Last night, Kyle Kinane, Portland's Ian Karmel, NYC's Rolo Perez and Philly's own Aaron Hertzog absolutely killed it at Helium. Feature act Karmel (Portlandia) nearly stole the show with his riotous bits about being terrified of shark attacks, but Kinane — who's been on John Oliver's NY Standup Show, Conan, Live at Gotham and others — won the audience over with weirdly hilarious stories about drunk-dialing a cab to take him to the drive-thru at Wendy's, and the time he saw a crazy guy eating pancakes out of a plastic shopping bag on an airplane.
Kinane is undoubtedly — if not already — one of the next huge names in standup comedy. His acclaimed comedy album Death of the Party is available on Amazon and iTunes. "I'm just lucky they're actually paying me to do comedy," says Kinane. "I don't know where I'll be in three years and that's exciting to me. I just want to keep writing, keep coming up with new material."
The whole crew will perform again tonight and tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. For tickets ($21-$33), visit heliumcomedy.com.
Beatbox Philly is a ComedySportz Fringe offering that blends improv storytelling with freestyle rap. Adapted from its original iteration in Chicago, Beatbox Philly features five of ComedySportz's fastest-rhyming improvisers, performing Fri., Sept. 13 and Sat., Sept. 14 at 10 p.m. at the Adrienne (2030 Sansom St.).
Sue Taney, Kevin Lopez, Mark Leopold, Bobbie Block and Darryl Charles will perform a long-form scene based on an audience suggestion, stopping frequently to engage each other in impromptu rap battles. The improvisers will be accompanied by guest beat-boxers, including DJ Footie Pajamas (aka Matt Lally of local sketch duo Animosity Pierre).
Philadelphia's very original, very funny all-girl sketch-comedy troupe ManiPedi was founded in the summer of 2011 by Madonna Marie Refugia, who was asked to put something together for a show at Camp Tabu. She enlisted the help of funny ladies Shannon Brown, Briana Kelly, Kaitlin Thompson and Aubrie Williams, and named the group after a word she made up to describe the moment when she gets drunk and can't feel her hands and feet.
I asked member Aubrie Williams what about ManiPedi's comedic influences. "We're all Kids in the Hall fans, we love The State. We love Amy Poehler, Tina Fey and Louis CK, of course. We've also been super inspired by Philly groups Camp Woods, The Feekos, Secret Pants and Meg and Rob. Separately, we're also influenced by different things, and we have different voices when we write sketches, which makes the collaborative process really awesome."
Twenty-six year-old Temple grad James Hesky has just been named Philly’s Phunniest 2012 at Helium. Hesky — who works with special-needs adults — has been doing comedy in earnest for just four years. I got to chat with him the day after he won the thousand bucks and the title.
City Paper: Congratulations James! Tell us about your comedy background.
James Hesky: I always loved comedy growing up. I used to make my parents come into Blockbuster with me so they could rent George Carlin VHS [tapes], because they were all NC-17. I heard about the Northeast Philly Comedy Cabaret open mic, and I got my start there. I went out and did a couple of open mics, and I was awful — just like everyone is when they first start — so I wasn’t having a good time. I put it aside for a while. A couple years later I was getting ready to graduate from college, and I was like, “Well, now’s a good a time as any to try it again.” I had been keeping up a blog for me and my friends, and I thought, “Well I’m still exercising that muscle a little bit, so let’s try comedy.” Then I went out and I met guys like Conrad Roth and Chris Cotton and Danny Ozark and Monroe Martin. Those are some of the guys that got me started going to every open mic in the city Sunday to Thursday, sometimes twice a night.
CP: That seems to be common, the false-start comedy beginning. Why do you think that is?
