Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Your Philadelphia New Year's Eve Comedy Options

- Helium Comedy Club (2031 Sansom St.) has Tom Rhodes, Chip Chantry and 2008 Philly's Phunniest Kent Haines (:cough: headlining our next show :cough:) for 8PM and 10:30 shows. The early show ($35) includes appetizers and a ticket to a future show and the late show ($55) gets you party favors, a champagne toast at midnight, dessert buffet afterwards and a ticket to a future show.

- The Laff House (221 South St.) has a big night planned with comedy by Derek Gaines, Richie Redding, Brooklyn Mike, Alex Scott and host TuRae. Early show starts at 8PM ($20) and the late show ($35) includes hors dourves and a champagne toast. There's also a VIP Package with a bunch of other stuff.

- ComedySportz (2030 Sansom St.) is ringing in the New Year with improv including the rarely seen Oxygen Depravation and Spit Take games. Early show (7:30, $30, $25 students) includes a New Year's in Brazil toast at 9PM and the late show (10:30, $30, $25 students) includes an actual toast at midnight. Both shows will have pizza and non-alcoholic refreshments included in the price of admission. BYOB!

- And finally, monthly series The Ministry of Secret Jokes is holding a special show at Connie's Ric Rac (1132 S. 9th) from 9-11PM with Yo Mama battles, stand-up, Omniana, white guys rapping and other stuff. The show's $10 and you can stay through the ball drops. BYOB!

Oh and by the way: our show listing on the right is going down with 2008 as we hope to transfer over to a new, awesome design with a much improved calendar system. So goodbye 2008 and hello 2009!

Top 5 of 2008 lists

DEAF COMEDY JAMZ: A Film Adaptation Of Thin Lizzy’s Jailbreak by Dave Walk

No joke, Thin Lizzy is one of my favorite bands. You may only know them for “The Boys Are Back In Town”, but I consider them one of the greatest rock and roll bands ever with a dynamic singer, incredible duel/dual guitar solos and overall well-written songs. Whatever, you can’t dissuade me from this.

Being that they are one of my favorite bands, their best album, 1976’s Jailbreak ranks as one of my favorite albums of all-time. I’ve often thought that it would make a great action movie, being that it is actually a concept album. As explained on the back of the original LP:

“DIMENSION 5 was now in the hands of the Overmaster, whose lust for ultimate power had become an obsession. Religion and media were all under his control and computer files were kept on all known living persons within the city zones…”
The following is a song-by-song description of my imaginary Jailbreak movie, based off of the original lyrics. It can never actually be made considering its star, the singer and mastermind of Thin Lizzy, Phil Lynott, has been dead since 1986. Nevertheless, it celebrates the rock & roll, justice and women of Thin Lizzy.

The movie fades in on the Maximum Security Detention Center where Thin Lizzy is being held captive as the song “Jailbreak” begins. Everyone is dressed in drab prison garb except for the old, deranged man with a long beard that is only wearing rags. Anyway, desperately trying to escape, lead singer and bassist Phil Lynott finally sneaks out of his cell and during the first chorus attacks a guard, taking his keys to the other cells. By the second chorus the prisoners of the jail are set free and let loose on the building. During the guitar breakdown, lead guitarist Brian Robertson is seen slowly and delicately connecting the wires to detonate a bomb (“easy, easy”, he says with fingers trembling). The band is seen fleeing the guards as all hell breaks loose and sirens wail (“break out!”) and the music temporarily stops as…the bomb finally detonates! Outside, Thin Lizzy aren’t free yet, but Lynott (who takes time out to admire a good-lookin’ female), Gorham, Downey and Robertson defeat all of the guards in the final chorus and escape to the city zones – asthe most dangerous criminals in all of DIMENSION 5! The guitars ring out and the song ends on the burning remains of the prison.

As legend has it (ie., back of the album), all prisoners were eventually captured, "except four, who made it to the Rampic Buildings on the south side of the city. It was in these buildings that they broadcast and recorded selected material, some of which still survives today. Through these recordings they built up a following who eventually took to the streets in what was to become the Final War."

Listen to “Jailbreak”:

Before the next song, “Angel From The Coast” begins, the words “ONE YEAR LATER” appear on the screen. Now free, we join the band as they continue their guerrilla warfare against the evil, fascist DIMENSION 5 government. In a highly explosive and dangerous battle, the band seems to finally be defeated. But then, out of nowhere appears a mysterious female warrior that takes out the facist overlords left and right, saving Thin Lizzy in the end:

And the cops, they came like lightning
The bullets flew astray
And the noise, it was frightening
But the crook, he got away

Obviously, in case you weren’t paying attention, “the crook” is our hero Phil Lynott and the rest of the band.

As “Running Back” begins, we learn that Phil Lynott and the mysterious female warrior have become lovers. Accompanied by a sweet keyboard lick, we realize that this is a little more light-hearted portion of the film. Hey, even a revolutionary needs love, right? But soon enough we see the couple fighting and the mysterious warrior eventually throws Phil out of her apartment, slamming the door in his face. With nowhere else to go, Phil takes to the cold streets of DIMENSION 5. As he walks, he sings the song to the camera (there is a street performer playing saxophone for the saxophone riff, man this is an awesome song):

If I said I was sorry
Would you still leave me?
I never thought you’d go till you did
Believe me

Listen to “Running Back” :

Interspersed are shots of Phil trying to find enjoyment in other activities, like playing with the band (awesome shots of the guitar solo) and hanging out in pubs, but nothing satisfies him like the female warrior did. Meanwhile, she is going through the same problem, meeting stupid blokes in bars and rolling her eyes as they give her no satisfaction. During the last chorus, Phil finally breaks down and runs back to the girl's flat (Thin Lizzy were Irish), but she isn’t there.

The next song, “Romeo and the Lonely Girl” is a continuation of this theme, but with flashbacks of Phil and the female warrior together. Near the end, Phil runs back to her place as before (Oh poor Romeo / Sitting out on his own-ee-o- actual lyrics) – this time she is home and they embrace. Turns out she was lonely the whole time as well! Oh by the way, there’s another amazing guitar solo in this song. Seriously, why aren’t you listening to this album right now?

Listen to “Romeo and the Lonely Girl”:

With the crucial relationship between Lynott and his lady intact, the battle goes on between the rebels and the Overmaster’s band of thugs in “Warriors”. Through a series of action montages, we see the comrades fight the fascist regime:

I am a messenger
The message here, you must know
I am the warrior
I deliver the fatal blow
So fate will have to wait
Till time can heal the scar
My heart is ruled by Venus
And my head by Mars

Honestly, I’m not really sure what he’s talking about at the end, but the rest makes sense.

In “The Boys Are Back In Town” we finally see the rock and roll side of Thin Lizzy. This song shows the band out on tour, playing the towns of DIMENSION 5, spreading their virtues of justice and rock & roll. There are, of course, long shots of packed arenas going crazy and close-ups on the classic double guitar solo in the middle of the song. Yep, the boys are back in town and they’re spreading their message of freedom from the tyranny of the overlords of DIMENSION 5. Rally up the troops, The Overmaster must fall!

Brothers fight or fall / It’s man for man and one for all / No more can we crawl / Brothers, brothers hear the call sings Phil in “Fight Or Fall” as he rallies the troops Braveheart-style for the big final battle against the Overmaster.

“Cowboy Song” takes place in a dreary, dark, lonesome rural part of DIMENSION 5 the night before the big, final battle between Thin Lizzy’s rebels and the Overmaster in his fortress. The “Cowboy” is Phil looking back on his struggles and everything else that got him to this point. It is an introspective side to the film, but there are also shots of the band playing alone in the desert, amps and all (not plugged in), especially during the guitar parts. Even great leaders have self-doubt, and here, Lynott questions if he is really ready for the Final War. Even in this moment of clarity, he can’t stop thinking of his woman (Lord, Im just thinking about a certain female), who has unfortunately died of a fever just days before.

Later in this song, Lynott sings about working on the rodeo in Mexico. Just forget this part.

Listen to “Cowboy Song”:

“Emerald” is the last song and the climax of the entire film. The battle between the rebels and the evil regime rages on throughout the song:

Down from the glen came the marching men
With their shields and their swords
To fight the fight they believed to be right
Overthrow the overlords

Listen to “Emerald”:

The battle intensifies during the extended instrumental freakout portion. As it nears the end, Phil Lynott breaks into the Overmaster’s secret bunker, kills the evil master and disengages the emerald that has taken hold of the city zones for so long (They had come to claim the emerald / Without it they could not leave).

As the final chords of the song rings out, there is a huge explosion, killing our hero but bringing freedom to all of DIMENSION 5 at last. And with his last breath, Lynott shouts out for his long-lost love.

