Monday, June 30, 2008

THE COMIC VS. AUDIENCE COMEDY SHOW: In Just One Week!

Mark your calendars, start your engines, and do whatever else you have to do to get yourself out to our first ever comedy show! Why are we doing this!? Because there are a lot of great stand-up comics, but not enough shows. And why at the Shubin Theatre? Because bar shows are fun, but it will be great to have a comedy show in an intimate theater environment as this one. We're excited to team up with the Philly Improv Theater to bring your four hilarious stand-up comics every month. Here's the details:

The Comic Vs. Audience Comedy Show
Monday, July 7th, 2008
at the Shubin Theatre (407 Bainbridge St.)
8PM
$5 (you can buy tickets here)
with:
Joey Dougherty (young, scrappy upstart)
Josh Bennett (quick & deadly)
Aaron Hertzog (Big Man about town)
Steve Gerben (2007 Philly's Phunniest Person, pretty funny guy)
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Friday, June 27, 2008

VIDEO: Ministry of Secret Jokes Instructional Video #1: How To Dress Mysteriously

At this past Wednesday's Ministry of the Secret Jokes show at Fergie's, host Doogie Horner began the process of welcoming the audience into the super shady, super mysterious organization that with invisible eyes and hands that control the night of comedy. The first step is to dress like the Ministry of Secret Jokes, hence the video below. Enjoy (NSFW):


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Thursday, June 26, 2008

HIDE YOUR SHAME by Gregg Gethard

Things just seem to happen to Gregg Gethard. After telling a few stories at comedy shows in New York City, he created his own monthly show in Philly, BEDTIME STORIES, to tell a few more. Over the past year the show has grown in audience and features some of the best comics in the city. The next installment of Bedtime Stories is July 9th.

I was on the toilet for about 45 minutes. Tears were welling up in my eyes. It had been a little over a month since my last bowel movement.
I could feel my stomach rumbling. My doctor had given me a prescription for that day. I don’t remember the name of the drug, but I do clearly remember the details of thismedication. It came in a 2-liter sized bottle and was a gray liquid, resembling “Crystal Gravy” from that old SNL commercial parody. And the taste...imagine having a man with untreated hepatitis vomit directly in your mouth and then rinse it out with the drip water from a wet hobo sock.

And finally… finally, I pooped. It was a small, rabbit-sized pellet. But it was quickly followed by another. And then a third. And then about 24 pellets all came firing out of my ass all at once. Then there was a firelog. And other firelog. And then, my turds started turning liquidy in nature. I now had diarrhea.

About three hours after taking this disgusting concoction, I was still on the toilet. And I was still pooping out liquid.

Hi! I’m Gregg Gethard. You probably know me already from duties hosting Bedtime Stories, a local comedy attraction which is already more popular than Jesus. You might also perhaps recognize me as the bubbly young chap in The Sixth Borough, Philadelphia’s most GLBT-friendly sketch comedy outfit. I’m also a known table tennis guru and unabashed Motley Crue fan.

But before all of that, I was 23 years old. I had awful stomach cramping, constant heartburn, lethargy, weight loss and stress.

This is the true story of how I once didn’t take a dump for nearly one whole month.

*****
The Beginning
In retrospect, I always have had bathroom issues. Diarrhea is a common aliment that everyone suffers from at some point in their lives. However, at times, I would have a weekly diarrhea outburst. There was no rhyme nor reason as to when it would occur. My quick-acting diarrhea could strike at any time: at home, at work, at school.

(Funny tangent: I have this friend from Germany who was living in Philly for a while. I asked him the German word for diarrhea. He said it was "flitzekaka" which literally translates to "lightning poop.")

The worst case of shock’n’awe diarrhea came in the summer of 1998. I was living in Philly at the time. One weekend, I was going to drive up to my parents house in North Jersey. It was one of those 100 degree days where the only possible way you could feel relief is by gunning down innocents outside of a supermarket. I ate an egg sandwich for breakfast and went on my way.

I was on the Turnpike but getting onto the Parkway. In the pre-EZPASS days, this interchange was always backed up. There was abut a three mile backup before the tolls. I sat and waited in my tan 1982 Monte Carlo, complete with vinyl bench seating.

Then, I felt the unmistakable sensations of an oncoming diarrhea attack. And it was brutal. I had my anus clenched. The stomach pain built and built. And then came a vice-lock grip on my bowels.

I had a debate on my hands. Should I get out of my car and poop in the little grass area next to the shoulder? I couldn’t do that -- it was 1 p.m. and the roadway was like a parking lot. Usually, I had a fast food bag or some other piece of garbage lying around my car. However, I found nothing suitable for me to poop into. There was nothing I could do. I had to wait it out.

But my diarrhea would not wait for me. I was inching up the road, with liquidy, rough poop coming out of my anus. I tried to clench, but that just made it worse. Finally, it all came out. I was 20 when I last shit my pants. I am guessing for most people they would say they were 4 when they last shit their pants.

After the toll plaza, I got out at the next exit. This is the MetroPark office complex and train station. The first building off the road was a Ramada Inn. I parked my car quickly and began to poop walk (a bow-legged walk that one would normally only use when clearing out a mine field) to the hotel.

Then, getting out of a car near me, was a recognizable face. It was one of my philosophy professors from school. The difference between La Salle University and other colleges is that classes are kept small so you get to know your professors. He clearly recognized me, as he was an easy A and I took him three times in two years. And he started to say hello to me.

I just nodded and felt a surge of liquid running down my back right leg. Thank God I was wearing Dickies.

When I reached the hotel, the first door I saw was a revolving door. Trying to negotiate entering this revolving door was a mentally handicapped individual. I am usually very kind to the mentally challenge. I would never poke them with sticks. However, at this time, I was very tempted to throw this guy through the glass so I could get to a bathroom.

Finally, I made it to one. I spent about 30 minutes unleashing my bowels and trying to clean myself. I was in really bad shape.

I called home. Thankfully, my dad picked up the phone. I explained to him what happened and asked if he could keep our one bathroom/shower free.

“Oh, don’t worry about it,” he said about my unfortunate circumstance. “That happens to everyone!”

This made me really curious about my father.

I drove to my parents house which was about 30 minutes away. When I got home, I saw my dad’s van was no longer in the premises. I walked in and my mom was there. I immediately asked where my dad was. She told me he had to go to work for an emergency.

I marched up to the bathroom which I desperately hoped would be free. Instead, inside I found my brother, our friend Fran and two girls they went to high school with giving Fran a jerri-curl in the bathjub.

I immediately went to my brother’s room, booted up “Road Rash” on his Sega Genesis, and sat on his bed in my poop-covered pants.

Hide Your Shame
After college, I started working as a newspaper reporter. While this was a pretty awesome job to have, it had some downsides. Primarily, the schedule was pretty insane. I had to work a decent amount of 12-hour days or go out at night to cover school board meetings and the like. The fact I was on the road so much meant that my diet largely consisted of fast food and bottle after bottle of Mountain Dew.

I guess I should not have been surprised when I started to have a constant burning sensation where my stomach met my chest. I went to the doctor. He asked me how my diet was. I told him it was fine. He then gave me a prescription for heartburn.

I felt fine for a few more weeks. But then, I started having major bathroom difficulties.

Whenever I would go to have a bowel movement, nothing would come out, save for the occasional rabbit turd. I would push and push and push until I could push no more.

I assumed this would pass. But it didn’t. And soon, I could barely eat since my digestive tract was pretty much shutting down.

I was given a referral for a G-I doctor. The one who could give me the earliest referral was named Dr. Oh.

I usually don’t like to go to doctors who sound nefarious. Dr. Oh sounds like the name of the guy wholeading North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

I should have trusted my instincts. Dr. Oh was an older Asian man who spoke in heavily accented, stereotypical Asian-inflicted English. He was staring at his chart when he asked me what my symptoms were.

I told him -- I had heartburn for a while, followed by severe stomach aches, and now I hadn’t had a bowel movement for over two weeks.

As soon as I said that, he jerked his eyes upwards from the chart and stared directly in my eyes. A small smile started to form on his face.

“Do you feel ashamed?” he asked me.

I didn’t know how to answer this question. In general? Yes, I feel ashamed a lot. But about this specifically? I’m not sure. This was just creepy and weird.

Before I could answer, he shouted at me again.

“You did not have bowel movement so you must feel shame,” he said. “What we must do is hide your shame. Take off your clothes now!”

I stripped down into nothing more than my boxer shorts and white tube socks. He then took his stethescope and listened to my stomach and chest.

Then he told me to take off my shorts. And to roll over on my back.

“I will see if I can see inside you to see what this is about.”

He then snapped on a rubber glove and inserted his fingers inside my rectum.

Laxatives and More
I’m not sure what Dr. Oh was looking for when he put his fingers up my ass. He muttered something about “rectal blockage” but it’s not like I’m the kind of guy who wedges large objects, or even small objects, or even any objects, up his ass. Not my scene.

He said he didn’t find anything. The next step was for me to take a bunch of laxatives to see if that did the trick. I went home, took a bunch of X-Lax, and waited. The only thing caused me was the feeling like there was a gnome in my stomach stabbing my intestines with a ballpoint pen. I laid down in bed for two straight days after this.

