Thursday, February 28, 2008

BILL COSBY: Wives, Adam & Eve and Turkey Bacon

There’s a scene in 2002’s documentary Comedian, about Jerry Seinfeld’s re-entrance into the world of stand-up comedy, where he’s sitting in a New York comedy club with Chris Rock. “I saw Bill Cosby three weeks ago,” Rock says.


“The best comedy show I ever saw in my life.”

Seinfeld’s mouth gapes, his eyes bug and he sincerely looks shocked.

“I took like 15 people,” Rock continues. “We had all seen him before. We only knew one bit. He did two and a half hours.”

They both laugh in disbelief.

“The best shit, Jerry,” Rock continues, ”I felt like a fucking fraud. What is this? What, I’m good? Who says I’m good? Who says any of us are good? Sixty-three and embracing it.”

“Did he have an opening act?”


“So he took an intermission after…”

“No, he didn’t take an intermission.”

Again, Seinfeld looks shocked. “Two and a half hours straight?”

“Pow, pow, two and a half hours of killer shit,” Rock says. “Killer and it’s so much edgier now and mean. Oh, you’ve got to see it.”

Cosby’s seventy years old now and its been forty-five years since his debut comedy album. And even though he may be known to some for wearing his trademark sweaters on The Cosby Show, the pudding pops or, more recently, for his critical remarks towards African American families, he is, perhaps, a stand-up comedian before anything else.

And he’s still performing live. This past Sunday the 24th, he was at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, New Jersey and he did two shows, three and seven.

In a way, he’s a monologist more than anything else. His act isn’t like most other stand-up acts in the traditional sense of setup-joke because it’s all so flowing and seamless. And, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone as relaxed and confident on stage. He wore a sweatshirt that said “HELLO FRIEND” in various colors and spent most of the show leaning back in a chair with his legs slightly spread - not exactly someone that is worried about what the audience thinks. Surprisingly, there were people in the front that talked to him between jokes, but it didn’t seem to bother him. Rather, he took the opportunity to engage and gently make fun of them. Like “I’m Bill Cosby, go ahead and try to be funny.” The interruption didn’t throw him off at all.

After one bit there was silence, and audience members yelled out topics for him to cover. “Teenagers!” one woman yelled.

“Do you think, if I wanted to go there…”

Instead, he talked about Adam and Eve, wives, turkey bacon, dentists and getting old. That last topic got me thinking about what Chris Rock said about embracing it. Cosby talked about how his wife was going to live to 188 “and still be looking good. Not me, I know I’m going to die. Because I get that feeling, when I walk, I feel people turning the lights out.” Even something so honest and piercing as this got a huge laugh, because at this point the audience was eating out of his hand.

It was the Cosby style. Totally clean and making fun of people (mostly his wife), yet not ever too mean-spirited. Like Richard Pryor, often it's him that's the idiot. Subtle phrases and turns of the story that relied on timing, pacing and the volume of his voice. And there’s no one else that is quite as good of a storyteller.

And yes, he really did five minutes on turkey bacon.

Later in Comedian, Seinfeld goes to see Cosby perform in Newark, New Jersey. Seinfeld is again incredulous that Cosby does two long theater shows in one night.

“Sure, sure, I love it,” Cosby replies. “I just love it.”


Dave Chappelle was in Philly yesterday?

Hmmm.... And maybe he's still here today?

We hate to link everything from Philebrity this morning, but being huge Wire fans, we found this to be hilarious.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Catching Up

Judge Dom Irrera! Awesome!

Doug Benson's 'I Love Movies' is coming back! Awesome!

Human Giant canceled their Philly date! Not awesome.

Mike Birbiglia is going out on tour again, but skipping over Philly. Oh boy, we are really slumping now.

Luckily, there's always good stuff to listen to (what a segue!). The Sound of Young America's recent interview with Ken Freedman and Andy Breckman turned us on to their amazing show Seven Second Delay on Jersey City's WFMU (aka the Greatest Radio Station Ever). Eeach week, the guys try to pull off a stunt with the help of the listeners. Sometimes they don't work as Freedman and Breckman realize the Fatal Flaw and sometimes they work in unexpected ways. We've just begun to scratch the surface of this 15-year old show, but can recommend "Ken and Andy Channel the Radio Dial", "The No-Lulls Fight Show" and "As Famous as Andy". Freedman and Breckman are a great comedy team, the former plays the straight man that's usually frustrated by the silly and mean comments of the latter (congrats, btw).

We love when the worlds of comedy and sports collide, especially when it's on the Worldwide Leader. Here's Jeff Garlin on ESPN Radio's "Thundering Herd" with Colin's Cowherd:

Scroll through the first half unless you're interested in boring talk about steroids in baseball (get 'em, Congress, get 'em!).

His opening kills me:

CC: How are you my friend?
Garlin: I'm young and handsome.

Somewhat related: Ex-Inquirer columnist Stephen A. Smith talks about Roger Clemens being possibly pardoned by Pres. Bush. Really? Stephen A. goes off here! The fact that he yells like this at least once every show makes it great and horrible at the same time.

In other news, there's seriously a lot of f*cking going on (this blog doesn't work blue) and you've got to think it's going to end soon.

Last night there was an AST Records one-year anniversary show at the UCB-LA where all of the label's comics performed except for Paul F. Tompkins, who had to cancel. And we may be jumping the gun, but it looks like Doug Benson, Andy Daly and Chip Pope are going to have their own live albums out on AST Records soon. Exciting.

Jimmy Pardo is the perfect host for a TV game show, so sign the damn petition.

This American Life tackles The Onion's writers' room. The paper is so ubiquitous at this point that it must be a challenge to mix things up. And they've been around for so long that their younger writers grew up and were influenced by their humor.

A sneak peek of Todd Barry's new album!

The Coming is back!

And finally, George Carlin's doing another HBO stand-up special and this one is live (why did I bury the lead?)!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

VIDEO: Illegal Refill - long-form improv

February 9th at the Shubin Theatre, opening for The Sixth Borough.

Monday, February 25, 2008

TONIGHT: Die, Actor, Die at The Khyber

DIE ACTOR DIE - It's a comedy show!

Hosted by Don Montrey

Roger Weaver
Nolan Gilbride
Richie Redding
Pat Kelly
Secret Pants

When: Monday, February 25th
Where: The Khyber (56 S. 2nd Street)
What (Time): 8 PM
How (Much): $5
Why (Should I Come): Every time you don't come an angel gets its wings gnawed off by a different kind of angel. Also, Drink Specials: $1 PBR and Miller Lites, $2 Lagers and $2 Dead Actors.

Friday, February 22, 2008

SATURDAY: Pat House, Chip Chantry and Steve Gerben on NBC10's "Dig Philly TV"

From Pat House's Myspace:

Set your Tivos, VCRs, thingamajigs and doohickeys because THIS Saturday, I will be on NBC 10's new show, "Dig Philly TV" (it's the premiere!) with my good friends, Chip Chantry and Steve Gerben.

It's a what's-going-on-in-the-city kind of show, and the three of us filmed a "Best Week Ever"-type segment for it today making fun of Philly-related news headlines. I think it came out great, so make sure you tune in.
Dig Philly TV: Saturday Feb. 23, 7:30pm, NBC 10. Check your local listings.

UPDATE: The episode can also be viewed through Comcast On Demand at Get Local - NBC10 - Digphilly

Thursday, February 21, 2008

VIDEO: Meg & Rob at Bedtime Stories

Great Depression-era sketch comedy from Meg & Rob from this month's installment of BEDTIME STORIES at the Shubin Theatre.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Onion columnist Jean Teasdale tries stand-up

Comedy Tonight!

The Onion

Comedy Tonight!

I'm still not sure what possessed me to walk into Laughingstock's Comedy Club and sign up for their open-mic night. But I guess sometimes the less...