Retro Retro by Chip Chantry
Mixes for any Occasion #1 by Rob Baniewicz
Teen Punks in Heat by Dave Walk
Don't Take Our Songs So Seriously by Dave Walk
A Shitty Taste: Tiny Tim & Brave Girl Combo's "Girl" by Rob Baniewicz

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

THE BEST COMEDY ALBUM OF 2008: Andy Daly's "Nine Sweaters"

By all accounts, 2008 was another great year for comedy. Unlike last year however, we aren't going to count down our Top 5 comedy albums of the year. Rather, we'll talk about a much-overlooked album that made us laugh the most: Andy Daly's Nine Sweaters, release by AST Records.

Born in New Jersey, Daly started doing improv comedy in New York City in the 90s. In a recent interview with Tom Scharpling on The Best Show on WFMU, the scene before the Upright Citizens Brigade came to town was like the Wild West: "except a little nerdier and with shinier shirts." Once the UCB did open up shop in New York, Daly was one of the first people to take a workshop. After some work on Late Night with Conan O' Brien, Daly made the move out to Los Angeles. There, he spent two seasons as a cast member of MadTV, a sketch show that Daly soon enough found was not exactly for him. His sketch ideas were getting shot down and he was relegated most of the time to the part of the straight man in scenes (which isn't necessarily bad in of itself, but it didn't really give him a chance to do anything).

Near the end of his time there, he started doing live comedy shows and basically turned all of his sketch ideas into a character monologue. "It was incredibly liberating to say I don't have to rely on anybody. I'm not even putting together a sketch show with three of my best friends with rehearsal and lighting cues and props and all of that stuff. It's just me and I can write and improvise it as much as I want and it's all on me."

The result of these characters done live is this two-disc set. Recorded over a ten-week residency at the UCB-L.A. show COMEDY DEATH RAY earlier this year, Nine Sweaters finds Daly exploring these different characters. Oh, and about the sweaters, as he explains with a wink in the liner notes: "When creating a character, Laurence Olivier always started by selecting a false nose, Alec Guinness began by figuring out how the character's walk, and Jean-Claude Pépée decides how the character dances. I always start by choosing a sweater."

The characters are unique in that instead of just explaining themselves, something usually happens to them and we learn who they really are, like what would happen in a sketch. Most of the time it is revealed that while the character seemed like a likable person at first, they aren't quite that clean. Like Skip McCabe of Skip McCabe and The Skip-Around Gang, who has traveled around the country for years with his family singing sing along songs for crowds. As he finally makes to the theater, he's without the rest of gang and recounts the tale. Full of acute details and the Skip's reactions to the events, it's too funny to give away.

Elsewhere, Midwesterner Hap Arden talks about moving out to Hollywood to pursue his movie star dream before it all takes an unexpected and ghastly turn, an elderly Ben Alterman takes the stage for the first time to tell perverted jokes about living in a retirement home (his family is in the audience), and "The Greatest Actor In All of France", Jean-Claude Pépée experiences working on a Hollywood set for the first time. It's the art of storytelling told by different people with hopes, dreams and maybe too much self-confidence for their own good.

And it really is an album every should listen to.

Monday, December 29, 2008

TOP 5 LISTS of 2008 cntd.

2008 is quickly coming to a close and we are sharing some Philadelphia comedians Top 5 lists.

Doogie Horner, stand-up comic, host of The Ministry of Secret Jokes

5. Steve Gerben’s Yo Mama meltdown at the Ministry of Secret Jokes. He called the crowd a bunch of douche bags after they booed him during the battle, then grabbed the Omniana championship belt and yelled “I’m the fucking champion!”

4. John Kensil’s opener for Philly’s Funniest: John walked on stage holding a puppet. When he got to the mic he looked down at the puppet, paused, and discarded it without comment.

3. The 24 hour standup marathon at the Walking Fish, especially Amir Golan’s set, where he and Steve Odabashian led the crowd in a sing along version of "Don’t Stop Believing".

2. Meg and Rob’s video "The Fog of Love".

1. Nolan Gilbride’s joke: “I hate how rappers act like they invented treating women like shit.”

Rob B., Meg & Rob

I chose primarily local events. I'm really amazing at what my peers do regularly.

1. Kent interviews Aaron at "Why Am I Not Famous?!?"
Just so sharp yet off-the-cuff. I embarrassed myself by snorting and not being able to control my laughter.

2. Bush or Batman: The Phenomenon
A necessary break-out for this year. The premise and execution is amazing.

3. Bedtime Stories: History.
First one I've seen in it's entirety. Gregg was a great host, Pennslyvania historical class slide-show was amazing, 6th B's Oregon Trail sketch was clever, and it was just a beautiful beer soaked night.

4. Roasting of Brendan Kennedy's Friend at Ministry of Secret Jokes
"He had sex with Gwen once." 'Nuff said.

5. Kevin Allison's Sketch Class
Notice - Philly comedy outranks anything else I saw. There's a reason for that. Because there are some great shows happening with really talented folks. Something that really helped me focus as a performer and writer was taking Kevin Allison's class in New York. He's a really great listener and helpful sharpening your pieces. Plus, met some really great folks up there.

Alexis Simpson, The Rare Bird Show, Illegal Refill, Artistic Director of the Philly Improv Theater

5) Rowan & Hastings built a raft. Then they took it to the Schuykill. THEN they rapped about it. Lucky for you, they made a video about the whoooooole thing. )

4) Anton Shuford. My favorite Philadelphia stand-up. Saw him at the CvsA Comedy Show a couple of months ago, and damn if he didn't make both unemployment and DUI arrests seem so adorable.

3) The Action Section's Halloween Spectacular - Hands down the best sketch show I saw this year. Where did these guys come from? The show was well-written - not a single wasted line - and the acting was just terrific. Higlights include a terrific riff on famed scary poem The Raven and a bit on Michael McDonald singing the hits of John Williams. You might say to yourself "Didn't Family Guy already cover the Michael Mcdonald comedy ground?" But then you will recall that Family Guy is a haphazard and lazy Frakenstein's monster of hastily assembled fart jokes, and you will wish you had seen the show. Do yourself a favor and check out the Action Section's videos - "7 of Clubs" and "M Night" are both pretty rad.

2) TIE, Wonkette & Comics Curmudgeon. Do you like politics? Do you like swearing? Do you like it when you put your mouse over a photo and an awesome caption pops up? Then Wonkette is the blog for you, my friends. Three or four hilarious writers post cynical, curse-laden updates 8-10 times a day. Higlights include cute nicknames for political celebrities and the annual War on Xmas gift guide. Say you want the benefit of giggling to yourself like an asshole while all your coworkers wonder if you ever do any damn work, but you don't want to wade into the self-important world of Political Snarkiness. Well, my friend, the Comics Curmudgeon might be more up your alley. In short, Josh reads every single one of the daily newspaper comics - including Mary Worth! - so you don't have to. Great writing and witty commenters abound in a politics-free atmosphere.

1) BassProv. The show's premise is fairly simple: it's a longform improv piece in which Donny Weaver and Earl Hinkle (played by improv legends Mark Sutton and Joe Bill) go fishin', drink beer, and solve the world's problems. The ingenious twist? Typical longform improv results in characters and relationships that disappear into the ether after about 25 minutes. In Bassprov, every single performance produces in-the-moment discoveries that are then weaved into the permanent reality of the character. Example: over the decade or so that BASSprov has existed, Earl has married and divorced no less than 4 times. See them once and you'll laugh your face off - because Joe and Mark are fucking hysterical (and particularly skilled at backing each other into corners for comic effect). See them more than once to truly appreciate that they are doing more than just making ha-has.

Brendan Kennedy, stand-up comic

5. Me falling off the stage upstairs at The Troc.

4. Fastball Pitcher Bob Gutierrez explaining to myself, Chip, and Don the ups and downs of being a fastball pitcher, and how bad it is when the batters know that you will only be throwing fastballs.

3. Chris Harrje's hilarious personal tragedies, such as his collapsed lung (2007), broken wrist (early 2008) and most recently, finding blood on his cue tips after he cleans his ears.

2. Jon Goff's halloween costume Powerpoint at the October edition of Die Actor Die!

1. A young man by the name of Josh who was of diminutive stature, at the Helium open mic, saying, "I know what you're thinking, so let me get this out of the way." Then proceeding to sing the lollipop guild song from The Wizard Of Oz, with awkward little kicks and arm swinging and everything. If anyone has video of this, I will pay you for it. His performance made my soul happy.

