Each week, Ryan Carey takes a peep at who and what's giving Philly the giggles.
On Wednesday, Connie's Ric Rac will screen the second episode of Down The Show (DTS). DTS is an all-Philly underground comedy production written, performed and produced by our own comedy community, with Abigail Bruley at the helm. While she's not editing web content for NBC, or studying improv up at the UCB theatre, Abigail is hard at work toiling on DTS, her labor of love. "I plan on taking Down the Show all the way," she says. "I mean BIG. I'vP been submitting to TV pilot festivals and seeking out investors and what not — basically making it my full-time job."
The pilot episode (embedded below) featured Philly funny folks like The Feeko Brothes, The New Dreamz, Meg & Rob, Doogie Horner, Todd Shaeffer, Molly Silverman, Carolyn Busa and others. This second installment features some of the same folks, but Abigail was also excited to be working with Philly talent new to DTS.
The screening show at Connie's is hosted by Corey Cohen, and features live standup from Doogie Horner, sketches by Secret Pants and music comedy by Emily & Micah McGraw. Then the second episode of DTS will screen. The after-show party will include either DJ or karaoke, depending on the mood.
Wed., Aug. 17, 9 p.m., $5, Connie's Ric Rac, 1132 S. Ninth St., 215-279-7587, conniesricrac.com.
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This Saturday, four Philly comics will take part in Lancaster's first ever LGBTQ-friendly comedy show at Millersville University. The four comedians, Alejandro Morales, Christine Meehan, Jess Carpenter and Carolyn Busa, were recruited for their work at Camp Tabu, a weekly show at Tabu Lounge and Sports Bar (200 S. 12 St.) that features a friendly mix of gay and straight comedians.
Morales is one of a sad few openly gay men in Philadelphia doing comedy. He got his start in 2009 at the Gayborhood Games and now co-hosts Camp Tabu with Meehan. "Mainstream comedy can be so alienating to the gay community," says Morales. "When telling jokes, people sometimes fall back on material that’s offensive. Last year when Michael Richards went on his tirade with the N-bomb, everybody was like 'that’s not okay'. Everyone drew a line for the N-word, but nobody draws a line for LGBT."
The two gay and two straight comics perform LGBT-friendly or LGBT-oriented material. The generally uplifting Jess Carpenter has an act that's known to discuss the gay lifestyle in a positive manner. He has a particularly funny bit about his reaction to less-than-understanding relatives who ask, “What would Jesus do?” to which he explains how being gay makes him more like Jesus than they. For the real punchline, he says, you have to come to the show!
Sat., Aug., 13, 8 p.m. $20-$25, Grand Salon @ Millersville University, 42 N. Prince St., MUTicketsOnline.com.
Every Friday, Ryan Carey takes a look at who and what’s giving Philly the giggles.
In April, over a hundred local comics auditioned for a place on Philly Improv Theater's (PHIT) two new house teams. The 18 that were finally selected will premiere two special shows tonight at Shubin Theatre. The house team code-named "Shadowfax" is directed by Kristien Schier and team "Brandybuck" (yes, both Tolkien references) is directed by Matt Holmes.
If you're only a casual fan of improv comedy, you may be wondering why improv teams have directors, since there's no script and the plot is made up as they go along. According to PHIT founder Greg Maughan, "The directors chose their team members based on a vision for the kind of vibe or tone they want. They lead the performers through regular exercises, and as a non-performer, they can point out what people are doing right or wrong."
Says Mat Holmes about his Brandybuck gang: "I picked people who are very playful while also character-driven. I'm expecting unreal stuff played realistically. A combo of serious and silly."
Kristin Schier also commented on her Shadowfax group. "Rehearsal has been not only hilarious to watch these guys work together, but fascinating. I chose a group of very talented people with the idea that they would be able to move together like a school of fish. They would support one another and be amazingly funny. And I imagine audiences will find them [just] as visually appealing as they [find them] funny."
Philly Improv veteran Nathan Edmondson — one of Schier's conscripts — is excited to be on a PHIT house team. "Anybody can start their own independent group and start up shows. But if you're on a PHIT house team, they provide rehearsal space for us and you're automatically on a team with people at a certain [ability] level."
Our nearest big casino town (no-longer the draw that it was before Philly had community-raping casinos of our own, but I digress) has two hot shows this Saturday at it's shiniest casino, the Borgata. To speak literally, Harrah's is probalby shinier on the outside, but that's a matter for a different blog post. Borgatta will feature Stone Temple Pilots at its event center at 8pm. At 9pm, the Daily Show's John Oliver will bring his critically acclaimed standup show to the Music Box.
