Archive: May, 2011
Every Friday, Ryan Carey takes a look at who and what’s giving Philly the giggles …
Philly's standup comedy open-mic scene has achieved "booming" status within the past year or so. If you’re trying to get stage time, there's a spot for you to perform at least five nights a week. Setting up shop at Connie's Ric Rac (1132 S. Ninth St.) on Sundays at 7 p.m. is James Hesky, Darryl Charles and Mykal Carter Jackson, performing their Famous International Variety Show. James Hesky was kind enough to take some time out of his day to tell me the tale of the FIVS.
City Paper: So, what are the basics of the show?
James Hesky: We are open to all kinds of comedy — standup, sketch, music, and improv. Mykal Carter-Jackson started the show when he found a room at the Copabanana in University City and he approached Darryl about being a co-host. Darryl and I had been looking to start a room together, so Darryl asked Mykal if I could join in and that's how we got started. We decided to do the show at 7 p.m. so that we didn't interfere with Lickity Split, which was an important open mic for all of us and we wanted to give comics a chance to get to two mics on a Sunday or at least have the option of being done by 9:30 if they came to our mic.
CP: Why the change of venue?
JH: The Copabanana room was cool at first — our first show we had appearances from Bing Supernova from the Black Israelites — but we were in the basement and it was clear that they weren't really going to help us out much with promotion outside of doing some drink specials. Sometimes we would come downstairs and there would be outside furniture or some random umbrellas they were using from the weekend in the middle of the room. Then last fall we moved to Qba Lounge in Northern Liberties and briefly went under the Center City Comedy, LLC umbrella. We had a few good shows but there was a miscommunication and the venue owner was expecting a sold-out show within two or three weeks and so we parted ways.
CP: How did you guys end up at Connie’s?
JH: I had spoken with Connie's Manager Frank Tartaglia a few months earlier and he said they weren't ready to open on Sundays but just as we were finishing up with Qba, Frank emailed me to ask if we still were interested in running an open mic. Darryl, Mykal and I met with him and we agreed to wait until football season ended so we weren't competing with playoffs and a possible Eagles Super Bowl run (that was the hope for the city, at least).
CP: How's it been going?
JH: We've had about a dozen shows there, including hosting a couple rounds of the "one shining moment" March Madness comedy tournament, which completely filled the room for three straight weeks. Since then, things have been a little more subdued but we have developed into a fun room to work out new material in front of a supportive audience. We have a fairly regular group of younger comedians who come by, like Ian Fidance, Rick Rowboatin, Ken BDC and Alex Pezotta as well as some of the guys who are more established, like Mike Rainey and Luke Giordano. Recently, Roger C Snair (AKA Roger The Road Rager) has been showing up, and he may be one of the most fun people to watch perform. Also Frank Tartaglia has been getting up most weeks [to perform] and [he's] really doing some funny stuff.
For more information, visit conniesricrac.com.
In his illustrations for everything from picture books to opera sets, Maurice Sendak has been powerfully influenced by classical music. “I believe that the music is telling you what to do all the time,” Sendak says, calling Mozart his “savior” from age 16. A fun new exhibit at the Rosenbach Museum explores the effect of music on his work.
The exhibit pulls together drafts and completed versions of many of Sendak’s pieces, including well-known works like In the Night Kitchen and Really Rosie, and his lesser-known album cover designs. The exhibit revealed a side of Sendak’s work I’d never thought much about, one that remains “largely unexamined,” a plaque said. Sendak has been so involved with music that he often marked up the margins of his drawings with notes on what he’d been listening to at the time.
That practice led to perhaps the most fascinating part of the exhibition. Hung on the wall are various illustrations with these margin notes (the indecipherable handwriting is translated). As you examine the artwork, you can press a button on a nearby computer screen to listen to the very piece that inspired Sendak — and see if you can hear links between the music and what’s on the page. Also provided is a laminated sheet containing a number of musicians’ detailed reactions as they made the comparison themselves.
Music also has a direct influence on his work, particularly where rhythm is concerned. For children, one plaque noted, music is everywhere, “from television shows and classroom rhymes to made-up verses and random whistling.” Sendak has been inspired by children’s relationship to music, and uses it in his books, employing rhythmic words on the page to capture children’s imaginations. The exhibit contains a number of drafts of his writing in which he worked out the right rhythms to use.