Mark Dames, improviser, PHIT ticket guy

5. Walking Fish Theatre's 24 hour stand-up marathon - On Labor Day, as part of the Philly Fringe Festival, the Walking Fish Theatre, in my hometown of Fishtown USA, hosted their 1st annual (hopefully) day-long stand-up event. Co-hosted by Chip Chantry and Doogie Horner, it was an interesting mix of Philly's best and brightest comedians performing for some of Fishtown's finest. And by finest, I mean some burnt-out 42-year olds you swear were at least in their early 70's.

I watched around 15-16 hours of the 24 hour fest. And my favorite moment happened around 9 AM, when a nice family of five strolled in. Mom, Dad and their three teenagers, who definitely were not from Fishtown, and walked into an ambush. The comedienne onstage, whose act consisted mainly of an explicit discourse on her sex life, asked Dad if he, like many men, had a nickname for his penis. She harangued both Father and Mother, in front of their own kids for at least five minutes. Next Labor Day, they'll probably just go to a nice brunch instead. I, however, will be at the Walking Fish.

Plus, I got to tell stories onstage, about selling Porn, at 5:30 AM!

4. Matt Holmes: One-Man show. - During a week of benefit shows for Project H.O.M.E. hosted by Philly Improv Theater in March, Rare Bird Show's Matt Holmes took on a cadre of Matt Holmes impersonators all by himself, in an improv battle to the death! Well not quite. First no one died, and secondly, he had some help, from the audience. Now, most improvisers get assistance from the audience in the form of verbal suggestions, but Mr. Holmes, brought up people in the audience, one of whom had never even seen an improv show to perform with him. The genius part was not Matt himself being hilarious, that's a given, but he actually made the first-timers shine too.

3. On two consecutive Sunday mornings in October, while on my way to work at 10 AM, I saw the same gentleman, drop trou and take a shit on the corner of 20th and Market Sts. It was comforting to see that even older insane folks have their daily routines. I've been a little late to work every Sunday since.

2. Boston improv group CODE DUELLO came and did two shows at the Shubin Theater back in May. They do an improvised re-imaging of the famous duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton, and what led up to it. Their second show was one of the two best improv sets I’ve ever seen. It involved Hamilton losing his fortune betting on cockfights, with one of the contestants being a man dressed as a chicken. Please come back to Philly soon.

1. Kent Haines' show has been awesome since show number one, back in July. But the December 3rd edition was amazing. One of his guests was comedian Brendan Kennedy. Brendan who's always hilarious with his angry and acerbic take on life, showed us his softer side that night. He read a painfully hilarious letter written to a girlfriend, pouring out his heart to a girl who had already moved on. It was one of the ballsiest performances I've seen by any comedian in Philly. He really put himself out there, and it paid off in spades, mostly for those of us lucky to be in the Shubin Theatre that night. I hope more people in Philly realize that the best comedy comes from your personal experiences, the more painful they are, the more the audience will connect on an emotional level, and the bigger the laughs. Brendan then, improbably topped himself, with having a staged reading of a scene from a colleague's crime drama script. Fucking-A man! That was the hardest and longest I’ve laughed all year long.

Friday, December 26, 2008


Our Top 5 of 2008 lists continue...


1) Kent Haines. Perhaps this wasn't an improvement as much as it was Kent shining when given an opportunity, but there's no way anyone else could head this list. I don't know the exact time line of when Kent got here from Alabama, but he might not have even been in Philly one year ago. Now he's one of my favorite local guys. Smart, funny material. It's just a shame that the University of Alabama are choke artists and blew the National Championship. Can't win 'em all, Kent.

2) Aaron Hertzog. Aaron's always been a good joke writer, but I feel like he's turned a corner recently and gotten even better. His joke about the Hide-and-Go-Seek Killer is brilliantly crafted and anyone who quotes Dr. Dre in their act is good in my book. Check out his set on his MySpace from Doogie Horner's Ministry of Secret Jokes show.

3) Conrad Roth. It's tough for me to get into the one-liner stuff too much, because so many people do it horribly. Conrad is not one of those people. I did a show with him back in May, and there were definite bright spots, but it was still very hit-or-miss. Over the next six months, he wrote a bunch of great new stuff, ditched a bunch of mediocre old stuff, and now his act is solid. Conrad consistently impresses me by pulling off a style I never could.

4) Pat House. While this list is mostly relegated to relative newcomers, I feel like I have to make mention of the strides House has made recently. A lot of his newer jokes are really good and he's been tweaking older jokes and making them better too. I did a show with him a few months ago and was very impressed. Pat and I have probably done over 100 shows together, and this was the best I've ever seen him.

5) Derek Gaines. Quite possibly the most underrated comedian in Philly. Every time I see him, he's funnier than the time before and has developed some new killer bit. It's impressive. He'd definitely be higher up on the list if I got to see him perform more. Derek will "make it" in comedy in some way, guaranteed. Ridiculously good stage presence, great material, and an overwhelming likeability. He's even cut down on his use of ridiculous acronyms, and that is admirable.

For the record, picking five people for this was insanely difficult. There are lots of people who made strides over the course of '08, and recognizing them all in this limited of a forum is impossible. Special "shout out" to a whole bunch of others that make me laugh very consistently - the Doogies and Joe Docs and Brendan Kennedys and Chip Chantrys of the world. Overall, I feel like Philly has a very very good scene and I'm excited about 2009.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

To those of you celebrating Christmas: Merry Christmas (we won't be posting tomorrow)!

But for everyone else, the holiday is just another day. And what better way to spend that day but with some Chinese food and comedy?

That's the idea behind the Moo Shu Jew Show at the Ocean City Restaurant (234-236 N. 9th) tonight at 6PM. A ticket gets you a 5 course dinner and the stand-up comedy of four comics: Jim David, Cory Kahaney, Lenny Marcus, and Brad Trackman.

[Thanks Doolittle]

Aaron Hertzog's Top 5 Sketches

Our Top 5 of 2008 lists continue...

Aaron Hertzog's Top 5 Sketches

5) The Sixth Borough at Die Actor Die Dirtiest Sketch
An excellently written and performed sketch by The Sixth Borough. The uncomfortable factor was turned up high and the creepy strange awful wrongness of the whole situation was played to perfection. Two words: gun fellatio!

4) The Ministry of Secret Jokes - Instructional Video Number 1: How to Dress Mysteriously
The first instructional video from Doogie and gang let us know that the Ministry's mysterious garb is far more useful than just disguising one's identity. Dressing well will get you places in life, and dressing poorly will get you labeled an asshole. The sketch absolutely killed at the show and also made me feel a little less foolish every time Doogie paraded me out in a god damned cloak.

3) Boy Meets Tractor at Helium's College Comedy Competition
This is the first time I saw this group and the sketch they performed was awesome. The premise of sentient toys who are forced to live out the fantasies of their owner was great on its own but the performance was on point with great choreography and synchronization.

2) Meg and Rob - Love Over the Phone
"The cure for the painful gentleman's buildup." What an eloquent way to look at whacking off, and an incredibly creative origin story to the beginning of the rise of an incredibly important man. (I don't want to ruin the awesome reveal in the sketch for those who haven't see it, so watch it for yourself, and enjoy!)

1) Secret Pants at Bedtime Stories: Rich People
I saw this sketch at December's edition of Bedtime Stories and it instantly became my favorite sketch of the year. It did a great job mixing sketch with live performance and also combining two of my favorite things: ransom notes and infomercials. The production work on the video was superb (which always seems to be the case with Secret Pants.) God is always found in the details, and the attention to detail in the ransomercial (my own word) made it so truthful and realistic.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Marc Maron's Internal Monologue at the Comic Strip

On stand-up comic Marc Maron's live internet talk show Maron V. Seder with Sam Seder, Maron occasionally gives us a glimpse into his psyche. A particularly revealing video aired last week of Marc's return to the Comic Strip, a NYC club where he started out.

(NOTE: Marc corrected him later regarding Vinnie Brand. He doesn't run Rascals, rather the Stress Factory in New Brunswick, New Jersey).

Besides the excellent Maron V. Seder, what else is Marc up to?

On Saturday, January 3rd, he'll be debuting his new show Scorching The Earth at The Green Room at 45 Bleecker in the East Village of New York City. Tickets are on-sale now. The show "explores the concepts of love, need, hate, sex, anger, as well as the choice between humility and bitterness. And cats...lots of cats." Marc continue:

When you’re an asshole and your wife leaves you, there’s a part of you that thinks, ‘Good for her. That took a lot of guts to leave me. I’m a little jealous. I’ve been trying to leave me for years. I had her convinced that this intense mixture of neediness, hostility and fear of abandonment was passion. Now, the jig is up.