Stone Temple Pilots is one of the formerly defunct '90s bands that recently reunited (the very latest of course being Soundgarden), and they're another one of the grunge-era giants who are trying to legitimize their late-era albums with eponymous titles (no offense Pearl Jam fans).
STP's 2008 self-titled reunion album wasn't quite as boring as it was remembered (or, not remembered). It was definitely more pop-rock than grunge-rock, which is to say ... not necessarily in their wheelhouse.
But no-matter, these neo-classic-rockers will probably be doing the classic set they did back when we loved them as a contemporary band, which was a generally unwavering greatest hits concert. And if you simply cannot miss John Oliver, you can catch them tomorrow night instead at Bethlehem's annual summer Musikfest.
Speaking of John Oliver, if you haven's seen his 2008 comedy mega-special Terrifying Times, I consider it one of the must-see standup efforts of the new millennium. Otherwise, you've probably seen him a bunch of times as the funniest correspondent on the Daily Show since Stephen Colbert. This very polite Brit has a bunch of ominous things to say about western society, and his show is a guaranteed gut-buster for any half-intelligent comedy fan.
Stone Temple Pilots: Fri., Aug. 5, 7 p.m., $35-$47, Sands Steel Stage at PNC Plaza, Bethlehem, PA, musikfest.org; Sat., Aug., 6, 8 p.m., $65, Borgata, Event Center, 1 Borgata Way, Atlantic City, N.J., borgata.com.
John Oliver: Sat., Aug. 6, 9 p.m., $35-$39.50, Borgata, Music Box, 1 Borgata Way, Atlantic City, N.J., 609-317-1000, borgata.com.
Every Friday, Ryan Carey dishes on who and what's giving Philly the giggles.
Tonight Alex J. Gross hosts the Gross Show at Philly Improv Theater. Described by Gross as a "trashy talk show," the Gross Show is a character-based variety show starring a cross section of Philly comedians like Maureen Costello, Paul Triggiani, Sue Taney, Alejandro Morales, and Greg Maughan. The "guests" that come on the show include aliens, fast-food eating competitors, dating game contestants and "Philly Got Talent" acts including the "world's greatest *****-eater.
The 22-year-old Gross started doing comedy at his high school in Schuylkill County. He graduated from NYC's Upright Citizen's Brigade Theatre in May of 2009 and came straight to Philadelphia to start doing comedy. An eager gentleman, Gross offered several ambitious pitches — one being Nude Improv — before finally getting the okay from PHIT to do the Gross Show. I asked if he had gotten any folks willing to participate in the nude show: "I had some maybes, but the people who seemed most willing to do it were not the kind of people you would normally want to see naked."
The monthly show, which started this past January, is preceded by "Hey Everybody" standup comedy at 7 p.m., Camp Woods sketch at 8:30 p.m., and The Theme Show at 10:00 p.m.. Doing tonight's Gross Show theme song will be Vineland, N.J. hip-hop duo The Highsley Brothers.
Tonight, 10:30 p.m., $10 ($5 with the password "Goatsy"), Shubin Theatre, 407 Bainbridge St., 267-233-1556, phillyimprovtheater.com.
Every Friday, Ryan Carey takes a look at who and what’s giving Philly the giggles.
This weekend, Tig Notaro comes performs in Philly for the first time. You may have seen her on Last Comic Standing 4, The Sarah Silverman Program or her own Comedy Central Presents special. Or, you may have heard her new podcast, Professor Blastoff, which debuted at No. 1 on iTunes this May. She shot the shit with me briefly about some assorted cultural interests:
Critical Mass: What do you like to watch on TV?
Tig Notaro: Dust accumulating.
CP: Are there any products you think should be illegal?
TN: Perfume. I like the good natural smell of people who don't naturally smell bad.
CP: What are your favorite Tom Waits songs?
TN: I love "Please Call Me Baby," "Old 55," "The Piano has been Drinking" and "Blind Love" (among many others).
CP: Have you ever performed in Philadelphia? What is your impression of the city?
Philly comedian Luke Giordano came to Philly in 2005 to attend Drexel University. He started doing comedy four years ago, and has been an active member of the Philly comedy scene. His monthly show, The Bully Pulpit, has brought discussion-panel comedy (Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn-style) to Philly Improv theater every month for the last two years. He also helps curate WitOut.net, a great utility for navigating comedy in Philly. Recently Luke was offered a job writing for Two and a Half Men, and this Wednesday, left for L.A. I caught up with him for the deets.