A sentiment that all of us that have done stand-up at an open mic can relate to, especially if you went up with a red clown nose on.

RECAP: Bedtime Stories 2/6

The theme of this month's episode of Bedtime Stories was "Girls Gone Wild" and each performer brought a different spin to the idea:

- Host Gregg Gethard told a story about his old girlfriend 17-year old punk rock girlfriend (he was a college 22-year old college graduate) and then he sang a song about her with the help of Sixth Borough's Tabitha Vidaurri.

- Secret Pants fought the good fight against the girls that went wild in Gender Wars 2015.
Photo Credit: Pat Kelly

- Little Miss Jaime Fountaine of North Wales read excerpts from her diary about a sleepover she had with her friends.
Photo Credit: Pat Kelly

- Meg & Rob took us to a basement in the 1930s as a young man experiences Paramour Industries’ “Love Over The Phone”.
Photo Credit: Pat Kelly

- From the far distant future, Derrick Finn explained time travel and the webcam whore.
Photo Credit: Pat Kelly

- From the far to the near future: the audience got a sneak peak at some new Disney channel shows about Hannah Montana and Jaime Lynn Spears.

- And finally, Doogie Horner, John Kensil and Jen Thwing went hunting and talked about love.
Photo Credit: Pat Kelly

Check back tomorrow for some video from the evening.

- Interview with Bedtime Stories host Gregg Gethard parts I and II
- Video of The Ultimate Warrior, Animosity Pierre and Diz.
- Recap of January's installment

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

LITERARY ADVENTURE: Excerpts from The Antagonistic Field Guide to North American Birds

Comic Vs. Audience is proud to present, once again, a scintillating bi-weekly column, Literary Adventure, written by bookish gadabout Doogie Horner. Everything written in Literary Adventure has been vigorously fact-checked by a team of ten graduate students, so don't second guess any of the outrageous claims made within.



Bird Watching is a wonderful hobby that can provide hours of enjoyment. It’s also a great way to get outside and explore nature. What better way to wile away the interminable days than by strolling through the sun-dappled woods, not knowing what exotic bird may be around the next bend, just waiting to be sighted! It’s not like you have anything better to do, and you don’t have to worry about birds telling you how fat those pleated pants make you look.

The avid watcher will discover, by gazing at these graceful creatures, a natural beauty unsurpassed in any of humanity’s grandest achievements. The Mona Lisa, the Great Pyramid of Cheops, and even your mother, all pale in comparison to the colorful plumage of the Blackburnian Warbler. Your mother especially pales in comparison, primarily because the Warbler doesn’t reek of cat piss.


Depending on where you are in North American, you will view different birds during different seasons. For instance, only an idiot would expect to see Red Breasted Sapsuckers in Southern California during the winter—only a big dumb idiot. I’m talking to you.

I bet you think birds are pretty dumb, don’t you? You’re way smarter than a bird, huh? Well then do this for me: Close your eyes and spin around in a circle. Okay stop, but keep your eyes closed. Now tell me, what direction is South?

You don’t fucking know.


Many birds attract a mate using bright plumage and elaborate mating dances. It is usually the male who must go through these trials to entice the female. Once two birds are paired, they may stay together for life, or they may part and reproduce with multiple partners. However most birds are monogamous, since it increases the chance of survival for their chics. The Dusky Capped Nighthatch has a bigger dick than you.


Common Peafowl
When you see this bird, you’ll think, “Oh look, it’s a peacock.” It’s not a peacock, it’s a peafowl. Please, please don’t say “Look at the pretty peacock!” out loud, or you will embarrass me as well as yourself and we’ll have to leave the party early with everyone watching and wondering what we’re arguing about.

You probably thought I would use this “peacock” discussion as an opportunity to mock your tiny cock, but I’m bigger than that . . . too bad you aren’t.

Crimson Collared Grosbeak

This large finch has especially beautiful coloring. It’s body is a blood red which extends down its back into a deep brown-red. The rich gradation looks like the last light of sunset when a Hunter’s moon is overhead. It’s head and wings are black like the night. Frankly, you don’t deserve to see one of these.

American Woodcock
This tiny cock is less than two inches long and spends most of its time rooting in filthy underbrush. That’s all I’m going to say about that, but I will now turn my eyes on you and arch my eyebrows significantly.

Spotted Dove
This is my favorite bird, and if you have a problem with that you can go fuck yourself.

Gray Catbird
The Gray Catbird’s habitat is low, dense vegetation or vine tangles at the edges of forests, marshes, and streams. Suburban landscapes contain good habitat for this species. Which is fortunate, since suburban landscapes are crowding and destroying the natural habitats of so many other birds. But don’t let that stop you from buying a second SUV, or paving your backyard.

Lesser Prairie Chicken
Hey, the picture of this bird looks a lot like you. You heard me.


Todd Barry's new album!

In exactly two weeks, Todd Barry's new album, From Heaven, is released!

Barry's Medium Energy is one of our favorite stand-up albums ever, so we are very excited for this and Todd's upcoming performance with Louis CK at The Keswick Theatre in April.

UPDATE: Punchline magazine has a clip from the new album.

Monday, February 18, 2008



TONIGHT: "History of the Joke" on the History Channel

As Shecky Magazine originally reported, the History channel premieres "History of the Joke" with Louis Black tonight:

What is a joke? Is it just a funny story? According to comedian Lewis Black it's not that simple. Black says a joke is "delivery system" for information about ourselves and the world we live in--often stuff we don't want to hear. HISTORY OF THE JOKE, with Lewis Black, is the comedian's diverting and provocative quest for the secret ingredients of a great joke and essentially finding the greatest joke ever told. Black consults some of the funniest comedians around--including George Carlin, Shelley Berman, Robert Klein, Kathleen Madigan, Penn & Teller, Kathy Griffin, Dave Attell and other top comedians to get their thoughts on the origins of the joke and how they discovered comedy was their calling. HISTORY OF THE JOKE with Lewis Black, premieres on Monday, February 18 at 9pm/8C.

The special is peppered with jokes and interviews from over 50 stand-up comedians working today. From the comedy capitals of New York to Las Vegas and L.A., Black's hilarious journey uncovers where jokes come from (hint: they go way, way back), what inspires comedians to get into comedy, the historical elements of joking--including slapstick and physical comedy--timing (it's almost everything), the dirty joke and the science of telling a good one, pain and why it's funny, improv, the nature of laughter and the role of truth in comedy (it's the key).


Saturday, February 16, 2008

CRAIGSLIST: The Philadelphia Comedy School

Finally you can learn how to get a marketable set:

Do you want to make people laugh and get payed for it?
Do you think you have what it takes to build a marketable set?
Maybe you just want to overcome your fear of public speaking?

The Philadelphia Comedy School have what you need.
A constructive environment where you can hone your craft
with a great group of people. Our instructors have moved the
crowd everywhere from NyC to Las Vegas. We will go over
the necessary tools you'll need to jump start your new career
or simply help you step up your game in the lime light.

0. The Build
1. Delivery
2. Character Study
3. How to read the crowd
4. What not to do.
5. Recovery.
6. Strong Finish

We'll get you where you want to be, on stage, in front of a mic
and most importantly confident and funny! Contact us ASAP!

And if you want to help people build a marketable set:
We are looking for guest instructors for our comedy school.
The Philadelphia Comedy School specializes in standup, improv
and video skits. If interested please contact us ASAP.


For the five of you that haven't seen this already

Just when the Apatow formula is getting stale (Superbad, in my opinion) he mixes it up with an action thriller like this one that is still funny.

Anthony is Right's analysis
Comedy Central Insider discusses another Apatow-packed year
The "It's like God's vagina" scene
The Pineapple Express tour
Pineapple Express on Wikipedia

Selections from Reviews of Wild West Comedy Show: 30 Days and 30 Nights: Hollywood to the Heartland

Ain't It Cool News:

New Jersey's Bret Ernst has a great gift for noticing behavior. His routine on how men and women act when going to a club in a group will have you weeping with laughter.