COMING SOON: The Comic Vs. Audience Comedy Show!

Start the new year right! and the Philly Improv Theater are proud to present THE COMIC VS. AUDIENCE COMEDY SHOW, a night of hilarious and engaging stand-up comedy. "Stand-up comedy" as we now know it used to be performed exclusively in cramped theaters for a nickle, but that was the 30s and clearly things have changed since then. Now you can enjoy funny jokes from funny people in a warm theater for The People for only five American dollars!

So, make sure you and your friends come out to:

The Comic Vs. Audience Comedy Show
Monday, January 5th, 2009
at the Shubin Theatre (407 Bainbridge St.) [Directions]
Five American Dollars [Tickets can be purchased on the PHIT website]

Oh did we mention that it's BYOB!?!


Mary Radzinski
Joey Dougherty
Sidney Gantt
2008 Philly's Phunniest Person
Kent Haines

Monday, December 22, 2008

TOP 5 LISTS of 2008

Not sure if you've noticed, but 2008 is coming to a close. And to celebrate and look back, we asked a bunch of Philadelphia comedians what were there favorite/funniest/most awesome moments of the year. We'll be posting their responses over the next few weeks.

Meg Favreau, Meg & Rob

1. Hulu. From allowing me to watch every new episode of 30 Rock and The Office to sparking the love of Joss Whedon I should've had since high school to providing the brilliant "Day Man" clip for me to view over and over, Hulu has been instrumental in my entertainment and comedy awareness in the last year.

2. "Why Am I Not Famous?!" Every month, it's a smart, hilarious, and well-put-together show.

3. Improv ultra-tie: Dr. Fantastic's show where the kid came from a waffle house / Harold house team night at the Improv Olympic in Chicago where the entire team created one mythical beast and walked around stage as it / Cohones doing the road trip format / Rare Bird Show, hey

4. Pat Kelly's costume in the Sixth Borough's "sex rays" sketch. In case you haven't seen it, it features a long, shiny blue-and-silver robe, and more importantly, a necklace pendant with a giant picture of Pat's face in what appears to be heat-sensitive coloring. When I first saw the costume, I didn't just laugh, I held my hands out, palms up, as a gesture of thanks to the universe. Really: does anybody have a picture of this?

5. The last Die Actor Die. Am I being brash, including a show that happened earlier this week? Maybe. But it was a funny, bittersweet, and wonderful end to a fantastic monthly show. Plus I gave what I felt was one of my best (and most fun) performances in the last couple of months.

Chip Chantry, stand-up comic

I can't remember what month it was, exactly, but I remember I was there to play one of Doogie's gruelingly hilarious games. The show had been going OK so far. The crowd was hit or miss, and it was hot in there. After an intermission, Aaron went up and blew the roof off the place. He came out of nowhere and made the crowd his bitch. Aaron is a tiny man with big talent.

This was a terrible, terrible idea. The concept looks great on paper, but is a logistical nightmare. That was my attitude going into hosting the first 11 hours of this epic trainwreck. And it turned out to be one of the best shows I have ever been a part of. The scene showed up to support, from Secret Pants for the first four hours, to Andy Nolan, Ed McGonigal, Danny Ozark, and Kent Haines in the early morning. Watching the sunrise in Kennsington never felt so good.

With 2008, so ends DIE ACTOR DIE. Without this show, the scene in Philly would be extremely different. The city owes Don Montrey a great deal. Before DAD, standup and sketch did not interact. Because it was believed that all sketch artists were "fags", and all standup comedians were "assholes". And what we learned, in fact, was that Don Montrey is a little bit of both.

This youtube clip has been around more than a year, but it is still a touchstone for me. No matter what I do, or how I perform, I will never, EVER be as funny as this clip. I don't know if anything ever will be.

Brian Craig, of Secret Pants shame, has a special friend named Fastball Pitcher Bob Gutierrez. Bob graced Bedtime Stories (another highlight show of 2008, thanks to Gregg Gethard) with his presence one night. I did not even seen him perform, because I was in the basement. However, I had the pleasure of speaking with him downstairs for about 30 minutes before the show. Brendan Kennedy and I sat there and cried for the entire time. It wasn't even a performance- it was just a few guys backstage before a show. But it was the funniest thing I saw all year (sorry, fat kid on a bike).

Bryce Remsburg, Secret Pants

1. 30 Rock, Season 3 - An already excellent show is rapidly approaching perfection. The character development and one-line pop culture minutia have made it pass The Office. in my heart. It also made me not hate Jennifer Aniston for 30 minutes.

2. Rob B's flagrant use of the word pussy - He was once clocked at 10 infractions in as many minutes. Never gets old. At least not yet.

3. Self-appointed nicknames - I purposely call one of my clients at work when I know it will go to voicemail so I can hear him refer to himself as the "big dog".

4. Pat Kelly's Quiz Show - His reactions and timing are priceless. I think about stuff he said off the cuff and laugh every single time.

5. Kent Haines' "Why am I Not Famous?!?" - How this slice of brilliance isn't sold out every month defies logic. Drop what you're doing and go to it every month. Forever.

Honorable Mention: Frank Caliendo - He talks in funny voices.

Greg Maughan, founder of the Philly Improv Theater

5. Barack Obama Rumors.
Seriously, did anyone get these emails? Some of them were so poposterous that all I could do was double over laughing until my sides hurt. My mom has some distant relation, a 90 year old former WWII pilot who somehow got his hands on an email account and he sent these out regularly (still is). All of them are insane, but some of the best were the repeated assertions that he was not born in the United States, the secret plan he had to step aside and make Hillary Clinton President, and someone's confusion of Obama with Denzel Washington's character in The Manchurian Candidate. Then there was the "Secret Muslim" stuff. Who on earth are the people getting scared by this stuff? I mean, what has a muslim ever done to you or... oh, right.

4. The Hopper Brothers.
Brandon Libby and Mike Connor's clueless, yet inappropriate, home-school folk duo were a brilliant idea on their own, but when they convinced me to sign away my life for 9 months to produce a musical comedy for the Philly Fringe I totally foolishly accepted. The result was personally crazy making, financially similar to the stock market crash, and humouously devastating. I hope to see the Hoppers around town a lot in 2009, and maybe back on stage hitting the road in future as well.

3. Bush or Batman.
Secret Pants hilarious game that combines several of my favorite activities: trivia games, making fun of the Bush Administration, and Batman. It is awesome. Did I mention something like a QUARTER OF A MILLION people agree with me? Philly's first big YouTube viral video is deserving of the praise it got. Secret Pants can sometimes be too dark or too inappropriate, and they still need to find a way to write better roles for women, but when they put their minds it and write really smart stuff that hits - this is what happens.

2.Philly Improv Theater.
I have no shame. Honestly though, look at how diverse the stage has become, and the quality of the shows, acts, etc. that have been promoted during 2008. It's mind boggling. Someone who hit The Shubin stage this year is going to be famous and everyone will be able to say "I knew them when..." That's change you can believe in for the alternate comedy scene in Philly.

1. Tina Fey.
Between a movie, another round of Emmy's for 30 Rock (my vote for the funniest show on TV), a reported $6 million book deal, a Vanity Fair cover, and an impression of Sarah Palin that got SNL it's best ratings in 14 years... it's fair to say she is the comedian of the year. Now if only she'd visit her hometown and hop on stage!


Friday, December 19, 2008

Paul F. Tompkins was on Late Night with Conan 'O Brien and talked about working on South St.

You've probably walked past the Hats In The Belfry that he mentions ("a trusted source of hats and hat accessories for over 30 years") and didn't even know it.

PFT on Twitter: @Twitterkins
Best Week Ever with Paul F. Tompkins

NEW YEARS' EVE: The Ministry of Secret Jokes

Are you like us and just waiting for this Christmas thing to end so that all concentration can be on New Years' Eve? If that's the case, perhaps you'll be interested in a very special installment of the Ministry of Secret Jokes. Sez host Doogie Horner:

The Ministry of Secret Jokes New Years Eve Show has moved from Nexus Gallery to Connie's Ric Rac. Why? Honestly, Nexus was concerned that our party would be so insane that we would tear the building to the ground.


NOT A PROBLEM. We're doing the show at Connie's. Connie's Ric Rac is an awesome venue in the Italian Market located at 1132 s. 9th St., half a block South of Washington St. on 9th St., and extremely close to Pats and Geno's, which means New Years Eve cheesesteaks are assured. It holds over a hundred people, and they have a good stage, sound system, and porn in the bathrooms.

