|Green Line Cafe|
Not one, but two City Paper contributors bring the yuck yucks to the Green Line Cafe tonight, in the puntastically named Alli Katz Comedy Meow-er. The show includes the titular Katz (obvs), who gave you such pieces as this excellent interview with This American Life's Ira Glass, and Will Dean, who turned (among many other things) this cover story about the mistreatment of musicians in Rittenhouse Square, but has a of late written about weird things scientists do with fish.
Here are the bios of all participants:
Malwina Andruczyk is twenty-three years old. A lot of things have
happened to her during her life, but not as many as to some other
Will Dean is 25, but he reads at the level of someone who is 28. It is
those little differences that make life special.
Zach Webber, 26, is the sort of person that prefers not to read
because he's afraid that he might read something that might decrease
the extent to which he enjoys the pictures. He enjoys illustrated
cookbooks, Sports Illustrated, and internetpictures.com.
Katz never turned her bio in, but she has a funny name and that's really all you need to know
The Alli Katz Comedy Meow-er, Fri., Feb.19, 7 p.m., $5, Green Line Cafe, 4426 Locust Street
|Photo | Scott Yorko|
It was a night of self-deprecating, Tourrette-syndromic outbursts last night at the Keswick, both from Bob Saget, who I wrote about in this week's issue, and the people who came to see him perform standup.
Then Bob Saget came out spewing gay John Stamos jokes paired with descriptions of vivid fantasies of blowing himself. He constantly apologized for the vulgarities coming in and out of his mouth, even admitting, 'This is not an act. This is a cry for help.'
Saget was like that hilarious, attention-starved-at-home, perverted special ed kid who was only allowed to eat lunch with the other children twice a week. Those other children were half of the crowd, only grown up and drunk, blurting out the names of their favorite genitalia, which Bob was happy to discuss.
The other half of the crowd? Men the same age as Bob, giggling while following their less-than-entertained wives to the exit for an early departure. My guess is they weren't leaving early to go be romantic.
|Photo | Lauren Seibert|
On paper, it sounds good: A sketch comedy troupe called Comic Energy performs about 14 sequences of rehearsed scenes, improv and music, while guests get a free drink at the bar and a buffet at Karma NightClub in Bustleton. I attended this show on Sat., Nov. 21, and everyone there was extremely welcoming, from the night club staff to the troupe members to the sweet, slightly-above-middle-age audience. So it pains me to say it, but the show was honestly the worst comedy act I've ever seen. I'm still cringing.
I don't know what terrified me more ' the fact that 'music' meant karaoke from the same two people all night in between the acts (singing songs such as Shaggy's 'Angel' and 'Chantilly Lace' by Jerry Lee Lewis); the adolescent and often just plain nasty humor; the overly dramatic acting; or the offensive racial stereotyping.
They covered every offensive subject known to man: racial slurs, farting, diarrhea, drugs ' all utterly lacking a tongue-in-cheek tone that could have perhaps saved it. Let me walk you through a few Comic Energy scenes. In one, troupe member Gia Seta plays an irritating reporter who sticks her microphone in her unfortunate victim's crotch and tries to talk to his 'McNuggets.' In that same scene, further on, a character shouts, 'Don't tase me, bro!' ' a reference likely lost on an audience not of the YouTube generation. In another scene, producer and troupe member James Daly informs us, 'There's three things I like: breasts, thighs and legs. This morning we have a guest. She's not a chicken, she's a chick.' He then proceeds to act out a talk show with troupe member Mary Sack as the special guest, a doctor who feeds crack to mice. At the end, the cracked-out mice (two troupe members wearing antlers) come out and dance.
Another scene involves actor Frank Fral rolling on the floor, eating his own socks and toes, and smearing Vaseline on his rear to hump the ground while the other actors discuss their sex lives in the background. I had to help myself to another drink during this scene. The scariest part is that I believe he was supposed to be either a baby or a mentally handicapped man ' a character role he filled in many scenes to come. Why is it necessary to link either babies or mental handicap to kinky sex? Barely any audience members laughed during this scene, so it would seem that even fans of Comic Energy (several people in the audience had seen them before) found this a bit gross. Most comedy performances involve sex, but it takes more than plain crudity to carry it off.
Troupe member Walter Threadgill brought a slight tinge of humor to the show through the juxtaposition of his tough appearance (big man with earrings) and cheek-splitting grin, along with the silly lines you'd never expect to emerge from his mouth. For instance, he played a man running a TV news show, and, bored with the news, suggests randomly, 'Let's pretend to be monsters!' Later, he plays a doctor who names a couple's baby for them: Herbert Lucifer Minion. This skit goes on far too long, dragging out a story that lacks substance. Along with abrupt, awkward closures to scenes, dragging story lines seemed to be the theme of the night. Threadgill's line about 'six months of online training in a medical school in Mexico' could have saved it, had they based the scene around that concept instead of focusing on the baby's name.