Los Angeles Times:
Much like Steve Martin's recent memoir on his stand-up career, "Wild West Comedy Show" does more than merely show the proverbial sad clown behind the comic.

The Houston Chronicle:

The movie zooms in on a few dead moments - that bit about men in flip-flops doesn't go over so great in San Diego - but offers highlights as well, giving each comedian his moment in the sun.
Where were the comedy groupies hanging outside the buses? Where was the pot smoking?

The New York Times:
As the tour proceeds from city to city, fragments of country music provide regional flavors. In Bakersfield, Calif., the tour makes a pilgrimage to a museum celebrating Buck Owens with accompanying music and television clips from “Hee Haw.”

Pioneer Press:
I'll say this about the "comedy" part of "Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy Show": There is a joke about how that darned cable guy never shows up when he says he will.

Knees, prepare to remain unslapped. Not all of the jokes in "Wild West" are equally prehistoric, but when you listen to the film's four comedians' complaints about how the comedy glory days ended before they had a chance to suck up the big bucks, it's hard not to wonder which came first: lackluster comedians or the end of the '80s comedy boom. Either way, these four probably wouldn't have become superstars.

NY Daily News:

"Wild West Show" would have really been something if Vaughn had taken a few of his fellow Frat Packers with him - say, Will Ferrell, Jack Black, Ben Stiller and Steve Carell - instead of the struggling unknowns.
Foul-mouthed and bitter John Caparulo reminds me of a young Larry the Cable Guy. I forget large chunks of his material, but recall he wore the same white t-shirt and blue baseball cap for the entire 30-day shoot.

The stand-up routines are, mostly, bluer versions of the "didja-ever-notice" school of humor that made Jerry Seinfeld an ungodly power in the universe.

Chicago Tribune:
Native Chicagoan Vaughn remains enigmatic, protected from the camera's more candid intrusion. But you get a sense of his deep values, virtuous instincts and quiet love of ordinary people.

San Antonio Express-News
The lanky actor's slouch, bags-under-the-eyes energy can best be described as channeling both Ed Sullivan and Monty Python.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

INTERVIEW: Gregg Gethard, Part II

Photo Credit: Pat Kelly

We continue our conversation with Gregg Gethard, host of the local comedy show Bedtime Stories. Earlier in the week we discussed next month’s Bedtime Stories event, which is a tribute to ‘The Wire’, the greatest artistic achievement in the history of the human race. Now, we discuss how he started his weekly show, growing up, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? and comedy.

How did you start Bedtime Stories?

Gregg Gethard: Bedtime Stories started like this. My brother, Chris, he’s a professional comic, he lives up in New York and he does all UCB [Upright Citizens Brigade] stuff. And when I was in high school and college, it was always in the back of my mind to do comedy, to try to be a comedian. And in fact, this is a whole episode of Bedtime Stories waiting to unfold: I was a contestant on Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? in the 8th grade and they ask you the question of what you want to be when you grow up and I said a comedian or a baseball manager and then I did the humpty dance. True story. It was always in my mind and I loved Saturday Night Live and Kids in the Hall, all the touchstones that everyone grew up with. And after college I got a real job as a reporter and that meant a lot of working at night. So I couldn’t do comedy and I really got invested in “I want to be the next Woodward and Bernstein, serious journalists.” And I didn’t know anyone that did comedy, I didn’t know how to get involved. My brother, that’s all he wanted to do, he jumped right in and he took off with it and he’s able to make a living doing it. He teaches improv, he does commercial work, he’s been on a bunch of different television shows. And he hosts a monthly night at UCB called 'Nights of Our Lives.' And for the past couple of years when I’ve been in grad school, I paid for grad school by working full-time at La Salle, this really boring office job, I was a receptionist. So I got paid to write full-time. So I started a blog and just collected stories of the different adventures I’ve gone on in my life. And my brother, about a year and a half ago, he asked me to come to his themed storytelling night, everybody tells a story about a theme that was the most embarrassing night of your life. And I had plenty of material to work with because pretty much every night of my life is the most embarrassing night of my life. And just something clicked when I did it. It was my first time doing comedy and I was so nervous and scared, but it was awesome.

So people were laughing?

GG: People were laughing, people were really into it. I got invited back to their best of year-end show and did something there. It was one of the all-time coolest things that ever happened in my life and I just got the bug: “I’m going to come down to Philly and do this stuff.” But, there really wasn’t anything like that down here, so I did an open-mic night at Bar Noir, but it was just stand-ups and it was just a total disaster and I can’t do stand-up, I’ve tried it. If you’re a good stand-up it means you’re the funniest person on earth because it’s the hardest thing to do. I’m not comfortable doing that. So I looked to start doing stuff here, and I started communicating with Don Montrey who does Die, Actor, Die through the Improv Resource Center message board and I had seen a few improv shows in town and I knew the guys from Rare Bird Show. And seemingly if you do improve in America, you know my brother. But I got in touch with Don, and he let me do a Die, Actor, Die, and I told a story there and people were drunk enough to really like the story, and I did another thing here through Greg Maughan [of the Philadelphia Improv Theatre] and then I approached him with an idea for a show, and it would be just like ‘Nights of Our Lives’ except here and I’ll come up with themes. And he said “yeah, go for it.” And the first theme was poop and that’s how it got started. I was pretty much looking for a way for me to do my type of thing. It sounds like a vanity project, I don’t know what other way to do it. I guess I’m vain enough that I think I can tell stories and people will pay me to go see it. I probably sound like a major toolbag.

I’ve only been to the last few and the first one I went to had ‘sports’ as a theme and you did three stories, but now you have so many people coming that you can’t do that much.

GG: Well what happened was that for the very first show, we were going to do a run-through just to get a format and to make it work and we did it and I decided to put stuff up on Craigslist and send stuff to the alt-weeklies and it got write-ups and we got 30 people there just because it was poop, so the first one was just this magical night. But then what happened was it quickly came back down-to-earth and the next theme was “parties” and the only people that came were me, the people in the Sixth Borough, and my wife, and my friends and Don Montrey and that’s it. And it was like that for a while and at the time it was just first-person stories and I had wanted from the beginning to have people do more things, but not really. And then it just wasn’t going to go anywhere with the same five or six people telling the same stories in front of my wife. So I tried to step it up a level, I invited Secret Pants and I didn’t even know those guys, so I just emailed them and then the same thing with Meg & Rob, and Animosity Pierre and just the people that do it every month now. So the past five or six months went from being a total dead on arrival, flat line show, not that the materials wasn’t good, but no one was coming out. And then out of nowhere, it was like the Miracle at 4th and Bainbridge, all of a sudden, you come to a show, and Kent comes to a show, and I’m not someone that has a lot of success with projects in my life. Usually what I plan and do turns out to be a big disaster. Like I have a habit of being fired from jobs, I have a habit of being dumped by girlfriends and just messing up major years of my life.

When you and your brother were growing up, were you always doing funny stuff? Who was the funny one?

GG: Me. [Laughs] No, I’m older so I’m always going to say that. Me and my brother are super close, we have a super tight Irish Catholic family. We’d probably say our favorite times growing up are that we have a really funny family and it’s just people sitting around, my mom, my aunts, sitting around telling stories about people they grew up with. And that kind of Irish Catholic form of storytelling really had a big dent on us. And then we grew up in a big Irish Catholic neighborhood and there’s a huge emphasis on sports and we were never jocks and we grew up with all jocks. So the one thing that was our defense mechanism from feeling alienated and ostracized was to be funny. It was really like being funny was the only way for us to feel like we could relate to other people and get them to like us. And that’s kind of true of a lot of comedians, so I don’t think I sound too pathetic with that.