It was now three weeks since my last bowel movement. I had to have a special x-ray done. This x-ray was to look at my intestinal tract, to see how far along food was being processed. I had to take this giant horse pill that was transparent. Inside were metallic rubber band-like substances. The x-rays would see where the pill was in my stomach so they could diagnose my problem.

After the x-rays were over, the doctors were alarmed. The x-rays only focus on the lower digestive tract. The pill I had taken was nowhere to be found along there. And, obviously, it didn’t leave my poop shoot, either. They took a more general x-ray and confirmed it was right at the top of my stomach.

They deduced from there what the problem was.

My colon had, for all intents and purposes, completely stopped working.

And they went through a list of potential things which may have caused my colon to stop working.

And, near the top of the list, was the scariest fucking word in the English language.

Cancer.

Death’s Door
Being a neurotic by trade, I was convinced that I had colon cancer. I mean, it was something DOCTORS had thought I might have had. This wasn’t just me being a hypochondriac. I was completely despondent. I was 22. I mean, what the fuck? Why the hell was I staring down a possibly incurable, fatal disease? I hadn’t gotten anything published in a real newspaper or magazine. I had sex with one girl. I had never been to the West Coast or to Europe. I didn’t have a graduate degree.

I didn’t start living yet. And now...now I had a chance of possibly dying.

To determine why my colon was malfunctioning, I had to have a colonoscopy performed. I’m sure you’ve heard the word before. But you might not know what the procedure actually entails. A large snake-like tube is inserted up your rectum. At the end of the tube is a camera and small prongs. The camera is used to take a look inside your colon and the prongs are used to remove anything that they can remove, usually a small blockage.

If I actually had a tumor, then I would need major invasive surgery and would need months to recover. And that’s if it could be removed. Shit happens with things like tumors. And all I could think about was that the absolute worst would happen to me.

Before my colonoscopy was scheduled, my stomach HAD to be emptied. For this, they gave me a prescription of the disgusting clear gravy like substance mentioned earlier. If that didn’t do the trick, I was going to need a different surgical procedure to clear my stomach.

However, this obviously worked. After the three hour mark, I ceased to have diarrhea. But what I now had is what I can only dub as “post-diarrhea.” My ass started emitting a steady, fire hose like stream of pure black liquid. Anytime my bowels moved, my ass would pour this liquid for about 90 straight seconds.

All told, I sat on a toilet for six straight disgusting hours (I did make a healthy dent in David McCullough’s excellent biography on Harry S. Truman) until my stomach was completely empty and I passed out on my bed.

I woke up at 6 a.m. that morning for my colonoscopy. My dad drove me down. I was completely silent the whole way. Naturally, only bad things were going through my brain. I wanted

I was prepared, and put under. I was in a dream like haze for a few seconds and then I just went black.

Four hours later, I woke up. I was so nervous, that I would have shit my pants if I could actually shit my pants.

Dr. Oh came in, reading his chart and with x-rays in hand.

I waited for the new.

“You don’t have a tumor,” he told me. I nearly started to cy.

But he told me that I was really lucky. Four polyps from my colon, which both blocked my colon and messed around with the chemistry of how food is digested and processed. Because I had so many at such a young age, it was a big warning sign. With a few more weeks without being treated, I could have had a major health catastrophe.

Epilogue
As soon as I got home, I ate as much food as I possibly could. The thing the doctor said was I had to increase my fiber intake, so I pigged out on fruits and vegetables, probably the first time in my life I willingly ate fruits and vegetables. (The one vegetable I have to stay away from is lettuce, because the leafage of lettuce is really rough and causes constant blockages/irritation of my colon and rectum.)

Because of the polyps and the resulting blockage, I also would be facing a lifetime of stomach problems. I now have a mild form of colitis (narrowing of the colitis wall) and irritable bowel syndrome. This means that I can have horrible constipation (imagine if you had to poop gravel) or emergency diarrhea (a problem when you’re stuck in traffic, or if you’re a newspaper reporter and you’re covering an important school board hearing and it’s at the most important part of the meeting but you’re about to shit your pants and you have to walk out in front of the whole damn town with a poop stain in your pants) and there is no way to predict when I will have either. I used to bring baby wipes with me everywhere I went.

Also, I have to be careful of my diet. The one big change is a major decrease of alcohol intake. That’s why I don’t drink. I’m also supposed to not drink any soda, but that, along with my addiction to expensive hair care products, is my only consistent sin.

I also have to, every five years, have a colonoscopy to make sure things check out okay. So far, they have.

The IBS/colitis is mostly okay now. But it flares up every now and then. If you see me out somewhere and I have to leave abruptly, chances are it’s because I just pooped my pants a little bit.

And every time I feel liquid droppings fill my boxer shorts, I thank God that I’m able to feel that.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

COMIC VS. AUDIENCE PRESENTS: The Comic Vs. Audience Comedy Show, 7/7


Ladies and Gentlemen, we've got our own comedy show! We're excited to team up with the Philly Improv Theater to bring your four hilarious Philadelphia stand-up comics every first Monday of the month as part of PHIT's week at the Shubin Theatre (407 Bainbridge St.). Yeah, we know, stand-up with an improv theater, but the truth is the PHIT is a great source for comedy in the city and the Shubin is a great place to see it. So come on out! Here's the details:

The Comic Vs. Audience Comedy Show
Monday, July 7th, 2008
at the Shubin Theatre (407 Bainbridge St.)
8PM
$5
with:
Josh Bennett
Aaron Hertzog
Steve Gerben (2007 Philly's Phunniest Person)
and one more TBA (we'll tell you soon)
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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

THAT GUY, Episode 2

Every Tuesday we'll be posting the new episode of THAT GUY, a Sony original web series for C-Spot starring local comedian Kent Haines. Here, Kent is that guy that interrupts you when you're chatting online with your girl.



RELATED:
That Guy, Episode 1
Kent's got a new talk show
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Monday, June 23, 2008

Local Comedy News (mini-edition)

- Regular Die, Actor, Die host Don Montrey will not be fulfilling his duties for the next three months. But fear not, stand-up comic Chip Chantry will be taking his place! Will the show change any? We'll have to see Monday, July 21st.

- We'll leak Fringe Festival news and rumors as we hear 'em and here's another. The Walking Fish Theatre will hold a stand-up marathon on Labor Day (9/1) from noon to noon the next day.

- Comedian about town Kent Haines's got his own comedy show during PHIT's week at the Shubin Theatre (the first one is 7/9, 10PM). What will make this show, Why Am I Not Famous?!?, different? "Well first, I'm in it!" says Haines. "You no longer have to sit through an hour of 'comedy' at Die Actor Die or Bedtime Stories just to get a taste of the Haines. It's also a talk show, which shows the crowd how loose and charming I can be at cocktail parties. And I'll be having non-comedy folks on to play music or read poems or do whatever painters do when they're on stage. So there's that."
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Saturday, June 21, 2008

THIS SUNDAY: Meg & Rob at The Raven Lounge

Hot off their Chicago appearance, the sketch comedy duo Meg & Rob will be heading up to the Minnesota Fringe Festival this summer and they could use a little help from their friends (a.k.a. you). "Help" as in monetary funds to assist them to get to Minnesota. So they'll be performing old favorites, rare b-side sketches, weird auctions, and more at The Raven Lounge (1718 Sansom St.) this Sunday at 8PM. It's only $5 and hey, maybe you'll even win the Picture of the Night Rider Car!

As further encouragement, here's a sketch from their PHIT show at the Shubin Theatre a few months back.


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Friday, June 20, 2008

PHOTOS: Philly Sketchfest, 6/6

With all of the excitement this week, we almost forgot to post the photos we took from the Philly Sketchfest earlier this month. The two-day festival that included pretty much every sketch group in Philadelphia was a lot of fun and worked nicely in the beautiful theater at the Painted Bride. And, according to David Terruso, one of the producers, it raised $2,250 for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America. Next year's festival promises to be bigger with the possibility of bringing in out-of-town groups.

We were only able to be at the Friday show, so unfortunately we don't have photos from Saturday night.

Bad Hair



Host and One Man Sketch Group, Chip Chantry

Meg & Rob

Secret Pants


Rowan & Hastings



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Thursday, June 19, 2008

LITERARY ADVENTURE: The Time Machine, Part V

IN LAST WEEK’S LITERARY ADVENTURE: Doogie built a time machine with the intention of traveling back to 1894 London and watching H.G. Wells write the first page of his science fiction classic, The Time Machine. Instead he ended up in colonial in Philadelphia, where he lost a fight with a pygmy farmer and his battle ogre (who hit Doogie with a bathtub). After an exciting hallucination where he fought a giant squid, Doogie woke to find himself a captive in the farmer’s basement, where the farmer raised hobos like cattle and fed them to a race of Molemen™, who traded him gold for human flesh.

Wait, it gets dumber.

The farmer knew about the time machine, but hadn’t discovered it’s true use, believing it to be an advanced sheep shearing apparatus. The queen of the Molemen™, who was being held ransom by the farmer, was locked in the cage next to Doogie. She gave him a sigul along with instructions to find her father, and revealed a secret passage beneath his cell. Doogie broke through the passage and found nothing but cold, dark air beneath his feet. He fell.

