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.


Anonymous said...

Dave- you are so cute!!!!!

Rob said...

That RB isn't me. But I do think you're cute. Great interview!

Bryce said...

Remember that time Barbara Walters interviewed herself on the 1st birthday of 20/20? Oh wait, that never happened. Ugh, egomania is running wild.

Kent said...


Paul Triggiani said...

When I read this, my brain read Gregg's words in a Gregg impression and Dave's words in a Dave impression.

Did anybody else do that?

Brian said...


Doogie said...

I agree that I would beat Gregg and Don in a fight, even though Gregg has the reach, and Don has more street fighting experience. I've got heart.

Anonymous said...

My wife had a great point tonight. Don's a father and thus automatically has "Dad Rage" and would destroy anyone he perceives as a threat to his children.

As far as I can tell, neither Doogie nor myself has ever had a child.

Chip Chantry said...

There is no doubt in my mind that Don would whip your asses. No offense or anything.

Dave probably took Tae Kwon Do lessons when he was six, and he would show up in his Ninja Turtles PJs.

Doogie looks like a winded Rasputin with a backpack.

Despite the glasses, Don is the least hipstery as well. He could easily roll up his sleeves and bareknuckle the shit out of you two.

I would also assume Don has pistol-whipped a guy or two in his day.