Wednesday, April 23, 2008

All Up In Yer Scenes

All across the country, comedy shows are rising out of the concrete:

Shecky Magazine writes about a Denver reporter who is putting together a book about "indie comedy". The reporter, John Wenzel, recently wrote about the Denver collective Wrist Deep Productions who are seeing some great results:

...rowdy crowds have always been part of Tuesdays at the Squire. The open-mic contest typically draws 100 people to the cramped space, making it the bar's busiest night.

And it doesn't even start until 11:15 p.m.
but Wenzel makes sure to note that it didn't happen overnight:
They paid their dues at nearly every comedy club, bar and music venue in town. After nine months of poor turnout, the Squire open-mic nights finally clicked and began drawing large crowds. That was almost four years ago.
In the District of Columbia (a.k.a. "D.C."), the folks over at put on a bi-weekly stand-up show, "Top Shelf".

Meanwhile, the Village Voice profiles Klaus Kinski and's new comedy show "Rock and ROFL" that combines sorta-under-the-radar NYC comics (Reggie Watts, Kumail Nanjiani, Sean O'Connor, etc.) with music (John Vanderslice, etc.).

And finally, in San Francisco, presents a bunch of shows along with a new weekly show "Something People Like" with Chad Lehrman and Justin Lamb.

We'll keep you updated on what Philadelphia does next...


Anonymous said...

You know what Philly does Dave. I met a girl at DIE ACTOR DIE on Monday, who is moving here from Chicago. She was inquiring about the comedy scene, because her teacher at Second City said "There is nothing going on in Philly comedy-wise." How false that is! But how/why would he know the scene is ramping up. DAD has been going strong on Monday nights for about a year and a half, BEDTIME STORIES sells out The Shubin ever first Wednesday, Danny Ozark's SOUR GRAPES has been getting lots of press and attention lately, The Philly Improv Theater continues to grow having started 2 years ago and this past Friday, this very blog presented a night of sketch comedy, WELCOME TO THE TERRORDOME, to a packed house at The M Room. On the horizon is the Philly Sketch Fest, the Imporv Festival (now in its 3rd year) and Society of Secret Jokes at Fergie's. Granted we are not a bastion of comedy like New York, Chicago, Boston or SF but we have our shit going on too.

d said...

Well yes, I'm not trying to insinuate that Philly isn't doing enough, that's obviously not the case considering what is mentioned on this blog every week.

I guess that last sentence is kind of vague. Like I'm saying "shame on you Philly, you're so lazy!", which is definitely not the case! My fault.

Hopefully that woman from Chicago checks out this website!

Anonymous said...

The Philly comedy scene is awesome and is getting better by the day. The main reason it's awesome is because a lot of really awesome stuff has gone past the "this idea just hatched" stage and a lot of the folks (such as myself) who started doing things a year or two ago now have some experience to combine with their youthful exuberance.

Also, what's great about Philly comedy is that there is this really great "us against the world" mentality here. Philly naturally has a chip on its shoulder against New York, Washington, Chicago and the other big cities in all aspects of pop culture. But the comedy scene has that AND an "us against them" mentality with local stuff -- music, DJ nights, other established things, etc. It's taken a while and a lot of effort but I think it's safe to say that over the past four months Philly's alt. comedy scene has not just come-of-age but also has emerged.

And, unlike industry towns, in Philly, everyone who does comedy does it because they love it. While we might not have the professionalism or the experience of New York performers, we have a lot of people here constantly coming up with new ideas and willing to try new things. There's no risk in trying something completely different down here. That is awesome and punk rock.

The one thing we can't do, however, is rest on our laurels. Collectively, we all have to keep on asking ourselves what we can do to make our shows better. And we also have to continuously keep making goals for ourselves.

The one goal the Philly Comedy Community should have -- someone in our scene has to look to break nationally. And in this age of video and the Internets, it's going to happen. We all have to keep coming up with ideas as to how to make that happen because it will within the next two years.

Also, it'd be nice if someone local could open for a big national name and steal the show from them.


Anonymous said...

Also, I dabbled in comedy up in Boston when I lived up there. The stuff in Philly is consistently better.

Boston has two distinct advantages, however: 1) The Comedy Studio at Harvard Square. This is a great comedy club run by a guy who is a comedy vet who is an incredible teacher and lover of comedy. They have a ton of open mic night stuff there where you get a lot of feedback. Also, good local acts open for national acts there. That venue is just such an incredible asset for Boston.

There are a few other open-mic night spots that were pretty good and two small improv theaters.

But in terms of material, the various performers in Philly are consistently better than what was going on when I was in Boston. We just lack anyone with a lot of experience who is also a great teacher (even though Don Montrey is an awesome mentor-type, and he'd probably hate me saying that.) And we also lack a venue like the Comedy Studio or UCB or the places in Chicago.

This isn't a bad thing, though. Someone from our scene is going to buy space for our own theater someday. And us having ownership over our own space is going to a huge thing for us when it happens.

But in terms of material -- the stuff I've seen in Philly is better than what was going on in Boston. In Boston, there were a handful of good stand-ups, a few improv shows and nothing of note in terms of sketch or other things like that.

I'd put my favorite folks from Philly up against any of them.

2) Boston also has a ton of national colleges. Harvard, MIT, BC, BU, Emerson and Northeastern are giant colleges in a city with a great public transit system. So you have a natural audience up there. You also have a lot of transience up there. I didn't actually meet anyone from the Boston-area when I lived up there. People go to school there. Some stay but most leave. So someone like David Cross or Eugene Mirman emerging from Boston makes sense.

Philly has one national college in UPenn, a few bigger schools (but with mostly local students) in Temple and Drexel and a bunch of really small schools like La Salle or St. Joe's. And none of these schools are really close to Center City and our mass transit sucks. Also, since Philly is so cheap, a lot of people stay here after school. We're a more provincial city.

We need to start thinking more "national" with what we do. Folks up in Boston think that way naturally. We don't. We need to change that. Once someone in our scene carves out a national name, it's going to happen for everyone else.