Doogie also sent along an additional image "which holds the key to one of the fabled 'secret jokes.' If you stare at the picture for ten minutes, then stare directly into a solar eclipse, you can read the joke on the back of your eyelids." So have fun with that.


Gregg Gethard's Disney World Family Photos

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 two years the show has grown in audience and features some of the best comics in the city.

Here, Gregg shares some of his photos from his recent trip to Disney World. All of the photos are after the jump (ie. "Read More...").

Here, my cousin Steven poses in front of the first of hundreds of morbidly obese patrons of Disney World.
In their downtime, employees of Disney’s Hollywood Studios enjoy street gambling.
Enjoy the taste of ABC Melodramas!
Here’s me standing with a Mighty Morphin’ Power Ranger in front of junk sculptures.
Disney’s refreshments also prevent viscosity and thermal breakdown.
No, this man is not auditioning to play a role as a child rapist on Law and Order: SVU. He is an actual Disney employee.
“What a coincidence! You’re wearing the same shade of shitty green that I am!”
Disney is a great place to buy and wear a hat that embraces your inner dickhead.
I, along with my many Somali pirate friends, managed to hijack an oil tanker when in Florida.
This speaks for itself.
Here, my face is accidentally set on fire while touring Hollywood Studios.
My wife plans on going to the Warped Tour this year.
My favorite television show of all time.
Matching ponchos!
“Hey, kids, can you sit by this filthy garbage can while I go ride Big Thunder Mountain?”
I want to play on this team!
Delicious food awaits all those who go to Disney!
Communist Chinese puppets on sale at Epcot!
Wear the shirt of your favorite 20th Century dictator!
Some girl vomiting.
Brashest use of a fanny pack.
Wear the jersey of your favorite athletic role model!
Disney allows you a chance to wolf down a turkey leg.
This is straight out of an Orwell novel.
Hot, slutty 70’s robot.
Just in case you don’t know how to wash your hands.
Here’s a photo of a man taking a photo of a stuffed rabbit.
This kind of says it all.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

DEAF COMEDY JAMZ: Retro Retro by Chip Chantry

Duke Ellington famously said, "It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing".

That phrase has never been more appropriate in this country than it is right now.

At least for one man.

"It's so money!" proclaims 31-year old insurance adjuster Steve Gruben, referring to the 1998 Big Bad Voodoo Daddy hit "You and Me and the Bottle Makes Three Tonight (Baby)".

Listen to "You and Me and the Bottle Makes Three Tonight (Baby)":

A decade ago, before 9/11, before Columbine, Hurricane Katrina, or According to Jim, our nation went through a delightful era known by many as the "retro swing" fad. As a backlash to grunge music, and supported by the cult film Swingers, swing music, first popular in the early 20th-century, made a brief comeback. Bands such as Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, and fellow swingsters Cherry Poppin' Dadddies had radio hits with songs that were pleasant enough for your grandmother, but hip enough for your frat brothers.

Listen to "Zoot Suit Riot":

"This music is so money- I mean, I played trombone in the jazz band in middle school, and always thought it would be so money if this music came back in style. And now it finally has!", beams Gruben, a plump, baby-faced fireplug of a man.

To many, including Gruben's friends and coworkers, the retro swing movement was a passing fad for about six months in 1998. Apparently, the then-21-year-old junior at Widener University completely missed out on the swing music craze, and is only discovering it now.

"Steve was pretty messed up in '98. His girlfriend from home dumped him for a guy who worked at Best Buy. She was kind of a bitch, but she was hot, and her dad owned a Little Caesars," explained Gruben's fraternity brother Jason Layman.

After the bad break up, Gruben did not get out much for a few months. "He stayed in his dorm, drank vodka and Tang, and watched 'Reservoir Dogs' over and over. I think he missed the whole swing deal. I mean, it was only a couple weeks long, right?"

Now, ten years later, this stout little fellow has turned in his fraternity sweatshirt for a zoot suit. FIVE zoot suits, in fact. "You can't believe the deal I got on these," states Gruben. "And I look SO MONEY, BABY!"

How did a pudgy pencil-pusher like Gruben stumble upon this passing fad a half-generation later?

"I took him to see 'Four Christmases' with Vince Vaughn and John F-something," explains Andrea Balker, Gruben's homely, unkempt, friend-with-benefits. "He thought it was the greatest movie ever. He wanted to know if those two guys ever teamed up before. Then he rented Swingers on NetFlix. He's had it for like a month."

"Swingers is SO MONEY, BABY!" spouts Gruben. "That scene when he meets the hot chick from Bowfinger [Heather Graham] is so fuckin' money! I signed up for swing dancing classes the next day. I wanted to be just like my boy Double-Down!"

Listen to "Dr. Bones":

Since that ship sailed during the Clinton administration, most swing clubs have closed up shop, and the clientele at swing lessons are generally retired couples and boys practicing for their bar mitzvahs.

That hasn't dampened Gruben's spirits. Every month, he hosts a poorly-attended swing night in his mother's basement. "He gets all dolled up anyway," admits Layman. "And it's not a good look for him. He looks like a fat boy dressed as a gangster for Halloween. And he SWEATS! And I think he dances all by himself, when no one's there. I can't decide if it's annoying or just sad."

Though his friends hope that this phase will pass as fast for him as it did for the rest of the country a decade ago, Gruben remains enthusiastic. "Pickin' between Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and Cherry Poppin' Daddies is, like, impossible. There's both SO MONEY!"

"He hasn't even found out about The Brian Setzer Orchestra yet," laments Layman. "With his asthma, I don't think he could take it."

Listen to "Go Daddy-O":

Chip Chantry will be performing with Kent Haines and Tom Rhodes on New Years' Eve at the Helium Comedy Club.

Mixes for Any Occasion #1
Teen Punks In Heat
Don't Take Our Songs So Seriously
A Sh*tty Taste: Tiny Tim & Brave Combo's "Girl"

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

BREAKING: Louis CK coming to the Merriam Theater, 2/21

Louis CK is a really busy guy. As the first and only season of his HBO sitcom Lucky Louie came to a close, he was busy putting together a new set of stand-up comedy that would eventually become his one-hour HBO special Shameless. By the time that aired, he was touring again (performing at the Keswick in April) with another hour of material that eventually became Chewed Up, which was released on CD and DVD this week. And if you were smart enough to notice a pattern, he's getting ready for another tour: "The tour is called 'Louis CK: Hilarious' and it's a completely different hour of material than Chewed Up (or Shameless, my special from last year)." This time he'll be performing at the 1790-seat Merriam Theater in downtown Philadelphia:

Saturday, February 21st, 2009
Merriam Theater
tickets on-sale now



FINALLY the new Stella video that the trio have been playing on their recent tour can be seen by all of the unlucky rubes that weren't there. It feels like it's your birthday, right?


INTERVIEW: Jimmy Pardo

Jimmy Pardo is a L.A.-based, Chicago-raised stand-up comedian and host of the widely successful podcast Never Not Funny. Known for his (really) quick-wit and stream of conscious style, Pardo's live material consists mostly of crowd work. He'll be performing at the Helium Comedy Club tonight through Saturday.

You were a record executive at a young age?
"Executive" is a strong word, I was a sales and merchandise rep for MCA Records. I came out of record sales and got "called up to the bigs" when I was 21. And I was not well-liked, the old guard didn't care for this young kid coming in and taking jobs from in-house people.

What did the job entail?
I would have to call the record stores and get them to buy the album. I would basically call up the buyers of these chains and say "Hey, the new R.E.M. is out" (because we distributed IRS too), or "the new Tiffany or the new Fine Young Cannibals, how many do you want?" The problem was that I was a horrible salesman because I loved music. So we had a quota of x amount of the Little River Band and I would say "hey, this is a pretty good album", but no one's going to buy it. No one cares about the Little River Band in 1987. So all of my customers liked me for the most part, but I was horrible at the job.

So you started doing stand-up around the same time?
My first open mic was in 1987 right after I turned 21. Then I got the job at MCA and thought "well I've got to focus on this job" and I didn't do any open mics for six to eight months. Eventually I was working at MCA during the day and doing open mics at night and finally after I had been working quite a bit in Chicago getting paid to do stand-up, my boss basically gave me an ultimatum: "you want to pursue this crazy dream of yours, or do you want to work for the record company?" And I went "I'll tell you tomorrow" and I knew the answer, but I told him the answer the next day, "you know, I'm going to pursue my crazy dream." And the weird part is that everyone that had worked at that branch had come to see me and truth be told, I sucked. I was green and doing comedy for less than a year so when I told them I was going to quit, you could see it in their eyes, "oh he's fucking ridiculous, what is he doing?" And in retrospect they were right, because I stunk and they don't know that you get better. Real people don't think that you improve at a craft.

