Tuesday, September 30, 2008

PLEASEEASAUR live at The Khyber, 9/23

Pleaseeasaur is a goofy song-costume-visual comedy onslaught that hit The Khyber's stage last Tuesday night. Imagine costumed characters singing and dancing in front of a visual projector about fake products like Bowl Noodle Hot (It's what the Japanese have loved for centuries), films like La Nights 2 (it's even hotter 'cause it's number 2!) and sometimes just the absurd ("Warning: These Cobras Are Totally Cool").

The band has a DVD, three albums (the most recent being 2006's The Amazing Adventures of Pleaseeasaur for Comedy Central Records) and numerous other tapes, but it's something that has to be experienced live. After a costume change behind the curtain, a stoner-type walks out in a ripped "King of The Remote Control" t-shirt. Time for some jokes about drinking and partying, right? Nope. Instead, the song is mostly an earnest list of things that you can do in your free time. Clip art images sync up with what the character is singing about, like "Threaten Some Kids", "Practice Your Home Run Swing", and the crowd's favorite: "Winning A Jazz Trophy". What?!

Creator J.P. Hasson has been doing it since the early 90s. During his high school years in the Seattle area, Hasson would mess around on his dad's Yamaha sequencer. "I would hang out and smoke pot in my parents' garage. I'd compose little MIDI things on it and then improv straight to tape." He continues: "I've always been a huge TV commercial and theme song junkie. When I would watch TV with my sisters, we would all watch the show and then I would watch them when the commercials came on. Just to see how they would react to certain things." That would explain the healthy amount of songs for fake companies like "No Prob Limo", "Pizza Brothers & Sons Inc.", and "Randy Normal Jeans". "They're real companies," Hasson says. "I own 117 companies. I figure if one can get off the ground..."

He's got a Philadelphia connection as well. J.P. first saw Philly's own Dead Milkmen at the age of 15. "Everyone classified them as a punk band, but I never thought they were a punk band. I just considered them a comedy-art band. So by self-classifying it as that, I got a lot more out of it as far as content and delivery." He became friends with the group and sent them his early Pleaseeasaur tapes, which they would listen to in their tour van and laugh at. When he got older, J.P. even moved to Philadelphia and was in a band with Dead Milkmen guitarist Joe Genaro ("Joe Jack Talcum").

What's next for Pleaseeasaur? There's a new DVD in the works, a West Coast tour with Joe Jack and he's done the theme song for a new Cartoon Network show. But J.P. will always enjoy performing live the most. It's also probably the key to his success as Pleaseeasaur has opened for stand-up comic Neil Hamburger and the indie rock bands Black Heart Procession, The Melvins, Man...or Astro Man?, Pinback and Presidents of the United States of America over the years. "I like doing records and DVDs, but I will and I do drive hundreds of thousands of miles to perform 40 minutes."

Monday, September 29, 2008

DON'T FORGET: The Comic Vs. Audience Comedy Show!

Hey, don't forget: our next stand-up show is now only a week away!! Brought to you in conjunction with the Philly Improv Theater, we're bringing you another four hilarious stand-up comedians once again. It's the only best stand-up show at the Shubin Theatre! This could be a night you'll never forget!*

Tickets are now available on the Philly Improv Theater website and we recommend you do so to ensure that there's a seat for your fanny!

Not convinced? See what the critics are saying!

"A fantastical adventure...a wonderful voyage!" -Asia Times Online
"High....larious! Two thumbs...up!" - Roger Ebert, film critic
"This show is as fun as shooting swine from your back porch in the freezing rain. Ho ho, Nixon was a crook." - Hunter S. Thompson, author

Tim Ryan
Luke Giordano
Doogie Horner
Chip Chantry

Here are the details:

The Comic Vs. Audience Comedy Show
Monday, October 6th, 2008
at the Shubin Theatre (407 Bainbridge St.) [directions]
Five American Dollars (BUY YOUR TICKETS NOW!)

* = NOT GUARANTEED. Only applies if something extraordinary happens to you that night, like if you were to meet the man/woman of your dreams. Hey, the show is BYOB, it's a possibility!

Friday, September 26, 2008


The one thing I like the most about Philly Comedy is that we had to invent it. It’s hard work writing material, creating shows, and getting people to come to our events. But it’s also really awesome because, since it’s our creation, we have complete and total freedom. After all, we made it.

Dave Walk exemplifies what this has all become better than anybody. He thought Philly needed a website like The Apiary, so he made one. It’s the online home of the Philly Comedy Community. I’m thrilled to be able to put up some of my dumb essays every two weeks.

