Friday, August 29, 2008


It was roughly around this time last year that the Philadelphia sketch duo Meg & Rob formed for the Philadelphia Fringe Festival. Since then, they’ve performed at Bedtime Stories at the Shubin Theatre, as part of the sketch comedy extravaganza Welcome To The Terrordome and on their own shows across the city. And this Fringe Fest, they will be teaming up with local improv group Rare Bird Show in Improv and Sketch Comedy from Rare Bird Show & Meg and Rob, Respectively at The Adrienne Mainstage (2030 Sansom St.); Fri. 8/29 10PM, Sun. 8/31 9PM, Wed. 9/3 8:30PM, Thurs. 9/11 8:30PM, Sat. 9/13 10:30PM, $10

Your decision to do comedy together is something of a myth now (“while sitting at lunch, Meg said, ‘Does anyone want to start a sketch comedy troupe?’ And Rob said, ‘Yes.’”). How well did you know each other at that point?

Meg: We knew each other for about a year.

Rob: Yeah, before anything came up. We got along because I first went to find out if Meg was single.

M: The first time he introduced himself to me, he came over trying to be really friendly and speak on my terms and he said “say, do you like indie rock?” (laughs)

R: (laughs) Because that’s the most ridiculous thing you can say to somebody.

M: “You know, I just guessed because of your hair and your glasses.” (laughs) And he had been kind of getting a little bit close, so finally one day I went “you don’t have a crush on me, do you?”

R: By then I already knew, so it was already off limits.

M: But he did walk away immediately after I asked that.

R: Yeah, it’s an awkward question to be asked by anybody.

M: It was great too because we had the turning chairs, so I just turned around and asked it. But yeah, we knew each other for at least a year before we started.

Did you talk about comedy?

R: A little bit. We first bonded over Arrested Development because that was still going on at the time.

M: And with two of our other friends at QVC we had done entries to The Office promo contest.

R: Yeah, it was like the advent of a lot of those Youtube competitions where you make a promo for The Office. So we did and we were proud of what we did, they were good.

So what did you expect when you first started working together?

R: Well, we knew each other really well, so we both knew that we were really creative people striving to have some kind of creative outlet. My films were more towards the comedic and weird sort of thing, and her writing was more towards the weird and comedic realm.

M: And it was kind of a slow process too because it was true that I said once at lunch “does anyone want to start a sketch comedy group?” and Rob said “yes”, but it was a lot slower than that. Because we first doing a group with all of the guys who we had done The Office promos with and that wasn’t really working out…

R: It was more of their trepidation towards during live stuff, which Meg and I wanted to do.

M: So it was about time to sign up for the Fringe Festival and I had a show that I had been working on since college, which was the [“Reviving The Lecture Circuit] show. I really needed someone else to do with me, so I just said, “hey, let’s do this.” So we did that and then started doing more traditional sketch stuff.

R: Yeah, that was pretty much the beginning of the consistent working.

So you, Meg, we working on that first show as just something you would do yourself?

M: No, I knew I wanted to do it with someone else. I had talked to with a friend of a friend about doing it with me, but he was flaky, so I had just put it aside.

R: So it could’ve been Meg & A Friend of a Friend.

Where did the idea for “Reviving The Lecture Circuit” come from?

M: I was a writing major in college and every writing major as to take a senior seminar class and mine was “Writer as Performer”, which seemed perfect to me, but it was awful. The professor just didn’t teach anything except “if you’re given a time limit when you perform, you better stick within that time limit.” But the one good thing I got out of it was I wrote a paper on lecture circuit comedians of the mid to late 1800s which I got really into because it seemed like kind of intersection between what I saw as stand-up as one person talking about things and sketch as character work. But those two things are really nebulous, but these people were doing stand-up things but under personas and I was really into that especially because they would do it in the same venues that people would do serious lectures.

Can you give me an example?

M: Mark Twain did it. Then there were other guys like Petroleum Nasby, that wasn’t his real name. Josh Billings, Bill Nye, yes, there was a guy named Bill Nye. They were humorists of the day that would go around on the lecture circuit. I think it was Petroleum Nasby who purported that you would see a live animal show, they built it up as this big spectacle. It was just something about that that really attracted me, so I started writing character monologues in a similar style.

(From the "Reviving The Lecture Circuit", a timely monologue by Presidential candidate Skip Henley)

What you done since that first Fringe run?

M: Well, that show was a learning experience. After that show we agreed that we wanted to do more traditional sketches. Because that show is six 10-minute monologues, which is good and fun, but the other thing about that show is that I wrote most of it and then Rob helped me edit and punch up the jokes. But now we are totally 50-50 on writing and we’ll write and toss back and forth. And now we are trying to do a lot more movement and interaction.

How was performing in Chicago and Minnesota this summer?

R: Chicago is a great town.

M: Chicago was fantastic.

R: And it was definitely an audience of people we didn’t know, so it felt good to not have the Philly thing where, especially now, we are all going to each others shows. It’s sometimes easier than you’d like it to be, so it’s good to get out of our shell and win. Where as Minnesota was the opposite.

So Chicago went well overall?

R: People stood up and went “Bravo!” Who says that? That happens in the 1800s. Whereas Minnesota was more of a theater crowd, so they weren’t necessarily looking for comedy.

M: And it was a much different event, because in Chicago we were there to do Snubfest, which is a comedy festival. In Minnesota, it was a fringe festival. So I think that had a lot to do with it.

R: And also in Minnesota we did win over the audience, but there were also some really rough shows where people walked out and people read newspaper.

M: Yep, and one guy ripped paper into little pieces during the show.

R: And he was reading the guide to the festival, but then after the show waited around to ask us what the next show was going to be.

M: We did “Reviving The Lecture Circuit” out there and in one of the pieces I eat cake and I didn’t realize until I got out there that the cake had gone bad. So that added to the joy of the experience.

Your Fringe show this year is with Rare Bird Show. How did that happen?

M: Well, they invited us, which is a huge honor because they’re fantastic and so energetic and spastic. Part of the reasoning behind it is very practical because if you do a double-bill it costs less to mount a show. But also it’s a nice pairing to see two bits of comedy because sometimes in Philly I feel like improv gets too separated from everything else. I like the idea of putting improv and sketch together.

What does the future hold for Meg & Rob past the Fringe Fest?

M: Well, we are applying to festivals that we may or may not get into. So far, not. (laughs) We’re maybe going to work on a web series promo.

R: Because the Internet is the future.

M: Yeah, we have a vague pilot script.

R: And we’d like to do an East Coast tour, a legitimate tour with some of our friends locally. M: And one of the things that’s really exciting about this show is that we are working with Don Montrey as a director and I’m hoping to do more of that in the future. We had one two-hour session where we just did three sketches. And it was so helpful to have someone watching and having someone pull out the bits of movement that can make things pop. So I’m definitely hoping to do more of that.

So is this show all new live material?

R: All new.

M: It’s all new, not all live, but the one thing that is very exciting that we are 90% sure is going to happen is that everything is going to have video background.

R: Oh, don’t put that on the record.

M: I know, but it’s such a selling point for the show.

R: I know but…yes, everything is going to have a video background-

M: Whether it’s a still image or video that we are interacting with, which I am really really excited about.

(A pigeon loiters nearby)

R: Do you remember The Goodfeathers on Animaniacs?