Did you guys get a reputation for being funny?

GG: Yeah, we definitely did. I definitely had a reputation for not so much funny, but definitely weird. Which is true. But my friends thought I was funny and I did a lot of just craving attention crap to be funny. And I got a reputation for that. And then the kids in high school who were just douche bags, they just thought I was annoying and not funny, but the kids who were my friends and were cool, they definitely thought I was funny. My brother, he was freshman when I was a senior in high school and he always said it was hard because I had a rep of being really witty and we took a lot of the same classes with the same teaches, so whatever teacher I pissed off, they held a grudge against him. But he was always more polished than I was, because he was always the musical lead of the play and he was the 10th in his class and the editor of the school paper and I was a total screw-up and I failed classes and I was an idiot, but yeah, that was how it was.


Michael Showalter Plug Awards Mixtape Doc, pt.1

Because you can't have enough Michael Showalter:

This embedded clip doesn't really do the video justice, click here to watch it in its HD widescreen glory.

We're going to look for the "Hardcore for Mike" mixtape that a comedian friend from college randomly found and gave to us years ago. It was pretty sweet, had The Germs, Black Flag, Hüsker Dü and more and perhaps we can sell/trade it to Showalter.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

"Oh, you're a comedian?" by Pat House

Pat House is a local stand-up comedian. You can see when he is performing near you at his Myspace page and you can read more about him in this recent Temple article.

As I write this composition, I'm a 23-year-old, full-time college student with two part time jobs. On top of the already hectic schedule of balancing an education and work, there is another element to my life that occupies more time than school and work combined.

Throughout my college career I have been studying stand-up comedy more than anything I ever had to study for school. I watch comedians just about every night of the week, and in the last three years, I've seen more comedians than I can even count.

Obviously, I'm no headliner. There are thousands of comedians that have a lot of more experience than I do, but I've been around for a while and I have invested more time and energy into the art of stand-up comedy then I have with anything in my life. I have a pretty good feel for the game, and taking my own personal experiences and observations (as well as talking with other comedians), I decided to put in writing a few situations that we (as comedians) encounter on a regular basis.

The following are some gripes and other things I wonder when it comes to how people react to comedy. It's a little rant-like at some points, I understand. I don't intend for it to be, I just wanted to get my thoughts out in the hopes that maybe someone will take note to what I have to say, and hopefully save a comedian from aggravation.

1.) Say Something Funny

"Oh, you're a comedian? Tell me a joke!"

"Say something funny." That's a request I get just about every time someone discovers that I do comedy. To my knowledge, comedy is the only profession where people demand you to prove yourself on the spot. My question is simple; why?

How many people have you met, where upon finding out what they do for a living, you immediately say "So, you're a (job title)? Tell me about (something that pertains to their job)."

Comedians are not clowns. Clowns apply make-up and engage people with props or pantomime situations. They're hired for events because of their interactive ability to amuse people on the spot.

Comedians, on the other hand, are artists who share their view of the world in a humorous manner, usually through stories or observations. They spend years writing and constructing a universal act - an act that is intended to entertain large groups of people (usually adults) in a setting such as a comedy club or theater.

For some strange reason that I can't even begin to comprehend, most people are under the impression that comedians are funny all the time or that they're always 'on.' I've met hundreds of comedians, and I can probably count on one hand how many are 'on' all the time. If a comedian is constantly in comedy-mode, it usually means one thing – they're not funny.

Stand-up comedy requires an atmosphere. It is extremely rare that a joke is as funny off stage as it is on stage. A joke that you address to a live audience does not translate when you tell it to people at a party, a bar or on the street. The material we write is designed for an environment where people come in the anticipation of laughter, they're ready for it. Material isn't written for personal conversation, so for a comedian to share one of their bits in a social setting is not only out of place, it's embarrassing.

2.) Disbelief

This is the basic skeleton of a conversation I've had with countless people once they found out that I do comedy. It's not verbatim, it varies, but it's always to the effect of:

Do you really do comedy???


Like, for real???


No way!! I don't believe you!!


If you don't believe that I do comedy, I do not care. I'm not going to stand there and list my credits and accomplishments until you accept it. You mean the guy with the popped collar and Jew-fro doesn't believe I do comedy? Oh no! How will I sleep tonight? If you believe me, awesome. If you don't, awesome. I don't care.

I find that a decent amount of people who are surprised with me doing comedy, seem to be surprised with disbelief that I do comedy. It's almost insulting. Really? You're a comedian? YOU? Why is it so surprising that I want to make something of myself? Or that I want to do something big?

I once had a woman tell me "You don't look like a comedian." On other occasions, people have said to me "You don't look funny." What does that mean? What does a comedian look like? I know comedians who are white, black, male, female, still in high school, retired, single, married, drug users, alcoholics, gay, straight, handicapped, mentally unstable, and Jewish.

What if I had a retort for that woman? How insulted would she have been if I said "Oh, you look like you'd be a security guard. You have the I-didn't-exactly-finish-High-School kind of look."?

Comedians are people. As you learn in pre-school, people come in all shapes and sizes and from different backgrounds and lifestyles. To this day, I still think about what that woman said and it bothers me. As a comedian, someone please tell me, what am I supposed to look like?

3.) Put That in Your Act

No. The answer is no. No matter how funny you think something is, odds are, I will not talk about it on stage. I am dumbfounded by the amount people I will share a laugh with; either they'll have a comment or I'll have a comment for something, and immediately afterwards they say "You gonna put that in your act?"

Just because something made us laugh does not mean it's going to make everyone else laugh. Yes, we overheard someone say something ridiculous on their cell phone, but no, I will not bring it up on stage that night – or any night.

In addition to the in-the-moment situation that some may think will be funny on stage, it's just as important to emphasize that telling a comedian a joke to say on stage is just as irritating. Comedy is a way for someone to express themselves and give people their insight of the world in a comical way. Thus, telling a comedian a 'jokey-joke' is nothing short of offensive. It seems that every week, I will encounter someone who will tell me the oldest and lamest joke with the longest, most uninteresting set-up imaginable.

If that isn't enough, after they finish telling me this 'hilarious' joke, they'll proceed to say "You can put that in your act!" Oh, can I now? Well, thank you for giving me permission to use not only an unoriginal joke that everybody and their mother has heard, but also a joke that is ridiculously unfunny. Here's a question - how many comedians have you seen take the stage and for their 'big opener', they use a joke that begins along the line of "So a Rabbi, a priest and a Muslim walk into a bar…?" Pencils down. The answer is zero.

4.) Being Offended and Heckling

If you are easily offended by anything, please do not attend a comedy show. Just a warning; it's probably not the best outing for you. However, if you are easily offended and still choose to attend a show, please do everyone in the showroom a favor and keep your mouth shut. It is impossible for a comedian to satisfy everyone's individual sense of humor and someone is bound to get offended. At a comedy show, your opinion does NOT matter. That's not my rule, it's the rule.

Comedy is subjective. Comedians have material on an infinite number of topics and every comedian is different. While most comedians tend to use a mainstream subject matter that almost everyone can relate to, or find enjoyable, jokes centered around sensitive subjects such as abortion, rape, AIDS and pedophilia are bound to be heard in comedy clubs, and mostly likely, one person in the crowd (if not more) is a victim of one of those instances or knows someone who is.

Let's say a comedian performs in front of a large audience and has a killer set. Despite 95% of the crowd enjoying them, not everyone will, and that is fine (trust me, a comedian would be more than thrilled if 95% of the crowd enjoyed their set). Yet, sometimes, if an audience member does not like a certain word or joke, they feel the need to voice their opinion. Why? I don't know.

Heckling does not improve the situation; it usually digs the hole deeper and has the potential to ruin a show - quickly. The patrons in that room who paid to see comedy and want to be entertained by professionals, not some drunken woman who heard something she didn't like and thought she should take action.