Instead of posting some other examples of my glaring immaturity, I asked Dave if I could interview him to celebrate Comic vs. Audience’s one year anniversary. As anyone who knows Dave at all, you realize what a humble and nice guy he is. Initially, he didn’t want to be interviewed. But he relented after I e-mailed him and also tortured one of his cats. Just kidding. I don’t know his e-mail address.

Anyways, here’s Dave Walk as you have never seen Dave Walk before. -Gregg Gethard

1. What is your background in comedy? What are your earliest comedy memories, when did you know you want to take up comedy and how did you get started with comedy?

My answer to this is unfortunately very cliche. As a kid, I used to stay up for 'Saturday Night Live' when my parents let me and I always liked watching stand-up comics on the late shows. I would tape them on the VCR when I could (by the way- seemingly almost anyone involved in comedy will you give you this same story). Also, although I didn't know it growing up, my dad was really into stand-up comedy. A while ago he showed me a bunch of old VHS tapes that he had recorded from TV- he had Richard Pryor and Kinison specials that I hadn't seen until then because they weren't even on DVD. So maybe it's something in my DNA.

In college I wrote for an awful closed-circuit sketch TV show (at our first meeting the producer asked "who here thinks SNL sucks now?" Yeah, like we were going to give them a run for their money) and did some awful stand-up as well. When I moved to Philadelphia after graduating, I never picked it up again even though I wish I had.

2. When and why did the lightbulb go off in your head about creating C vs. A?

I was actually listening to a Paul F. Tompkins interview on 'The Sound of Young America' and PFT was talking about his early days doing comedy in Philadelphia. It got me thinking about how NYC, Chicago and L.A. are the hot spots for comedy, but every city has their own local scene. So I looked around more and saw there were blogs in these other cities but nothing in Philly. And actually, there was almost no coverage of comedy in Philadelphia, the weeklies and dailies ignored it for the most part. So putting together a website to cram it into everyone's head until they couldn't ignore it anymore seemed like a good idea.

3. You and I both share the same awesome taste in music -- DIY punk/indie/power-pop, etc. Do you see a link between the music you grew up listening to and to everything going on w/ Philly comedy?

There's definitely a DIY energy with everyone starting their own shows and not waiting for some kind of producer to do it for them and people like having total control over what they do. Plus, almost everyone has grown a mohawk at some point and put Xs on their knuckles. We've all gotten into fights and kicked someone in the face with our Doc Martens. A lot of shows are $5, just how Ian MacKaye would've liked it. (I got bored with this answer after the first sentence)

4. What have some of your favorite memories the past year been? Is there anyone you think deserves a little of the spotlight cast on them who has been under the radar?

Well, everyone is still under the radar at this point, so I don't know how I can answer that. But as far as highlights- I'd say the Philly's Phunniest Contest was great not just because Kent won, but because a lot of other comics really stepped up their game and you could definitely see a leap in their performances. The material was always there, but with the extra confidence of advancing, a lot of comics did considerably better and it was awesome to see.

All of the other shows had their moments: Ministry of Secret Jokes, Die, Actor, Die, Bedtime Stories. The 24-Hour Comedy Marathon was fun and the last Philadelphia Improv Festival was great. The Helium open mic can make me laugh so much sometimes. There were a lot of other good one-off shows, too.

5. Who do you think would win in a fight -- me (producer of Bedtime Stories) or Don Montrey (producer of Die Actor Die) or Doogie Horner (producer of Ministry) -- and why? Feel free to discuss how those guys would kill me in a fight.

Nothing against you or Don, but definitely Doogie. I just think he'd come with so much more fury than either of you. And have you seen the Ministry of Secret Jokes website? He's a little dark as it is. (This was a tough question because no matter what I say someone's going to be pissed off. So, sorry).

6) You perform stand-up yourself. (And, as the readers might not realize since you are allergic to self-promotion), but you're have really improved a lot the past few months. I really like your stand-up because A) you're not afraid to talk about basketball b) you mention Canned Heat and c) you have an understated/quiet style that really stands out.) What makes you say "Hey, that's not a bad bit for a joke" or "I really like this as a joke." I also forbid you from using the words "absurd" or "observational" in your answer.

Wow, what a question/paragraph. Um, I talk about stuff that I find funny, that's my main rule. It has to feel right when I say it because if it doesn't but it still gets a laugh, I won't do it again (if that makes any sense at all). And then I make sure it isn't an idea that's been done a zillion times before. That's about it really.