Abandon all hope, ye who enter here!


– – – –

I was falling fast. I couldn’t gauge how fast, because I couldn’t see anything. But I could feel it in my stomach. I reached out and my hand smacked against the rushing rock, breaking my wrist. I screamed SHAZAM! on the off chance it would turn me into a superhero, and to my amazement—

POOF!

—the wind was knocked out of me. But I wasn’t hurt. It felt like someone had smacked me with a pillow. I was sitting in the middle of something big and spongy. I couldn’t see what though, it was still pitch black.

“Hey, what the fuck are you doing, dicknose?” A voice said to my left.

“You’ve dented our mushroom!” shrieked a voice on my right.

I screamed “Don’t come any closer! I have the chicken pox!” I was bluffing, but they didn’t know that. I heard them take a frantic step back.

“Ah! Don’t breath on us!” said Lefty.

“What’s chicken pox?” cried Righty.

“You’ll know soon enough,” I said in my scariest Batman voice.

“No, no! Spare us!”

I dramatically held out the Princess’s sigul in my left hand. “Princess Amidala gave me this.” There was a reverent silence.

“Uh, we can’t see what you’re holding. Your back is to us.”

“Oh, sorry.”

“Can you see anything?” Lefty said.

“I see everything,” I said in my best the Shadow voice. Bluff!

I spun around, held out the sigul, and I heard their knees hit the ground.

“The Princess is alive!” they cried.

– – –

A couple minutes later, Lefty, Righty, and I were zipping through the underground caverns on Hoverboards™, en route to see the King. They explained that they were mushroom farmers, and I was very lucky to have landed on one of their large fungi. They spent the next five minutes telling me how much they loved mushrooms.

Flying through the caverns, I felt the cold, stale air rush against my cheeks, but I still couldn’t see anything.

“There’s the crystal caverns,” said Lefty. “The artistry on the carved pillars is so lifelike, it seems to breath. They truly are a wonder greater than anything seen in the Aboveworld.”

“And look, the stalagtite birds are molting,” said Righty. “How their diamond wings shimmer off the golden frogs’ blinking eyeballs,”

“Yes,” I said, “It’s amazing.”

– – –

Presently we arrived at the court of the Molemen’s™ ruler, King Ralph, and got off our Hoverboards™.

“Halt, who goes there?” a deep voice boomed. I heard two swords clash in front of us, barring our way.

“Steve, it’s me. You know it’s me,” Lefty said.

A deep sigh. “Look Tom, I’m working right now. I know it’s you, but—“

“Then why’d you say ‘Who goes there?’ It’s me. You know that.” Awkward.

“Look, I’m the Dude, so that’s what you call me, I just—HOLY SHIT!” Apparently the guards just noticed me. “What is that?! It’s a Farm Person!” I heard their swords fly apart, and then a sound like steel hornets as they whipped out and sliced the air in front of me. I ducked and felt the tips of my hair sheared off.

I operated on adventurer instincts. I dodged left and heard a sword clang against stone where I stood a moment before, hot sparks striking my leg. The other guard’s sword flew between my legs as I executed a midair split.

“Stop!” Righty cried.

The guards both stopped.

“Tom, he’s with us,” Lefty said.

I heard the guards drop their swords. “Oh, sorry,” Tom said sheepishly. “It’s uh, you know. It’s my first day on the job.”

I heard the creaking of heavy stone doors.

“Go ahead in,” the second guard said. I heard him light a cigarette.

“Did you know the inlaid marble on these doors is carved in an exact duplicate of God’s left thumb print?” Righty whispered to me.

“Yes, I knew that,” I whispered back.

– – –

“Welcome to the throne room of the King of the Molemen™!” Trumpets blared, bouncing off the stone walls. Somewhere someone shook a tambourine. There were lots of Molepeople in here, breathing, mumbling, shifting nervously.

A regal voice cut through the noise right in front of me. “Welcome, Farm Person!”

Lefty and Righty whispered in my ears. “Kneel! Kneel!”

“Thanks. Thank you,” I stammered as I got down on my knees. What was I thanking him for? I was nervous.

“How do you like my throne room? I bet you never saw diamonds this big in Outland, huh? And my golden throne, isn’t it magnificent?”

“Yes, nice throne. It looks like God’s butt.”

“Why yes, it’s an exact replica!” His voice was expansive, benevolent. “I hear you have brought a sigul?”

“Yes.” I held it out, and the room gasped, suddenly silent.

Heavy footsteps descended and walked towards me. A thick robe brushed my face, and cold, gnarled fingers plucked the sigul from my hand.

“Amidala’s Muscle Man figurine. She’s alive?” His voice quivered.

“Yes, she’s alive.”

The King roared like a beast. The trumpets blared so loud I was afraid the cavern’s ceiling would collapse; pebbles rained down on our heads. The massed people cheered, and the King’s bellow soared above it like thunder at the head of a storm cloud: “Goonies never say die!”

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

VIDEO: The Winner of the 2008 Dirtiest Sketch in Philadelphia: Secret Pants

Die, Actor, Die host Don Montrey wanted it to get dirty at The Khyber last night for the Dirtiest Sketch in Philadelphia and it certainly did. Unspeakable, hilarious acts of debauchery, bodily fluids (A LOT of bodily fluids) and bad taste where on display and the judges, Johnny Goodtimes, Scott Johnston, and Adam Gertler had their hands full picking a winner. But in the end, Secret Pants reigned supreme again, becoming the champion for the second year in a row. Below is video of their sketch. It's obviously Not Safe For Work.


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THAT GUY with Kent Haines

As we previously reported, the new web series on Sony's C-Spot, THAT GUY, starring Philadelphia comedian Kent Haines debuts today. In the first episode below, Kent plays That Guy "who thinks it's never too early to start knocking back some brewskies."



Episode #2 will be up next Tuesday. Check back here then to watch it.
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Monday, June 16, 2008

INTERVIEW: Don Montrey

Don Montrey's got his hand in a lot of the comedy in Philadelphia. He's a writer and performer in the sketch group BAD HAIR, he does short-form improv for ComedySportz Philadelphia and every year he writes for 1812 Productions' THIS IS THE WEEK THAT IS. And perhaps most importantly, he created and hosts the monthly comedy show Die, Actor, Die. Tonight, Don and D.A.D. present the competition The 2nd Annual Dirtiest Sketch In Philadelphia featuring defending champions Secret Pants, Meg and Rob, The Sixth Borough, John Kensil, Doogie Horner and more at The Khyber (56 S. 2 St.), 8PM, $5.

Did you always want to do comedy?
Yes and no. Well, yes and unknowingly yes. I went to college for theater and I'd always done stuff that is been fun or funny. So that was always in the background, but when I went to college I went for legitimate theater and even there with my buddies Ryan and Fran we would goof around and always do funny things together. So we were always doing comedic stuff in that way. We were huge fans of Kids In The Hall and Mystery Science Theatre 3000, so there was always that undercurrent of comedy in everything we were doing. And when I came to Philly, I came as an Arden apprentice and that's the least funny thing you can do. I was trying to be an actor and after the apprenticeship program I did the acting thing for a while and I got tired of it. And I tried to do the film making, but I eventually left that because I didn't like the community. I found the community to be really kind of mean to each other. It just turned me off, while I find that the comedy community is actually really supportive here. There are obviously always going to be people that don't like each other, but when you find your little niche of people, they are very, very supportive of each other. And I think that's been great.

Why do you think that is with comedy and not film making? Is it an "us vs. them" thing?
It might be. I think also there is a lot of know-how that's involved in making a film. You have to know all of the technical stuff and if you don't know the technical stuff you're an idiot. While in comedy if you have it, you have it. You can just work on your skill without having to impress other technically advanced people that have this know-how and skill. Where in comedy if you're funny, you're funny.

There's no education.
There's really no education involved and you either are or you aren't and people are really supportive of that. And I also think with comedy there is that thing of us versus them because you have to get up on that stage and really put yourself out there. And everyone that is in the comedy community knows what that is like. And so I guess in a way they are all kind of pulling for you. Or they just respect what they are doing because they've been there themselves.

You've done improv, sketch, and stand-up for a while now. Do you still get nervous on stage?
Absolutely. A couple hours before a show of Die, Actor, Die I'm really nervous and I get grumpy. But once I get up there and I get my first laugh, I'm good. And the other thing is that because I'm the host of the show, I have to make sure that I'm a good opener for all of these guys. And also that I'm a good guy in between to keep it all going and the audience isn't going to turn against me because then the next guy has to win them back. That's always a little nerve-wracking.

Why did you initially start Die, Actor, Die?
Because there was nothing like it in Philadelphia. I was a really big fan of shows like Invite Them Up, Tinkle and Comedy Death Ray and we had nothing like that in Philly. There was nothing that was a booked show that was a mix of stand-up and sketch or just people doing funny bits, which I wish Die, Actor, Die had more of. I don't know how many times I've put out the word to the improv community saying "hey, if you just have something funny that you want to do, here is a venue." Here's an opportunity, I don't want it to be improv, but I would love it to be is just some funny character that you do or funny bit, come and do it.