On Saturday non-profit cycling organization Neighborhood Bike Works is throwing The Works: Vol. 1, a race/ride that will help fund their mission to promote the many benefits of cycling to urban youth. Besides reveling in the good karma that comes from helping a stellar cause, riders can take advantage of other awards, such as prizes for reaching various checkpoints and quickness.
Oh yeah, and there's an after party.
The Works Benefit Boogie at Danger Danger Gallery (5013 Baltimore Ave.) boasts music from five bands (The Flying Eyes, The Shakes, Skin Cells, Pinelands, Sour Mash) and two DJs (No Arms and Half-breed) to dance to after you bring your exhausted biker body across the finish line. Karaoke will be available as well. There will be a $10-15 charge at the door, but racers get in for free, so join the race and reap the benefits.
Race: Sat., May 14, 2 p.m., $10 to race, Washington Square Park, Seventh & Walnut streets, theworksphilly.wordpress.com.
Devoted poet/avid concert-goer/nerd-grrrl extraordinaire Jane Cassady's weekly horoscopes run in this space every Friday morning.
Taurus (April 19-May 18): "Love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is done well” (Vincent Van Gogh). However you steer your constellations, darling, I know you’ll make it warm and beautiful.
Gemini (May 19-June 21): The stars throw around a lot of flowering tree metaphors, we know, but you really are a wealth of them: a lilac festival. A cherry blossom jamboree, a forsythia resolution, yellow as anything. See all the riches?
Cancer (June 22-July 23): According to Marianne Moore, poems should be “imaginary gardens with real toads in them.” It’s time to put in the morning glories, to go pick out some pretty annuals, to water the trees and flourish. The toads will come.
Every Thursday our pop-culture critic Bianca Brown gives a catty, smile-with-your-eyes lowdown on cycle 16 of America's Next Top Model.
This week Brittani gloated that Alex the “drama-bitch” is gone. Molly keeps bitching about being adopted. Lara Spencer from The Insider (poor man’s E! News) tells the models they’ll do a 90-second live shot about a fashion trend in Morocco. They were each paired with an expert on their item and had to find a English-speaking Moroccan to interview.
Brittani did a cool shot of henna designs, interviewed a Moroccan man who said “Yes" and nothing else, and was cut off two seconds before she finished. Molly was more professional with black kohl. She didn’t sign off, but wasn’t cut off mid-sentence. Hannah was bubbly about arman oil, but talked too much and ignored her expert. Molly won the challenge. Hannah got weepy and felt she won the challenge “in her heart.” Um, ok.
Tyra visited Dar Doukkala to chat with the girls. Molly cried about being adopted, Brittani revealed that her mom is agoraphobic and Hannah was just chillin’. Tyra photographed the girls with eye designs and taught them how to isolate body parts during photo shoots. Then they all did a dance with Moroccan drummers in tasseled beanies. Say what you will, Tyra Banks seems like a lot of fun.
Photo shoot on the beach! Nigel Barker shot the models in Moroccan wedding dresses complete with henna tattoos and a sexy male model named Younes. Brittani wasn’t comfy being sexy so she chose a breakup narrative and cried for her photos. Hannah tried to be Actors’ Studio, but that’s not for everyone, and her photos were a little posed.
To gain a little camaraderie before shooting their film, Kristen Wiig, Wendi McLendon-Covey and the rest of the leading ladies of Bridesmaids didn’t gab over lunch or go for some R&R at a spa. “We rented a party bus and filled it with booze and music, drove around L.A. and we went to a male strip club … for research,” said Wiig, known best for her Saturday Night Live gut-buster characters (Target Lady, anyone?), at a recent press junket to promote her new film.
Besides discovering that oily lap dances made them more bothered than hot, the women of Bridesmaids found some serious comedic chemistry.
“When Annie [Mumolo] and I wrote this movie, we wanted to write [something] that has a lot of funny ladies in it, ladies that we know, and ladies that we love to work with,” said Wiig, who also stars as Annie, disgruntled maid of (dis)honor to best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph). “It’s rare — and it shouldn’t be — that there’s a movie poster with six women on it.”
Midway through the hip-hop portion of the show, my friend leaned in and said, “I can’t tell if he’s being serious or not.”
“Neither can I anymore.”
