married people shouldn't have Facebook has roots in Judeo-Christian ethics, despite being intentionally buried in overtly obnoxious profanity.
We asked Green what it was like moving from his online talk show on The Tom Green Channel to the world of standup comedy. "The transition to standup was real good. I did it for a while as a teenager and loved it, but stopped doing it when I started the original Tom Green Show. There are some similarities between standup and what I was doing on the show. After doing the show for a decade, you really get into the rhythm of understanding what it is that my audience likes, what kind of weird things make people laugh. You have to work hard to come up with ideas, they generally don't write themselves — not the good ones, anyway. So you have to get into the work ethic. But I always loved getting on stage and performing, so it was pretty seamless."
One of the headlining acts at Philly Improv Fest — running now through Sun., Nov. 11 — is BillyHawk, an L.A.-based duo of iOWest-trained improv-ers Brian O'Connell and Jeff Hawkins. This week, O’Connel sat down with me over a pint of fine local Märzen to explain why he thinks you might shit your pants if your attend their show tonight at the Prince Music Theater (1412 Chestnut St.).
City Paper: So what's the BillyHawk back story?
Brian O'Connell: Jeff and I [took] classes together at iOWest in Los Angeles. We both really seemed to click in Level 5 with instructor Miles Stroth. He coached us on a team called The Happy Time Rainbow Bunny Squad, where we dove pretty deep into the long form known as “The Deconstruction.” That team faded away and we sort of drifted into other stuff, [until] one day I just called him up and was like, "We should play together again." And now here we are!
CP: What type of character does your improv have?
BO: The "work" we like tends to be harsh but not abrasive. We enjoy laughs and entertaining an audience, sure, but what we really want is for an audience to care. We want you to cheer and shit your pants in wonder. Part of the reason we do this show is because we don't have the opportunity to explore many dark truths with our other groups. We tend to put ourselves out there [by] talking truthfully about our lives, so that can be a little scary. We got a pretty good review in Phoenix a few years back: "Billyhawk was even able to mine the comedy gold from a scene about blood cancer, which is not easy to do." We felt pretty good about that.
After you get your vote on Tuesday (do it!), head to the Prince Music Theater (PMT) on Wednesday for the first night of the eighth annual Philly Improv Festival, which also serves as the kickoff for Philadelphia Comedy Month. This week, we caught up with two of the week’s performers, Jessica Arjet (Austin, Texas) and Kristen Firth (Philly via Austin as of this August) of Firth&Arjet, who you can catch at PMT on Thu., Nov. 8 at 7:30 p.m.
City Paper: How did you two end up in improv?
Firth&Arjet: We both started out on the acting side of the theater world [but] improv has some great advantages in performance: You can feel the audience’s energy and feed off it. You also get absolutely honest reactions and deep connections more than when the material is filtered through a playwright, director, actors and more. Besides, improv is just so playful and delightful. It's so much fun to see what is going to happen next.
CP: Do you find the two-woman team experience unique, as opposed to co-ed troupes?
F&A: Absolutely! It's not that we do “chickprov,” but we have a huge commitment to our basic characters and the relationships between. Also, in improv you can't help but draw from what you know and who you are. We are both women, dealing with being female in this crazy world.
Podcaster and television personality Adam Carolla is sitting down with Dennis Prager for a unique event at the Kimmel Center on Saturday. They are going to be doing “an evening with” style sit-down with conversations on a variety of different topics. The 90-minute-show will include an audience Q&A.
If you’re un-familiar with Prager, Carolla says of him, “He’s on the old-school AM radio. I’ve always been a fan of the guy, I get a lot of wisdom from him. I always listened to his radio show, and eventually I [went on it] and we were really good together.”
The event is not a scripted comedy show, but rather a two-man panel discussion. “There are political topics, family, kids, basically anything that comes up. It’s really not very, very strictly formatted. We get into politics, we get into relationships, we get into religion,” says Carolla. He has participated in Dennis Prager’s “Prager University,” an online collection of videos offering short lectures on various topics. Carolla’s topic was luck.
SHOW: Pro-Mania 2K12: WitOut Wrestling
GROUP: Philly Improv Theater (PHIT)
GENRE: Sketch/Improv Comedy
ATTENDED: Fri., Sept. 7, 11:30 pm., Fri., Sept. 14, 11:30 p.m., Sat. Sept. 22, 11:30 p.m.
CLOSED: Sat., Sept. 22
BRIEF SELF-DESCRIPTION: 2011’s hit show returns! A sport-stravagant celebration of the larger-than-life spectacle that is professional wrestling (with only some of the wrestling). Philly’s top comedic performers pay homage to the flashy trash-talking promos, slick video packages and bitter rivalries of the squared circle.
WE THINK: Joey Dougherty certainly got his comeuppance, after letting the championship go to his head. Congrats to fan-favorite Moonshine Marvin, who technically won the belt while Joey was snoozing backstage (since the belt is 24/7, falls-count-anywhere). The stealthy pin was shown on the Jumbotron to the delight of a packed Adrienne Theatre. Moonshine successfully defended his new title in the main-event tag match between himself and "the intern" vs. Joey and Alex Fucking Gross. It was a surprisingly well-choreographed night of wrassling all around — especially for a gang of untrained local comedians. One exception: Local pro-wrestler Tim Donst gave The Necrosexual a lesson in self-esteem after a black-metal-shred-off-turned-"Kumbaya"-sing-along ended in the dark lord's embarrassment (ya know, like it usually does).
Every year, there's hundreds and hundreds of performances at the Philly Fringe and Live Arts Festival, and unless it's one of the big shows, it's sometimes hard to tell what you're going to get. Here at Critical Mass we're sending writers to as many shows as we possibly can for 75 pocket-sized reviews over the course of the fest. Check back in with us at On The Fringe every day for real talk on what these things actually are!
GROUP: Philly Improv Theater
ATTENDED: Fri., Sept. 21, 9:30 p.m.
CLOSES: Sun., Sept. 23
BRIEF SELF-DESCRIPTION: 4 STORYTELLERS. 1 FIBBER. After swearing to tell the truth, Philly’s most talented storytellers share their own personal and outrageous experiences with the audience—but someone has made it all up. It’s the audience's job to hear the stories and vote for the person whose pants they think are on fire!
WE THINK: Hilary Rea gave a delightful introduction by admitting her gullibility about the non-existent Pizza Wolf club at Lazaro’s. Then I listened dutifully to the four “local celebrities” who played Fibber. Dan Gross of the Daily News told a gross out story about shitting his pants. But I knew he wasn’t full of shit. Project Runway winner Jay McCarroll spoke inelegantly about a job he did at an Internet porn company. (Nobody using notes to remember dildos and overdoses could be lying.) Bryan Dwyer of Pizza Brain told a story about sleep deprivation that seemed too vague — as soon as I heard Geekadelphia’s Eric Smith’s fishy tale of getting hooked by a camper, I figured Dwyer was the fabricator. However, Dwyer was really convincing in the Q&A session, and Eric wasn’t. (Lake Winnebago?!) And why was Eric — who admitted he couldn’t swim — out in a boat on a lake supervising kids? As for whether I marked the ballot correctly, I won’t lie. But I won’t tell you either.
—Gary M. Kramer
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