Thursday, August 28, 2008

FIST POUND by Gregg Gethard

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

Gregg is also a member of the Philadelphia sketch group The Sixth Borough, which will be performing their new sketch show "World Crisis" at the Adrienne Theater during the upcoming Philadelphia Fringe Fest - Fri. 8/29 8:30PM, Sat. 8/30 10:30PM, Tues. 9/2 8:30PM, Thurs. 9/4 10PM.

A lot of people are ashamed to admit when they’ve been fired. Not me. I’m usually pretty cool when it happens which, in my life, has been quite a lot. It’s a great way to leave a job. This way you don’t have to have the squirminess of a work “going away” party with a cake and a stupid greeting card. You’re just gone. This, or just leaving a job and simply never come back, are easily the most effective ways to terminate an employment situation.

But what I am about to tell you is probably the only time I truly, desperately wished I could have been struck by lightning to escape the brutal uncomfortable situation I was enduring.

This is the story about the third time I had been fired.

(The second part of the story is a somewhat sentimental tale of my struggles as an inner city after school program teacher. Feel free to skip it and get to the getting fired part which is after it. I know you’re going to do that anyway, Bryce Remsburg.) ***

I moved up to Boston without giving it much thought. I met Ilana (now my wife), she was living up there, I wasn’t, and two weeks later I packed my bags.

She found me my job. When she was at Northeaster studying to become a teacher, she worked part-time at a place called Citizens Schools, a non-profit which provides after school activities for students who live in Beantown’s shadier neighborhoods. I always wanted to try teaching, the place had a good mission statement and it seemed like a good thing to try.

Within the first few hours, I knew I had made yet another in a long-running streak of poor personal decisions. I went for orientation and immediately recognized whom I was surrounded by – NPR donors, people needless wearing hair beads, guys wearing corduroy pants with sandals, people in acoustic jam bands, so-called “visceral progressive visual artists” and people who, generally, enjoy trying to make this world a better place.

These are the exact type of people I loathe most in the world.

The orientation was led by Tulaine, Citizen Schools’ program director who thought it fashionably sensible to wear exquisite shawls purchased from Chico’s despite being 35-years-old. When not talking about her visual arts project, she kept on saying things like this repeatedly:

“What you’re doing is very important. You’re trying to bring a smile to a child. A child who may have grown up in difficult circumstances. And now you, you get to play a role in this person’s life. I firmly believe it takes a village to raise a child. And now you are part of that global village.”

This was essentially our training. For one week, us new “associates” of Citizen Schools essentially had one of Hilary Clinton’s 1996-era stump speeches repeated to us. After this, we were expected to know how to tutor, supervise and lead a group of 45 middle school students who lived in places where their parents had to color coordinate their outfits based on whichever Salvadorian street gang controlled their neighborhood that week.

The next few months were a blur. There were four other “teaching associates” in our program. Our supervisor was Teri, who was fairly nice despite attending – no joke—the same prep school Dubya went to, followed by a stint at one of those kinda Ivy League colleges in New England that have a lot of lesbians. (Teri was not.) The four of us associates were thrown to the wolves. The first day of the program, we were supervising a tutoring session in the library.

About 30 kids were in the room. The obvious leader was Lexuss. He was in 7th grade, he had a very stylish baby ‘fro (think Stanford-era Josh Childress) and came strutting into the classroom with a cellphone to his ear, saying to someone, “Yo, let me call you back in a bit, I have this after school thing I have to do for a while.”

The three of us introduced ourselves, and then tried to tell them about our study rules. Lexuss immediately raised his hand. I called on him.

“I’m out,” he said, walking out of the room. Soon, almost the rest of the class – except for the two comic book reading nerds in the back – also just walked out despite our protests.

On top of tutoring kids in group settings, we were all given our individual classes where we’d teach in an area of our “expertise” three times a week to a group of about seven students, one of whom was Lexuss. I was going to teach the kids about journalism and, by the end of the semester, was going to have them create their own newspaper. I handed each of them a Boston Globe, where I planned on teaching them the inverted pyramid style of writing. I began my lecture. Each of them, on Lexxus order, started ripping pages from the newspaper and throwing balled up remains at each other.

I struggled all semester long. Teri was constantly supervising me in my room, since I obviously had the least control over my classroom. And then, one day, in the middle of my attempt at a lecture, she stood up.

“Gregg, sit down in the back. You’re not being an effective leader. I’ll take it the rest of the way. Take notes and watch what I do.”

I’ve been dumped by girls in public. I was once kicked out of a college classroom. I was the victim of many depantsing incidents. But I never, not once, felt this embarrassed about myself in my life. My boss thought I was so bad at this, she decided her only recourse was to undercut me in front of the students I was supposed to teach. I planned on just never coming back ever again.

However, I was just about completely out of money. I needed at least one more paycheck to get by. I went to work that day, just planning on saying nothing, letting the kids do whatever they wanted, trying to avoid Teri, and then going home.

And then I met Lexuss’ aunt.

After the program ended for the day, she came up and introduced herself to me. And, without prompt, she told me about Lexuss’ mom had pretty much abandoned him at birth, and that no one even knew who his father was. He bounced around to a few different homes until she adopted him. And he was a problem in classrooms, despite being frightfully smart for his age.

And then she said, “Lexuss can’t stop talking about you. He really likes it a lot.”

I couldn’t believe it. This kid pretty much had spent the past few months making my life a little more difficult than I wanted.

His aunt nudged him.

“Yeah, Gregg. I think you’re real cool. You’re the only teacher I’ve ever had who didn’t yell at me or anything,” he said, as he gave me a fistpound. “You let us have fun and you aren’t all up in our grill the entire day. Man, I think Teri’s a real bitch. Especially to you, man. She trifilin’. Keep your head up, biggie.”

I went home and thought about this, kind of like the weirdest episode of The Wonder Years ever. This kid with a lot of problems actually liked me. I mean, he didn’t respect me really, since I essentially let him do whatever he wanted because I gave up all hope with this job. But it still made me feel kind of proud. And it felt good because even though he was 13 years younger than me, he had a cellphone and I didn’t, and at the time people with cellphones didn’t really talk to me.

I came to a conclusion. I hated all the awful Citizen Schools “Make a Difference!” hippie crap, I hated all the shitheads who swallowed it all up with pride, I hated Teri for being overbearing… but if I sucked it up and took what I was doing a little more seriously, then maybe I could actually help really fucked up kids.

The first step in my new strategy was to screw writing “learning paths” for my kids to follow in the classroom. Instead, I brought in Stratego and Monopoly. I let them play the games in exchange for ten minutes of doing a little bit of what I was supposed to have them do. The second step was to actually try and have fun with them. Instead of supervising when they played basketball, I started posting up on 7th graders and trying to perfect my turnaround Patrick Ewing-style jumper. (I didn’t.) And the third step was just to go home and come up with more ways to make this job a little bit easier for me.

After a few days, the program’s worst troublemakers all started coming around to hang out with me before tutoring. I don’t think I helped any kids become better people. But they learned a little bit more about basketball and pro wrestling from me, and also maybe that sometimes a really shitty teacher might actually end up being kind of fun to hang out with.

Even Teri backed off. She started coming to my classroom less and never said anything to me about my new love of trying to make no-look passes to 7th grade power forwards.