7) What do you think is the next step for Philly as a comedy city? What do you think we're missing that we need to do to get to "the next level?" Also, what exactly is our next level?

There have to be more quality open mics that get crowds. Comics need to be able to try new stuff and to experiment, but it's hard when you only get up once or twice a week. Because quality stage time is so few and far between, it's easy to rely on what you know works instead of trying new stuff, or to expand or hone something the way it should be.

The other next level, in my opinion, is just to fill up our local shows. It's kind of hard to be seen by industry here because there isn't any, but there are millions of people in the area that can come out to shows. Everyone likes to laugh, right? If you fill up shows and have people be excited about comedy and really want to be there like in New York, that would be awesome.

8) If there was one comic (stand-up/sketch/etc.) you wish would move to Philadelphia and take the local scene here under his/her wing, whom would you wish for?

(Great, a question that makes me look like a jerk for talking about someone I don't know) I would say probably Todd Glass, who is from Philly originally. He seems to be really supportive of younger comedians and it seems like he really loves and cares about comedy.

9) Who, right now, is the defining comic (not just stand-up, but in general) of the moment? Judd Apatow? Tina Fey? Steven Colbert? Am I missing someone completely? And explain WHY to your answer.

Golly, I don't know. I think Jimmy Pardo is so much funnier than everyone else and it doesn't even feel like material when he performs. Stephen Colbert is certainly something different. Louis CK is doing some new things with stand-up and will be really influential for some time to come.

10) Your favorite period of architecture: Baroque or neo-Classical?

Don't paint me into a corner on this one! I'm a fan of the minimalism of Mies van der Rohe and the post-modern-whatever of guys like Frank Gehry. But if I had to pick between the two, I'd say Baroque.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Comic Vs. Audience Turns 1!

Ladies and Gentlemen, Comic Vs. Audience turns one-year old today! Mazel Tov!

It was exactly one year ago that we put up our first post: a video interview with local comedian Anton Shuford. What was at first just a video podcast of Philadelphia comedy exploded into a multi-media website with interviews, photos, news, columns, reviews or more stuff. We screened Doug Benson's Super High Me before it hit stores and today we have our own stand-up show and have been on the cover of Time! Ok, that last one isn't true. Yet!

And what's in the works for next year, you say? We'll have a re-designed look, some new features, new columns and some other big surprises. More, more, and more.

We'd like to specifically thank Doogie Horner for the artwork (today's his birthday too!), Gregg Gethard for his writing, everyone else that has contributed to the cause and Rashanda La Beats for putting up with all of this goddamn bullshit. Oh yes, and all of the comedians of Philadelphia that making this worth doing.

[Confetti-filled balloons fall from the ceiling, the crowd can't stop rhythmically clapping. Wow, they are really going all-out with this, it's only a freakin' website.]

To REALLY celebrate, after the jump we've compiled a list of our favorite and most popular posts from the last year.

Seriously, thanks for reading this thing. It's been fun.

Anton Shuford
Jonah Ray and the (Still) Born in the USA Comedy Tour
Doogie Horner at Die, Actor, Die
Meg & Rob at Die, Actor, Die
Die, Actor, Die!: Fred Siegel and The Funniest Waiter in Philadelphia
Pat Barker at Die, Actor, Die
Diz at Bedtime Stories
Secret Pants at Bedtime Stories
Animosity Pierre at Bedtime Stories
The Ultimate Warrior Reads Transcripts from the Rush Limbaugh Radio Show
Kent Haines at Die, Actor, Die
Meg & Rob at Bedtime Stories
Illegal Refill - long-form improv
Kent Haines and Aaron Hertzog at Bedtime Stories
Comedy at an Art Show
Animosity Pierre at Die, Actor, Die
Omniana Battle: Pat Barker vs. Kent Haines
Chip Chantry at the Ministry of Secret Jokes
Ministry of Secret Jokes Instructional Video #1: How To Dress Mysteriously
Ministry of Secret Jokes Instructional Video #2: How To Keep A Secret

Joey Dougherty
The Sixth Borough
Gregg Gethard, Part I II
The Great Holtzie
Brendan Kennedy
Secret Pants
Greg Maughan
Animosity Pierre
Don Montrey
Meg & Rob
5 Questions With: Dave Hill