They think you just have it already or not...
Right. And the other funny thing is that head of the Motown-Chicago branch (because MCA and Motown were connected at the time) told me that he could get me on Evening at the Apollo. "I'll make a phone call right now to get you on the Apollo." And I would go "Ben, I've got no business going on the Apollo, they would kill me. They would boo me so badly." And he would say "no no, we'd let them know that you were one of our guys" and they wouldn't care if I'm one of your guys! And to the day that I quit he couldn't understand that I didn't want the exposure of Evening at the Apollo.

What was your material like back then? Was it a lot of crowd work like it is now?
That's the interesting thing (only to comedy nerds, not to real people). In my open mic days, I was very much like what I'm doing today. I took chances, I was in the moment. And everything I say very humbly without bravado, but I was an open miker that other open mikers liked to come in and watch. They'd see me really just get up there and riff and the crowds would go crazy. And back in those days, there were crowds at open mics. This was the late '80s and everybody loved comedy. So what happened is I started getting paid in March of '89 and once I started getting paid I panicked and thought "oh now I have to start being like a comedian. I need to start being like what people see on TV." And I won't say that I sold out, but I just kind of became milquetoast for basically '89 through '92. At the end of '92 I don't really know what happened, but I guess I just got tired of people telling me I was the funniest guy to hang out with and if I ever found what I was doing offstage, on stage, people would love me. And I didn't even understand what they were saying because I'm doing well on stage. But something clicked and I said "go back to what you were doing and who you are." In retrospect I wish I would've never stopped doing what I was doing when I started.

You started in Chicago, which everyone knows for improv, but what was the stand-up scene like back in the late '80s and '90s?
Oh, it was huge. At the time that I started, we were going to one or two open mics every night and when I started getting paid in '89, I did not leave Chicago for six months because I worked non-stop in the city and suburbs. There were so many one-nights and full-time comedy clubs and that's why I came up through the ranks so quickly. Every club or one-nighter needed talent and everything was spread so thin that while I still should have been open miking, I was getting paid to be an emcee. Which is why I became what other people refer to as a "great host" or "great emcee". That's really where I learned my chops instead of the open mics. The comedy scene in Chicago was just phenomenal, I don't know what it was like in L.A. or New York or anywhere else, but everyone was very supportive of each other. Obviously there were the guys that you thought were hacks or arrogant, any scene is going to have that, but you find your core group of guys that I'm still great friends with today and we all just got our asses kicked together and learned together.

Why did you originally start your podcast "Never Not Funny"?
I had been doing my live talk show at the UCB Theater ["Running Your Trap"] and Matt Belknap was just an audience member that of course ran He was just this guy that would come to the shows and he had me on his podcast ["AST Radio"] where he was just interviewing comedians. And he said to me, "we should make a podcast out of the talk show" and I said "ok that sounds good. I don't know what any of that means, but ok." And after talking a little longer he said "I don't even want to do AST Radio anymore, I want to produce a podcast with Jimmy Pardo doing it." Again, I didn't really know what podcasting was but I wanted to do it- I'm a horrible businessman and I thought, this is going to be the one thing that I'm going to be first at. I don't want to not do this now because it's got a cable-access vibe to it, and then two years later hear about how...I'm just going to use someone's name, I didn't want to hear about how great Andy Kindler's podcast was and then go "why didn't I do one!" Then I'd be the guy following, so the way I like to describe it as I was kind of following by leading because I didn't want to be left behind on this new format. So I jumped in really early and did it out of panic and of course it grew into this crazy thing that it is today.

Has doing the podcast affected your live material in any way?
Not on the road necessarily. The nice thing about the podcast is that A LOT of people are coming out to see me that probably didn't know who I was two years ago. It's phenomenal to walk out on stage and have people know who you are, there's no better feeling than that. But as far as material goes, the only thing it's really affecting is when I do my live shows around L.A. So many of the people there also listen to the podcast and if I tell a story on the podcast one week and then I'm doing a live show the next week, now it gets diffused a bit. I don't really put anything on the back burner, but sometimes I wish I would have. Some things I think I probably should have worked this out on stage, but the podcast has sort of become my stage. Sometimes that thing makes it to the stage, I'm telling a story now about my son at the CVS walking up in the middle of the gang bangers and saying hello. So sometimes there's pieces that I think are too good to just let sit on the podcast.

Besides laughter of course, when do you know that you're really "clicking" with a live audience?
It's not a matter of just laughs (and I don't want this to sound arrogant), but it's feeling that you have the freedom that the audience will go wherever you want to go and trust you. You just feel a trust with the audience where you think "oh ok, they're going to get me." And that I can make as many '80s band references as I want and whatever riffing and know that they are going to go with it and love it. The truth is, although I don't really "bomb" anymore, there's nights where they don't want to hear that crap and I just stick to the material and though those shows are good, the audience doesn't know what it could've been. Because when they trust me and it's loose, the more fun I'm having, the more fun they're going to have and the more open my mind is and it's going to be a lot more stream of consciousness stuff coming out.

It really is a conversation and not just a guy telling his jokes regardless...
And I know you just interviewed Todd Glass, Todd and I are very much on the same page on this. There's a big difference between performing and communicating and Todd and I want to communicate with the audience. We're two guys that if we perform in clubs with no more than 100 people every night, we'd be the happiest performers in the world. I think that's what comedy should be. If you listen to those old Woody Allen albums or even the first Steve Martin album, these are small jazz clubs, people crammed in, low ceilings and people listening to this performer talk and that's all they're doing. They're talking. Steve Martin's first two albums are two different worlds because by the second one [A Wild and Crazy Guy], he's in a stadium.

And the audience is screaming, it's not even laughter.
The same thing happened with Kinison and Dice Clay and to the lesser extent with Cosby in the '80s with Himself where he could get a laugh just by lifting a finger and everyone claims about how genius he is for not having to swear. To me it's all about communicating and connecting than it is performing. You know, Madison Square Garden, for comedy? And when you watch that special, and I don't even want to say the guy's name, nobody's laughing. They're just hooting and hollering and yelling. Granted, yes, wouldn't we all want to play Madison Square Garden? Maybe, for our egos, but me, I'd rather do a two-week stint at a 100-seat theater.

You were host of National Lampoon's Funny Money on the Game Show Network and are currently the host of "Running Your Trap" and the live remake of Groucho Marx's "You Bet Your Life" at the UCB Theatre in L.A. What do you like about hosting game shows?
I like the formated looseness of them. I like that there's things that need to be done, but in those parameters I can be loose and do what I do. Which is actually why "You Bet Your Life" is the perfect vehicle for me because it's basically just talking to people and then playing this tiny little game that kind of interrupts the interview. I just think it's from being a kid nerd coming home from school and watching game shows and just loving them. When I was a child I would sit and watch Match Game and laugh at jokes that I probably didn't understand.

Jimmy in "You Bet Your Life"

Would you say Groucho Marx is an influence of yours?
I would say any "insult" comic is, although that would take away from what Groucho or I do. Newspaper reviews compare me to Don Rickles and that's a compliment because he's such a genius and legend, but one night in Lexington I mentioned Groucho on stage for some reason and when I came off stage, the middle act, Matt Fugate, who is a great comic out of Minneapolis, said "you know what, that's who it is. You're not Don Rickles, you're Groucho! You insulting them, but there's a love behind it and it's not so much insulting as getting them involved with it." And yeah, I grew up idolizing Groucho, Don Rickles, Johnny Carson and Robert Klein (who has nothing to do with insult comedy).

Other influences?
Richard Lewis and Paul Reiser, even though they are very similar in a way. But as I look back I realize how much Richard Lewis played into what I do. Don't be fooled by his list of notes that he brings out with him, he refers to them but everything else is stream of consciousness and he was doing that before other people were doing it. He was just brilliant and I still think he's great.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

THE TOP 5: Stand-up Specials of 2008 by Luke Giordano

(I'm stuck in an airport in Detroit for four hours)

5. Chris Rock - Kill the Messenger -- This one should at least be commended for the neat experiment of cutting between three different shows in three different cities pretty seamlessly. However, it did get pretty distracting and I would really have preferred to just watch one show all the way through. The material is solid, though, and I'd call it better than Never Scared.

4. George Carlin - It's Bad For Ya -- "I'd like to begin by saying, 'Fuck Lance Armstrong.'" Not Carlin's best of his later years (that belongs to You Are All Diseased). But looking at it from after his death, this functions as the final words of an angry old fuck. The closing bit, "You Have No Rights" is both hilarious and a punch in the gut.