At the end of the program, right before Christmas break, Lexuss and his aunt came up to me when the program ended. His aunt gave me a Christmas Present – a $24,000 Rolex watch. (Actually, it was a Christmas ornament.) And then Lexuss gave me one more fist pound.


I went home to visit my parents for a few weeks. When I returned to Boston, I had a message on my machine. It was from Teri. She asked me to come down to the office so I could talk with her about something.

I went down the next day. I didn’t know what to expect. Teri sat me down in the office.

She had some tears welled up in her eyes.

“I… I never had to say this before. Or do this before,” she said. “But… but I have to let you go.”

I started to ask Teri why I was being fired.

“I just don’t think you’ve improved much throughout the year. You’re not teaching these kids anything --”

I bit my lip. I’m pretty sure none of the kids in Citizens Schools were learning anything. At least with me they were having a little bit of fun.

“-- So, I want to go in a direction where I find some people a little more serious about the position.”

I then started getting angry. I started explaining to Teri about what I actually did during the year, how I hung out with the troublemakers in the program and they all liked me which, while it certainly didn’t make me Jamie Escalante, it made me something else.

“Gregg, stop yelling,” Teri said. “This is really hard for me.”

Hard for you? I’m the one being fired! I mean, it’s not like it never happened to me. I was kind of used to getting fired. But those times were at places I didn’t care about and wanted to leave immediately.

So I stood up and pounded my fists on Teri’s desk.

“Hard for you?” I screamed. “You’re a c-nt.”

I then took my right hand and swept every single thing that wasn’t nailed down to the table off of her desk. Pencils, calendars, folders. Everything ended up in a big pile on the floor.

Teri stared at me for one second.

“Jesus Chris, Gregg,” she said. “This isn’t my desk.”

I looked at the nameplate I just smashed. It said “Paul” something.

I then walked out of the door. A bunch of the hippie do-gooder Guster fan types heard the ruckus. One guy, who earlier in the program tried to get me to come to his open mic night, said to me, “Yo, bro, what’s with all the ruckus.”

I looked at everyone in the room. And then I started repeatedly grabbing my nutsack like I was Eminem.

“Fuck you, you hippies. Suck my dick. Suckkkk itttt.”

I then went to the elevator. And I realized I was on the 12th floor. And the elevator was on the first.

The adrenaline rush of calling my boss the most abusive word in the English language, followed by sweeping off someone’s desk, completed by acting like your average drunk Wildwood boardwalk visitor completely faded away.

And now I waited for the elevator as all these people started laughing at me.

I got on the elevator and never felt worse about myself.

And then I thought about Lexuss. And I realized that if he saw me do this, he’d give me a fistpound. Triflin’, indeed.

Weathering The Storm Part III

(Starring Johnny Goodtimes, Chip Chantry, Aaron Hertzog and Nat "The Truth" Jones)

Weather Or Not have a Myspace page now!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

ORIGIN OF A WRITER by David Terruso

On Wednesdays we usually have Dave Terruso's "Life of Letters", but we've got something different this week.

Animosity Pierre’s Dave Terruso here. You may know me as a sketch comedian, a guy who raps about licking butts, a guy who makes alphabet cartoons. But my true passion is writing. I’m an aspiring novelist and screenwriter, currently working on a revision of my seventh novel.

My passion for writing started as a passion for typewriters. When I was eleven, I found this old ‘70s electric typewriter, a black monolith that weighed more than I did, in my basement. I plugged it in and listened to the whirring and the chugging and the chigawwwing. Slipping in a sheet of college-ruled paper, I typed ffffffff for fifteen minutes. Bored with typing for the sound, I decided to write a short story. My story was one page, single-spaced, about vampires, and awful. I read it to my parents. They clapped when I was done, and I knew that I had found my career.

I wrote a few more stories, all of them about vampires, until disaster struck: the old typewriter ran out of ribbon. No one sold replacement ribbon for this outdated machine. I begged my parents to buy me a new typewriter. My mother refused, reminding me that even though I desperately wanted to be a writer this month, last month I’d desperately wanted to be a lawyer, and the month before I’d desperately wanted to be a firefighter.

After languishing for weeks without a typewriter (why I didn’t just write longhand is beyond me), opportunity knocked: the Philadelphia Daily News started a short story contest for kids in their Yo! Kids section. I convinced a neighbor to let me borrow her typewriter, wrote a story, and submitted it to the contest.

I’m pretty sure every story submitted eventually got into the paper, because mine did, and it was a horrible story. But getting published in the Daily News at twelve convinced my mom to buy me a typewriter for Christmas, and I was back in business. Eventually I wrote for love of writing and not for love of typewriters. Seventeen years later, I’m still at it.

Here is the story from the Philadelphia Daily News, September 12, 1991. It’s about vampires, of course; I didn’t move on from that topic until I started writing my first novel the following spring. I hope it makes you laugh.

(Click to enlarge)

(Life of Letters will return to its regular time slot next week)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

That Guy, Episode 9

The Sony original web series THAT GUY starring 2008 Philly's Phunniest Person Kent Haines continues. In this latest episode, That Guy has to...get ready.

Kent on "Daily News Live"
Previous "That Guy" episodes


This week's flow chart from Doogie Horner deals with the things that you say during sex. C'mon, you know you do.

Click to enlarge

Doogie will be hosting his show THE MINISTRY OF SECRET JOKES this Wednesday at 9PM at Fergie's Pub (1214 Sansom St). Steve Gerben, Ryan Carey, Brendan Kennedy, Aaron Hertzog, Jose Vega, and Dom DeLuise will be performing and it's FREE.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Comprehensive Guide To Comedy At The 2008 Philadelphia Fringe Festival

The Philadelphia Live Arts Festival & Philly Fringe begins this Friday and we've got to admit: the sketch, stand-up and improv scenes are representin'. Thanksfully, in the midst of modern dances and off-the-wall plays, there will be some laughs to be had. Below is our carefully constructed and comprehensive list of comedy at the festival.

NOTE: The unOfficial Fringe Late Nite Cabaret 2008 will also be going on at the same time that includes some comedy shows, most notably a special edition of Die, Actor, Die

24 Hour Comedy Marathon Walking Fish Theatre (2509 Frankford Avenue) Sun. 8/31 11:59PM - Mon. 9/1 12:00AM, $5
This Labor Day, let the comics do all of the work.  Dozens upon dozens of local stand-up comedians will perform between midnight to midnight and the audience will have opportunities to go up on stage as well.

A Comedy With No Message Best Western Independence Park Hotel (235 Chestnut St.) Fri. 8/5 8PM & 10PM, Sat. 9/5  7PM & 9PM, Fri. 9/12 8PM & 10PM, Sat. 9/13 7PM & 9PM, $10
Eric Van Wie, a twelve-year ComedySportz veteran, presents a comedy variety show with multiple characters in search of the funny. If you want touching stories, sentimental journeys, and personal pain, this is NOT the show for you.

The Audition The Old Academy Players (3540-3544 Indian Queen Lane in East Falls) Sat. 8/23 8PM, Fri. 8/29 8PM, Sat. 8/30 8PM, Sun. 8/31 2PM, $10
What happens when an aspiring actor tries to make it big? Who tries to help him? Who doesn't? How does he confront the occasionally nagging flirtation with musicals, which he hates? Come see this physical comedy filled with bizarre characters and their zany ideas about the meaning of showbiz success.

