Archive: November, 2011
It’s safe to say that standup comedy is designed to be one of the most frightening, humbling activities out there. Just take a moment to consider the scene:
Your name is called. You walk onto stage, alone, into the spotlight and adjust the mic. The audience is full of people you don’t know, who don’t know you, who are expecting to be thoroughly entertained. Chances are they’ve seen several souls get up there, and under the inherent pressure, crumble. They are notoriously unforgiving of mediocre jokes, sensitive to visible signs of nervousness and, unless you can do something to change it, dead silent. As is the irony of the craft, your only goal as the standup comedian is to make these creatures laugh. Then, next week, you should probably go at it again.
To continue returning the following week, you must really crave the craft of standup, and to really crave it, you must be nuts. One group in Philadelphia bonds over their insanity. In fact, they practice it.
The Temple University Comedy Club has been meeting since the beginning of this year to simplify the craft of standup and sharpen strategies. They are encouraged to figure out what “works” and “what doesn’t;” something gauged only through practice. As president of TU Comedy, Alex Grubard, has been telling his team since day one, “There is nothing natural about it … it’s something you have to practice and practice, get up on stage as much as you can, and practice.”
Sports nut Massimo Pulcini rounds up a week of everything Philly sports. Hockey puck!
EAGLES LOSE TO CARDINALS
It’s easy to compare the 2011 Eagles to a horrible car accident: What started out as a little bump in the road soon escalated into a full-blown crash. That initial impact led to a massive pile-up, and just when everyone thought the Birds could make it out of the wreckage safe and sound, the entire thing blew up in thin air. That’s what Sunday’s loss to the Arizona Cardinals was — the bang that has effectively left the Eagles dead and embarrassed.
It started early Sunday morning when news broke that Coach Andy Reid would bench All-Pro receiver DeSean Jackson for the afternoon’s matchup against the Cards. The punishment came after Jackson missed a team meeting on Saturday after reportedly sleeping in after a long night on Friday. The benching would mean that the Eagles would be without their primary downfield weapon for the critical contest.
Despite not having Jackson available, nobody went into Sunday fearing Arizona, who came to the Linc without their starting quarterback and former Eagle, Kevin Kolb. Instead, it was John Skelton who led the all-around unimpressive Arizona squad onto the field. With a defense ranked close to the bottom of the league, it should have been a field day for the Eagle’s offense, Mike Vick (pictured), LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin, Brent Celek and company.
Reporter Meg Augustin takes you inside some of Philly's most fab dwellings to showcase our city's unique grasp on design and architecture.
Fishtown lovebirds Erin and Chris enjoy talking about their home. And they should. After buying their former brass-bed factory space, it took two years of paperwork, demolition and construction to make it the modern, unique space it is today. “When I first saw the place,” says Chris’s mother, “I immediately said it was a complete tear-down.” Most people would have probably agreed with her. Mold and poor structuring meant that the building was a fire hazard at best. It was also an odd space, with several different added structures and a garage-door front. “We knew we wanted something unique,” says Erin, “and something that was a fixer-upper. But we never really envisioned this.” Yet, after the amazing project was complete, it was a vision.
With the right tools and help from Erin’s carpenter father, the couple began working on their current home. Gutting and reconstructing took years, with friends and family helping every step of the way. When it finally came to décor, the duo didn’t stop their DIY, budget-cutting style. Kitchen cabinets and appliances were picked up at Ikea — a cheap buy for reasonable quality. When the couple purchased their first set of stainless steel appliances, they were unaware that their collection of refrigerator magnets wouldn’t work on them. So a friend fashioned a kitchen backsplash out of their magnet collection and yellow paint. The dining table is made from a workplace-found piece lacquered with an antique map of Philadelphia. Moving into the living room, the highlight of the space is a wall of reclaimed-wood shelves found from a nearby salvage company and set upon galvanized, standard brackets. The rustic look is offset by some of Erin’s own candy-colored artwork. Even the area’s enormous rug (a dinosaur print) is a cheap but unique find from Material Culture’s folk-life carpets and the beautiful leather couch was Chris’ mother’s from the ’70s.
Melissa Kolcyzinski and Tom Wilson Weinberg joined forces once again at William Way Community Center for a charity showcase of deviant cabaret numbers belonging to their recently debuted Cabaret Crime set.
The roughly three-hour-long show, which featured songs from both on- and off-Broadway, put forth a plethora of no-frills tongue-in-cheek musical numbers that even the most crotchety person couldn't possibly resist smiling at. Kolcyzinski and Weinberg had an undeniable “old pals” chemistry that worked to their advantage as they spat lyrics back and forth about campy crimes and general LGBTQ life.
But one must wonder why the show, which advertises itself as crime-centric, opted to devote much of its time to the LGBTQ culture of yesteryear’s Stonewall era rather than stick with a criminal theme that — when executed at its best — proved to be very entertaining. Had the show been presented with a more cohesive theme and a bit more visual flair, Cabaret Crime would have been a solid cabaret act
Alas, if there was one particular redeeming quality to be mentioned, it was the bombastic and all-at-once pleasant voice of Kolcyzinski, who assuredly left gay men in the audience with daydreams of Bette Midler on Broadway with her charming personality and impressive vocals.
First person to email firstname.lastname@example.org with GIMME KOOKS TICKETS as the subject gets a pair of tickets to the sold-out Kooks/Postelle show at the Troc Tuesday night.
The publicist also wants you to know that you can purchase the new Kooks album on iTunes. Here's a link for that.
WE HAVE A WINNER! Congrats to Darren! Sorry, everybody else!
Forget your sex. Azuka Theatre opens its season and newly transformed First Baptist Church with Act a Lady, in which men reveal their femininity and women unleash their masculinity.