Doogie Horner's Literary Adventures
Dave Terruso's Life Of Letters
Chip Chantry: I Messed With Texas
DUCK, DUCK, NOOSE: A Local Man's Sad Commute is Truly a Buzz-Kill by Chip Chantry

The Chris Farley Show by Tom Farley Jr. and Tanner Colby
Comedy at the Edge by Richard Zoglin
Bill Cosby live
Chris Rock live
The Comedians of Comedy live
Doug Stanhope Live

Philly's Phunniest Person Contest coverage
A Comedy Podcast Review
DO IT ROCKAPELLA!: The Epic Tale of 'Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?' by Gregg Gethard
Five Web Apps That Could Help Your Comedy
The Colbert Report in Philadelphia
THINGS YOU SAY DURING SEX flow chart by Doogie Horner

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

David Terruso's LIFE OF LETTERS #9

Comic Vs. Audience is proud to present every Wednesday, LIFE OF LETTERS, a new twelve-part comic strip series by David Terruso of the local sketch group Animosity Pierre.

(Click to enlarge)

Check back next Wednesday for episode #10

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Your Comedy Options This Week

Life not going as you planned? The economy got you down? It's about time you relaxed and had some laughs. Luckily for you, there are a many good shows going on this week and we've got a wrap-up of the most notable ones. If you go to all of them, you can get a prize!*

TUESDAY: Comedy Central recording artist and astonishing two-man entertainment strike-force Pleaseeasaur returns to The Khyber (56 S. 2nd St). Local sketch groups Secret Pants and The Minor Prophets open. 8PM, $8.

Pleaseeasaur - "No Prob Limo"

New Secret Pants video: "St. Barnum's"

WEDNESDAY: Ministry of Secret Jokes at Fergie's Pub (1214 Sansom St.), 9PM, Free. Sez host Doogie Horner: "This Ministry is one day before my birthday. I have told everyone to not throw a surprise party for me at the show, or bring gifts. Please respect my wishes." Justin Hagerman, Richie Redding, Secret Pants, Aaron Hertzog, Chip Chantry, and Doogie will be performing. Also, Chip Chantry and Pat Barker will play The Ruby Hats of Death, a deadly and mysterious game that resulted in the death of three teens in a Walmart parking lot in Indiana last month. PLUS an Omniana battle between reigning champion Joey "Barely Legal" Dougherty and Chris "the Slaughterer" Schlotterer.

"Ministry of Secret Folks" from last month's show:

"Even though I have specifically told everyone NOT to bring any birthday presents or throw a birthday party for me at the Ministry," Doogie says, "it still may happen, so I have allowed time in the schedule for it as well."

THURSDAY: Center City Comedy: As we previously mentioned, Conrad Roth and Chris Cotton are hosting this new booked open mic at the Raven's Lounge (1718 Sansom St.). Set to perform: Joey Dougherty, Pat Barker, Tommy Papa, Brendan Kennedy, Aaron Hertzog, Josh Bennett, Dave Temple, Jonas, Monroe Martin, Jay Morgan, H. Foley, Omar Scruggs, Sydney Gantt, Mikel Carter-Jackson. That's a lot of comics for $0! 9:30-11:30PM

FRIDAY: Oh, so this is why The Comedians of Comedy broke up. Patton Oswalt is at the Grand Opera House in Wilmington. $27-$33, 8PM.

SATURDAY: You've got options: Bill Maher is at the Tower Theater, 8PM, $45-$75. Cory Kahaney is at Helium (2031 Sansom St.) with Jon Mumma and Kent Haines, 8 & 10:30PM. $25. And across the street is ComedySportz short-form improv at The Adrienne (2030 Sansom St.), 7:30 & 10PM, $15.

SUNDAY: Football.

* = There is no prize

Monday, September 22, 2008

MARK THE DATE: The Comic Vs. Audience Comedy Show!

Mark your calendars, iPhones and Blackberries, we're doing another stand-up show! Brought to you in conjunction with the Philly Improv Theater, we're bringing you another four hilarious stand-up comedians in just two weeks. It's the only best stand-up show at the Shubin Theatre!

Not convinced? See what the critics are saying!

"A fantastical adventure...a wonderful voyage!" -Asia Times Online
"High....larious! Two thumbs...up!" - Roger Ebert, film critic
"This show is as fun as shooting swine from your back porch in the freezing rain. Ho ho, Nixon was a crook." - Hunter S. Thompson, author

Here are the details:

The Comic Vs. Audience Comedy Show
Monday, October 6th, 2008
at the Shubin Theatre (407 Bainbridge St.) [directions]
Five American Dollars (BUY YOUR TICKETS NOW!)
Tim Ryan
Luke Giordano
Doogie Horner
Chip Chantry

Friday, September 19, 2008

Five Web Apps That Could Help Your Comedy

The term "WEB 2.0" has become so ubiquitous at this point that it doesn't mean much, but the fact remains that there are many free web applications out there that could help you with your comedy. Below are five that we found helpful in developing and organizing comedy material.