Where did the Dirtiest Sketch in Philadelphia idea come from?
Jackie Clarke did it up in New York and I always thought that it was a great idea and Philadelphia is a really good town to do that in because Philadelphia is kind of blue collar town, with a blue collar attitude. I don't mean the Southern Blue Collar, but the working class guy. They like beer and they like getting down and dirty. So I thought the Dirtiest Sketch would be a great thing for Philadelphia and I actually tried to contact Jackie Clarke because I didn't want to just take the idea. I sent her an email but I don't know if the email address I had was correct because I never heard back from her so I just figured I'd do my version of what I think it is. And I certainly always give her props for coming up with because it's a really good idea. I think one of the things that is really great about it is you are saying "hey, this is what tonight is going to be." Which is kind of saying "we all agree that if you laugh at this it's ok, because that's what it's all about,we're trying to be dirty, filthy and offensive." And in doing so, I think everyone has a really good time. Everyone lets their hair down and you do things that you normally wouldn't do or you never think of doing and it usually works pretty well.

Is there still a line that can't be crossed?
I have no idea. I really don't know because I've only done it one year. When I emailed the groups this year, I really challenged them because I thought everyone did really good stuff last year, but they didn't get as dirty as they could have. The people that really got the dirtiest were Rowan & Hastings and it wasn't even music, it was a video where one of them jacked off into another guy's omelet and the other guy ate it. [laughs] So that was pretty dirty. That was pretty far and I really kind of challenged everyone this year, "I really want you guys to go really really dirty", I really want you to think about it. I said "here's your point of reference. I heard that at one of the shows in New York someone took a shit on stage. That is your point of reference, so go with that." I don't know if it's true, but it's a good story.

There's going to be a panel of judges that will decide the winner. Who are they?
Johnny Goodtimes, Scott Johnson and Adam Gertler. Johnny, of course, is the Quizzomaster in Philadelphia. Scott Johnston is a man about town that does about everything in every festival, Fancypants Cinema, the Philly Film Festival's Festival of Independents and then Adam is a contestant on the Next Food Network Star this year. It's funny because out of the three of them he's the real celebrity at the moment.

What is the criteria that will be judging the sketches on?
Scale of one to five in three categories: Dirtiness, Funniest and Douche Chilliness. I had to explain to them what Douche Chills were, which is something that makes you recoil in disgust but you can't not turn to look at it. You're repelled and enthralled at the same time. That's what Douche Chillness is.

There are some many barriers of obscene that have been broken down, comics are doing abortion jokes, Holocaust jokes, etc., is that anything that this point that is still shocking?
I don't know, I guess we'll have to see. But I think when you're in a show where everything is supposed to be dirty and offensive, I think the audience likes the way that you get dirty. Because I don't think you can just get up there and say dirty words and make fun of people, I think you still have to have a point of view and I think that's where the creativity and fun comes in.

What are your plans for the Fringe Fest?
I'm doing two things with the Fringe. I'm directing Meg & Rob in their Fringe show, which I am very excited about because I've wanted to move into directing sketch because a lot of sketch groups just need that outside eye to help them tighten up things and to help them get laughs. There are a lot of really good sketch groups in town and they all do really good work, but any kind of performer needs that outside eye. Especially with comedians, they need someone that can say "this is funny, but this is funnier, so let's get rid of this." And with my friend Juliette Pryor, who I went to college with, I'm doing a variety/talk show called "The Don and Julie Show" upstairs at The Khyber and it's going to be as we described it a mix of Regis & Kelly meets the Mike Douglas Show meets whatever the hell else we want up there. And we've got comedians booked, Doogie [Horner], Chip [Chantry] and Steve [Gerben] and we've got some of our actor friends as fake celebrities and we'll interview them that way. So I hope it will just be a fun hour of just a bunch of different stuff.

Is there anything else you want to do in the future with Die, Actor, Die?
I don't know. It's been doing well, we have a nice base audience, but I would love to see it grow. I'd love to get some well known people down and I really don't know how to do that because to get anyone in there, it would cost money. I would love to see more people come out and experiment, I don't think there's that yet. Maybe they don't feel safe doing it and I can understand that, you have to setup an environment where it's safe to do something silly and goofy, but if I had to pick one I think it would be that. I would like to see people come out and try new things.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

VIDEO: Omniana: Pat Barker vs. Steve Gerben

Last month at Fergie's Pub during the Ministry of Secret Jokes show, comics Pat Barker and Steve Gerben engaged in an intense battle of Omniana. You may recall last month's battle between Pat Barker and Kent Haines in which Pat managed to defeat Kent. He also took the time on stage then to call out Steve Gerben, who was originally supposed to be his opponent. And this setup the epic battle for the Omniana championship which you can see below with pre and post interviews and analysis.

Again, here are the rules of the game from the official Omniana website:

On each Character Card there is a brief description of an original character detailing his special abilities, weaknesses and history. Players take turns sending one of their characters into an opponent's pre-selected character. Using only the information on their cards, both of the battling players must argue how and why his character would win a duel.
The difference with this live version is that the winner is decided by the audience.




NOTE: Due to technical difficulties, you'll miss the beginning of Pat's character. Just know that he's a Roman Emperor and take it from there.

Feel free to discuss in the comments, but your opinion only really matters if you go to the next Ministry of Secret Jokes show June 25th.
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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Local Comedy News

Local stand-up comics are getting ready for Helium Philly's Phunniest Contest which begins August 5th with semi-finals on the 15th and concludes with the finals on Aug 16th. You can sign-up at Helium's website. 2007 Philly's Phunniest Person, Steve Gerben, hosts the preliminary round and Austin's Jimmie Roulette hosts the rest.

Meg of Meg and Rob recently saw Gallagher in New Brunswick, New Jersey and lived to write about it for The Smart Set. And she was nice enough to send us a list of five additional things that didn't make the article:

1. Before the show, Gallagher went around handing out Hershey Kisses to everyone.
2. Gallagher apparently believes that people drive Hummers to anti-war protests fairly regularly.
3. I don't think Gallagher understands female anatomy. One of his jokes accused women of being illogical because they use toilet paper when they pee.
4. Gallagher has had a heart attack, and now his doctor wants him to drink soymilk.
5. Gallagher called sporks "spoon-forks," even when the audience started yelling "spork!" at him. He believes that spoon-forks (like the female anatomy) are illogical.
More Meg and Rob news, you say? Well, they just returned from Chicago's Snubfest and here are some photos. "Chicago has about 1,000 more Thai restaurants and 20 more large public clocks than Philadelphia," says Meg. "You can swim in Lake Michigan without worrying that your skin will fall off like it would if you took a dip in the Schuylkill. Comedy-wise, one of the biggest differences is just that there seems to be a good audience base there. People are aware that there's comedy around, and they like seeing it."

Just down 95 this August is the DC Comedyfest with sketch, stand-up and improv shows, a discussion panel and even comedy screenplay and short film competitions. Submissions for the competitions must be received by July 3rd.

The Sixth Borough have a new website. And in related news, troupe members Emily McGraw, Gregg Gethard and Corey Cohen will be performing at Toiling in Obscurity, a night of "readings of unpublished manuscripts by unfamous authors with day jobs" at The Dive (947 E. Passyunk) on June 20th. Emily will be playing guitar and "Gregg and Corey will be somehow comedic."

Kent Haines's web show "That Guy" will debut on Sony's C-Spot next Tuesday. Kent is co-creator, executive producer and star of the series. In the meantime, check out the video that made it all happen.

On August 1st, Captain Janks of the Howard Stern Show will host a night of comedy with Geno Bisconte and Benny Michaels at Riots Comedy Night at The Towne House.

The Waitstaff are celebrating their six years of comedy in Philadelphia with a show at World Cafe Live (3025 Walnut St.) on July 11th. "Our six anniversary show is going to comprise many classic sketches that fans have come to love, but also include new pieces," says founder Jim Boyle. "There’s a lot out there to make fun of and that’ll keep us going for the next six years.”

Seen a local comedian eating a sandwich lately? Why didn't you tell us?! E-mail comicvsaudience AT gmail DOT com with your tips.
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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

WHAT YOUR T-SHIRT IS REALLY SAYING by Aaron Hertzog

It's been incredibly hot in Philadelphia recently and everyone is making statements with the clothes that they are wearing. Here, comedian Aaron Hertzog shows you what you are really telling people when you pull on that trendy t-shirt. He'll be performing at the Walking Fish Comedy Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 show on June 21st.

The shows they have for kids today are just pure crap. Remember Zoobilie Zoo? Remember Fraggle Rock? Remember Voltron? Remember Duck Tales? Remember...

Who are you, and why are you inside of me?

Don't you dare try to call me between 6 and 7 PM on a weeknight.

Please, leave me alone. Can't you see I'm busy reading Lies My Teacher Told Me.

You're...you're crazy man. I like you, but you're crazy...I'm going to keep repeating this until somebody acknowledges that they know what I'm talking about!

I will put my dick into anything. For Serious.

Who is ready to talk about the greatest work of art the medium of television has ever produced? I know I am.