When dealing with a heckler, I think the odds are astronomically low that a comedian would commiserate with the disrupter and say "You know what? You're right. What I said was wrong. I'm sorry." Usually the situation ends with the heckler being berated by the comedian or escorted out by security (or both).

If you don't like something the comedian said, let it go. There will be a different bit coming soon - or another comedian. Most of the time, comedians are not trying to be obscene or crude when talking about a possible touchy topic. A lot of comedians have dealt with situations in their life that they used humor to get though. For example, a comedian who has a disability or illness may use humor to get through the experience. Now, as comedian, they may have jokes pertaining to their ailment to ease the pain that a select group of people may find offensive. Someone in the crowd may be offended, but to the comedian, it can part of a healing process.

5.) Being Quiet and Common Courtesy

In addition to heckling, being talkative is just as unwanted and just as annoying. People sometimes treat comedy shows like music at a bar. Music is in the background, musicians even know this. Songs do not require the attention that comedy does. With comedy, you need to focus on every word. Missing one word can lead to the absence of the punch-line. (One thing in particular that blows my mind is how some people will excessively talk at their table, completely ignoring the comedian, and then blame the comedian for not being funny).

Talking not only disturbs the people seated around your table, it's also distracting to the performer. Like a song, a comedians' set has rhythm and timing. People having conversations and even whispering can distort one's listening as well as sidetrack the comedian.

Another nuisance that is just as bothersome as talking, are cell phones. It is infuriating for the comedian to get through their set-up, and then as they're about to hit the crowd with the punch-line - riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing. Every comedian knows what it's like to lose the central part of their joke to an obnoxious sound, and it is frustrating beyond words.

Picture yourself sitting at your desk at work. You're typing on the computer and every time you finish a paragraph, someone holds down the backspace key, causing you to lose everything you just worked on. It's the exact same thing.

This even goes further then just the ring. Texting is just as discourteous and equally maddening. Just like losing a joke to a ring, it's just as rude for someone to text right in front of the comedian's face as they perform. Texting is basically saying "F you" without holding up your finger.

It's also important to also point out the people who think that either they are a part of the act or that the comedian is speaking to them directly. Some people at the show will actually talk to the comedian during their act. It's a gray area between heckling and talking at the table because they're not necessarily heckling, or talking to people at your table, they're talking to the comedian for no reason whatsoever. As if the comedian doesn't have enough on their mind making sure their set is running smoothly, sometimes, people will feel the need to (loudly) add their own tag to a joke, or, just as annoyingly, have a comment for everything the comedian says.

"I know what you mean!" "That happened to me, too!" or even an agreeing "Yeeeeeeah!" are all things some people feel that they should share. Comedians bring their own jokes to the show, complete with their own punch-lines. Unwanted audience participation is as necessary as a third shoe.


I've obviously just spent a lot of time ranting and pointing out several negative aspects of comedy, but over-all, comedy is a fantastic thing. If you think it's great to watch, you should try performing it. It's a different world. Personally, I'd rather be entertainment than see it (except at a party or at a bar).
Comedy is an amazing art. I watch comedy almost every night of the week. It's great to watch someone point out the things you think but would never say, or point out things about everyday life that you didn't notice until then and it's great to just see how different people view the same world.

Performing comedy is therapeutic. I really don't know what I'd do with out it. It's an addiction. But like everything else you love, it can never truly be perfect - I woudn't want it to be perfect. The ups and downs are what makes comedy fun. But one thing I could live without are the people who I mentioned in my five points. The next time you meet someone and you find out they're a comedian, do them a favor; just say "Awesome."


VIDEO: Shenanigans at the Helium Open Mic

With (in order of appearance): Chip Chantry, John Kensil, David James and Pat House

Monday, February 11, 2008

BREAKING NEWS: March Bedtime Stories will be a tribute to 'The Wire'

Comic Vs. Audience has recently learned that the March installment of Bedtime Stories will be a tribute to HBO's critically-acclaimed television masterpiece 'The Wire' on Wednesday, March 5th. And, it will be a fundraiser for Project H.O.M.E. We recently caught up with the founder and host of the show, Gregg Gethard, to learn more and to talk about the show as obsessively as we could.

We'll post a second part of this interview later in the week as well as any future developments, but first off we asked him about the upcoming show.

Gregg Gethard: March’s Bedtime Stories is called “Bedtime Stories Presents- Way Down in the Hole, A Tribute to 'The Wire'”. 'The Wire' is a show on HBO about life in inner-city Baltimore and if you’ve read any critical acclaim of it or ever watched the show, you know that it’s the best show that has ever been on television. Like no doubt about it. It’s my favorite television show of all-time, I’m completely roped into it, my friends are completely roped into it. After my wife and my family and my job, I would say watching 'The Wire' is the fourth biggest priority in my life, even before doing comedy.

You’ve worked in a newsroom, do you think that whole aspect of the current season is accurate?

GG: When I say I worked for newspapers, I want to let it be known, I worked for the absolute, collectively usually the worst newspapers. Like small-town weekly suburban New Jersey newspapers. I did move up the ladder a little bit and ended up at a daily paper, but I never worked nearly anywhere near as big as The Baltimore Sun. So that’s a little disclaimer. But after the first episode [of this season], I knew who each of those characters was in the newsroom, what they represented, who they were supposed to be, what their larger archetype was. And the lingo is spot-on. I was emailing with a former editor of mine, he’s a really good friend of mine whose also a 'Wire' fan, and he was like "I was screaming for more art for the front today." I knew from the very scene, the very first scene of Scott who’s the evil fabricator, Jayson Blair-type. The very first scene of his when he’s introduced, his feet are up on the table and he’s doing nothing. And the editor’s like "what are you doing?" "I’m waiting for phone calls." Which is if you worked at a newsroom you know immediately that this guy is so lazy and so entitled. Because anytime I was half-assing it, and I’m man enough to admit it, I did the exact same thing. I just goofed off, wasted time on my fantasy baseball team or something with "oh, I’m waiting for phone calls."

What do you think about McNulty this year, the whole thing with the-

GG: Yeah, the serial killer.

I think it’s the boldest thing they’ve done since Hamsterdam.

GG: I think of any show on television that should be granted by its audience “let’s see how this story plays out”, which is what you should do with any story in a serialized format, let’s see how it plays out before it you start railing on it. Let’s do that. I love it so far. McNulty’s totally right. Him and Lester are outsmarting the process they’ve had to work with. They knew they could do it, they knew they could get away with it. They’ve dropped hints all along that they could pull it off. When hasn’t McNulty been a self-serving, smug prick on the show? He’s a very rootable smug prick, but he’s still a total jerk. He totally just wants to do his own thing. Lester’s been cagier about it, but he’s played people too. And ‘The Wire’ has done totally ridiculous stuff itself. Hamsterdam is a totally ridiculous set piece. It’s really well done and it’s got this great social message to it, but it’s a set piece that is not something that could actually happen. The cops and media would know about that in a day or two in real life. There’s ridiculous stuff in season two. My favorite ridiculous thing is Nicky Sobotka having a Guided By Voices poster in his bedroom. Indie rock is nowhere near that dude’s vernacular.

With all of that said about ‘The Wire’, what do you expect for the show in March?

GG: I have absolutely no idea what to expect, to be honest. The usual Bedtime Stories regulars want to do stuff. Secret Pants, Meg & Rob, Kent Haines, these people I’ve worked with before want to do things. But a lot of those guys they haven’t watched the show and I’ve pitched the show to them and they want to do it, so it’s kind of an experiment. Then I’ve pitched it to other people from New York, but who knows. I think it’s going to be chaotic planning it until the minute the show actually comes off. I know what I’m doing. I’ve got a killer story about an extra in a movie in which the star of the movie was Councilman Tony Gray. But my dream scenario for this show is I want this to be the best, because ‘The Wire’ is such an important television show and it’s so important to me and it’s totally rechanged my way of thinking about some things like social issues, television, city life and I want this comedy show to somehow pay tribute and reflect that. I don’t know how possible it is, at the very least I want it to be funny for people that love the show as much as I do. And I think it’s also going to be funny for people that don’t watch the show. So I think it’s going to be a good mixture. If you’re a huge fan of the show, you’re absolutely going to love it. But if you’ve never seen ‘The Wire’, I still think there’s going to be enough there that you like.