Please note that we aren't mentioning the extremely useful Facebook and Myspace since we figure everyone under 70 knows about these (Hey, be our friend! [Facebook] and [Myspace]).

1. Twitter
Twitter is a social networking and micro-blogging service that could be used to test out jokes, let people know when you're performing, or just as a writing exercise. It's all based off simple text posts with a limit of 140 characters. The limitation forces you to summerize and get to the point of what you are trying to say. Zach Galifianakis may have had one, but it's gone now. And yes, we Twitter ourselves.

2. Evernote
This very powerful web app can easily be used as a joke database to help you put together a set when you need to. It's easy to create and maintain text notes that are entirely searchable and taggable. So let's say that you have to do a clean five-minute set. You could click on your "clean" tag and all of your jokes that are clean would pop-up. Plus, you can scan handwritten notes into Evernote that would also searchable. Why bother flipping through an old notebook when it can all be at your fingertips?

3. Jott
Ever been walking around town when inspiration strikes? You come up with a joke or an idea, but you don't have a pen or time to write it down. Next time, call Jott and leave a message. The service will send you a file of what you recorded by e-mail and it will even transcribe what you said, so you don't even have to write down later!

4. TubeMogul
So you've worked hard to get a quality video that the rest of the world has to see. You'll upload it to Youtube of course, but there are many other video distributors out there. To maximize your hits, Tube Mogul can publish your video to multiple desinations with only one upload. Plus, there are analytical tools to help you track what people are watching and what they aren't.

5. Zhura
Want to write comedy sketches, but can't afford a costly program like Final Draft to get the formatting right? Zhura is a free online screenwriting app that lets you work on your scripts with all of the correct formatting, just like Hollywood! Plus, it's easy to collaborate with other members and even get feedback if you need a fresh set of eyes.

This list certainly isn't extensive and as time goes on, we're sure more use web apps may pop-up. What do you use to help your comedy? Feel free to tell us in the comments.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

David Terruso's LIFE OF LETTERS #8

Comic Vs. Audience is proud to present every Wednesday, LIFE OF LETTERS, a new twelve-part comic strip series by David Terruso of the local sketch group Animosity Pierre.

(Click to enlarge)

Check back next Wednesday for episode #9

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


They say that comedy equals tragedy plus time. We aren't clear on who originally said that, but we're pretty sure they were famous. Anyway, here, comedian Doogie Horner has created a handy TRAGEDY TO COMEDY CONVERSION CHART that will help you make people think, cry, and maybe even laugh.

Click to enlarge

Heavy Metal Band Names
Things You Say During Sex
The Universal Comedy Flow Chart

Monday, September 15, 2008

NEW, NEW and NEW: Local Comedy News

The winner of the 2008 WMGK DeBella Comedy Competition is Rod "Goat" Sperling. As part of his prize, he'll do a guest set this Wednesday at Helium with Jim Florentine headlining. Here are his winning jokes.

South Jersey sketch group The Gentlemen's Rotary Auxiliary are inviting some Philadelphia groups over to their state for some live comedy fun. They'll be performing at the Auction House in Audubon, New Jersey with The Sixth Borough on October 24th and Animosity Pierre on October 25th. Meg & Rob will also be performing on both shows.

Stand-up Conrad Roth is starting up a new open mic at the Raven Lounge (1718 Sansom St.) aptly named CENTER CITY COMEDY. The first show is on September 25th (9:30-11:30PM) and will be every Thursday after then. At first it'll be a booked show, but eventually Roth will open it up to sign-ups. "I want this to be a quality open mic that attracts a good crowd and good comedians who need another steady open mic besides Tuesdays and Wednesdays to work out material."

Improviser Alexis Simpson (Rare Bird Show & Illegal Refill) has been hired as the new Artistic Director of the Philly Improv Theater. Alexis is a recent graduate of the Arden Professional Apprentice program and will be handling scheduling, supervision of the PHIT house teams and other day-to-day duties.