No, but seriously, we have a president that the people didn't even elect, man, and look what he's done since getting into office, just run the country into the ground...also, I'm racist.

I don't care, I still have faith. Just go back and watch Exodus and you'll see how good that show can be.

Somebody, please bring up sports. I am ready to debate about anything. I will punch you in the face!

I am a champion date rapist.

...huh?

I am by far the coolest person in this room.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

THE DATE by Gregg Gethard

Things just seem to happen to Gregg Gethard. After telling a few stories at comedy shows in New York City, he created his own monthly show in Philly, BEDTIME STORIES, to tell a few more. Over the past year the show has grown in audience and features some of the best comics in the city.

Here, Gethard recalls his first date. The next installment of Bedtime Stories is July 9th.


Mike Cohen was my best friend. And I hated Mike Cohen.

This might seem like a peculiar thing to say, unless you’re the main character of “A Separate Peace.” But it was true. I secretly hated my best friend in high school.

There were many reasons for this. Mike was an all-county level tennis player; I got cut from every sports team I ever tried out for. Mike lived in a big house in a tony neighborhood; I lived in a modest house in a middle-class neighborhood. Mike had excellent grades and got along with his parents; I had shitty grades and constantly pissed my parents off.

But these were all secondary reasons to the real reason I secretly hated my best friend.

The main reason: Mike always had a girlfriend. And I never did.

And, to make matters worse, I usually had a painful, obsessive crush on whatever girl he was dating. But not while he was dating her. It was always before.

Hi. I’m Gregg Gethard. I’m the host of the spectacularly famous show entitled Bedtime Stories. I’m also the sexiest person in Philadelphia sketch comedy, as made evident by my many nude roles in The Sixth Borough. I’m also a revered lover of both life and song.

But before all of that, I was a 16-year-old boy. I was scrawny, I was dorky, and I was a dateless loser.

This is a story which you have not heard before, unless you are my wife and it’s the first night we met and I tell this to you. It is a story of jealousy, loneliness and good-old fashioned teenaged angst. Also, it briefly touches upon the legendary O.J.
Simpson Car Chase.

This is the true story of my very first date.

*****
Mike and Me
Mike and I first met in reading class in 8th grade. We bonded over a sense of humor that leaned towards the grotesque: serial killers, the music of legendary costumed death metal band GWAR and the many weirdos who populated our town we unanimously referred to as “drifters.”

(My favorite drifter: my old next-door neighbor, who one day became the midget/dwarf bodybuilding champion of New Jersey.)

I’m not sure when I first started to secretly hate Mike. It was probably around junior year. Both of us that year joined the marching band (I pretended to play the flugelhorn, a story in and of itself) and this opened up a new demographic of girls to us: nerdy band geeks. (Say what you want about American Pie, but they nailed that.) More accurately, it opened up a new demographic of girls to him while I constantly played third wheel.

But that suggests that I was that creepy dude who always liked the girl his friend was dating. This is not accurately true. I was certainly creepy. However, in almost every case, I liked the girl before Mike even noticed her. It never failed. Beth. Aubrey. Jen L. Sue. Allison. Jen W. I would develop a crush on said girl, ask her out (re: have a mutual friend ask her out for me), get politely turned down by said girl (“You’re such a good friend!” are still the worst five words in the English language to me.), and then a few weeks later get awkwardly approached by Mike, who knew full-well the crushes I suffered through. He’d be really cool about it. He’d either call me or talk to me after school when we’d hang out. He would ask if it was okay if he asked out whomever, that if it bothered me, he wouldn’t, etc.

Making matters worse, I would hear all about Mike’s dating rituals. He had a whole routine set up. He’d invite said girl over to his house. At that time, he’d cook dinner for her. Then, after dinner, he’d read to her his favorite poetry. (Usually Jim Morrison lyrics. Mike could’ve use better taste.) And then, after that, there would be a make-out/heavy petting session on a couch in his rec room.

It was like I was a football scout team for his romantic life. I’d like said girl, I’d find out the details about her, I’d start initial conversations with her -- the equivalent of running plays in practice-- and then a few weeks later it was actual game time. And I’d get to watch the game, but I was the third string quarterback. I wasn’t even the backup quarterback who can play if the starting quarterback gets hurt. I was the backup to THAT guy, who is usually found pacing the sidelines wearing a team-issued rain coat and holding a clipboard.

But then, Mike started dating Nina Schwartzman.

Enter: Amy
I had a bunch of classes with Nina and Mike. Nina was funny and had giant boobs. She was also about three inches taller than me. I was ridiculously short growing up. As a result, I am unable to find myself attracted to any women who are more than 5’3” in height. (So, if you are taller than that and are attracted to me, I’m sorry, I won’t make out with you no matter how badly you want to make out with me, which, let‘s face it, is probably very badly. Also, I’m married.)

So, I was relieved. Mike had finally started dating a girl that I wasn’t into at all. But there was one problem with their relationship. In New Jersey, you can’t drive until you’re 17. Both Mike and Nina were 16. And Nina’s parents were notoriously strict, so there was no way they would let her go to Mike’s house unsupervised after school. Or out with him in any scenario whatsoever.

Nina’s best friend was Amy Klein. You remember Diane Court from Say Anything? Amy Klein was West Orange’s version of that. She was brilliant (she went to Stanford on a full scholarship) and, most importantly, she was really hot. And she was also 17.

Nina and Mike approached Amy. They inquired about her going out on a double date. Her parents would let her hang out with Amy, and they wouldn’t have to know Mike was involved at all. So, they then asked Amy who’d she’d like to go out with.

Her answer was me.

To say I was flabbergasted is an understatement. I just assumed Amy Klein had no idea who I was. Or, if she did know who I was, she probably thought I was pond scum.

Mike broke the news to me during gym class. I tried to play it cool -- sure, I’d go out on a date with Amy Klein, that’s cool. But I’m pretty sure everyone could have detected my excitement as I now had a gigantic sweatpants boner.

The Date Begins
Being this was a double date, Mike could not do his usual pasta dinner/bad poetry/rec room routine. We decided to actually go out.

Amy and Nina arrived at Mike’s around 7. We hopped in Amy’s car and went to the Grand Palace Inn, one of three diners which catered to high school students in our town.

While waiting for the girls to pick us up, Mike and I performed our favorite ritual: pounding Mountain Dew after Mountain Dew while watching taped episodes of The Richard Bey Show. Our sugar rush/hyperactivity hit an apex when, before our meal arrive, Mike and I started throwing containers of creamer on each other. Nina soon joined in the fun, pouring artificial in Mike’s hair. Amy, the entire time, turned her back completely to us and kept on muttering “oh my god” over and over again.

After dinner ended (after being scolded three times by our waiter), we then embarked on the second part of the date: a trip to Caldor.

Caldor, for the uninitiated, was a white trash version of K-Mart (wrap your head around that) which had franchises located throughout North Jersey. On four separate occasions, I saw Caldor employees arrested in the store while their co-workers didn’t even flinch. Their bathroom was also notoriously disgusting -- during one bout of diarrhea (the only way I would ever go into that bathroom), I saw smeared on the mirror “FUCK U” in human feces.

The reason to go to Caldor on our date was because the store had a photo booth in the front. The plan was for the four of us to take pictures (like Daniel LaRussa and Elizabeth Shue did in the date montage in the first Karate Kid.) However, Amy remained outside the store, telling us that she wouldn’t be caught dead entering Caldor. (Mind you, at least 65% of my wardrobe -- largely plaid, button down shirts – came from the store.) Mike, Nina and I then took a series of pictures, including one that I know I have somewhere but I can’t find to upload onto the blog -- the border is a fireworks pattern which reads “GRANDMA’S GANG” on the bottom, Nina is in the middle laughing as Mike and I are shirtless and somehow upside down.

We then drove back to Mike’s house. He and Nina immediately went to the rec room for their long-awaited make-out session. This left Amy and I alone. I had no idea what to do or what to say.

Then Amy asked me to go on The Deck with her.

The Deck
Mike’s backyard had a huge deck which was perfect for floor hockey and setting off fireworks. It had a sweeping view of the New York City skyline, the true sign that your parents had money and that I can relate to class conflict as detailed in The Great Gatsby.

Amy sat down on a bench. I sat down on a chair away from her. We didn’t talk at first, but then we started making small chit-chat about our mutual classes, mutual friends and mutual funds. Then there was a lull
in the conversation.

“You can sit next to me, you know,” Amy told me.

I went and I sat next to her. On the far opposite side of the bench.

“You can sit closer to me, too.” She then slid all the way to my side of the bench, where she then wrapped her arms around my body and placed her head on my shoulder.

Up to this point of my life, this the most physical contact I had ever been with a member of the opposite sex, except for the time Michelle Nagle beat the crap out of me in 7th grade.

And then she started weeping.

“My life… my life is so hard. It’s just so FUCKING hard. And no one… no one knows how hard it is.”

Once again, I could feel the boner emerging in the crotch of my Caldor-purchased khaki pants.

“My mom, she puts so much stress on me. I have to get an A. If I don’t I won’t please Mother Dearest. I… I have to get an A. If I don’t, I can’t sleep. BUT NO ONE KNOWS WHAT THAT IS LIKE!”