Sunday, February 10, 2008

TONIGHT: Unwashed Comics

It's the second Sunday of the month and you may be thinking to yourself "Hmm, what was I going to do on the second Sunday of every month? Laundry? Taxes? Wash my dog?"

No, you're going to see stand-up comedy! Unwashed Comics is tonight at the Walking Fish Theatre, nestled in the heart of Fishtown (or Kensington, depends on who you ask). Come out to see:

Jose Vega
Nolan Gilbride
Pat House
Doogie Horner
Chip Chantry

Hosted by Joe Dougherty! Remember him?

At the Walking Fish Theatre (2509 Frankford Ave.), $10, 8PM


On Internet Comedy and more from NYT

Posted here as an addendum to our post from earlier this week, The New York Times tackles internet comedy and the writer's strike:

While the three-month writers’ strike dealt a devastating blow to the entertainment industry, suspending the production of numerous films and television series, it has also imbued the nascent medium of Web-based comedy videos with a new vitality, as countless furloughed talents — writers and actors; veteran humorists and novices — learned to use their newfound free time to produce their own shorts.

They talk to Jerry O'Connell on why he created his Tom Cruise video:
“The bottom line is, we’re people who work in comedy, and because of this strike, we’re sort of bored,” Mr. O’Connell said in a telephone interview. “Maybe I’m watching too much of ‘The Wire’ these days, but you’re just jonesing for that next fix.”

The NYT when comedy-crazy this Sunday, interviewing Steven Wright and Lisa Lampanelli on their Grammy nominations. Oh please let Steven Wright win!

Stella for Barack Obama

From last Mondays''s Barack Rock event at the Bowery Ballroom in NYC:

Unfortunately for them, Hillary Clinton won the New York democratic primary. But here's Michael Showalter performing "The Mountain" live to ease the pain!

For the record, Comic Vs. Audience also support Barack Obama, but you probably shouldn't be making your decision based off of a comedy website.

We also support Glenn Danzig in the Newbridge Mayubernatorial race.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

This Week's Sponsors

Comic Vs. Audience would like to thank this week's sponsors that have made all of this possible:

- Templeton's Antique Chocolates and Mufflers
- The Island of Aruba
- The John and Ethel McKeen Fund
- Scuba Dupa
- Crazy, Deranged, Shouting Jack's Fruit and Vegetable Stand on the Italian Market
- The United States Government
- Cafe Au Go Go

"Money piles high as my nieces" - Clipse

Thursday, February 7, 2008

A Special Thing Video Launches

From a post on the A Special Thing forum entitled AST VIDEO: boldly going where everyone else is already going:

Here's something new: aspecialthing is launching a video companion site! As part of the Independent Comedy Network (, AST Video will feature original content, site-specific clips and the best of whatever you, the members of AST, create or find and deem view-worthy. Anyone who joins will be able to upload videos (existing YouTube and Google Video clips can be embedded), and the best stuff will be featured on the main page. The site also allows photo uploads, messaging, social networking and even widgets -- pretty much everything you've ever wanted in life.

More details about original AST content are on the way, but for now just know this: if you make a really funny pilot episode of a show that everyone loves, we will have the resources, through our partnership with ICN, to pay for the production of more episodes -- with the ultimate goal of launching series that can be sold to television or some other outlet. Since AST is already a place where comedians and comedy connoisseurs alike congregate, it's a great place to share your work and get it seen. The goal is to make AST Video not only a prime destination for great comedy, but a place where you can get paid to create it.

So AST and ICN join the big-dawg powerhouse comedy video sites of Superdeluxe, Funny Or Die, Comic Vs. Audience, College Humor, Comedy Central's Motherload and the recently launched UCB Comedy. Not to mention the blogs (including this one) that embed Youtube clips.

It's getting crowded, yet there's a lot of good stuff out there. And we've noticed a two-tier system. First, there's the common folks with a miniDV camera, iMovie and a dream. And then there are the established comedians doing short videos (sometimes commissioned) for visibility and possibly just the fun of it. And while the internet is supposed to be the great democratizer giving everyone's voice equal weight, the latter group, for the time being, are getting more attention. Will Ferrell's "Landlord" was hilarious, yet some of the 50 million hits must've been to see a bona fide movie star on the small, small screen at the mercy of bit rates and buffering.

But maybe that can change. As AST says, the goal is to launch series that can be sold to television and other outlets. So if it's funny, it plays. It's never that easy, quality doesn't always rise to the top, but we'll see what happens.

I guess what Bob Dylan sang about comedy in the 60s still holds true: "the times they are a-changin'"

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

TONIGHT: Bedtime Stories at the Shubin Theatre

It's time again for Bedtime Stories at the Shubin Theatre (presented by the Philadelphia Improv Theater): a night of comedic monologues, confessions, video and sketches based around a central theme. This month's theme is "Girls Gone Wild: A Tribute To Alycia Lane":

Britney Spears. Lindsay Lohan. Alycia Lane. Nancy Pelosi. America is obsessed with bad girls; the drug-addicted, halter-top wearing ladies who have become an ubiquitous presence in our culture. At a very special edition of Bedtime Stories, your favorite Philadelphia comedians will tackle the issue of why it is we are obsessed with celebrity females in peril. Other than the fact that they are usually outrageously hot.

Come out to see:

Secret Pants
Meg and Rob
Matt Holmes and Friends
Doogie Horner
John Kensil
Kent Haines
Jaime Fountaine
Nick Gillette

Never been to Bedtime Stories before? Check out our coverage from the last few months.

It all takes place at The Shubin Theater (4th and Bainbridge) tonight at 8PM, $5

ADVICE: George Carlin on Comical Radio

Advice from stand-up legend George Carlin from an interview on Comical Radio, a NYC weekly radio show of interviews with comedians:

If you die on Saturday night with your stuff, but it worked great on Friday and it worked great on Thursday and it worked great last weekend, it's not you, it's not the stuff, it's them. And once they're resistant if you do happen to get the luck of the draw with an audience that is not just right, sometimes you react to that subconsciously and you feed off it and you don't do your best. But it's not the material, it's just the performance that night, because the performance happens between you and them, so they share equal responsibility. I mean, that's the way I've always looked at it. I used to die on a Saturday night down at Greenwich Village at Cafe au Go Go and I'd say "well what's wrong?" and I'd remember the night before and I'd say, man, everything worked great. And I would just let the two cancel out and forget it and go on and do a set on Sunday night.

This goes against the "it's never the crowd's fault" theory. And it seems to be the mindset that Carlin needed to transform himself from, as he puts it, "Suit and Tie, Nice Guy, People Pleasing Time" to the more volatile and real act that he does today.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

LITERARY ADVENTURE: Failed Pseudonyms of Great Authors

Comic Vs. Audience is proud to present a scintillating bi-weekly column, Literary Adventure, written by bookish gadabout Doogie Horner. Everything written in Literary Adventure has been vigorously fact-checked by a team of ten graduate students, so don't second guess any of the outrageous claims made within.

Dr. Seuss
Failed Pseudonym: Dr. Disaster, the Love Master

During his college years, Dr. Disaster was fond of stalking the halls of the girls’ dormitories, stethoscope in hand. He would open a door at random, and if a young lady was inside, he would say in a professional tone, “Take your clothes off and I’ll back in a couple minutes.”