Bedtime Stories Shubin Theatre (407 Bainbridge St.) Wed. 9/10, 8PM, $10
Although the monthly sketch and storytelling show Bedtime Stories is usually based around one specific topic, this special Fringe edition is more of a free-for-all highlighting the best bits from the past year. Check out our past Bedtime Stories coverage and an interview with host Gregg Gethard

Ben Affleck Judges You The Philadelphia Shakespeare Festival (2111 Sansom St.) Thurs. 8/28 9PM, Fri. 8/29 9PM, Sat. 8/30 9PM, Sun. 8/31 3PM, $15
An evening of sketch comedy brought to you by the unfiltered minds of Two For Flinching, a fledgling group whose comedic view of the world is more sharp than artistic, with a tone of contagious mockery.

Comic Energy Sketch Comedy Show 2nd Stage at The Adrienne (2030 Sansom St.) Sat. 8/30 11PM, Sat. 9/6 11PM, Sat. 9/13 11PM, $10
Comic Energy, winner of the MyFox Philly Hot List for top comedy club in Philadelphia, presents award-winning sketch comedy to the Philly Fringe. Featuring parodies, impersonations, and starring a cast straight from Philly, the troupe brings it to the Fringe right before their ninth season debut.

Dangerous Fools 2nd Stage at The Adrienne (2030 Sansom St.) Tues. 9/9 8:30PM, Wed. 9/10 8:30PM, Fri. 9/12 7PM, Sat. 9/13 7PM, $10
“Better than any improv group I've seen” (City Paper). A fool from LA... a fool from script. With nothing but a blank stage, a single suggestion, and two twisted minds, Thomas Fowler and Mary Carpenter take you on an improvised ride that is hilarious, unique, and dangerously unpredictable.
The Don and Julie Show!!! Upstairs at the Khyber Thurs. 9/11 8PM, Fri. 9/12 8PM, Sat. 9/13 8PM, $10
The Don & Julie Show!!! is Philadelphia's fifth best variety show. Part Mike Douglas Show, part Regis & Kelly, part "whatever they want it to be," Don Montrey, Juliette Pryor, and pianist Alex Bechtel present a fun-filled extravaganza with music, comedy, and celebrity guests. Check out our interview with Don a few months back

God Can Help You With That Character Defect Comedy Cabaret (11580 Roosevelt Blvd.) Fri. 9/5 9PM, Sat. 9/6 9PM, $15
Comedian Alan Marx shares a semi-autobiographical journey to the intersection of spirituality and real life. Be ready to laugh in this bizarre mash-up of stand-up comedy and faith in a language we can all understand.

The Hoppers Hit the Road The Adrienne Mainstage (2030 Sansom St.) Thurs. 8/28 8:30PM, Sat. 8/30 3PM & 7PM, Thurs. 9/4 8:30PM, Sat. 9/6 3 & 7PM, Sun. 9/7 7PM, $15
Follow Benny and Martin Hopper (The Hopper Brothers) as they search for a record contract, true love, and their Ocean City music pier gig. Similar in spirit to A Mighty Wind, Glenside's most lovable home-schooled sibling folk duo star in this improv-to-script musical that proves Philadelphia's top comedians can sing! Check out our interview with Philly Improv Theater's Greg Maughan in which he talks about The Hopper Brothers

Illegal Refill The Adrienne Mainstage (2030 Sansom St.) Sun. 8/31 7PM, Tues. 9/2 7PM, Sat. 9/6 10:30PM, Mon. 9/8 8:30PM, $10
One of Philadelphia's newest and most exciting long-form improvisational comedy troupes makes its Festival debut! Illegal Refill is barely one year old, but boasts thirty years of combined improv experience among its six young members. See daring long-form improv comedy sets, complete with special guest openers from around Philadelphia. Check out an Illegal Refill set we filmed

Improv and Sketch Comedy from Rare Bird Show & Meg and Rob, Respectively The Adrienne Mainstage (2030 Sansom St.) Fri. 8/29 10PM, Sun. 8/31 9PM, Wed. 9/3 8:30PM, Thurs. 9/11 8:30PM, Sat. 9/13 10:30PM, $10
Two Philadelphia's top comedy groups, Meg and Rob and Rare Bird Show perform live comedy that you will love. Check back later this week for an interview with M& R.

LunchLady Doris The Adrienne Mainstage (2030 Sansom St.) Thurs. 9/11 7PM, Fri. 9/12 10PM, $10
LLD returns after eleven sold-out Fringes! LunchLady creates spontaneous theater that is funny, smart, strange, and utterly breathtaking. City Paper and Philadelphia Weekly say "these five improvisers are uncanny;" "the best of the bunch;" "satisfying and impressive." Featuring veteran improvisors Bobbi Block, Kevin Dougherty, Karen Getz, Dave Jadico, and Kelly Jennings.

The Maguffin 2nd Stage at The Adrienne (2030 Sansom St.) Sat. 8/30 7PM, Sun. 8/31 7PM, Mon. 9/1 4PM, Fri. 9/5 7PM, Sat. 9/6 4 & 7PM, $10
Stone Soup Theatre Arts’ riotous political comedy imagines the gay marriage movement is dead this election season. So why would right wing mastermind Cy Mason fight to resurrect it? Find out in the production that NYC's Gay City News declared "what satire should be...shrewd, sassy, topical and just plain fun."

Mister Mister Mister Mister and Others
The Urban Saloon (2120 Fairmount Ave.)
Thurs. 9/4 7 & 9PM, Fri. 9/5 7:30 & 9PM, Sat. 9/6 7:30 & 9PM
The Raven Lounge (1718 Sansom St.)
Thurs. 9/11 7:30 & 9PM, Fri. 9/12 7:30 & 9PM, Sat. 9/13 7:30 & 9PM
The best stand-up comedy show in the Fringe Festival returns for its second year! Come see four comedians who are teachers who are comedians. There will also be special guests, selected from among the funniest comics in the city!

The N Crowd Double Feature The Actors Center (257 North 3rd St.) Fri. 8/29 8 & 10PM, Fri. 9/5 8 & 10PM, Fri. 9/12 8 & 10PM, $10
The N Crowd is a short-form improv comedy troupe that has been performing weekly in Philadephia since 2005. Each hilarious scene starts with a suggestion from the audience. They promise you won't legally have this much fun in ninety minutes for ten dollars.

One Funny Mother: I'm Not Crazy Society Hill Playhouse (507 South 8th St.) Fri. 9/12 9PM, Sat. 9/13 2:30PM, $20
Dena’s perspective on marriage, motherhood, and unrealistic perfection is hilarious! Through stand-up and videos, Dena describes a life you will swear is your own. If you’ve ever gone un-showered for days, stayed up with a sick kid, or had one pee on you, then this show is for you!!!

Participant Awards Ceremony O'Neals Irish Pub (611 3rd St.) Wed. 9/10 8:15PM, Thurs. 9/11 8:15PM, Fri. 9/12 8:30 & 10PM, Sat. 9/13 8:30 & 10PM, $10
Great shows do come in small packages! Catch Philly Improv vetrans Rick Horner and Cubby Altobelli perform in their two-man long-form team: WhipSuit. A single suggestion from the audience will launch a full-length bonanza of comedy.