In other improv news, the lineup for this year's Philadelphia Improv Festival has been announced with groups mostly from the East Coast performing and one coming all the way from Phoenix. The festival will be November 13-15 at the Plays & Players Theater (1714 Delancey St).

Know of something new going on with Philadelphia comedy? E-mail comicvsaudience AT gmail DOT com with your tips.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Video Philadelphia

That Guy w/ Kent Haines - Ep. 10: Meet The Parents (season finale)

Meg & Rob - Vulva Dealership

The Don & Julie Show!!!

Secret Pants - Nintendo Y'all

The Feeko Brothers - Cortez, Make Me Famous!!! (Crackle Comedy Pilot Contest)

The Sixth Borough - The Johnsons


Thursday, September 11, 2008

KRIS AND ME 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 and a half the show has grown in audience and features some of the best comics in the city.

Here, Gregg recounts a tale from high school.

If you’ve read my stories on Comic Vs. Audience at all, you probably long ago realized I’m a pretty awful human being.

But the story I’m about to tell you now is, by far, the worst thing I have ever done to a human being I did not date. I’m truly ashamed to talk about this in a public setting and I still feel guilty about what happened to this day.

But I’ll tell it anyway, because it’s completely ridiculous.

This is the story of how, as a senior in high school, I cowardly fled from a freshman girl who wanted to fistfight me.

(Stick with this one all the way. TRUST me.)


I went to West Orange High School in North Jersey. My high school experience was one I still have a hard time comprehending. I generally had a lot of friends. I definitely had a lot of fun. But I still carry a certain amount angst about my four years as a Mountaineer.

This is because my high school was incredibly violent.

My school was filled with thugs, drifters and criminals of all shapes and sizes. From retread metalhead burnouts carrying switchblades to gangsta rap-influenced street gang members, we had it all. Also making the situation worse was the population of my school completely blew up by the time I graduated. It was already crowded when I started, with about 1000 students in the building. When I graduated, there were close to 1500.

The tightly packed quarters led to a general misery. Gym classes were held in the subterranean Lincoln Gym, which flooded whenever it rained. It didn’t matter, we still were forced to do calisthenics despite being ankle deep in a West Nile Virus breeding pit. All bathrooms were locked by October due to vandals setting urinals on fire. My senior year English class was held in a hallway because the desks in our classroom would routinely fall apart and collapse due to overuse.

I have not exaggerated one bit of the above paragraph.

All of this created a rough atmosphere where the lightest slight could lead to a brawl. And the most likely place for a fight to occur was in the worst room of them all.

The cafeteria.


The cafeteria was not in the worst shape. However, it was completely out-of-control. Seating was always limited and, sometimes, completely unavailable. There were two lunch lines – one for traditional food (which I did not get once in my four years of school due to its notorious diarrhea explosion aftermath) and one for the snack line, where one could purchase delicious and nutritious Brownie Bites and Slush Puppies.

The snack line was a routine place where a violent incident would occur. This is because at the end of the lunch line, every single day, a group of thugs would hang out near the cash register and either beg for change “Yo, can I have some change,my man?” or would simply demand change. If, after a change demand was denied, one could expect to receive a punch to the back of the neck. All of this would occur in front of a teacher who would simply watch and either not care or would cackle in glee.

Usually, lunch was made somewhat tolerable by having a chance to sit for 28 minutes with a large group of friends. But my senior year, I lost the luck of the draw. I had exactly one friend in the class with me: Kris Winters.

I knew Kris since kindergarten. In high school, I was somewhat of a misfit. I was a class clown (duh) who was a leader of the debate team and a decent writer/awful editor for the high school newspaper. I was really small (I was 5’6” and 115 pounds when I graduated) and, in most cases, a pretty nice guy. But I carried with me a deep seeded bitterness to the world and a ton of smug self-righteousness which I expressed by regularly shaving my head to show the world what a big punk rock fan/poser I was, even though my favorite band was and still is Weezer. I was ½ Bill Stevenson of the Descendents and ½ Ron Howard of Happy Days.

My friends were also along the lines of the outcast types as well. And Kris was by far the biggest. He and I, in 8th grade, had a contest to see who could go the longest without cutting their hair. I received an Indiana basketball player type of crew cut six weeks later. Kris never stopped competing in this contest. By the time senior year came around, his hair was down to his mid back. He also never shaved, giving himself a completely unruly beard. We also both loved thrift store clothing. I occasionally wore asinine outfits (including an orange corduroy jumpsuit with a build-in white belt) but Kris ALWAYS wore asinine outfits, mostly consisting of fluorescent shirts with flashy Zubaz pants.