3. Bill Burr - Why Do I Do This? -- I love Bill Burr. I love this special. Delving into dark material, even for him, his stuff on thinking about running people over in his car and his basically advocating eugenics is so brutal and funny. I might be reading too much into everything, but the fact that he talks frankly about things beneath the surface that are disturbing or violent is so refreshing.

2. Brian Regan - The Epitome of Hyperbole -- Everybody knows Brian Regan. He's hilarious. This special is no exception.

1. Louis CK - Chewed Up -- George Carlin is dead. Louis CK is the best stand-up comedian alive. He is absolutely without fear and will take any subject and gut it completely. And yet, his delivery is so appealing and he is so charismatic and naturally likable that he can launch right into bits about the word faggot or cunt or ni**er without receiving so much as a gasp. The fact that Louis CK is so good, it's beyond the point of angering that it's gone right into awe. Beyond laughter, he is a joy to watch.

Luke Giordano is a part of the improv group DREXEL FOOTBALL TEAM and host of the monthly stand-up show "Stand-up at the Bully Pulpit"


Here is The Feeko Brothers' nomination for the Greatest Local Commercial. During local sports coverage, nestled in between commercials for trucks and boner medicine, you'll find this little gem for the delicious Not Just Pizza.

Do not even attempt to read this "article" without watching the above video.

Not Just Pizza. Let us first point out that there is absolutely no information in this commercial. All we know is that "Not Just Pizza" and Sal are back. That's it. They do state that they have "an amazing food selection," "great service," and "one of a kind delivery and take-out specials." However these three things should come STANDARD with every restaurant and are by no means "selling points."

Again, there is no information in this commercial. Take this hypothetical conversation between two rubes:
Rube #1: Hey I just saw this commercial for "Not Just Pizza." Let's order.
Rube #2: What kind of food do they have?
Rube #1: Not just Pizza.
Rube #2: But like, what kind?
Rube #1: I dunno. Sal's back.
Rube #2: What?

Luckily, they put their phone number and approximate address in the commercial so you could actually give them a chance.

Now, onto the 800 pound gorilla in the room. After a "Breaking News" fear-flash, a tomato reading "11th and Wolf" swoops into frame to reveal... a Penguin. A Talking Penguin. A Talking Penguin News Reporter. A Talking Penguin News Reporter who is forced to do fluff pieces on local pizza parlors. Who is this Talking Penguin News Reporter and why is he getting such bad assignments? Since his mere presence alone raises more questions than answers, we did a little online research and found this biography:

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Talking Penguin News Reporter (1943-????) is Peabody Award winning journalist is know for his succinct reporting style which arrives in his signature disyllabic bursts. From the South Pole to South Philly, Talking Penguin News Reporter's integrity has been put to the test and each time he has responded with unflappable poise.

Here a few of his career highlights:
Dallas, TX - 11/22/1963 - "Jack's Dead!"
Washington DC - 8/8/1974 - "Dick's Gone!"
Berlin, Germany - 11/2/1989 - "Wall's Down!"
Washington DC - 12/19/1998 - "Look I understand what President Clinton did was morally reprehensible but at least he didn't lead us into an unjust war!"
New York, NY - 9/11/2001 -"Let's Roll!"

After an on-air melt down in May of 2003, the Talking Penguin News Reporter was cast out of the upper echelon of Talking Penguin News Reporters. He currently resides in the Pennsport section of South Philadelphia with his wife and three kids. He is currently a local corespondent for "Not Just Pizza". -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Well, that sort of answers at least part of one question. Anyway, we think it's time to end this "article." Not because we've exhausted every mockable aspect of this commercial, but because there might be a word limit on writing about something this stupid. In closing, "Not Just Pizza" makes a great pie, and while we may never understand the meaning behind their commercials, I think we can all find solace in the fact that Sal's back!

Fun Facts:
*The LIVE report is not actually LIVE every time.
*The anagram for "Sal's Back" is "Black Ass." Think about it.
*The Talking Penguin News Reporter does not in fact wear a tuxedo.
*Their Pizza > Their Commercial

-The Feeko Brothers

Monday, December 15, 2008

BETWEEN TWO FERNS w/ Zach Galifianakis and Jon Hamm

There's a lot to be angry at Jon Hamm for. He's handsome, he's incredibly talented, everyone loves him, he's the lead of the best show on TV and as evidenced by his recent appearance on Jimmy Pardo's Never Not Funny, he's got comedy chops as well. Here, bearded Zach G. manages to take Hamm down a peg or two, hilariously!


TOP 5 LISTS of 2008

Not sure if you've noticed, but 2008 is coming to a close. And to celebrate and look back, we asked a bunch of Philadelphia comedians what were there favorite/funniest/most awesome moments of the year. We'll be posting their responses over the next few weeks.

Matt Holmes, Rare Bird Show

1. Sarah Palin and Tina Fey's portrayal of her
I'm sure a lot of people will cite this, but it really was a great run of top-notch comedy. Big kudos for one of the sketches being word-for-word replay of the real ridiculousness.

2. The last 2 Rare Bird Show appearances in the Philly Fringe
Yes, I'll put myself on my own list. Those shows were balls-out hilarious; an Arby's server named Trigé referencing gum-related urban legends, idiot vintners in a family squabble, me spitting in Nathan's face, anger-boners. If you missed them, you missed out!

3. The Action Section's Halloween Spectacular
This was a great Philly debut for a great new sketch comedy group.

4. Little Britain HBO
If you haven't caught some of the new Little Britain sketches, fresh from right here in the U.S. of A., you are missing out.

5. Hand Vagina on CollegeHumor
While technically from last year, I didn't see it until recently, and isn't that how viral videos work nowadays? Funny; watch it.

Pat House, stand-up comic

5. Getting introduced to the great sketch comedy that's growing in Philly.

4. All of the comedians that took the time and effort to regularly put on their own shows this year: The Ministry of Secret Jokes, The Comic Vs. Audience Show, Center City Comedy, The Urban Saloon, Stand-Up at the Bully Pulpit...

3. Watching Joe DeRosa tape his Comedy Central Presents...

2. My own personal melee that involved three beer bottles, the world "cunt" and my first punch to the face.

1. Watching just about every single comedian work hard and constantly improve.

Gregg Gethard, stand-up, host of Bedtime Stories

1. Kent Haines interviewing Aaron Hertzog at an edition of "Why Am I Not Famous?" The awkward factor matched that of The UK Office. I know Kent and Aaron are good friends but watching this live was so drastically uncomfortable. This show was when the Fringe Fest was going on. There were a handful of older Fringe Fest fans in the audience. God only knows what they thought was going on.

2. Jamie Moyer's ridiculous speech when the Phils won the NL East. "We've grown as teammates. We've grown as men. We've grown as fathers."

3. The incredible overnight Paul Jolowitz WIP show where he refused to talk about sports. The topic, instead, was "Who do you find most fascinating outside the world of sports?" Jolly then went on to talk about how "no one would get his answer." The first three callers said Andy Reid before having long pauses when told they had to say someone outside of sports. The fourth caller took a stab at Jolly's fascination. He said "Warren Buffet." He was right. Jolly's show was ruined within the first 10 minutes.

4. Steve Gerben's fantastic meltdown during a Yo Momma battle at The Ministry of Secret Jokes. Gerben came off like the best wrestling bad guy since Jerry Lawler made a dramatic appearance at the ECW Arena where he repeatedly hit Tommy Dreamer in the scrotum with a bamboo stick.

5. Any and all appearances of Dave Hill in Philadelphia. Dave Hill may be the funniest person in the country right now. We're really lucky to be able to see him do his stuff at The Shubin Theater.

Matt Nelson, improviser, executive producer of Philadelphia Improv Festival

5. ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT MOVIE BUZZ So many people want this to happen that there's buzz any time you go looking for it. But the movie got a swift kick last month as both Ron Howard & Mitch Hurwitz inked deals with Imagine/Fox Searchlight for treatments. Fingers still crossed (they're getting tired).

4. GOV SARAH PALIN There are so many things about the VP hopeful that it's hard to list them all. Notable moments include her jaw-dropping interview series with Katie Couric that fueled SNL's cold opens like crazy. Another topper was a Canadian duo prank calling Gov Sarah Palin posing as French President Nicolas Sarkozy. They kept it up from quite awhile, even referencing Hustler's Palin-themed porno, with the Gov none the wiser (audio | transcript).

3. SNL The show kicked down the door of viewers this season with their political cold opens, but then has managed to keep up with itself, putting out some really great digital shorts (and memorable skits like Surprise Party (or just about anything else that Kristen Wiig touches). Also the addition of UCBer Bobby Moynihan was great news and I couldn't think of a nicer, more deserving person for SNL to pick up.