Rated-G Walking Fish Theatre (2509 Frankford Avenue) Fri. 8/29 9PM, Sat. 8/30 9PM, Thurs. 9/4 9PM, Sat. 9/6 9PM, $10
High Dramma will destroy your loins with our distinctive humor! Guaranteed to have you laughing for all the right reasons, but mostly the wrong ones! We're sketch comedy, so you know we're fugitives. High Dramma: Come for the sketch comedy, stay because we locked the doors and threatened your children!
The Sixth Borough presents: "World Crisis" The Adrienne Mainstage (2030 Sansom St.) Fri. 8/29 8:30PM, Sat. 8/30 10:30PM, Tues. 9/2 8:30PM, Thurs. 9/4 10PM, $10
War in the Middle East. Disasters in Asia. Refugee crisis in Africa. Escalating food and energy prices worldwide. The rise of Tila Tequila in America. Sketch comedy group The Sixth Borough plans on making light of everything that makes life so absolutely shitty as they present World Crisis. Check out our interview with The Sixth Borough earlier this year

Tongue & Groove The Adrienne Mainstage (2030 Sansom St.) Wed. 9/3 7PM, Fri. 9/5 10PM, Sun. 9/7 5PM, Wed. 9/10 7PM, Fri. 9/12 8:30PM, $10
This unique realism-based improv ensemble is “emotionally charged…very physical…often hilarious!" (Philadelphia Weekly). Inspired by personal information anonymously shared by the audience, T&G "effortlessly riffs on all aspects of modern relationships, both comedic and dramatic," (City Paper) creating one-of-a-kind productions that reflect the particular mood and spirit of each audience.

Vote Ninja in 2008! Lisa M. Reisman Gallery (1714 Rittenhouse Sq.) Thurs. 9/4 9PM, Fri. 9/5 8 & 9:30PM, Sat. 9/6 8 & 9:30PM, Sun. 9/7 7PM, Thurs. 9/11 9PM, Fri. 9/12 8 & 9:30PM, Sat. 9/13 8 & 9:30PM, $10
Join the Ninjas for an evening of Chicago-style improv based on audience suggestion. No scripts and no props, it’s a totally custom-made comedy show every performance! See the jazz of theater from the deadliest improv group in Philadelphia!

Waitstaff Wit' L'Etage Cabaret (625 Bainbridge St.) Tues. 9/2 9PM, Wed. 9/3 9PM, Thurs. 9/4 9PM, Sun. 9/7 9PM, Tues. 9/9 9PM, Wed. 9/10 9PM, $15
You like The Onion newspaper? Then you’ll love Waitstaff Wit’, because this year The Waitstaff serves up something deliciously different: monologues written by TWS in the style of The Onion newspaper read by your favorite Waitstaffers and surprise guest artists. Cher? Maybe. Charlton Heston? He’s dead. WHO? COME SEE!

Friday, August 22, 2008

This Week's Sponsors

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

- Kanye West - hey, did you hear that he has a blog now?
- The John and Ethel McKeen Fund
- Hot Rockers, Inc. - Hip rocking chairs at affordable prices. "Let There Be Rock!"
- The Phil Spector Fan Club
- The Philadelphia Chapter of the Comedy Changes Lives Initiative
- The 1998 Winter Olympics Games Four-Man Bobsled Silver Medalists Representing Switzerland (Marcel Rohner, Markus Nüssli, Markus Wasser, Beat Seitz)

"Money piles high as my nieces" - Clipse



Thursday, August 21, 2008

Weathering The Storm Part II

(Starring Johnny Goodtimes, Chip Chantry, Aaron Hertzog and Nat "The Truth" Jones)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

David Terruso's LIFE OF LETTERS #5

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 #6!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


The comedy universe is large and confusing. There are as many jokes as there are stars in the sky. Navigating through uncharted areas, without a compass and sextant, an inexperienced traveler can quickly become lost. Luckily these areas have now been charted using the Universal Comedy Flow Chart™! Now you can throw away that compass, and stop chuckling at the word “sextant.”

Like the circle of life, the heavenly bodies, and the hula hoop, the six comedic humors form a circle. In the middle of the circle is the last uncharted area of comedy—the nexus. Scientists believe the funniest joke in the world lays in this uncharted zone, at the center of the circle. Once it’s discovered, and it’s mysteries unlocked, the funniest joke will be able to power cars, planes, underwater cities, and yes, even hoverboards.

Have fun exploring the comedy universe using the Universal Comedy Flow Chart™!

WARNING: Do not stare at the nexus of the Universal Comedy Flow Chart™ for more than three seconds. Prolonged staring can cause nosebleeds, temporary blindness, and in extreme cases, mind erasure.

Click to enlarge


Monday, August 18, 2008

Philly's Phunniest Contest Finals, 8/16

Last Saturday, Helium's Philly's Phunniest Contest finally came to a close. Over the past two weeks, over 150 comics took the stage with their best material and hopes of making the crowd laugh enough to go on to the next round. With each show the talent was filtered down so when the finalists took the stage on Saturday night, it was an outright killer show.

The finals were judged by a celebrity panel of:

Vinnie Brand, stand-up comedian and owner of the Stress Factory Comedy Club in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
Dan Gross, gossip columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News.
Steve Morrison, one half of the local morning radio show Preston and Steve on 93.3 WMMR.
Christina Lee, Comedy Central's executive for talent and programming development.
Rich Miller of RCM Entertainment.
Stu Bykofsky,columnist with the Philadelphia Daily News since 1987.

In the end, the 2008 Philly's Phunniest Person is Kent Haines. While Kent was not a favorite to win the competition, his performance in each round stood out with great reactions for the audience each time. And, in our opinion, his semi-finals and finals sets were the best that we've ever seen him.

Besides being a stand-up, you may have seen Kent in the THAT GUY web video series for Sony or at his live talk show at the Shubin Theatre, "Why Am I Not Famous?!?". Through the craziness afterwards, we managed to catch up with Kent to ask him a few questions:

Overall, it was a great two weeks for the Philadelphia stand-up scene and there were many comics that stepped up their game. There's no doubt that Philadelphia is a stronger comedy city for it.

And to all the comics out there: time to start writing new material. Next year's contest is only about 12 months away.

Previous Results:
Aug. 5th | Aug. 6th | Aug. 7th | Aug. 8th, First Show | Aug. 8th, Second Show | Aug. 9th, First Show | Aug. 9th, Second Show | Aug. 12 | Aug. 13 | Aug. 14 | Aug. 15

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The 2008 Philly's Phunniest Person is...

Kent Haines!

Second Place: Mike Drucker
Third Place: Derek Gaines

We'll have more to say Monday morning.

Previous Results:
Aug. 5th | Aug. 6th | Aug. 7th | Aug. 8th, First Show | Aug. 8th, Second Show | Aug. 9th, First Show | Aug. 9th, Second Show | Aug. 12 | Aug. 13 | Aug. 14 | Aug. 15

Philly's Phunniest Contest, 8/15

This is when it gets real, folks. Tonight was the semi-finals of the contest and there's no more fucking around. The excess beginners and amateurs have been cut out and the shows were tight. Twenty-six comedians would step on stage tonight, but only eight would survive and go on to the finals.

There were a few differences from the preliminary round. The results were out of the audience's hands now and were instead decided by a handful of local Philadelphia media personalities from TV, radio and the web. Also, Austin's Jimmie Roulette was the host and did a good job of warming up the crowd and keeping the show moving between acts.