I started to think that this might actually work. I might actually make out with a chick, let alone a hot chick that everyone in my peer group wanted to make out with.

“Do… do you remember last year when I went to physics camp?”

I lied and said I did.

“I never told anyone this before… I didn’t go there... I... I went to a mental hospital and rehabilitation center. I… I’ve been bulimic and anorexic since I’ve been 12. My... my kidneys almost shut down completely from the lack of nutrition in my body.”

Now, Amy had asked me to sit on the bench with her. Then, unwarranted, she threw her arms around me. Then she started to cry about the myriad of her problems. And then she confided in me the secret burden of a series of eating disorders.

No doubt, Amy Klein wanted me to touch her boobs, no matter how withered they may be from her routine of brutal starvation and constant vomiting.

I now had the biggest boner of my life.

I plotted my move. How was I going to French her? Should I dip my head under? Should I grab her by her chin? I saw Casablanca for the first time a few months earlier -- should I go full Humphrey Bogart style and ram my tongue down her thorax, or should my first kiss be a gentle and brief affair, like Fred Savage with Winnie Cooper in the pilot episode of The Wonder Years?

But then everything about this evening was about to make complete sense to me.

“Do you know what the worst part of my life is, Gregg? DO YOU?” Amy then looked at the rec room window. “I… I am completely in love… with Mike Cohen.”

On cue, Mike and Nina came running out of the house. They told us to hurry up and come inside. O.J. Simpson was in a car chase. I sat on a chair, with Amy on the opposite side of the room. I didn’t even react when Captain Jenks got on the air and had a conversation with Al Michaels resulting in him saying “Bababooey” over and over again.

About an hour later, my dad picked me up.

And that’s when I started weeping.

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Monday, June 9, 2008

THE FEEKO BROTHERS: The Edmund Zwikey Story



The Feeko Brothers are Christian Alsis and Billy Bob Thompson.

Why the Edmund Zwikey story now?

We were actually approached by Lester Gronko of the Talent agency of Gronko, Philbrick, and Butt to meet for brunch and discuss some ideas with Edmund Zwikey. Mr. Gronko explained he wanted us to produce a short documentary about his client and we agreed to meet with him. After blowing us off five or six times, we ran into each other at a Denny's by sheer coincidence. He called us out of the kitchen to complain about his Senior Starter (TM) meal and we recognized him. After vigorously shaking our hands, Edmund laid it all out on the table. Thirty-two hours and eight Grand Slams later we had a deal. We made it, he liked it, and the rest is all slightly altered history. -BBT
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Friday, June 6, 2008

Thursday, June 5, 2008

RECAP: Ministry of Secret Jokes, 5/28

Last month's Ministry of Secret Jokes show at Fergie's Pub was another night of great stand-up and other debauchery.

All photos were taken Mike Reali and more can be found on his Flickr page.

Host Doogie Horner prepares the Ministry of Secret Jokes chant

Ministry of Secret Joke minions prepare the cake

Nolan Gilbride

David James

Chip Chantry, dressed as a reindeer, the winner of the game show Hack!

Civilians/Common Folk (and a few comics) having a good time

And finally it was time for the epic Omniana battle between blood rivals Steve Gerben and Champion Pat Barker. In the end, Gerben came through with the upset and is your new Omniana champion. We'll have video up soon.

MINISTRYOFSECRETJOKES.COM

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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Local Comedy News

Philly Improv Theater House Teams Announced

Video of the Raw Onion show has been posted at Vodavoom.com

This past Monday, standup Steve Gerben participated in the last Just For Laughs showcase at Goodnight's in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Animosity Pierre will be on Preston and Steve (93.3FM) tomorrow around 9AM promoting Philly Sketchfest.

Levy's Comedy Club in Levittown is now hosting an open mic every Wednesday. Signups are from 8-9PM with the show starting at 9.

Got a story about a Philadelphia comedian out in public without their bodyguard? Email us at comicvsaudience AT gmail DOT com
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THIS WEEK: PHIT at the Shubin Theatre

It's time again for the Philly Improv Theater's week at the Shubin Theatre, 407 Bainbridge St., Philadelphia, PA 19147. For tickets, visit the Philly Improv Theater's website.



Wednesday, June 4
8 p.m. – Bedtime Stories: A Tribute To The Jersey Shore, $10. Sez the host Gregg Gethard:

From Sandy Hook to Cape May, New Jersey's coastline isn't just a place to go for a quick visit -- it's a different state of mind. The next installment of Bedtime Stories will investigate the in's and out's of going Down The Shore. Questions perhaps asked: What is the nutritional value of a zepolle? How many likenesses of dead gang members does the average boardwalk airbrush T-shirt stand produce per summer? How many post-prom sexual assaults occur at Seaside Heights motel rooms every spring? What are the best ways to cheat at mah jong at Atlantic City casinos?
Set to perform are:

Don Montrey
Secret Pants
Meg and Rob
Jamie Fountaine
Sixth Borough
John Kensil and friends
Two Of The Biggest Names in Entertainment

With music from Brooklyn's Emperor X!

Thursday, June 5
8 p.m. - TROIKA 2008 ROUND TWO Presented by PhillyImprov.com, in cooperation with the Philly Improv Theater, TROIKA pits three groups of three improvisers against each other. The groups choose their own format and the audience determines the winner. The winner of each of the three preliminary rounds goes on to battle in the Grand Championship in August. $10.
10 p.m. - CAGEMATCH: Angry People Building Things vs. The Merry Men. CAGEMATCH brings more competitive improv by pitting two groups against each other for 25-minute sets that can only use one audience suggestion. The audience decides the winner by secret ballot. $5.

Friday, June 6
8 p.m. – Lunchlady Doris with MakeOut Clinic, $10
10 p.m. – Sid Viscous with locals Industrial. $10. NYC's Sid Viscous are a house team at the People's Improv Theater. Will their stay in Philly prove to be as fruitful?

Saturday, June 7
8 p.m. – Sid Viscous with Lunchlady Doris, $10.
10 p.m. – Industrial with MakeOut Clinic, $10.

RELATED:
- Our past Bedtime Stories coverage including video, photos and interviews
- Interview with PHIT's founder Greg Maughan
- The wildly popular Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego? tale by Bedtime Stories host Gregg Gethard
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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

LITERARY ADVENTURE: The Time Machine, Part IV

IN LAST WEEK’S LITERARY ADVENTURE: Doogie built a time machine with the intention of traveling back to 1894 London and watching H.G. Wells write the first page of his science fiction classic, The Time Machine. However, our well-read adventurer made a crucial miscalculation: although his machine traveled through time, it didn’t travel through space. So although Doogie was transported to 1894, he was still in Philadelphia—not London, where H.G. Wells lived.

On a farm on the outskirts of Philadelphia Doogie met a short, rude farmer who almost stoned him to death. Doogie made a few short trips back in time to confront the farmer again, and during their last fight the farmer’s battle ogre broke Doogie’s pelvis with a bathtub. Doogie passed out, had an exciting dream about battling giant squids, and woke up captured, locked in a cage in the Farmer’s cellar. Even worse, the Farmer had found the time machine, and was dangling its brass key outside Doogie’s cage.


“What’s this?” The farmer dangled the key just outside my grasp on the other side of the bars. He was smiling.

“I’ll tell you what that’s not: it’s not the key to my time machine.” If the Farmer had the key, he already knew about the machine. But why hadn’t he used it? Perhaps he already had. This was a dangerous moron to be in possession of such powerful technology.

“What’s a time machine?” he said. My luck held, he was still in the dark.

I was in the dark too, but now my eyes had adjusted to the light and I could see my surroundings more clearly. I was in a deep cellar with damp stone walls. The steps leading out were incredibly long. Innumerable rusted cages were piled around the room haphazardly. Shadowy shapes moved inside them, hiding in the corners.

The farmer shook my cage. “What’s a time machine? Don’t make me bring Fran in. She’ll pull you right through the bars, boy.”

I looked at the occupant of the cage next to me. His large eyes were shut tight, apparently sensitive to the light. He was a small humanoid beast, covered in long grey fur everywhere except his face and hands, which had pale white skin.

The farmer stared at me. I had to say something.

I made a big show of speaking reluctantly. I cast my eyes down in defeat. “Alright. I’ll tell you. My time machine is a machine for quickly shearing sheep. It saves lots of time, and will doubtless revolutionize the shearing industry and make me a millionaire. I was taking it to show to Mr. Franklin.” I pressed my face between the bars. “But I’ll make you a deal. If you let me out, I’ll show you how the machine works, and you can become rich. Just release me.”

The farmer eyed me shrewdly. It looked like he wasn’t going for it. Then his hideous little wrinkly face burst out in a big grin. “Alright, you got yourself a deal! A sheep shearing machine? Shit! I’ll be rich!”

“He’s lying. It’s not a sheep shearing machine”

For a second I wasn’t sure who had spoken. Then the farmer and I both looked over at the animal in the cage next to me. He lifted his head but kept his eyes shut tight.

“I don’t know what it is, but it isn’t a sheep shearer. I can hear it in his voice. If you let him out, he’ll use the machine against you and escape.”