“Well, do you know his music?” (Almost everybody in the place was singing along.)
“Yeah,” I told her. “It’s all free for download.”
Under the name Childish Gambino, Glover (who’s best known as Troy on Community) does a lot of clever, lightning-fast rhyming about what a baller he is: hanging with famous people, calling out haters, trying to get across just how much play he gets now that he’s famous. His best line on the subject: “It's amazing how I eat more pussy than ALF.”
And that’s the thing. He’s so damn funny about how hardcore he is, most of the time, it’s hard to tell whether it’s all an act, or half an act, or what. His most quoted dis is probably “I'm the boss, Michael Scott, y'all bitches is just Phyllis” — but he knows Michael Scott’s not really an ideal boss to emulate, right? Yes he does. But there he is sayin’ it with his sixpack bared and rockin’ the Young Jeezy stance without a lick of irony.
Glover was his own opening act, starting the show right on time with a casual, standup set — dude owed me that after flaking in Austin (also owes me something else) — that often recalled Troy’s wide-eyed charm. There was also some bits that had him talking to a big screen with pre-recorded James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem and himself (from the future, with a mustache). Really funny. The second act had him singing along to a video of comedian/beatboxer Reggie Watts an audio tape of John Legend. Musically, Childish Gambino does not play it safe. His backing band puts the violin and guitar at least as high in the mix as the drums, sometimes leading to harsh, distinctive melodies you don’t often hear at a hip-hop show. Most of the time this really, really worked. The night ended with my favorite Childish Gambino tune — and also his most earnest, probably — “Not Going Back.” Sample lyrics: “There’s a party at the top, you ain’t invited / But it’s lame, and all the bitches is fake / You think about your old girl and how breakin’ up’s a mistake.” That’s hardcore earnest.
How do we know when Spring is officially here? When DJ Lee Jones says so. His Sundae bash on May 15 celebrates the hot streak in the Shampoo parking lot and at Silk City’s beer garden throughout the entire day.
The Piazza at Schmidts’ newest renter? A casual drive by and an orange sticker reveals that it’s Raw, the Gayborhood sushi haunt that is taking over the much valued ex-Speck space.
When you hit the Third Annual Benefit Cabaret for the Nichole Canuso Dance Company on May 13 at Underground Arts at the Wolf Building, congratulate her for winning $50,000 from the Knight Arts Challenge that she and the likes of Pig Iron, Live Arts, Mighty Writers and Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby got (all to the tune of $2 million+). Ask her for a loan.
Congrats to Lora and Kenny Eris. Last weekend, the long-together (and living in sin, damn them) couple finally tied the knot at the Radio Eris compound in West Philly during which time no avant-garde band in Philly played a gig as every weirdo in the tri-state area was on 52nd Street.
The Art Star Craft Bazaar is at Penn’s Landing this weekend and that means NoLibs’ Erin Waxman and Megan Brewster of Art Star are playing curator to dozens of Etsy denizens and bands picked by Jack McBrearty of The Mural & The Mint. It’ll be sunny out. Buy some sock monkeys.
Speaking of that strip of land where Art Star is, Icepack mentioned months ago that Brown Betty Dessert Boutique was moving from Liberties Walk to 722 N. Second Street. It is true. The old spot closes officially May 15 and reopens at the new place around May 21.
In last week's Agenda section, Kala Jamison wrote about the Meet the Onion Editors discussion at Drexel. This week, Ryan Carey went to check it out.
Onion editors Chad Nackers and Joe Garden gave a presentation at Drexel's Bossone Mitchell Auditorium last night. The chat consisted of two parts: (1) a slideshow featuring images and video from The Onion and its various outlets, and (2) a half hour Q&A.
The slideshow churned up LOLs, especially with their cocky Joe Biden series (pictured). However, it was basically just a comedy PowerPoint presentation, featuring material that much of the audience has already seen. The more interesting insight came at the Q&A.
I asked them whether they view their role as editors of The Onion as either a reflection of the zeitgeist or a nihilistic joke machine for cash.
Garden replied, "I think at The Onion we're cynical, but at heart we're all sort of optimistic. We don't trust anything really and we don't have a lot of faith in authority, but at the same time we want things to work out for the best and we want people to get along." Nackers added, "Sometimes our optimism comes out in a story, when we say the worst thing ever is gonna happen or things have gotten SO bad... to kinda show that it really hasn't. I think it is a reflection of the zeitgeist, since it's not really a tight news cycle. We kinda go with the ebb and flow of what's happening and we try to capture that more than specific events."