We sat at the end of a giant table which ran the length of the entire cafeteria, seating approximately 1100 people. We were giant marks for the thugs and maniacs sitting near us. We spent the entire lunch period being pelted with food, rolled up paper, and, I kid you not, rocks. We were constantly ridiculed and threatened. And, occasionally, assaulted.

The worst perpetrator was George, this little piece-of-shit runt who was about half my size but was constantly surrounded by people three times my size. He’d constantly get right up in our faces and spit on our food, or would kick us under the table or would slap the backs of our necks.

Now, you might be asking yourself why we did not simply move lunch tables or skip lunch. This is because, while my school was usually anarchic, for some reason the administration had strict rules about cutting lunch. Getting caught cutting lunch usually resulted in at least an in-school suspension, if not more. And why not tell someone so this could all end? Because my high school was a pioneer in the “Stop Snitchin’” movement which punishes people for going to authorities for witnessed and/or suffered crimes.

Plus, moving tables didn’t really matter. No matter where we went, we would have faced the same ordeal. And our seats were strategically located as we had a clear path to an exit in case things ever got completely out of hand.

Kris was always fighting back against George. He always encouraged me to do the same. “You’ve got to stand up for yourself, man. You look pathetic just taking it all the time,” he would say. But I discovered sticking up for myself wasn’t an option I wanted to ever explore a long time ago. It’s a whole risk/reward situation. If I stick up for myself, I still get assaulted but maybe retain some pride, but I didn’t have any anyways. If I don’t even try to stand up for myself, I don’t exert any effort (a key to my life when I was 17) and face a slight beating. Either way, the outcome was the same.

But one day, Kris prodded me into defending myself. He was relentless and would not stop at all. George was being particularly awful to me that day. Threatening me, knocking my food off the table, etc. Finally, after he attempted to do his trademarked spit in my drink offense, I got up and shoved him back in his chair, which then fell over. His crew all howled and he was super pissed. He knew I could probably beat his ass in a fight, the only reason I didn’t was because his friends would destroy me if I tried. But he was embarrassed and humiliated.

And then he got up.

“You want to throw down with me? Huh? Well, you just wait until tomorrow, man. I got someone you can throw down with.”

And I waited for tomorrow to come.


Lunch was mostly quiet the next day, except for George’s occasional snicker and threat. “You don’t even know what’s comin’, my man.” Finally, the lunch bell rang.

Then I heard, from down the table, a low voice say to me.

“I’m going to fuck you up you piece of fucking shit.”

This was said by Diane Reemer, a 5’10”, 215-pound girl known for two things: wearing brass knuckles as jewelry and for allegedly putting a kid a lot bigger than me in the hospital because of a curb stomp straight out of American History X. She was regarded as not just the toughest girl in the freshman class, but as the toughest person.

She had her brass knucks on. And her fist was cocked. And she was coming right after me.

So, I did what any senior guy in high school would do in this situation.

I got out of my seat. I screamed for my life. And I ran down the clear path I had to the exit, as the entire cafeteria called me a faggot.


Kris called me about three times that night. He insisted I had to go to lunch that next day. I was just going to suck it up and risk suspension and cut. But he finally broke me down. I agreed to go to lunch.

I was in a complete and total no-win situation. If I fought Diane Reemer, I’d get suspended for a few days and also would earn the rep of a guy who fought a girl. Plus, she’d beat the everlasting shit out of me. But if I ran again, there would be no way I could look at myself in the mirror ever again. So I had to formulate a plan.

I came up with what I considered a brilliant idea. I knew she would charge at me. And I would simply duck under my arms like Don Flamenco in Punch Out. She’s connect but the blow, hopefully, wouldn’t do any damage. I’d then cover up and fall to the ground and let her beat me until a teacher came to break up the fight. That way, I wouldn’t get suspended and I wouldn’t face the humiliation of losing in a fight to a girl.

The end of lunch came. George and his thug friends surrounded me to prevent me from running. Diane got up and looked at me.

“I am going to beat the fuck out of you you motherfucking pussy.”

She again charged me. And just as when she was about to punch me...

Kris said “I’ve had enough of this shit” and leaped across the table and hit her with a closed fist right on her left orbital bone. No harder punch had ever been thrown or connected better in the history of high school fights.

Diane went down to one knee. I thought she was dead. But she wasn’t.