From the first show, the finalists are (in no particular order): Andy Nolan, Richie Redding, Kent Haines, and Pat Barker

From the second show: Larry XL, Derek Gaines, Roger Weaver, and Mike Drucker.

It's all finally decided tomorrow night at 8 PM as the eight final finalists will take the stage once more time to see who is the 2008 Philly's Phunniest Person. Check back then for the results!

Previous Results:
Aug. 5th | Aug. 6th | Aug. 7th | Aug. 8th, First Show | Aug. 8th, Second Show | Aug. 9th, First Show | Aug. 9th, Second Show | Aug. 12 | Aug. 13 | Aug. 14

Friday, August 15, 2008

Philly's Phunniest Contest, 8/14

It took ten shows over two weeks, but we are through the preliminary round of the Philly's Phunniest Contest at the Helium Comedy Club. Somewhere around 150 comedians took the stage, ranging from folks trying stand-up for the first time to seasoned veterans. We'd be lying if we said that every comic was funny- some got more groans than laughs, or nothing at all- but a lot of local talent has been displayed in the contest so far.

Tonight was a good example of that talent with a lineup packed of good comics that could've gone deep into the competition, But alas, with four cancellations, only two would be going on to the next round.

Chip Chantry started the show off with a bang with a finely tuned set that kept the crowd going. But is it enough for him to move on? The audience is the decider as they have been for all the shows, and it has been difficult for early performers to move on.

A few comics later, Derek Gaines put together an electrifying set that had the crowd going throughout. That's going to be hard to beat.

Doogie Horner followed and kept the crowd on its toes with off-kilter subjects that like lost keys, pigs, soul singers, optimists and other things. If you told you any more, we'd be giving away the jokes.

The crowd really liked Chris Schotterer as he talked about living with his German immigrant father into his 20s, Sam's Club, and Ikea. Another solid set, this night is really tough.

Steve Obadashian is pianist that performs a few nights a week at the piano bar Cascamorto. After a quick keyboard setup, he became the first performer in the contest to do songs.

John Kensil closed it all out with rapid-fire jokes that the crowd loved. Man, only two comics will move on from this night?

After the dust cleared and all of the audience's votes were in, Chip Chantry and Derek Gaines will be advancing on to the next round.

The competition only gets fiercer now over the two semi-finals shows tonight. Below are the lineups (NOTE: this is not the correct order):

Jason Schneider
Andy Nolan
Brendan Kennedy
Julie Smith
Richie Redding
Pat Barker
Amir Gollan
Justin Hagerman
Sidney Gantt
Kent Haines
Mark Normand
Chip Chantry
Ryan Carey

Tommy Papa
Conrad Roth
Monroe Martin
Blake Wexler
Nolan Gilbride
Larry XL
Kevin Quigg
Jonathan Graham
Roger Weaver
Derek Gaines
John Knefel
Laurence Mullaney
Mike Drucker

Check back tomorrow as we'll have results from the semi-finals shows.

Previous Results:
Aug. 5th | Aug. 6th | Aug. 7th | Aug. 8th, First Show | Aug. 8th, Second Show | Aug. 9th, First Show | Aug. 9th, Second Show | Aug. 12 | Aug. 13

Thursday, August 14, 2008


(Starring Johnny Goodtimes, Chip Chantry, Aaron Hertzog and Nat "The Truth" Jones)

Philly's Phunniest Contest, 8/13

It's Day 7 of the Philly's Phunniest contest and it's still going strong. After tonight, there's only one more night of preliminary competition. The semi-finals start Friday and that's where it gets ruthless.

From tonight's show, Kent Haines, Larry XL, and Mike Drucker are going on to the next round.

Kent discussed carpel tunnel, hypothetical games and a soccer bit that was quite timely considering the Olympics are happening right now.

Larry XL distinguished between the different kinds of drunks and kept it topical with his thoughts on Obama.

Mike Drucker's set included the Army, his GPA in high school and an evil class he took once in college.

Check back tomorrow night for more coverage!

Previous Results:
Aug. 5th | Aug. 6th | Aug. 7th | Aug. 8th, First Show | Aug. 8th, Second Show | Aug. 9th, First Show | Aug. 9th, Second Show | Aug. 12

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

David Terruso's LIFE OF LETTERS #4

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 #5!

By the way, David will be performing as 1/2 of Animosity Pierre at the The 5 Guys Comedy Showcase at Rembrandt's (741 N 23rd St) TONIGHT at 8:30PM, $10 with John Kensil, David James, Chip Chantry and Jose Vega.

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. For tickets, visit the Philly Improv Theater's website.

A special note: Bedtime Stories and Kent Haines' Why Am I Not Famous?!? have been cancelled for this month, but will be back in September.

Wednesday, August 13
8 p.m. – REVEALED! The Secret Documentary Show, $10. From the PHIT e-mail blast: Question: What happens when a filmmaker asks friends, family, and random strangers to donate money to a documentary that he won't explain? Answer: The Secret Docmentary! New York-based duo STARBAND (aka Dave Bluvband and Alan Starzinski) are taking their onstage adventures to cities around the US. Filmmaker Shawn Wickens is catching it all on tape. Featuring Philadelphia's own Mr. Lizard; you, our loyal audience; and in the spirit of things being REVEALED!, a secret or two!

Thursday, August 14
8 p.m. - TROIKA 2008 CHAMPIONSHIP, $10. Presented by, in cooperation with the Philly Improv Theater, TROIKA pits three groups of three improvisers against each other. The groups choose their own format and the audience determines the winner. This is the GRAND CHAMPIONSHIP between the following three teams:

Auditorium (Kristen Schier, Mark Bringhurst, Matt Holmes)
Velvet Helmet (Peter Bohan, Shave, Tommy Drama)
The Ones Your Moms Warned You About (Brandon Libby, Dan Rich, Jason Stockdale)

10 p.m. - CAGEMATCH: Angry People Building Things vs. BWP. 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. Angry People Building Things have been demolishing all challengers for a while now, will they ever be stopped?!? $5.

Friday, August 15
8 p.m. – MakeOut Clinic with Illegal Refill, $10. Two groups formed in the past year team up for a night of all-Philadelphia improv.

10 p.m. – Self Image with Rowan & Hastings, $10. NYC's Self Image (founded by Industrial founder and Philly Improv Festival co-founder Mike McFarland) put a new spin on improv. Instead of playing different characters within a scene, they play themselves based upon audience suggestions. With Powerpoint rappers Rowan & Hastings. (The Philly Improv Blog has an interview with Mike)

Saturday, August 16
8 p.m. – Self Image with Illegal Refill, $10.

10 p.m. – MakeOut Clinic with Velvet Helmet, $10.

- Interview with PHIT's founder Greg Maughan
- An Illegal Refill set at the Shubin

Philly's Phunniest Contest, 8/12

We are into Day 6 of Helium's Philly's Phunniest contest and after tonight there are only two more nights of preliminary competition.

Tonight's crowd was packed almost to capacity, which is a little surprising considering it was a Tuesday night. But surprising in a good way, of course. Highlights:

- Tommy Papa (no, not Tom Papa, the national headlining comedian. That wouldn't be fair.) got a great response from the audience mainly with jokes about his mother and father. He made them sound unique, yet people could relate to them.

- Richie Redding compared MP3s today to taping songs of the radio in the past. Call it a comical trip down memory lane and the crowd ate it up.