The farmer was uncertain how to proceed now. His eyes darted back and forth between our two cages. Unfortunately, I tipped my hand.

“Shut the fuck up! What are you doing?” I yelled at my fellow prisoner, then turned back to the farmer. “Who is that guy? Don’t listen to him.”

The farmer smiled. A greasy, self-satisfied smile that I was learning meant the opposite of what most peoples’ smiles meant. He put the key in the pocket of his overalls. “Well, I might as well tinker with it a little more, see if I can figure it out myself.” He turned around and ascended the steep, rickety staircase, then shut the door. The basement was immediately pitch black again.

I lashed out at the cell next to me. “He was going to let me out! Why the hell did you do that?”

I could see the glowing eyes open, hanging in the darkness like twin moons. “Because you’re not leaving here without me. I’m coming with you. We’re both going to escape, but I can’t do it without your help.”

“How?”

“There’s a tunnel in the floor of your cell. Climb down it, into the caverns below this basement, and find help.”

“Wait, wait. There’s a tunnel under this cell?”

“I dug it myself. It took me over a year. I was about to use it to escape when they switched me to this other cell, apparently to make room for you. You need to escape and find help for both of us.”

“Under the ground?”

“Yes. That’s where my people live.” His eyes grew wide as he looked into the distance and told me his story.

His name was Eloi, and he was a member of a race of grotesque (my word, not his) humanoids that lived deep below the earth. Their civilization was much simpler than ours. They had no written language, no centralized government, and no juice bars. However he insisted that their sense of irony was more highly developed than ours, and demonstrated it by quoting long passages from Garbage Pail Kids the Movie.

The Farmer had discovered the Mole People™ (my word, not his) while digging a well. The Molemen™ tried to eat the Farmer, but the giantess Fran beat them off and he escaped. But before he did, the Farmer noticed something: the walls of the Molemens’ cavern were studded with gold. They had so much gold it meant nothing to them, but they were in dire need of food. The farmer tried trading them corn for gold, but he quickly discovered they were only interested in one type of food: human flesh. And mushrooms. They loved mushrooms too, but already had plenty of those.

The farmer trapped a few vagrants and hobos, then began breeding them in his basement. I looked at the cages around the cellar. Dimly I saw frail people huddled in the corners. The Basement People’s™ offspring were sick, weakly, and easily controlled by the Farmer. He raised them like pigs and then traded them for their weight in gold.

I stopped the Moleman. “But wait, you’re not a Basement Person, you’re a Moleman. Why are you in a cage?”

“I’m not a man, I’m a woman.”

“I’m sorry?”

“You called me a MoleMAN, but I’m not a man. I’m a woman.”

An awkward silence descended over the cellar.

“I’m a very pretty woman, in my society,” the Moleperson said, now quite indignant.

I thought fast, my adventurer’s reflexes saving me once again. “Oh, I’m sorry, it’s just so dark in here, I can’t see you.” Smooth. She had a dude’s voice too, which I didn’t mention.

“Well, if you could see me, you would think I’m hot, trust me. I am Princess Eloi Amidala. The Farmer kidnapped me to blackmail my father. If you take this, my father will know I sent you.” She held something out to me, and I grabbed it. It was small, rubbery. I couldn’t tell what it was. “Go down the tunnel. If you see any of my people, show them the sigul I gave you. Ask to be taken to my father. He will take you to the surface.”

“What’s your father’s name?” I asked.

“Ralph.”

“Ralph?”

“Yes, King Ralph.”

I didn’t want to piss off Princess sensitive again, but I had to say something. “Not like the John Goodman film, right?”

“Yes, like the John Goodman film. I told you, our society is far more ironic than yours.”

“Yeah but that movie won’t be made for another hundred years.”

“Won’t it?” Even in the dark, I could sense her coy smile. Saucy bitch. “You’re wasting time. The farmer will be back soon. Leave now. Find my father. Free us both!”

“Your last name is Amidala. That’s not a Star Wars reference, is it?”

Just then the cellar door opened. Light flooded the cellar, and the Farmer’s wizened silhouette stood in the doorway.

I scrabbled at the dirty floor. Nothing was there. No tunnel. “There’s nothing here!” I yelled at Princess Amidala.

“It’s there!”

The farmer sensed something amiss. “Whatchoo doin’ there, queer?” He ran down the steps. “Fran! Fran, c’mere!” He let loose an impressive hog call, and I heard booming footsteps thunder across the ceiling overhead.

I punched my fist into the floor and burst through rotten wood. The false floor gave way below me, cracking suddenly and completely. It was so black that it took a moment before I realized I was plunging quickly, uncontrollably, straight down into the unknown.

Doogie will be performing at Bedtime Stories this Wednesday and at Die, Actor, Die's Dirtiest Sketch in Philadelphia competition on the 16th.

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Monday, June 2, 2008

INTERVIEW: Animosity Pierre

Photo Credit: Jo Anna Van Thuyne

Animosity Pierre are a sketch comedy duo and two of the three producers (with their manager Ben Maher) of the first annual Philly Sketchfest this Friday and Saturday that features basically every sketch group in the Philadelphia area. Part of the proceeds from these shows at the Painted Bride go to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA), a non-profit organization dedicated to finding a cure for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. We recently sat down with the two to talk about the Sketchfest, their style and dirty rap songs.

Animosity Pierre was originally a quartet, how did you go from that to just the two of you?

Matt Lally: (to Dave) I don't know if you knew this before, but I originally just wanted to do a one-time sketch show.

Dave Terruso: I didn't know that. You told me, but I didn't know it.

M: I thought we should all do sketch, because we had all worked on a sketch TV show for La Salle's cable access channel and when I joined the corporate world I wanted to continue that. So I wrote sketches in my cubicle and sent them to Graham [Rowe] who was in the group. The two of us said "let's do a show", so we got Dave and Scott [Hicken] in on it so that there were four of us. And it was different [from now] because there were just so many more ideas getting thrown around at the time. Not only while work shopping but for the beginnings of ideas, because we wrote stuff together too, but everyone would come to the table with a lot more stuff.

D: Yeah, it was a lot more social and democratic than it is now. Not that it isn't now, but with two guys it's not democracy but who's opinion do we decide to go with in the end. When it was four people it was "alright, let's do this and hopefully it's not two for and two against" and everyone will bring something in. Scott was...

M: The oddball straight man.

D: He was the weird eccentric guy in the group and Graham was the heady smart guy that wrote the smart sketches.

M: But luckily Dave and I have enough in common as far as comedy goes that we don't disagree that much. We pick the same way to go on stuff, so there really aren't that many arguments as far as sketches go.

D: And we have enough differences in our performing styles to keep it interesting for the audience. I think we approach performing in a different way. Even writing, I think people who have seen our skits can say "that's a Dave skit, that's a Matt skit" pretty easily.

So one of you will write something new and bring it in?

M: Usually one of us will write the entire skit and it's mostly done, that's how most of them are written. Fewer times I'll come in like "oh I have an idea" and we'll workshop it and we'll write it together. Like for the finale of our last show we said "we want to do something like this" and we sat in Dave's apartment and wrote it over an hour. But most sketches are almost done when they come to the other person and we rehearse them and basically we get so sick of rehearsing the same sketch over and over again that we start trying to make the other person laugh. And those are usually the best jokes that go into the sketch.

D: It's like the written, finished skit is sometimes a jumping off point because sometimes the week of we'll be like "we should be doing this with British accents because..." and it just becomes a new thing.

M: And even after we've performed it, if we've done something once or twice, we'll throw in a couple of jokes the next time we do it just to keep it interesting for us and for someone that's already seen it.

Your website talks about the group striving to perform absurd situations. Is that something that you always go for?

D: I think we both do and when we approach something it's "what's the motivation for it?" I mean, yes, it's funny if the guy that keeps pulling oranges out of his pocket, but if we had a reason for it that would be better. There's two kinds of skits, there's "I'm doing something crazy and you're going 'what the hell are you doing'?" and there's "I'm doing something crazy and so are you and neither one of us are explaining it."

M: And at some points we legitimately try to make things not make sense. There was one sketch where the two of us were having a duel. And Scott was a judge and it was colonial times, "he scoffed at me, I want you to punish him." And Scott came out to settle the argument and we wanted to push him out on a hand truck.

D: And why?

M: No reason. And then at the end we have a duel with produce, no reason. If we set it up so that it's is so ridiculous that you don't expect any explanation than that works. But otherwise everything should make sense.

D: I like the layer. Like you do something that's ridiculous and then later on you find out why. Like we did the Cavemen Scientists at the Terrordome show and it starts out with Matt wiping his finger on my arm and you're thinking "what the hell?" and then we do the deleted scene where he's picking his nose. To me, that's like two jokes, it's the same thing but two layers.

Are you surprised at where people laugh in a sketch?

D: Every show.

M: Yeah. And then something that we think is going to kill sometimes does and sometimes doesn't.