Critical Mass: Congrats, Luke! How did this job come about?
Luke Giordano: My screenwriting professor from Drexel knows Two and a Half Men producer Lee Aronsohn. Lee called him asking if he knows any former students because they want a younger writer and they wanted someone who wasn’t in the Hollywood system. Ashton Kutcher’s going to be on the show now, and I think they wanted someone who understands the cultural references of a young person. Like, most of the other writers don’t even use Twitter. So my professor got me in touch with Aronsohn, I sent some samples and he interviewed me over skype.
CM: Are you a fan of Two and a Half Men?
LG: I had only seen a few episodes on re-run before I was offered the gig. Now I’ve been marathoning it in preparation for this job. It’s pretty good for what it is, which is a three camera sitcom aimed at my parents.
CM: How do you think your writing style will compliment the show?
LG: It’s not necessarily the kind of stuff I write, but that will be part of my challenge, to adapt to the show while still maintaining my voice.
CM: Philly’s a very indie comedy community. Have you caught any flack for accepting a job from such an incredibly mainstream show?
LG: Nobody’s said anything like that to my face, so far everybody’s pretty excited. And, any alternative snooty pants would do it. This is not me just saying it because I have to say it, but I’ve been watching 20 episodes a day and it holds up.
CM: I’m guessing this will be a significant step up to a higher tax bracket for you?
LG: My initial signing is for several weeks to test me out, to see if I do well. I will be making more during those few weeks than I made all of last year. Of course, I’ll simply be securing a place to live and a car and then paying off my student loans, so my lifestyle won’t improve drastically at first. But I’m excited because my first job in show business is what I would want to end up with, but I’m starting with it.
We want to wish Luke the best of luck, and if you’d like to follow his progress, bookmark his website, everythingyoulikeisstupid.com or you can follow him on twitter @lukegiordano.
Every Friday, Ryan Carey takes a look at who and what’s giving Philly the giggles …
As we touch on in this week's Agenda section, Colin Quinn's one man Broadway show, Long Story Short, traces the fall of all great civilizations, shining a light on the fact that we're repeating all the same mistakes. The former SNL Weekend Updater wanted to do an act with a consistent theme, and his long time friend Jerry Seinfeld got on board to direct what he calls a "history of the world in 75 minutes." Check out this video of some of what you'll get at his performance.
June 29-July 10, $51-$65, Suzanne Roberts Theatre, 480 S. Broad St., 215-985-0420, philadelphiatheatrecompany.org.
The Daily Show's Peabody Award-winning writer Paul Mecurio performs tonight and tomorrow at Helium Comedy Club. This week he talked to us about his unlikely transformation from Wall Street lawyer to comedian and getting his first big break from Leno.
City Paper: How did you get started doing comedy?
Paul Mecurio: I got to see Jay Leno perform at a private function back when he was first starting to host the Tonight Show. I had amassed some jokes while I was working on Wall Street and I offered some of them to Jay after the show. He called me back saying, "I can tell you're a lawyer, you're too wordy! You don't need to tell me where and when to make the funny faces, just get to the joke!" And a few days later he read one of my jokes on the opening monologue and I got $60. It was the most powerful moment of my comedy career.
CP: Any good horror stories from the early days?
The F Harold Comedy Festival is a well-run series of shows that attracts a different lineup of comedic acts each night. The festival, organized by Philly prov-man Rick Horner, features many of Philly's brightest improv, sketch and standup comedians.
"It's the recall of the spring starter festival for PHIT, [and it's] Philly-only," says Horner. "The original F-Harold grew into the Philly Improv Festival, which eventually came to feature improvisers from all over. I was trying to revive the Philly-only notion, but I wanted to add the other big pockets of Philly comedy, sketch and standup."
Horner is quite pleased with the current state of our city's improvisation scene. "Whether people came up through Comedy Sports or PHIT, the people who used to be in the audience are now onstage, so it's kind of like we've eaten our young," he says. "And the new fans coming to see their friends perform are also becoming fans of the people who've been around longer. It's exciting that it has that natural order."
Horner is a Philly native who studied at Second City, and is excited to perform in the festival with his group Whip Suit. An active member of the improv community, he recently produced Duofest and runs The Improv Incubator on Sunday nights at the Community Education Center (3500 Lancaster Ave.) He welcomes anyone to come to the incubator for "an evening of practice, exercises, collaboration and other assortedness."
Through Sun., June 12, various times, $10-$25, Walnut Street Theatre, Studio 5, 825 Walnut St., 215-925-2182, fharoldpresents.com.
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