He also slept on a sheet of wax paper and was addicted to morphine.

– – – –

Elmore Leonard
Failed Pseudonym: Elmo Scribbles

Elmore Leonard originally began his career writing gritty, violent children’s board books under the pen name Elmo Scribbles. Some of these books included The Littlest Stool Pigeon, First Graders Don’t Float, and Get Shorty, which he later reworked into an adult novel. The original Get Shorty was about a fourth-grader who has to baby-sit his little brother, and all the wacky trouble they get into. After accidentally murdering the babysitter by shoving a crayon in her ear, they have to make it look like a drunk driving accident—before Mom gets home!

– – – –

A. A. Milne
Failed Pseudonym: Pooh Man

Incredibly, the author of the beloved Winnie the Pooh series didn’t see the humor in christening himself Pooh Man, and had to have it gently pointed out by friends.

– – – –

Stephen King
Failed Pseudonym: The King

As hard as he tried, the master of the modern horror thriller couldn’t get anyone, even his own damn WIFE, to call him The King (and then bow). During the wild days of his youth he was commonly seen carousing around the streets of sleepy Orono, Maine, wearing a cardboard crown and yelling at anyone in sight, “Who’s the King baby?!”

– – – –

F. Scott Fitzgerald
Failed Pseudonym: Scott Fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald toiled in obscurity for years writing sales copy for canned peas under the name Scott Fitzgerald. He fruitlessly sent his manuscript The Great Gatsby to every publisher in New York, but was turned down flat by every one.

Finally, a kind editor took a moment to give him some advice. “Look, your novel is great. It might even be the defining novel of this generation. But your name . . . it needs a letter before it. A letter, and then a period.”

“What letter? What letter?!” Fitzgerald beseeched him.

“Scott, I don’t know. Now get the fuck out of my office, you bum.”

Fitzgerald worked in reverse alphabetical order, resending his manuscript out twenty times under the names Z. Scott Fitzgerald through G. Scott Fitzgerald before finding the nom de plume that finally secured his legacy in the literary canon.

Doogie Horner will be performing this Wednesday at Bedtime Stories at the Shubin Theatre (407 Bainbridge St.), 8PM, $5. and this Sunday at Unwashed Comics at the Walking Fish Theatre (2509 Frankford Ave.), 8PM, $10

Monday, February 4, 2008

Michael Showalter in the New York Times

Whereas stand-up storytellers like Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock tear through tightly scripted bits like comedic machines, Mr. Showalter’s routine is more akin to a college lecture (he does teach graduate screenwriting workshops at N.Y.U.) spliced together with music, pictures and jokes. In the course of a set he may play Train and Sufjan Stevens songs from his iPod’s “guilty pleasures” playlist; sing about mountaineering, erotica or adventure journalism; or even narrate news clippings with the aid of a PowerPoint slide show. After a year and a half on the road he had perfected enough material for his debut album, "Sandwiches and Cats," released late last year on the JDub label.

This is a pretty good description of a Michael Showalter live show. When he performed last year with Michael Ian Black at The TLA, he seemed to be making up a lot of it on the spot. Unlike most comics, his material wasn't carefully honed bits worked over and over again. Rather, he could get a laugh from just his word choice. And besides "Requip", it was all material that wasn't on his album.

And bonus points for the Billy Joel homage!

The World's First White Collar Comedian: Mortimer the Steel Baron

[Matt Ruby at 50 First Jokes in New York]

Sunday, February 3, 2008

For Halftime of the Super Bowl

Catch up on this week's content during the halftime show, because let's face it, Tom Petty is kind of boring (yeah I said it!).

- The Sixth Borough had two shows at the Shubin this weekend, but you still have a chance to see them next weekend.
- Lenny Bruce is still dead, but luckily they had recording devices back in the 60s.
- Video of Kent Haines' set from Die, Actor, Die last week.

This week was a busy and quiet one for us, but next week is jam-packed!

Friday, February 1, 2008

INTERVIEW: The Sixth Borough

Philadelphia sketch comedy group The Sixth Borough have a new show, “Saving Philly’s Soul”, opening this weekend at the Shubin Theatre. Comic Vs. Audience recently caught up with Tabitha Vidaurri, Corey Cohen, Emily McGraw and Gregg Gethard of the group (with some comments from Greg Maughan of the Philadelphia Improv Theater) during their last rehearsal before the opening night. Topics included comedy, fat vaginas and Philadelphia.

We realize that this is long, so hunker down and get through it.

So this is your one-year anniversary show. How did you initially form?

Tabitha Vidaurri: I really wanted to do sketch comedy ever since I was 13. And I wanted to get something together in Philly and there was this theatre that I took a workshop with Ali Farahnakian and I met Gregg there. And I knew Emily was from working at Eastern State [Pennituary], we were tour guides and I met through Corey through doing random improve stuff at this theater called the Ric Rac. And basically I just got a group of people together that I knew and liked that were talented-

Corey Cohen: Except you didn’t know me, or know I was talented.

TV: Well, I met you, fuck you- anyway I just got a group of people together that I thought were good and would work together good in a sketch comedy group and they didn’t know each other really, but it ended up that people had weird connections with each other, like one of Gregg’s best friends was Emily and I’s old boss at Eastern State.

CC: Yeah and I had previously met your roommate. Well, you know Philadelphia is a small town so we just also had weird secondary connections were realized over time.

Gregg Gethard: We’re like the “Lost” of sketch comedy groups.

CC: Hook Gregg Gethard on that.

GG: We all have daddy issues.

CC: And in that we all heal immediately.

TV: Anyways, I went to U Arts with Jason, so I knew him from school. And Pat I had just been friends with and Pat had done stand-up comedy and I had been talking to him for at least a year about doing something together and we finally got something together and we met last January and our first show was last March, so this is pretty much the anniversary.

You said since you were 13 you wanted to do sketch comedy, where did that come from?

TV: Kids in the Hall. I’m obsessed with them pretty much.

What are your other influences?

CC: Well I actually really liked Stella a lot and that was sort of what got me paying attention to people doing sketch comedy now. And I was taking improve classes in New York and seeing stuff up there.

Greg Maughan [putting up lights]: Tell him you were blowing David Wain.

CC: And I was totally sucking off David Wain.

The TV show? Or the videos?

CC: No, back in 2000 or 2001.

TV: The shorts.

CC: Yeah, it was when the shorts were really popular on the internet before they hit College Humor. I wanted to do sketch and I actually tried to form a sketch group, but as anybody in this group will tell you, I shouldn’t be in charge of anything. So I was thankful to be able to get into a group where someone else was in charge.

[To Tabitha] Do you like being the leader of the group?

CC: Yes she does.

TV: I’m getting probably five ulcers, but in a good way.

CC: Their names are Gregg, Emily, Corey, Jason, Pat.

TV: Yeah, I have little names for all of them. No, I have always fallen into the role of leadership. I used to write and direct plays and when I was little I used to make my brother and sister be in the movies that I made on our videocamera-

CC: Tabitha is what David Bowie would call a Queen Bitch.


How have your past shows gone?

TV: Our first show that we did around this time last year was at the [Connie's] Ric Rac [on the Italian Market] which is now not open anymore. It was open for a very tiny window of time. But we did a show there. And we did a fringe festival run of shows there, but that was when it wasn’t open, so there was this special thing of getting a permit and then we have done shows here at the Shubin before. And we did a show up at the Rotunda in West Philly, that was our Halloween show and-

GG: Greg [Maughan] wants us to plug that we did it with the Philly Improv Theater.

TV: Oh yeah!

CC: We did it with the Philadelphia Improv Theater.

TV: Thank you Philadelphia Improv Theater!

CC: Thank you Greg Maughan and the Philadelphia Improv Theater!

GG: Thank you so much Greg Maughan!

Greg Maughan: Don’t plug me, I want you to plug the theater.