2. NERVE & IFC'S LIST OF THE50 GREATEST COMEDY SKETCHES OF ALL TIME I can't even begin to tell you the time I spent going through this list. Most of the sketches listed had embedded video right there, so it was really deadly to my productivity in April. The obvious ones are here like Python, SNL, KITH, etc. But they dug deep to pull out some great stuff from French & Saunders, Your Show of Shows, The State, Mr. Show, Carol Burnett and one of my personal favorites, Catherine Tate.

1. TINA FEY There's little doubt that Tina is the comedy queen of 2008, between her numerous Emmy wins, an excellent season of 30 Rock and of course her exacting impression of Gov. Sarah Palin on SNL. If only she could take Baby Mama back.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Our Week in Review

We don't toot our own horn that often, but this was a pretty good week for us. In case you missed it, we:

- Re-lived the explosion that was The Dave Hill Explosion
- Analyzed like the Zapruder film Philadelphia's best local commercial
- Announced the death of monthly comedy show Die, Actor, Die
- Chatted with stand-up hero (yes, he's our hero) and Philadelphia native Todd Glass
- Shared a fail-safe mixtape that you should give to a widow that you've had a crush on and been "best friends" with since high the funeral
- Broke the story of a man suing God over a flooded basement
- Discovered that a man was gay (for Gilbert Arenas)

Check back next week for more quality stuff! We're done for now and will not break the blogger oath against posting on the weekend.

VIDEO: I'm Gay (For Gilbert Arenas)

Lord knows we don't mention the Washington Wizards basketball team ever (and as a Cleveland Cavs fan, honestly, we're sick of having to see Gilbert Arenas in the playoffs every year), but we found this video funny and thought it was worth mentioning. It was done by Chris Gethard, the NYC-based brother of Philadelphia's Gregg Gethard.

The hope, seemingly, is for Gilbert Arenas to post it on his very popular blog (we mean really popular, dude supposedly invented the athlete blogging idea). No luck so far as Arenas hasn't posted since November, but in the meantime other blogs are chiming in. names it the epic fail of the day: "Gil is going to have to answer a few questions on this."

The sports blog Mr. Irrelevant says: "Disclaimer: While I do possess a gold Arenas jersey and an affinity for the man, I’d prefer that Agent Zero not 'beat my buzzer', thank you very much." Good call on setting the record straight, bro.

And finally, Chris Cooley, tight end for the Washington Redskins football team has has linked to the video (the football fans out there may remember this): "This guy wants Gilbert to blog about him...even if Gil doesn't I'm glad that we did."

So pass along the video if you can, so that Gethard can achieve his dream of a night with Gilbert Arenas. Hibachi!

BREAKING: Man Sues God Over Flooded Basement

BY NOLAN GILBRIDE, COMIC VS. AUDIENCE TIMES Chalfont, PA – Jacob Winters, 53, has filed suit against God for destruction of property.

This past summer a torrential rain flooded Winters’ basement. Several boxes of valuables were damaged in the flood.

“I lost my high school diploma, VHS movie collection, and autographed Hal Holbrook headshot,” Winters said.

Winters believes God has to take responsibility for his actions.

“If I was at fault in a car accident, I would be responsible for fixing the other guys bumper. I don’t see how God’s exempt from that kind of thing.”

Winters recently moved into the house on Linden Ave this past year. The previous tenants, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Able, informed Winters the basement had not flooded in their tenure despite several storms of a similar nature.

Winters believes that God has a personal vendetta against him.

“Well, the Sunday before the storm, I was late for church and was unable to sit in the front row. I suspect that God didn’t see me and assumed I did not attend.”

Winters gave further evidence for the vendetta, stating God intervened in the outcome of Super Bowl XLI because he missed church that Sunday and illegally bet on the New England Patriots.

Winters contends David Tyree’s acrobatic and improbable catch that propelled the New York Giants over the Patriots was an act of God.

It isn’t the first time God has been sued. Marshal Chuck LaMar has served several summonses in his career to God.

“Serving a summons to God is the easiest summons to serve.” LaMar said. “Since God is omnipresent I don’t have to leave my office.”

The valuables that were destroyed were placed in boxes on a folding table against the southeastern corner of the basement. When Winters discovered his basement had flooded the next morning, he surveyed the walls of the basement, walking through water up to his ankles.

A large crack was found along the southeastern corner and water stains visibly run down the wall. A pool of water collected on the folding table, seeped through the boxes and ruined photos of Winters graduations, birthdays, and wedding. Several other boxes were underneath the folding table.

“God knows I’m no Rockefeller and that these memories can’t be relived. I’m just asking for money to fix my basement so I can avoid this happening again.”

Many lawyers believe Winters case is difficult to win. It is believed that several district court judges are devout.

“I’m just asking for a fair trail,” Winters said.

God was unavailable for comment.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

DEAF COMEDY JAMZ: Mixes for Any Occasion #1 by Rob “The Mix Master” Baniewicz

Widow at the Funeral (Side A)

This mix is for a widow who you had a crush and have been the "best friend" of since high school, secretly longing for her during the entire length of the marriage. Give it to her at the funeral. That's imperative. Let's dissect the first side of the tape:

1. The B-52s - "Deadbeat Club"

I believe you should always start off poppy, even in this case. The widow will have had her fill of mourning the second she presses play on your tape. Because you get it -- the situation, her, and the long, painful death her husband experienced mangled inside a mini-cooper smashed against a tree. Believe you me, she'll thank you in many ways for that smile from the first song. Probably through sex acts… or in my case, a torso crushing hug and a good long cry of never-ending pain into my brand new Dolce & Gabbana shirt I purchased for the after-funeral party. A bonus is the B-52s mention the Question Mark & The Mysterians' classic song "96 Tears", so you'll have a song brought to mind that mentions crying without having to deal with all the shitty production value of the 60s.

2. Primitive Radio Gods - "Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in My Hand"

Wow. Flashback right? At its peak you could have heard this song on three pop stations at the same time. That's how powerful and great it was. This is where she should get the full release of our sadness out. Because if you clear up all that sad stuff on track two -- you'll have the rest of the mix to tell a very important message… let's move on, hand in hand.

3. INXS - "Never Tear Us Apart"

This song will remind the widow that you have a lifelong bond with her, never ceasing, never dying. No matter what, be it through dead husband, urinary tract infection, or that one time she lost her cell phone, you've always been there for her. Plus, the dramatic soulfulness of Michael Hutchence's voice may inadvertently remind her of what a sexual deviant her dead husband was.

Plus it's sung from the first person:

I was standing
You were there
Two worlds collided
And they could never tear us apart

This firmly, but romantically, takes her away from possibly thinking this song is about her husband's relationship with her and the possibility of their relationship living on in the after-life. No -- this song is about the mix-maker. I will be there for you Amanda. They can't tear US apart.

4. Elton John - "I Guess That's Why they Call It the Blues"

Nothing better then Elton singing about my most precious moments of love and sadness. This is the most heartfelt song on the playlist, and I feel like sums up a lot of what I am trying to say:

Time on my hands
Could be time spent with you
Laughing like children
Living like lovers
Rolling like thunder under the covers
And I guess that's why
They call it the blues

This is most certainly what she needs. A good romp with you in the sack along with this mix (reminder: this tape could definitely work again for a post-funeral coitus session). By this point, she should have been wooed. You don't even need anymore tracks -- but sometimes (cough-cough Amanda) it takes more then four songs to convince a lady. I mean honestly Mandy, did you listen to the lyrics? If you had, I very much doubt you would visit that guy’s grave nearly as much as you have been lately.

Without me girl
Cry in the night if it helps
But more than ever I simply love you
More than I love life itself

What's better then that?!

Oh, it's at this point I guess it's a good time to remind you to be sure to print out a lyrics sheet with important lines highlighted.

5. Simple Minds - "Alive & Kicking"

End the first side of the tape with something reaffirming, something uplifting. She can't wallow forever -- I mean they were only married for two years and car accidents happen everyday, so her case isn't that unique. It also firmly cements her in your mind as the only thing that can get her out of this depressing quagmire as evident in the following:

What's it gonna take to make a dream survive?
Who's got the touch to calm the storm inside?
Don't say goodbye
Don't say goodbye
In the final seconds who's gonna save you?
Oh, Alive and Kicking!

The mix-maker is the answer to all these questions -- and this mix should reaffirm that message.

Rob “The Mix Master” Baniewicz is a part of the sketch group Meg & Rob.

Teen Punks In Heat
Don't Take Our Songs So Seriously
A Sh*tty Taste: Tiny Tim & Brave Combo's "Girl"