In a Midwestern town in 1927, where rebelling against conventional small-town behavior (which is, frankly, “to raise a family”) is highly discouraged, three good-natured men decide to put on a play in which they dress up as women (to the horror of the local Christians).
Mike Dees plays mild-mannered Miles, whose goofy, gentle giant demeanor resembles Jason Segel in How I Met Your Mother. His wife, Dorothy (Leah Walton), wears the pants in the relationship. She’s commandeering, religiously devout, and plays quite a few Satan-hating tunes on the accordion during the quick changes (amusing but sometimes lasting a verse too long).
CP music critic Brian Wilensky on the week's sure-bet life acts.
Monday: The room may get sweaty, smoky and smell like delicious Indian food when Tandoori Knights take the stage. Bloodshot Bill, a rockabilly guitarist from Canada, teamed up with fellow Canuck, King Khan (of King Khan and BBQ Show), for last year’s Curry Up and the result was some roots rockin,’ boot kickin’ fun. Don’t be late, or you’ll miss Bloodshot Bill’s opening-for-himself set. 9 p.m., $12, with Bloodshot Bill & Dry Feet, Johnny Brenda’s, 1201 N. Frankford Ave., 215-739-9684.
Tuesday: Girl in a Coma have been noticed by one of the major names in chick rock: Joan Jett. Her appropriately titled, Blackheart Records put out all four of their albums, including this year’s, Exits and All the Rest, but you may not hate yourself for loving it. 8 p.m., $12, with The Coathangers & Brothers of Brazil, North Star Bar, 2639 Poplar St., 215-787-0488.
Wednesday: Sacramento’s Ganglians have a way of switching gears from noisy/chaotic yells to peaceful and sing-along-like. Their harmonies brought up Fleet Foxes comparisons all over the blogosphere, but they don’t only write life-atop-a-mountain-in-the-woods folk, they also have some grunged-up guitar rockers. 8 p.m., $10, with Friends, Kung Fu Necktie, 1250 N. Front St., 215-291-4919.
As far as its placement in the Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival is concerned, I Miss You (Te Extrano) is a strange choice. There is one subtle reference to the film’s principal family’s Jewish heritage and involvement in the Holocaust — but if this brief moment of dialogue is missed, one might spend the entire 105 minutes of the film waiting to understand how it is a commentary on the Jewish experience. Set in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the film is instead a fairly stereotypical account of a teenage boy’s struggle with self-understanding.
The protagonist, Javier (Fermin Volcoff), has been shoved into the shadows his entire life by older brother Adrian (Martin Slipak). Javier idolizes his brother’s bravery, electric personality and overall control of his own life decisions. He is frustrated with his own inability to emulate these qualities, he argues with his mother and father, is sexually intimidated around his high school crushes, and socially awkward around his older brother’s friends. If you’re still waiting to hear what separates this film from others about the tender teenage years — you and I both.
When Adrian disappears during a mission with his rebel involvement in the military coup of 1976, Javier is forced to reconsider his previous life aspirations, namely those to precisely fit his older brother’s course, and his character begins to quietly develop. Director Fabian Hofman chose to make this potentially pivotal moment in the film as gradual and passive as growing up typically occurs in real life. So, while this was an interesting structural decision on Hofman’s end, it leaves the film without momentum or climax. Hell, we don’t even get a sneak peek into the big moment during the amateur love scenes.
Ironically, given the predictable nature of the majority of the film, I Miss You ends on an unexpected note — one that may just be the jump-off point for a sequel that follows Javier in a more dynamic account of his dark, rebellious years as a young adult tormented by unresolved identity crises and daddy issues.
Nov. 13, Hiway Theater, gershmany.org/pjff.
Man Cave is a testosterone-laden Monday feature that highlights the weekend haps of a pop culture-loving Philly dude.
This weekend, I found myself in North Carolina, where I enjoyed my very first Renaissance Faire. If you've never been to this type of liberal-arts mecca, the ren-faire is exactly what you'd expect, and then some. There were dozens of theatrical performances, including death-defying gymnastic jugglers and comedic storytellers. A number of troupes performed Medieval Period folk music. Knights plowed into each other with jousts while the crowd yelled for blood.
My favorite act was Zilch the Tory Steller, a fast-talking, mandolin-wielding Shakespearean who speaks mostly in spoonerism (you know, switching consonants, a la Jomeo and Ruliette). Let me be the first to say that those minstrels of yore had a filthy vocabulary, often draped in double- (and even triple-) entendre. Zilch's show and some others were rated "LC" — Loose Cannon, parental discretion advised!
Pennsylvania has one you can check out in August. It's out near Lancaster, which is a road trip in its own right. But if it's similar to the North Carolina model, it'll be a full day of good entertainment for around $20.
Early in the set, Dave Grohl bragged about Foo Fighters' stamina, as though it was some kind of feat that a band with seven albums should play for nearly three hours. Truth is, on paper, it's the band's most impressive asset. But like Broadway pros, they hit their marks all night long.
It's not like they're known for their range; they've been playing the same songs in the same order just about every night, beginning with "Bridge Burning" and "Rope," the first two tracks on their latest album, Wasting Light, and ending with the aptly titled "Everlong," off 1997's The Colour and the Shape. And there's a limited set of tricks in the band's repertoire: They can't get enough of false endings, or of going from quiet to loud to quiet to loud, or of goading the crowd to sing along. But they make it work for them, blasting through the hits and weaving one song into the next.
It helped not to have a favorite album - unless you're partial to the new one, which accounted for nearly a third of the set. Early adopters were out of luck; "This Is a Call" was the only nod to the 1995 debut that was 99.9 percent Grohl. Subsequent albums yielded just two or three songs apiece.
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