Instead, she hopped up to both her feet like a feral animal. She then grabbed Kris by the ends of his mullet and delivered a series of four Muy-Thai style knee thrusts to the bridge of his nose, and then tossed him to the ground like a rag doll. She then hovered over Kris, smacked away his glasses, crushing them under her foot, and then sat on his chest while repeatedly pummeling his face as the entire cafeteria started screaming things like “You got your ass beat by a girl.”

I just stood there and watched. I did nothing except smile.

At least it wasn’t me who got his ass kicked by a girl.

Gregg also writes for MSG.com and Investopedia.com.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

David Terruso's LIFE OF LETTERS #7

Comic Vs. Audience is proud to present every Wednesday, LIFE OF LETTERS, a new twelve-part comic strip series by David Terruso of the local sketch group Animosity Pierre.

(Click to enlarge)

Check back next Wednesday for episode #8

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

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). The week actually kicked off Monday with our show (thanks to the comics and everyone that came out), but the meat of the week is still yet to come.

Wednesday, September 10
8 p.m. – Bedtime Stories: The Best Of..., $10. Bedtime Stories returns from a month off with a special Fringe edition. Host Gregg Gethard presents a theme-free night of sketch, video and more from around the city.

10 p.m. - Why Am I Not Famous?!?: A Comedy Talk Show w/ Kent Haines, $5. Kent welcomes comedians Don Montrey and Aaron Hertzog in the return of his new talk show. Kent recently won the Philly's Phunniest Contest, will it change him?

Thursday, September 11
8 p.m. - Fringe Cliff Notes, $5. From the PHIT newsletter: Don't have the time to catch all 194 shows in the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival & Philly Fringe? Not interested in sitting through 120 minutes of interpretative dance and beat poetry about the life an abused mollusk on the hull of oil tanker that is a metaphor for corporate greed?

Fear not! Fringe Cliffs Notes is here to help you be interesting at all your Rittenhouse Square dinner parties without having to endure the most avant-garde theatre in town. Just show up, take your ticket and a Festival program, and then call out the titles of each show you would like to see performed in 60 seconds. Our cast of skilled improvisers will present the entire Theatre section of the program in 90 minutes.

10 p.m. - CAGEMATCH: BWP vs. Cubed. $5. 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.

Friday, September 12
8 p.m. – Another Super Secret Show, $10. From the PHIT newsletter: Come see what surprises PHIT has in store for you at our super-special Friday Night Showcase. Will we be showing you sneak peeks of our house teams? Will you witness cancelled Fringe Festival shows rise from the dead. Only your attendance can give you the answers you seek!. Trust us, we know as much about this as you.

10 p.m. – Mr. Licorce with Traffic Jelly, $10. Baltimore Improv Group house team Mr. Licorice join locals Traffic Jelly.

Saturday, September 13
8 p.m. – Mr. Licorce with TBA, $10.

10 p.m. – Traffic Jelly with TBA, $10.

Monday, September 8, 2008

TONIGHT: The Comic Vs. Audience Comedy Show!

Well, it's too late to cancel! Brought to you in conjunction with the Philly Improv Theater, we're bringing you another four hilarious standup comedians TONIGHT. So tell your friends and come on out!

Here are the details:

The Comic Vs. Audience Comedy Show
Monday, September 8th, 2008
at the Shubin Theatre (407 Bainbridge St.) [directions]
Carolyn Busa
Conrad Roth
Pat House
Kent Haines (2008 Philly's Phunniest Person)

Friday, September 5, 2008

HEAVY METAL BAND NAMES, a flow chart by Doogie Horner

Give me fuel, give me fire, give me...flow charts! This week's flow chart from Doogie Horner details heavy metal band names.

Click to enlarge


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

David Terruso's LIFE OF LETTERS #6

Comic Vs. Audience is proud to present every Wednesday, LIFE OF LETTERS, a new twelve-part comic strip series by David Terruso of the local sketch group Animosity Pierre.

(Click to enlarge)

Check back next Wednesday for episode #7!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

NEXT MONDAY: The Comic Vs. Audience Comedy Show!

Folks, we're doing it again! Brought to you in conjunction with the Philly Improv Theater, we're bringing you another four hilarious standup comedians including recent Philly's Phunniest Person Kent Haines. So come on out and tell your friends!

Here are the details:

The Comic Vs. Audience Comedy Show
Monday, September 8th, 2008
at the Shubin Theatre (407 Bainbridge St.) [directions]
Carolyn Busa
Conrad Roth
Pat House
Kent Haines (2008 Philly's Phunniest Person)