TV: So when I mean Shubin, I mean the Philadelphia Improv Theater at the Shubin. And our last show before this was at The Balcony [The Troc’s side stage].

How’d that go?

TV: Really well, it was our Christmas show. It was all new and we only did it once.

Do the crowds get rowdy if you play somewhere that has alcohol?

Emily McGraw: It got a little bit rowdy but-

CC: Well you know the crowds that always surprise are not our friends and fans and people that regularly come to shows, but when we were doing the Fringe Festival and there would be a 50-year old couple that probably just went out to dinner and came to a show afterwards and they were really responsive which is kind of strange. Especially since the theme of the last Fringe Festival show was “adults”, so it was about growing up and I guess that resonated with the older folks and they really seemed to like it. It was kind of weird, I thought that older people were going to hate it and think that it was immature.

GG: Well we did have that one old couple that walked out during that one show.

CC: That was during which sketch though?

TV: Fat Vaginas.

CC: Yeah that was Fat Vagina, which got mixed, there were some nights where the audience was like “ok.” And there were some nights where they said “no.”

TV: The people that had Fat Vaginas left.

EM: Yeah, when they left I was looking and the woman’s silhouette cast a big shadow and I realized that it was a Fat Vagina.

CC: Right, so we really only upset people because they had Fat Vaginas.

GG: We really found a particular demographic with that sketch that could really get really up in, but Pat had an aunt that came to see him that had a Fat Vagina and she loved it. She was raving to him about it, like “oh dear god, I loved it.” And he was in the sketch too, “you nailed it, you nailed it, it’s like having a Fat Vagina.”

EM: Well Tabitha and I had to explain what a Fat Vagina was because clearly we have perfect vaginas.

CC: It’s true, they have perfect vaginas. Great vaginas. But for clarification a Fat Vagina is when you are getting older and everything’s sagged a bit and you’ve tucked your under-fat stomach into your pants which makes it look as if you have a Fat Vagina.

GG: I’ve also referred to it as a Bubble-gine (Ed note: may not be the correct spelling) or Gunt.

CC: Gunt’s my personal favorite.

GG: And I wrote that sketch and I regret writing it because, first, it alienated a lot of people, probably people of money. And then I ended up being in it and I had to portray a woman and I sucked at it.

TV: Oh Gregg, shut up.

GG: No, I did, that sketch sucked.

Greg Maughan: I saw that sketch. And in Gregg’s defense, it did suck.

GG: Yeah, I owe up to it.

EM: On behalf of the ladies in the group, I just want to say that I don’t think that the Sixth Borough should be defined by Fat Vaginas.

CC: No, we’re so much more than that.

Like what?

CC: Um…there’s other things. [Laughs]

TV: Yeah there’s a lot of other stuff.

CC: There’s got to be other things.

TV: Well, we do satire.

CC: Yeah, that’s definitely our main motive of when we are writing and have ideas. We want everything to have a satirical edge. There’s a lot of sketch comedy that is really silly but there’s no point, or vice versa it’s intelligent but they’re not really making a point and we try to make a point of making a point.

TV: And we don’t do parody.

GG: I think what also helps with the group is that you can tell by watching us that each of us bring different things to the table and we all have our own unique personalities. Seeing different shows, you can’t really tell who’s who and it all kind of blends in, but with us we are all totally different, weird people and I think it shows.

Does everyone write?

CC: Yeah, pretty much.

EM: I just write songs.

CC: Yeah, any song that you’ve ever heard, but there are no songs in this one.

EM: So I wrote nothing for this one.

TV: No, you wrote the whole opening. Emily’s an idea woman.

CC: Yeah she tends to work conceptually.

TV: And she’s character-based.

CC: She’s our Gilda Radner. I know you don’t want me to say that, but..

Your shows are usually themed. Does it make it easier to write material that way?

CC: Well, I think it’s more about it gives us a sort level of cohesiveness, it connects the sketches without directly correcting them. Which gives the whole show a polish that just seems more professional when everything is oriented in one way. But it does make it a little bit easier to write. But it’s also challenging because we’ll come in with something that really has nothing to do with the theme and we either have to reject it or make it work.

TV: Or sometimes a theme can be so intimidating, like Adults was such a broad, huge theme and it’s like, what does that mean to you.

CC: Right, but that was just fun because we all wrote different sketches for that and had different ideas so it really was all of our opinions and thoughts on what it meant to be an adult.

So it’s all based off something?

CC: Yeah, we try to keep it that way.

So what is the new show, "Saving Philadelphia Soul", about?

CC: It’s basically much looser because it’s a greatest hits show-

TV: Well, our first show last year was all Philly themed and since this was a year later, we wanted to come back to the theme of Philadelphia but put a new spin on it. So a couple of our best sketches from the first show are in this show, and then some of the sketches that we only got to perform once, like something that we performed at Die, Actor, Die and something from our Halloween show. So this is for people that have seen some of our stuff, but we have put together kind of a best of. But it’s framed by the story that the Philadelphia Soul indoor football team has been kidnapped.

EM: The soccer team?

CC: No, it’s indoor football, arena football.

EM: There’s indoor football?

TV: Yeah, that’s kind of the joke-

EM: Doesn’t the ball hit the ceiling?

CC: It’s a very high ceiling.

GG: You can play it off the wall

CC: And if somebody in the crowd catches it and throws it back, it’s still in play.

GG: Pat has season tickets. But he’s never gone to a game.

TV: Anyway, it’s up to the Sixth Borough to save the Philadelphia Soul and in essence saving Philadelphia’s soul.

CC: Yeah it’s really heavy. And essentially we do that through our sketches.

TV: Yeah, by doing live comedy in Philly, we are saving the city.

Does Bon Jovi [real owner of the Philadelphia Soul] make an appearance at the end?

TV: Um, maybe…

CC: Yeah, let’s just say maybe. We’re only going to say maybe because we don’t want you to know and because we aren’t entirely sure.

Is there something inherently funny about Philadelphia?

CC: Yeah.

TV: Oh yeah, you can’t have this many murders in a city every fucking year and not have it be hilarious.

CC: No, I have a theory on why Philadelphia is the way it is. See, Philadelphia, we were leaders for so long, and I think everyone in this city on some level still holds a grudge against some other place. I mean, Philadelphia is all about hating some other cities really. You hate New York, or you hate L.A. or you hate Pittsburgh or you hate New Jersey. I think that everyone in Philadelphia thinks that they are second-best.

TV: Yeah it’s a city with a chip on its shoulder. A city that’s probably the most made fun of city in the country, but I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

CC: Yeah, it’s true. And everything is based in New York and part of it is because it’s the entertainment hub. But it’s frustrating because New York has its whole own thing, it has its own microcosm where as Philadelphia is more representative of the real world.

EM: Plus people look really funny here.

CC: Yeah, we’re really ugly.

EM: And people have Philly Face. Where they look really grumpy and worn-down by life. But then they open their mouth and say “how ya doin’, hun?” And that’s funny, because I thought you were going to be really crusty and mean, but you’re really not, you’re kind of nice. You just have Philly Face.

TV: It’s just an original city. There’s crap that happens here that I don’t see anywhere else.


TV: Well, the Mummers, the level of sports’ loyalty here is unparalleled.

CC: Corruption.

TV: Well, yeah.

GG: My friends in college from Philly were going to bars at the age of 13.

CC: Can we note that Tabitha just spit her water.

GG: I know two people that lost their virginity before their first kiss. And they lost it outside, behind a Kmart in the Northeast.

The Sixth Borough will be performing their new show, “Saving Philly’s Soul”, presented by the Philadelphia Improv Theater at the Shubin Theatre (407 Bainbridge St.) Fri. 2/1 at 8PM, Sat. 2/2 at 10PM, Fri. 2/8 at 8PM and Sat. 2/9 at 10PM