JH: I think if you’re self-aware, you realize how much you suck when you first get started. And it’s so painful to be up there being absolutely terrible, eating it when you first get started. And stepping away gives you enough space to come back at it the right way. And you either learn or you don’t, but the people that stick with it learn that you can get up on stage multiple times a night and you can work through that pain a lot faster. When I bomb it’s like the worst feeling in the world, and I know when it’s not a good joke or I’m not getting the reaction that I want. It’s hard to put yourself through that over and over. When you got on-stage multiple times per week, it’s like, “Oh, I had a bad set, but I’ll be better later tonight or tomorrow.” You start to learn that there’s something there in the joke, you’re close to it, but there’s something missing. And learning that feeling is pretty important.
This past Wednesday, Camp Woods Plus featured sketch comedy by The Feeko Brothers and NYC’s Reformed Whores (as well as, obviously, Camp Woods).
The Feekos took the stage first, bringing their usual array of absurd premises grounded in emotional, relatable characters. Some of their bits included a guy visiting a veterinarian with pointed inquiries as to what they do with the neutered canine testes, and a doctor who just found out he has cancer, trying to give his patient test results without making it all about himself.
Each Camp Woods Plus show features an out-of-town act. Taking the stage next were Reformed Whores. They’ve performed at famous NYC venues such as Caroline’s On Broadway, Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theatre and Gotham Comedy Club. These two young ladies — brandishing a ukulele and an accordion — sang hilarious, modern songs about drunk-dialing and douche-baggery in a very old-westerny style. Think a duo of young Dolly Parton singing Stephen Lynch tunes.
What's up, hot dog?
Scott Aukerman, Tim Heidecker, Jason Adomian and Kurt Braunohler will turn the podcast-turned-TV show Comedy Bang! Bang! into a live show tomorrow night at the Troc. Wanna go? Write a haiku inspired by the show right now and email it to email@example.com with the subject "GIMME COMEDY BANG! BANG! TICKETS" and we'll give you two tickets.
We're gonna pick a winner at like 4:30 p.m. today, so enter now and I'll see you at the movies.
We have a winner! Congratulations to Chris C for this gem that makes me wonder if he actually wants to go:
Are these guys kidding?
Comedy "bang bang" indeed
Blowing my brains out
Once a month, Jim Grammond hosts Reasonable Discourse With Jerks at the Philly Improv Theatre. It’s a panel discussion show where comedians discuss, riff, or argue about whatever’s the topic du jour. (Think Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn). I had a brief Q&A with Grammond about his show, which will be running this Wed., Aug. 8, 9 p.m.
City Paper: How long has Reasonable Discourse With Jerks been running?
Jim Grammond: I took over for Luke Giordano’s The Bully Pulpit last July when he moved to L.A. Due to the Shubin’s schedule, this week will sort of be our official one year show.
CP: How would you compare this to the original Bully Pulpit?
JG: At first it had a lot in common with it, there were a lot of current events. I was trying to keep it in the same direction Luke was taking it because I really liked the show, which is why I asked Luke if I could take the show over when he left. But now I think it’s kinda changed a little bit. I’ve gotten away from the current events a somewhat and allowed it to develop in whatever direction the guests wanna take it, and it goes to some weird places. But that’s when the show is best, so my job is to keep it moving, but I never wanna tell the guests not to go to those weird places.
CP: Who do you have on the show this week?
JG: We have Steve Rees, who’s a recent comeback, kinda like I am. He’s a very funny guy, I’m glad he’s back doing it. There’s Eric Todd, who is a force of nature. Also, Ryan Shaner, who’s hilarious. Every time I’ve seen him perform, he blows me away. Lastly on the show is Roger Weaver, who is someone I’ve been a fan of since I’ve started.
CP: Who are some of the best guests you’ve had?
JG: Probably the one I’ve heard from the most people that they really enjoyed him being on the show is Steve Miller Miller. He’s so different from what alot of other comics are in Philly, I love the guy, he’s so out there. He stands out. Sometimes you get a really good back and forth between the guests. Like when I had Tommy Pope and Gregg Gethard on at the same time, they got a little big testy, more than any other pairing of guests, I think. There’s a lot of people I want to have on who I haven’t had on, and there are other people I’ve had on more than once, because I’m comfortable with them. Every show I try to have at least one or two comedians who I hang out with on a regular basis because that makes me more comfortable, and I think that comes through.