D: Because people find these little stupid things funny. And we work so hard at the grand design of the skit and it's this huge thing and then somebody comes up after and quotes this dumb, stupid line that we made up or Matt said in rehearsal the day before the show or made up in the scene and that's-

M: I've ab libbed stuff during the show that's I've never said before. Like our last show [at the Shubin] I was a school kid that never cursed and on stage I said "jesus" and then "sorry!" like that and Dave was laughing backstage.

D: The scene is rehearsed so much and we know that we both know our lines so if I add something, he's not going to be confused, so every show we are trying to make each other laugh at least once. Sometimes it's planned, in our last show we both had one thing that's like "I'm going to say this and try to make you laugh".

M: They weren't important things, just set-ups.

D: Stupid things.

So you store these away ahead of time?

M: Sometimes, but the thing is we've both done improv and we practice so much, we run the show four times a night every night the week before a show, we basically run it 20 times before the show. So there's no mess ups, we know exactly what we're doing and we're so comfortable with it that we're almost a little sick of it and nothing's going to crack us up. But we're so comfortable that we can just say whatever we want and we can just riff on it and that keeps it interesting.

D: Especially if we do something more than twice, we're done with it, we've seen people laugh at it and it gets boring. So the riffing is what keeps us interested. Like what little thing is Matt going to say and what am I going to say back.

Where did the rapper Blangalangalang come from?

D: Blangalangalang, aka Balal and my number one O-G right here, Footy Pajamas, aka DJ Footy PJ/DJPJ came from a phone call to this girl that used to be in Improv 101. We used to just call each other as characters, never talk as ourselves. And that was the character that I made up and my friend Dave was my sidekick Dirty Southpaw. And we used to talk on the phone like that, say stupid stuff and hang up. And then a year or two ago I wrote the first draft of the "I'm Gonna Lick That Asshole" rap and just decided that that was the character. And Matt had these footy pajamas and so that's that character. Because there's that guy in Nelly's group that's got the Phantom of the Opera thing. I love that idea of the theatricality in rap music because it's so macho and then they do these things that are theatrical and that's why Footy Pajamas always makes me laugh. The original skit was...

M: You were talking about how dirty rap was in general.

D: I had heard a couple of disgusting Southern rap songs that just killed me, they were so stupid that I had to parody them. But the original idea is that we do these bits called "Get To Know Pierre". It's one of the recurring things that we have in almost every show where we come out as ourselves and do something with the audience that is always a bit, not something real. So the idea is that I come out with my guitar and say to Matt and Scott, who was in the group at the time, I wrote this song, I want you guys to hear it, what do you think? And the only lyrics were "I'm gonna lick that asshole", three minutes of that. And they just thought it was terrible, and we talked about it and they thought it was stupid. And then one day at work I wrote lyrics and gave it to the group and then it just went away. Then we did our Fringe show last year I said "I want to do this rap, I'm still proud of it" and that's how it came back around. So that rap has been around for years just sitting on the shelf.

M: And now the really exciting thing is because we did that rap and then "But My Dick Is Huge" and then for our last show we did "I'm An Infant, Bitch", we just came out in the outfits and we got applause because people are recognizing the characters, they're our first recurring characters that we've had.

Are you going to keep doing it with new songs?

D: I don't know...

M: We have to keep taking it in different places. Because they're all different. The first one is just Dave rapping and me beat-boxing and holding up signs. The second one we're both rapping and I play the drums and the third one he raps and I'm playing keyboard. So we have to do something else.

D: And I need good inspiration for a strange topic. The original song was just out of nowhere. The second song was based on that line at the beginning where I say this is from my album "But My Dick Is Huge", so I decided I'm going to write that song. There's something there that might be funny, it was a throwaway line that we did in rehearsal, but I think I can do a song out of that. And then the infant one came out we were doing the stages of life and we wanted something for birth and a song about a baby in a skit where we're dressed up as babies. So it would have to be if I get inspired and sit down and write it.

Animosity Pierre performing "I'm Gonna Lick That Asshole" live at Die, Actor, Die


Both of you have improv experience but have since gone on to sketch. Do you want to go back to improv?

D: I don't think I'd ever go back to improv. I defintely have a desire to do straight dramatic theater and in between one of these [sketch] shows I will, but improv, do you?

M: Not seriously. I've gone back to La Salle to watch the Improv 101 shows and I've been called up on a stage just to do it for fun, but I think once you do improv, you realize that if you think of something and it kills, that's amazing that you just did that. But with sketch, you have the opportunity to plan that, to do it a bunch of times and say "I hope this is going to kill" and if it doesn't kill, fix it. It's just not a flash in the pan. I think improv is fleeting, it's not easy but it's a lot of work for not a lot of payoff. And if I'm doing a lot of work, I want it to be for something that I have an idea for and have a character for. Improv is fun as a daredevil kind of thing like "maybe I'll kill tonight or maybe I'll suck", but I like the structure of sketch.

D: I'm a writer by trade, so that's what I'm into and I just always wanted to write my only material. And sketch fulfills me in a way that improv didn't. I love being on stage and I love performing and I think our improv background makes us good sketch performers and without it we wouldn't be any good because it just gives you a confidence to go out there on stage. You don't get that anywhere but improv. I think every performer of anything, stand-up, dramatic, you should all have to do improv, it's very important to your training. But I get fulfillment from sketch in a way that I didn't with improv.

M: And with how we were saying that we try to crack each other up with each show. I think each show we've dropped some line. We uber prepare but one of us slips up and the other person catches it all the time. Like last show I was supposed to say "where's your diploma?" and I stalled and he goes "if you're wondering where my diploma is" and the audience doesn't even know.

D: Yeah, that's the improv thing of it. It's trust. You just look into that guy's eyes and you know that he's got back your back to save you if you forget.

Why are you putting together the Philly Sketchfest now and why the Painted Bride?

M: As far as our history goes, when we started out we didn't know where to perform. At first we just need to get our foot in the door, so we went to the open mic at Helium. We never met Secret Pants, we said "I've heard of these guys, Secret Pants"...

D: And The Waitstaff...

M: We thought "wow, they have a sold out show at the Five Spot every month, we should try to do something like that". How do we do that? We went to Helium, then two of our guys left, we did a lot of videos because we didn't know what do but then we had to get back to stage. So then over the last year through Die, Actor, Die, through Bedtime Stories, we met pretty much the entire sketch scene. We met these main groups, we became friends with everybody. Even the first time we did Bedtime Stories there were eight people there and now it sells out every time. So now with it exploding between all of the groups coming together, we could've sat on Sketchfest another year and do it right, but our plans were-

D: To do it wrong!

M: To do it wrong and do it now. I mean, we knew it was going to start small, so we wanted to get the groups that we know together and it isn't going to take a lot of effort because we are keeping it small and if anyone is helping out, let's do it now. Because it's ridiculous that Philly is the fifth largest city in the country and we don't have a festival like this.

D: Yeah, I think just in the last six months we met for the first time ever, Secret Pants, Meg & Rob, Rowan & Hastings, we just met The Waitstaff a few weeks ago, all these other groups and we thought "these guys are good, and they're out there" . And we all have different audiences that all kind of want the same thing, we have to get them together. And we know that people who like us are going to like Meg & Rob and vice versa, etc., so let's get them in the same room and they'll go "oh, we'll come to their shows too."

M: Yeah, because it's really hard to do a show by yourself. Because we've done our Five Spot shows and most of the people that came were our friends that we invited, we haven't cross-collaborated.

D: And why the Painted Bride, maybe I can answer that one. It was just sort of the perfect space in terms of how many seats with what we were aiming for. There were other places that were too small or too big that we were never going to sell it out. The location is great, right in Center City in terms of where the scene is with Die, Actor Die [The Khyber] and Bedtime Stories [Shubin Theatre], the same people that walk there are going to walk to this. And it's a beautiful space, it can handle technologically what all of the groups are doing.

Do you think there's a certain style of sketch in Philadelphia?

D: We entered the SF Sketchfest this year, we never entered before, we only tried for New York and the ones close to us because we thought they would never fly us out there. But we applied this year and Ben puts in a word and this year was a big difference because of the writer's strike. They got super famous people and they did these little local shows and they said we're not going to have you guys fly out here to do 15 minutes with eight other people. But their main comment on us was "they're very funny, but they're too dirty and they're too East Coast."

"Too East Coast?"

M: What does that mean?

D: We were like "what does that mean?" but apparently that's the style, so the answer is that the Philly style is similar to that New York thing where it's sarcastic, it's fast, it's precise and it's witty. It's aggressive, there's an aggression. There are people trying to get that laugh. And the West Coast thing is a little laid back. And there's nothing wrong with either style, but when you go to these shows, you see it. If you see five groups in a row, you see that going for the kill, you see that aggression in there and that sarcasm and that wit and that slicing joke.

M: Darker.

D: It is a little darker and I think it's a little more urban in some way, word, and "Dirty East Coast". We want t-shirts that say "Animosity Pierre: Too Dirty, Too East Coast", we want to wear that like a badge.

M: Yeah like, "East Coast, fuck yeah East Coast."

D: We want to start kind of a thing where we're killing sketch comedians, like what happened with rap, we want to do that.

M: East Coast, West Coast.

D: We want to kill people on the West Coast and have them kill us. Because that's really how we get on TV. Because we want Kurt Loder to talk about us.

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