Beyond the loud and obnoxious characters the troupe chose to portray, the continuous sound cues really detracted from the comedy. True comedians don't need them. Farting sounds for about four minutes straight might have a place in some pre-pubescent class skit, but not in an adult comedy show that should appeal to a higher wit. And really, do we need a skit about a date interrupted by bouts of diarrhea? Accompanied by loud groans and culminating in bathroom sex? Watching this, I wished I hadn't had that drink.
During the middle of the show, a guest standup comedian who declared himself 'half-hillbilly, half-Amish' stunned me with 10 minutes of sheer drunken rambling. He even had a bottle in his back pocket from which he paused to take a swig.
As a final straw, the racial slurs made in many Comic Energy scenes were unaccompanied by any sort of self-deprecating humor that serves to show that the stereotyper the comic is playing is truly the one he's lampooning. Instead, a character speaks to Threadgill, who is black, about 'you people"; and the same Threadgill is the only one in a funeral scene to be carrying a gun and a six pack of beer. Even worse, in a separate scene, a couple climbs into a cab with a turban-wearing driver and tells him, 'Oh, we were kinda hoping for a white cab driver.' After several near-collisions, they then say, 'How would your Arabic ass know how to drive?' Wow. The cabbie doesn't even get a rebuttal line. Cleary, Comic Energy, which started 10 years ago and has had members flow in and out since then, needs to reevaluate its material.
A lot has been said about The Artblahg, a satirical take on The Artblog, including a predictable response from Philebrity and a not-so predictable one from Artblog proprietors Roberta Fallon and Libby Rosof. (They loved it! Um? Does that make them brave and cool or just foolish and naive?)
Its downsides are various ' it's poorly done (as one commenter said, it's more cheesy MAD magazine than smarty-pants The Daily Show); it's needlessly mean (Fallon and Rosof work damn hard, and they'd be missed in the community); the founder has yet to come out of the closet (could it be the editor of New Asshole?); and it makes some pretty stupid jokes (Smellebrity? Come on, dudes.) But, in the teeny tiny art world that is Philly, where everyone knows everyone and people's egos are crushed by the smallest critiques, it's a breath of fresh air (even if they do call us Philadelphia Shity ' sp? ' Paper). It's about time we all toughened up. Plus, they make some pretty funny dumb jokes ' spACED 10-666, anyone?
So, we cringe while thinking of look forward to the satire ahead. And we promise that the first post about Shitical Mass will get a mention here. Work out if you're loving or hating it in the comments.
Don't know what to do tonight? Don't worry, we've got you covered.
' I will always be indebted to Mallrats for teaching me what the Stink Palm is. Kevin Smith, the genius director behind that scene (as well as those in Chasing Amy and Clerks) will be performing tonight at the Merriam Theater (250 S. Broad St., 215-732-5446) at 8 p.m., for $39-$66.
' Think we don't live in a post-sexist society just yet? (Think we do? You must not have been around for this.) Well, neither does fem Barbara J. Berg, who will read from her book Sexism in America: Alive, Well and Ruining Our Future at Wooden Shoe Books (704 South St., 215-413-0999) at 7 p.m. for free. Fans of Tucker Max not allowed.
' Speaking of people I'm indebted to ' regardless of what Obama's presidency is or will become, thank you, David Plouffe, for getting John McCain not elected. Prez Barack Obama's chief campaign officer will be reading his new book, The Audacity to Win, at the Free Library (1901 Vine St., 215-686-5322) at 7:30 p.m., for $7-$14.
|Courtesy of Paleface|
Don't know what to do tonight? Don't worry, we've got you covered.
' Dance from the Paleface show at the M Room (15 W. Girard Ave., 215-739-5577) at 8 p.m. to The Very Best show at Johnny Brenda's (1201 N. Frankford Ave., 215-739-9684) at 9 p.m. The total cost will put you out about $18, but jigging from Paleface's scruffy-voiced bluegrass to The Very Best's groovy African pop will put you in that unstoppable dance-party high for hours.
' Eddie Sarfaty, a gay writer and comedian who just released the book Mental: Funny in the Head, has been called the next David Sedaris. Which is kinda like being called the next gay God. He's performing tonight at L'Etage (624 S. 6th St., 215-592-0656) at 8 p.m. for $20.