- There were yet more teachers taking the stage, tonight it was Paul Lyons and Carl Boccuti. For some reason, teachers have an uncontrollable urge to get in front of crowds of strangers and tell jokes.

- Pat House explained why he chose Temple (it's a Philadelphia university, for those of you that don't know) and shared the taunts that he got for his last name.

- Laurence Mullaney brought a lot of energy as he talked about his 3-year anniversary with his girlfriend and celebrated the fact that they still weren't married. But was it enough to go on to the next round?

Ladies and Gentlemen, the comedians going on to the semi-finals from this show are Richie Redding, Tommy Papa and Laurence Mullaney.

Check back tomorrow for more results!

Previously: Aug. 5th | Aug. 6th | Aug. 7th | Aug. 8th, First Show | Aug. 8th, Second Show | Aug. 9th, First Show | Aug. 9th, Second Show

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

BREAKING: Mike Birbiglia to perform at the Zellerbach Theatre 10/10, Tickets On-Sale Now!

Although the date announced previously, tickets are now available to see Mike Birbiglia at the Zellerbach Theatre on Penn's campus on Friday, October 10th.

Birbigs was last in Philadelphia this past November at Helium as a warm-up for his Comedy Central taping the next day in New York City. This time, he's got something different planned:

I’m doing an All-New show, plus some of the favorites from my two Comedy Central CDs, Two Drink Mike and My Secret Public Journal Live.

We will laugh, we will cry, but I will try to keep the focus on the laughing.
The new material consists mostly of long-form, narrative-based stories that makes up "Sleepwalk With Me", Birbiglia's new one-man Off-Broadway show that is set to debut in November (presented by Nathan Lane).

Over the years, Birbiglia's material has evolved from short bits (on his first two albums, Dog Years and Two Drink Mike) to longer stories (his latest album, My Secret Public Journal). He's always been funny, but the longer stories seem to connect more with his audience.

In a May interview on The Sound of Young America, Birbiglia talked about approaching stand-up comedy more as storytelling than just telling jokes, citing Bill Cosby and Richard Pryor as examples. In the longer stories of these comedians, there isn't quite as much reliance on a constant stream of laughter from short "bits" of comedy, rather, the laughter will come from jokes within a longer story. It's a more personal, almost monologue side to stand-up that can garner a stronger connection with the audience.

Birbiglia then went on to talk about "Sleepwalk With Me":
I have a sleepwalking disorder that's pretty serious and I actually almost died. It's a pretty intense story, but the first hundred times I told it, it did not receive laughter and then there was this tipping point where it started getting the most laughter out of anything that I tell. It's not on any album, but I get it requested a lot because it's a very long, involved, kind of epic story.
This year Birbiglia has been working on the material at UCB shows (recaps here and here) and a live recording from The Moth live show in New York City aired on the This American Life episode "Fear of Sleep". In the most gruesome of the stories from this recording, Birbiglia recounts jumping out of a hotel window to escape a missile attack that he was dreaming. He's vulnerable as he relates an event that is so out of his control, but he's self-effacing enough that the audience laughs instead of pities him.

And there's no doubt he'll have the crowd with him when he performs here in October.

That Guy, Episode 8

The Sony original web series THAT GUY starring local comedian Kent Haines continues. In this latest episode, That Guy has a job interview.


Monday, August 11, 2008

TONIGHT: The Comic Vs. Audience Comedy Show!

Ladies and Gentlemen, it's going down tonight! Brought to you in conjunction with the Philly Improv Theater, we're bringing you four hilarious standup comedians as part of PHIT's week at the Shubin Theatre (407 Bainbridge St). Yeah, we know, stand-up with an improv theater, but the truth is the PHIT is a great source for comedy in the city and the Shubin is a great place to see it. So come on out and tell your friends!

Here are the details:

The Comic Vs. Audience Comedy Show
Monday, August 11th, 2008
at the Shubin Theatre (407 Bainbridge St.)
Blake Wexler
Nolan Gilbride
Brendan Kennedy
Pat Barker

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Philly's Phunniest Contest, 8/9, Second Show

From the second show last night, Kevin Quigg, Monroe Martin and John Knefel are going on to the semi-finals.

So, through the first week of competition, here's are the semi-finalists:

Brendan Kennedy
Roger Weaver
Jason Schneider
Conrad Roth
Blake Wexler
Andy Nolan
Mark Normand
Sidney Gantt
Nolan Gilbride
Justin Hagerman
Amir Gollan
Ryan Carey
Jonathan Graham
Julie Smith
Pat Barker
Kevin Quigg
Monroe Martin
John Knefel

After three more preliminary round shows next week (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday) the semi-finals begin with two shows on Friday.

Check back next week for more coverage!

Previously: Aug. 5th | Aug. 6th | Aug. 7th | Aug. 8th, First Show | Aug. 8th, Second Show | Aug. 9, First Show

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Philly's Phunniest Contest, 8/9, First Show

We aren't there for the fifth night of Helium's Philly's Phunniest Contest, but sources (a.k.a. people who were) are telling us that Julie Smith and Pat Barker are advancing to the next round.

It should be noted that with Pat Barker advancing tonight, all four of the comics on our show next Monday are going on to the semi-finals. Just sayin'. Perhaps you should see them do extended sets at our show before they go for it in the next round of the contest?

Check back later tonight as the second show is going on right now.

Previously: Aug. 5th | Aug. 6th | Aug. 7th | Aug. 8th, First Show | Aug. 8th, Second Show

Philly's Phunniest Contest, 8/8, Second Show

We're halfway through the preliminary rounds after the results of the Friday Second Show. Advancing to the next round from this show are Amir Gollan, Ryan Carey, and Jonathan Graham. Here's how they did it:

- Ryan talked about dying while doing what you love, job interviews and the rules at the Outback Steakhouse. Again, premises only, people. You should've been there.

- Amir's rapid-fire jokes kept the crowd's attention throughout his set. Economy of words, this is how it is done. Every word matters.

- Jonathan Graham brought everything that he had and seemed to really connect with the crowd. We realize that that last sentence isn't very good, but hey, it's late and at least we can acknowledge when we're bombing.

There are two more shows tomorrow, so check back for the results.

Previously: Aug. 5th | Aug. 6th | Aug. 7th | Aug. 8th, First Show

Friday, August 8, 2008

Philly's Phunniest Contest, 8/8, First Show

We weren't there, but we've been told that Nolan Gilbride and Justin Hagerman are advancing from the 8PM show tonight.

There's another show tonight and we're going out the door for it now, so check back!

Previously: Aug. 5th | Aug. 6th | Aug. 7th

Philly's Phunniest Contest, 8/7

Day 3! While parts of the country was finding out who the Last Comic Standing was, some Philadelphians were voting on which three comics will go on to the semi-finals in the Philly's Phunniest Person contest.

Past results: Aug. 5th | Aug. 6th

We should have mentioned earlier the criteria that the crowd was instructed to judge the comedians on: Original Material, Stage Presence, and Audience Reaction. Oh, yeah, and the top prize of $1,000 isn't too shabby.

- Benny Michaels delivered a solid set that dealt a lot with his one year-old child. He didn't take the "my kid sucks route" though, and like we said in that last sentence, it was solid stuff.

