2008 is quickly coming to a close and we are sharing some Philadelphia comedians Top 5 lists.
Doogie Horner, stand-up comic, host of The Ministry of Secret Jokes
5. Steve Gerben’s Yo Mama meltdown at the Ministry of Secret Jokes. He called the crowd a bunch of douche bags after they booed him during the battle, then grabbed the Omniana championship belt and yelled “I’m the fucking champion!”
4. John Kensil’s opener for Philly’s Funniest: John walked on stage holding a puppet. When he got to the mic he looked down at the puppet, paused, and discarded it without comment.
3. The 24 hour standup marathon at the Walking Fish, especially Amir Golan’s set, where he and Steve Odabashian led the crowd in a sing along version of "Don’t Stop Believing".
1. Nolan Gilbride’s joke: “I hate how rappers act like they invented treating women like shit.”
Rob B., Meg & Rob
I chose primarily local events. I'm really amazing at what my peers do regularly.
1. Kent interviews Aaron at "Why Am I Not Famous?!?"
Just so sharp yet off-the-cuff. I embarrassed myself by snorting and not being able to control my laughter.
2. Bush or Batman: The Phenomenon
A necessary break-out for this year. The premise and execution is amazing.
3. Bedtime Stories: History.
First one I've seen in it's entirety. Gregg was a great host, Pennslyvania historical class slide-show was amazing, 6th B's Oregon Trail sketch was clever, and it was just a beautiful beer soaked night.
4. Roasting of Brendan Kennedy's Friend at Ministry of Secret Jokes
"He had sex with Gwen once." 'Nuff said.
5. Kevin Allison's Sketch Class
Notice - Philly comedy outranks anything else I saw. There's a reason for that. Because there are some great shows happening with really talented folks. Something that really helped me focus as a performer and writer was taking Kevin Allison's class in New York. He's a really great listener and helpful sharpening your pieces. Plus, met some really great folks up there.
Alexis Simpson, The Rare Bird Show, Illegal Refill, Artistic Director of the Philly Improv Theater
5) Rowan & Hastings built a raft. Then they took it to the Schuykill. THEN they rapped about it. Lucky for you, they made a video about the whoooooole thing. )
4) Anton Shuford. My favorite Philadelphia stand-up. Saw him at the CvsA Comedy Show a couple of months ago, and damn if he didn't make both unemployment and DUI arrests seem so adorable.
3) The Action Section's Halloween Spectacular - Hands down the best sketch show I saw this year. Where did these guys come from? The show was well-written - not a single wasted line - and the acting was just terrific. Higlights include a terrific riff on famed scary poem The Raven and a bit on Michael McDonald singing the hits of John Williams. You might say to yourself "Didn't Family Guy already cover the Michael Mcdonald comedy ground?" But then you will recall that Family Guy is a haphazard and lazy Frakenstein's monster of hastily assembled fart jokes, and you will wish you had seen the show. Do yourself a favor and check out the Action Section's videos - "7 of Clubs" and "M Night" are both pretty rad.
2) TIE, Wonkette & Comics Curmudgeon. Do you like politics? Do you like swearing? Do you like it when you put your mouse over a photo and an awesome caption pops up? Then Wonkette is the blog for you, my friends. Three or four hilarious writers post cynical, curse-laden updates 8-10 times a day. Higlights include cute nicknames for political celebrities and the annual War on Xmas gift guide. Say you want the benefit of giggling to yourself like an asshole while all your coworkers wonder if you ever do any damn work, but you don't want to wade into the self-important world of Political Snarkiness. Well, my friend, the Comics Curmudgeon might be more up your alley. In short, Josh reads every single one of the daily newspaper comics - including Mary Worth! - so you don't have to. Great writing and witty commenters abound in a politics-free atmosphere.
1) BassProv. The show's premise is fairly simple: it's a longform improv piece in which Donny Weaver and Earl Hinkle (played by improv legends Mark Sutton and Joe Bill) go fishin', drink beer, and solve the world's problems. The ingenious twist? Typical longform improv results in characters and relationships that disappear into the ether after about 25 minutes. In Bassprov, every single performance produces in-the-moment discoveries that are then weaved into the permanent reality of the character. Example: over the decade or so that BASSprov has existed, Earl has married and divorced no less than 4 times. See them once and you'll laugh your face off - because Joe and Mark are fucking hysterical (and particularly skilled at backing each other into corners for comic effect). See them more than once to truly appreciate that they are doing more than just making ha-has.