' It's no mistake that that David Swanson published Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union, a book that criminalizes the Bush administration, in September of this year. He argues that Bush & Co. did such damage to our Constitutional rights that there's still a whole lot of work to be done to get them back, even with President Obama in the house. He'll be reading from his book tonight at Villanova University (800 Lancaster Ave., 610-519-6000) at 7:30 p.m. for free.
THE CURATOR: un-green U2, inappropriate costumes, time-traveling boyfriends, Electric Six, Shane Victorino's flying bat
Every Tuesday, Critical Mass sifts through the art blog world so you don't have to.
' PW Style divulged some neat fashion savors ' such as high-heeled galoshes and a DIY recipe for Chanel's yet-to-be-released Particuli're nail color ' in its "Over the Top" roundup. But what got me was their coverage of inappropriate costumes. Gentlemen, it's true: Mangina costume = going home alone.
' Most people think of U2 as the music industry's front-runner in the saving-the-planet, d0-gooder contest, but Green Philly is quick to out the Bono-fronted group for 'emitting carbon like it's their job.' Conversely, take the green band members of Cake, who not only run their recording studio on 100 percent solar energy, but also promote carpooling to their concerts.
' In celebration of Quirktober, Irreference is providing helpful tips to put you in a quirky, sorta spooky mood. Unreported by both Cosmo and Shmitten Kitten, the 'How to Tell if Your Boyfriend is a Time Traveler from the Past' post will help you identify and address quandaries that come from any Kate & Leopold situation.
' When it comes to music, I'm usually the last to know. Take the fact that I thought Electric Six was the name of another whiny pop-punk band (minus Pete Wentz). When it's more like ' The Darkness or The Scissor Sisters. (My attempt at comparison ends there.) Anywho, the E6 is playing tonight at 9.m. at Johnny Brenda's (1201 N. Frankford Ave., 215-739-9684), for $13-$15. Check out Phillyist's coverage of the band, complete with one of the most entertaining music videos I've seen in a while. (Anyone else notice the Rocky Horror influence?)
' It's a good thing the funny bone isn't located in your head, as local comedian Spins Nitely was one of the victims of Shane Victorino's wayward flying bat on Sunday. Hawaii's 5-0 is the generous sort, as he gave autographed bats to those he whacked. Nitely told The Insider he passed the gift on to his son, who the comedian identified as 'Two Shows.' Two Shows? I don't get it. Perhaps it's an inside joke? Or maybe the funny bone is in your head. Wah wah.
In this week's Agenda section, we told you all about Philly comic Todd Glass, a sharply sarcastic, yet genuinely sweet guy who's touring with David Cross. And then we thought: Why not talk to Cross, the silly goose behind Arrested Development and Mr. Show, too? He gave us the scoop on his new book, Mormons and his eventual plan to make a humorous soups line. If you still want more after this Q&A, he'll be at the Merriam Theater (250 S. Broad St., 215-732-5997) this Tue., Oct. 20 at 8 p.m., for $35.
City Paper: What subject do you hate to talk about in interviews?
David Cross: The question about what do I like doing more, if I could only do one ' standup or writing or film, TV or acting ' just because that's based on a hypothetical that will never happen. That was going to be your first question. I'm sorry.
CP: What's taken so long to make Arrested Development into a movie?
DC: We haven't made it, we're waiting to get a script. But everyone wants to make it, I can promise you that.
CP: You're on tour for the newly released book, I Drink For A Reason. What do you think of book tours and the people who show up to say hi to you for 20 seconds? What do you talk about?
DC: It's a good skill to learn that I lacked and I was kind of dreading it a little, but I'm actually really enjoying it. For a long time when I first became successful or recognized or known, I wouldn't even say I was shy, I just didn't want to talk about me or that or whatever and felt awkward, couldn't accept a compliment and stuff like that and this book tour has been really good with helping me learn to be accessible and to step back and go, "Oh, these are really nice people. They're fans of mine ' fuckin' take a minute out for fuck's sake." I'm enjoying it more than I thought I would, just knowing my personality. But I'm also doing these book signings in places I'm doing shows and the tour has been really fun and I'm having a great time, so if I was just doing the book tour it might be a little different.
CP: You've got the comedy, the TV, the movies, the books ' anything you haven't tried that you'd like to get into?
DC: I guess bumper stickers, really funny bumper stickers. And soups, like a line of humorous soups. I'd like to do some themed hotels ' like start off in a region then hopefully they'd spread nationally and then internationally.
CP: Would you plaster your face all over the walls?