Garden slipped in, "We're not nihilists, we don't reject everything, but we reject a lot of things..."
For those who missed it, the event was filmed and will be aired on DUTV soon.
To follow up on a previous post about the affair, CP writer Matt Cantor attended last night's Marian Anderson Award Ceremony at the Kimmel Center, where he was in the presence of big-namers like Ed Rendell, Grammy winner Esperanza Spalding and the evening's guest of honor, actress Mia Farrow.
After I threw on a button-down shirt and blazer in preparation for last night’s Marian Anderson Award Gala, I started to think I might be overdressed. I finally came to the conclusion that my jacket-but-no-tie look would be snazzy enough for the affair — then I entered the Kimmel Center. A roped-off section of the lobby was packed with more tuxedoed individuals than I’ve ever seen in one place. I came expecting a standard-issue Philadelphia Orchestra concert, but realized I’d wandered in among Philadelphia’s elite. I spotted Ed Rendell among the crowd; others I didn’t recognize, but they all had an aura of importance about them. Suddenly, in my jacket-but-no-tie, I felt less like an early-2008 Barack Obama and more like a guy who’d staggered in through the back door. Fortunately, the publicity people were welcoming, and I was excited to witness what a host later called “one of the great events of Philadelphia.”
After the cocktails and filet-mignon dinner, the concert began. Shuffling into Verizon Hall, I relaxed: those seated around me appeared to be ordinary folks, dressed like I was. The Philadelphia Orchestra sat on a stage set with pictures of Marian Anderson, one of the city’s great musicians. Award chair Pamela Browner White introduced the evening’s sponsors; much was made about this being a major city event. Indeed, it seemed to be: in addition to Rendell, whom White called “the father of the award,” Philly First Lady Lisa Nutter was there, as were representatives of the Phillies, Eagles, and Union (the soccer team). The evening’s host was Philadelphia native Judith Jamison, the artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. She seemed completely at ease, going off-script and cracking jokes — even while the audience seemed a bit unsure of itself at times, torn between classical-music etiquette and rock-concert enthusiasm (Carly Simon later advised everyone that they could “be looser”).
The music was as flawless as you’d expect at such an event. With its first piece, Leonard Bernstein’s “Overture to Candide,” the orchestra proved it deserves its stellar reputation. Conducted by Christian Macelaru, the orchestra was explosive without foregoing an immaculate sound. Later, Carly Simon came onstage with her son Ben Taylor and percussionist Everett Bradley to perform her song “Let the River Run,” backed by the full orchestra and two youth choirs. It was one of the night’s highlights, as the many voices blended with a pair of guitars, piano, percussion, and the full orchestra for a giant sound. But the brightest star of the night, on the music front, was Esperanza Spalding, the singer, songwriter, and bassist who won the Best New Artist Grammy this year. She performed a song completely solo; upright bass and vocal alone in a giant auditorium. Her fingers were all over the instrument’s neck, working in complex jazz rhythms, while she delivered an emotional and precise vocal. It was the most intimate performance of the evening, and left the audience stunned.
- Arts Events
- First Person Fest
- Last Chance
- On the Fringe
- Philly Artists
- The Curator
- Visual Art
- Arts News
- Artist Profile
- Arts Preview
- Street Art
- Been There, Done That
- Big Ups
- LOL With It
- Critical Mass
- Friday Fill-in
- Ice Cubes
- In Memoriam
- Just Do It
- Just Opened
- Art Phag
- Film Fest
- Movie Review
- On set
- 10 Track Mind
- Album Review
- Concert Review
- Local Support
- Now Hear This
- One Track Mind
- Philly Bands
- Somebody Else Was There
- The Showdown
- concert photos
- DJ Nights Blogged
- Night Watch
- Now See This
- Poetic License
- Printed Matter
- What We Heart
- Idol Hands
- Mad Men
- True Blood
- Useless Lost Recaps
- Couch Potato
- Shore Trash
- Turned ONN
- Video Games
- Free Online Game
- PlayStation 2
- The 1-Upper
- Web Junk
- CAGE MATCH
- Free Online Toy
- Weekend Omnibus