Brendan Kennedy, stand-up comic
5. Me falling off the stage upstairs at The Troc.
4. Fastball Pitcher Bob Gutierrez explaining to myself, Chip, and Don the ups and downs of being a fastball pitcher, and how bad it is when the batters know that you will only be throwing fastballs.
3. Chris Harrje's hilarious personal tragedies, such as his collapsed lung (2007), broken wrist (early 2008) and most recently, finding blood on his cue tips after he cleans his ears.
2. Jon Goff's halloween costume Powerpoint at the October edition of Die Actor Die!
1. A young man by the name of Josh who was of diminutive stature, at the Helium open mic, saying, "I know what you're thinking, so let me get this out of the way." Then proceeding to sing the lollipop guild song from The Wizard Of Oz, with awkward little kicks and arm swinging and everything. If anyone has video of this, I will pay you for it. His performance made my soul happy.
Mark Dames, improviser, PHIT ticket guy
5. Walking Fish Theatre's 24 hour stand-up marathon - On Labor Day, as part of the Philly Fringe Festival, the Walking Fish Theatre, in my hometown of Fishtown USA, hosted their 1st annual (hopefully) day-long stand-up event. Co-hosted by Chip Chantry and Doogie Horner, it was an interesting mix of Philly's best and brightest comedians performing for some of Fishtown's finest. And by finest, I mean some burnt-out 42-year olds you swear were at least in their early 70's.
I watched around 15-16 hours of the 24 hour fest. And my favorite moment happened around 9 AM, when a nice family of five strolled in. Mom, Dad and their three teenagers, who definitely were not from Fishtown, and walked into an ambush. The comedienne onstage, whose act consisted mainly of an explicit discourse on her sex life, asked Dad if he, like many men, had a nickname for his penis. She harangued both Father and Mother, in front of their own kids for at least five minutes. Next Labor Day, they'll probably just go to a nice brunch instead. I, however, will be at the Walking Fish.
Plus, I got to tell stories onstage, about selling Porn, at 5:30 AM!
4. Matt Holmes: One-Man show. - During a week of benefit shows for Project H.O.M.E. hosted by Philly Improv Theater in March, Rare Bird Show's Matt Holmes took on a cadre of Matt Holmes impersonators all by himself, in an improv battle to the death! Well not quite. First no one died, and secondly, he had some help, from the audience. Now, most improvisers get assistance from the audience in the form of verbal suggestions, but Mr. Holmes, brought up people in the audience, one of whom had never even seen an improv show to perform with him. The genius part was not Matt himself being hilarious, that's a given, but he actually made the first-timers shine too.
3. On two consecutive Sunday mornings in October, while on my way to work at 10 AM, I saw the same gentleman, drop trou and take a shit on the corner of 20th and Market Sts. It was comforting to see that even older insane folks have their daily routines. I've been a little late to work every Sunday since.
2. Boston improv group CODE DUELLO came and did two shows at the Shubin Theater back in May. They do an improvised re-imaging of the famous duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton, and what led up to it. Their second show was one of the two best improv sets I’ve ever seen. It involved Hamilton losing his fortune betting on cockfights, with one of the contestants being a man dressed as a chicken. Please come back to Philly soon.
1. Kent Haines' show has been awesome since show number one, back in July. But the December 3rd edition was amazing. One of his guests was comedian Brendan Kennedy. Brendan who's always hilarious with his angry and acerbic take on life, showed us his softer side that night. He read a painfully hilarious letter written to a girlfriend, pouring out his heart to a girl who had already moved on. It was one of the ballsiest performances I've seen by any comedian in Philly. He really put himself out there, and it paid off in spades, mostly for those of us lucky to be in the Shubin Theatre that night. I hope more people in Philly realize that the best comedy comes from your personal experiences, the more painful they are, the more the audience will connect on an emotional level, and the bigger the laughs. Brendan then, improbably topped himself, with having a staged reading of a scene from a colleague's crime drama script. Fucking-A man! That was the hardest and longest I’ve laughed all year long.