DC: Well, it would be bits of my face. What I would do is very, very lightly ' just with a comb ' kind of scratch the skin so I could take little pieces of the skin and embed them into the paint.
CP: Well before that kicks off, we're still glad you're coming to Philly to perform comedy at the Merriam Theater.
DC: I am? No one told me that.
CP: What do you think of when you hear the word "Philadelphia"?
DC: Well, it's tough to get past booing Santa Claus. I have spent a little bit of time in Philadelphia and I like it more than people seem to think I'm going to like it.
CP: How has your comedy changed over the years in terms of how you're received by audiences? Do you find them more tolerant of your offensive humor or do you catch more shit each time you cross a line?
DC: With every tour I do, with every piece of material I release, more and more people become familiar with my point of view. When you're going, 'The thing you believe in is ridiculous,' then people get upset, but you just don't find that now because people have a pretty good idea of [what they're in for].
CP: You played a very animated depiction of the biblical figure Cain in the recent movie Year One. Did you see that opportunity as just another fun way to satirize the foundations of religion doctrine?
DC: For me, acting is a vacation because there are so many less responsibilities, and the idea of getting to do kind of a fun, meaty character in a Harold Ramis' movie with a bunch of my friends ' that's a dream. So it really had nothing to do with "Oh boy, I get to poke fun at the Old Testament," because that's also going to be a much milder take on what my view would be.
CP: It's been a couple of years since you were doing things like Rock Against Bush. Have recent changes in the political climate shaped your approach?
DC: I was never much of a political comic before the Bush stuff. That was a very unique time that we can look back on, but it lacks the drama and the urgency it had. So there's less of that now, plus Obama hasn't been in office for that long so the stuff I talk about tends to be more all-encompassing in general. And with all that other stuff, I've already said all those things, so there's not a whole lot new to say about the Republican party.
CP: With the interview being just about over, what subject do you wish I'd asked you about?
DC: I would love to have talked about Mormonism.
CP: Oh, well we actually have another minute '
DC: I can't, I can't. I'm not givin' any secrets away. Come on down to the show young man, you'll get an earful.
We know, we know. We've been a little Philly Improv Festival-crazy today. Humor us once more:
Comedy troupe Baby Wants Candy's new musical, which premieres tonight at Society Hill Playhouse (507 S. Eighth St., 215-923-0210) at 8 p.m.,'for $15, is so raw that it still doesn't have a director, a script, or even a title. That's because you, yes, you, have to spontaneously suggest the title and Baby Wants Candy, the headlining group for this year's Philly Improv Festival, will make up and perform the entire show on the spot. I spoke with the troupe's executive producer, Emily Dorezas, before the show.
Critical Mass: You rely on the crowd to select a spontaneous title and topic of your improv musical. How much do you trust audiences?
Emily Dorezas: They will take whatever they hear and it doesn't really matter if it makes no sense at all. It can be a completely inside joke between two audience members and it could be in a foreign language, and the cast will make whatever they're given their own. We had "Barack Obama Baby Mama Drama,"Harry Potter in the Hood." I will say that most of the cast has read the Harry Potter books, but half the cast hasn't. So if they get a title like that, half the cast is just making up their own Harry Potter nonsense and the rest of the cast is really into it. One of my favorite titles is "I Slept With My Friend's Girlfriend Last Night," because that was like so real and you could tell that probably happened.
CM: How do you prepare for a show?
ED: Our prep is sound check and an opening number and vocal, and that's it. We don't talk about what we're going to do that night.
CM: You have a long list of performers. What's the transition like for newbies to the group ' any hazing?
ED: (Laughs.) There's really no process. We kind of throw them into the fire. We keep an eye on people and listen to recommendations and occasionally we'll do auditions, and then we really don't know about someone until we see them in front of an audience in a Baby Wants Candy show.
CM: My grandmother has a brand-new colostomy bag and she's ready for some good old diaphragmatic laughter, but I need to know that the crew is able to keep the show family-friendly.
EG: It's not necessarily family-friendly. It'll probably be PG-13. It's language and content. You're not gonna see anything like ' errrr, although you might.
CM: I know it's all improv, but are there any themes that surface often within the group?
EG: At its core it's a musical, so the one thing you can always guarantee is that the first song is going to be a group number that's like a big opening number of a musical. After that, it tries to follow the conventions of a musical and have some kind of connection by the end with an ending number, but sometimes it doesn't happen.
CM: If the players are this funny under pressure on stage, what's it like when you're all together in real, casual life?
EG: Lots of crossword puzzles. Quiet time and reflection.
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