CP: What’s your comedy background?
JG: I was born in raised in the Philly Suburbs and went to Pittsburgh for college. When I was 24 I started at the Laugh House, and I went on in front of no audience. I walked off stage after two minutes horrified, I thought, “I shouldn’t have done this.” But I kept going with it. I took a break around 2007 for a few years, and started back up around 2011, so I’m sort of in my second phase of it.
James Hesky has been helming "The Monthly Hour" at Philly Improv Theater since February, when Chip Chantry retired his "One Man Show (with Special Guests)." In addition to Hesky, Philly comedy-faves Jim Grammond, Darryl Charles, Mary Radzinski, Pat House and Mikey Gleason write and perform a mix of current-events-mocking and hilarious characters for each show, which occurs the last Monday of every month.
Says Hesky, "It's been a lot of fun to work on it. It’s basically an excuse for me to work with some of the funniest people in the city. I get to meet and exchange emails with a group of comedians trying to find a way to take current events and make them funny. Then after the show is over we throw it all away and start fresh."
The Monthly Hour crew writes about half of the show — about 25 minutes of material every month — and has guests on for the other half.
"It wouldn’t work without the mix of people that we have. Mikey is amazing at editing and directing our video sketches. Mary came up with this great character “the Advisor” (pictured right with Hesky) who gives awful advice with way more confidence than any person should have. Darryl is the best actor out of all of us by far, and Jim and Pat have really helped with monologue jokes and shaping our sketches. It’s just a great group."
Every Friday, Ryan Carey covers the people and events that are giving Philly the giggles.
Last night, Greg Proops recorded his Smartest Man in the World podcast to a crowd of hardcore fans at Helium. A long episode capping off at two hours and fifteen minutes (quite a bit longer than his usual "Proopcasts"), the comedian detailed his visit to historical sites in Old City and listed his favorite soul-singers to emerge from Philadelphia during the '70s. He also discussed Pete Rose, and explained why Satchel Page is one of the greatest ball players ever to play the game (an important moment for Proopcast fans, since he discusses negro-league baseball very frequently and it became an in-joke to mention Satchel Page at least once on every episode.)
His Smartest Man podcast is gaining lots of steam. Says Proops, "I’ve had more writeups and more attention for the podcast than anything I’ve done in the last 20 years. I’ve done Asscat over at the UCB, I’ve done full-on musical Shakespeare in London, I've been doing "Whose Live" on tour with the guys from Whose Line is it Anyway and I was on audible doing Audible Proops from 2001 to 2005. I’ve had more fun doing [the podcast] than anything else during this time."
It's an unusually busy weekend for laughs in Philadelphia. There are a number of options, but staying home isn't one of them!
The N Crowd (pictured) — These Philly regulars killed it at Philly Comedy Month, and they're doing their mix of short-form improv games tonight — and every Friday — at 8 p.m. at The Actors Center (257 N. Third St., $12-$15, phillyncrowd.com.
Comedysportz — The Adrienne Theater (2030 Sansom St.) stalwarts will be doing "The Blue Show" in addition to their regular improv-charged competition at 7:30 p.m. "The Blue Show" — at 10 p.m. — is exactly what it sounds like: Not family friendly. Vulgar. X-rated. Don't bring the kids. $12, comedysportzphilly.com.
PHIT — Stand-up Comedy: Children's Story @ 8 p.m: Top local comics tell stories from their youth, featuring Doogie Horner, Juliet Hope Wayne, James Hesky, Mary Radzinski, Carl Boccuti, Johnny Goodtimes and Chip Chantry. The Theme Show Presents: "Independence Day" at 10 p.m.: Philly comedians perform fresh material based on the theme. Hosted by Steve Swan (Bare Hug, Mayor Karen) and Pat Foy (Camp Woods). $10-$12, Shubin Theater, 407 Bainbridge St., phillyimprovtheater.com.
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