- Dan Scully had an interesting bit about how he was treated as a waiter that included being called a "serving wench". Maybe it was an exaggeration for comedic effect, maybe it wasn't, we worked in the Food Industry for a while and it seems plausible.

- Tonight was another tough night to call and it could've gone many ways. Ed McGonigal, Aaron Hertzog, Andy Nolan, Mark Normand, and Sidney Gantt got a good reaction from the crowd, and there are a few more names that we are missing.

But in the end only three can move on, and those three are Andy Nolan, Mark Normand and Sidney Gantt.

Check back Friday evening for the winners of the two shows that night!

Thursday, August 7, 2008


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

Gregg is also a member of the Philadelphia sketch group The Sixth Borough, which will be performing their new sketch show "World Crisis" at the Adrienne Theater during the upcoming Philadelphia Fringe Fest.

Here, Gregg meets Nancy Pelosi. Yeah, that Nancy Pelosi.

Nancy Pelosi ranks as one of the most important historic figures in recent times. She’s the first female to ascend to Speaker of the House, making her third in line in case the president and vice-president die in a tragic combine accident or something.

And this week, I flirted with her.

And she may have flirted with me right back.
(Skip to the third part if you want to read about that and don’t care about my feelings about Nancy Pelosi. It’s cool, I won’t care if you do that, Aaron Hertzog.)

I don’t agree with Pelosi on a lot of issues. But, still, I jumped at the chance to see her speak Tuesday night at the Philadelphia Free Library, where she was discussing her book oddly entitled “Know Your Power, A Salute To Our Daughters.” Even though I don’t agree with everything she says, I still have to appreciate her – she’s managed to outmaneuver everyone in Congress to have the throne as its most powerful member, which is something to salute considering how politics has usually been dominated by people with penises. She probably put up with a ton of crap – sexist remarks, a general lack of respect of her opinions, patronizing behavior, etc – but somehow steered through it all.

In that way, she’s kind of like a member of Bikini Kill, except more likely to wear Tahitian wood pearls.

When I arrived, I was told the event was sold out. I began to see if there was a way to covertly sneak into the proceedings like my wife and I did when Anthony Bourdain spoke a few months back. (I like No Reservations a lot, and my wife would totally bone him, but that’s true for pretty much every girl, admit it, Meg Favreau.) However, armed library volunteers prevented me from sneaking into the auditorium.

No worries, though. I went back up to the ticket booth and asked if they had anything open. They did and they sold me a ticket – at half the price they were originally being sold at!

There were signs everywhere that the only way to meet Pelosi in person was by having a copy of “Know Your Power: A Salute To Our Daughters.” They were available for sale at the front of the library, but I stole a copy off the desk when no one was looking. (I don’t endorse shoplifting and have not participated in that unique hobby since I was a teenager when I stole a golf shirt from Caldor. But the books were $26 bucks and I don’t have health insurance right now, but am probably getting a policy this week, in case you’re wondering.)

I was not able to go to the auditorium where she was speaking live. Instead, I was pushed into a side room to watch her speak on simulcast. The room, as well as most of the people hanging around the library, was filled with wealthy-looking middle-aged women. I don’t think I’ve ever been around more clothing purchased at Talbot’s ever in my life.

The simulcast room was odd. When Pelosi took to the stage, the people watching her live applauded. After a little bit of a delay, the simulcast room also applauded. When Pelosi said she didn’t support the war in Iraq, the live audience applauded. And then after a few moments, the simulcast room applauded. No one really knew the proper etiquette of the situation. We were there to see Pelosi, but we weren’t actually seeing Pelosi, so what do you do in that situation? It was pretty awkward and right up my alley.

Before Pelosi was introduced, I read some of her book. It’s not really anything special – it’s mostly rote stuff about the importance of family and faith, etc. I’m a political junkie (I watch the Sunday edition of C-Span 2 more than I should) and am completely fascinated with political rhetoric and narrative. This is mostly because I am curious to know if these people actually believe what they say.

Case in point with Pelosi: Early in the book, she talks about how one of her daughters wanted a car when she was Georgetown. Pelosi said that wasn’t in the cards because they had five children and that wasn’t in the family budget. This is an odd statement because her husband’s some kind of investment banker and they’re worth around $25 million, so, actually, I think it was in the family budget.

Also of interest was Pelosi discussing how she came to become a Congresswoman, claiming her predecessor Sala Burton asked her to run for office on her deathbed, and Pelosi never before wanted to run for office. This is a curious statement since her father and brother both served as mayor of Baltimore, her father was a Congressman, she interned for a Congressman in college and she spent a lot of her adult life setting up a political base. But maybe I’m just being a bit cynical. The last person I saw on the deathbed was my grandfather, and he mostly just farted a lot.

But anyways, Pelosi’s not unique in politics in making up shit about her life or offering vague answers to questions she doesn’t want to answer (like when she was asked why she hasn’t tried to impeach Bush yet). And seriously, she really deserves a ton of respect for all she’s accomplished.

I wanted to show my respect for her in the book signing line. But the part of me that enjoys creating awkward public fiascos also wanted to do something. As always, that part of my brain took over.


So I got in line to have her sign my book. When in line, I started talking to the lady ahead of me. She was probably in her mid-20’s and was taking notes during Pelosi’s remarks. She told me she wrote for a website and wanted to ask Pelosi some hard hitting questions.

When in line, a library goon came down with a post-it note. He asked me whom I wanted the book made out to. I answered “Future Mother” and he gave me a weird look. I then told him my wife was pregnant and that was my pet name for her. (My wife’s not pregnant and if she is it’s her problem and not mine.)

We were now near the end of the line. And another library tough-guy looked at whom I was having the book made out to. I told him it was for my cousin who was three months pregnant.

The girl ahead of me was in line and started asking Pelosi her questions. This lasted for about ten seconds before she was forced away.

Now it was my turn. I was within inches of arguably the most powerful woman in the world! She looked at the book and asked me who “Future Mother” was. I told her my half-sister was pregnant and that’s what we called her. She asked me her name and I told her my wife’s name, so she put that down on top of Future Mother.

When she was signing the book, I told her “Madame Speaker, I found your message about the importance of motherhood inspiring, even though I’ll never know what motherhood is like, I still was inspired.”

She kind of chuckled at that as she was finishing signing.

And then I told her, “Also, before I go Madame Speaker, I just want to tell you… you look SO good in person. You’re really beautiful.”

The whole room laughed. And so did Nancy Pelosi, who beamed a smile at me.

Then, she grabbed my right hand with both of her hands. And she started caressing the top of my hand!

“What’s your name?”


“Well, I’m glad you came tonight, Gregg. I’m thrilled to have met you.”

“I’m honored to have met you, Madame Speaker.”

And then I walked sheepishly out of the room.

Now, being a big weirdo, I’m always fascinated by how politicians look in person. I don’t really care about celebrities at all, except for pro wrestlers. But I do care about how politicians look in person.

I met a bunch of politicians when I worked as a reporter. New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg – old and decrepit. NJ Governor Jon Corzine – surprisingly tall but he looked like he would bang anything that moved. Ex-Massachusetts Governor and former presidential candidate Mitt Romney had WASPY good looks but was a total toolbag. I even once saw Ed Rendell at the A-Plus in East Falls, where I was really drunk and wearing a sleeveless shirt with both a wolf and a lot of lightning on it. I drunkenly shook his hand. He’s really big in person and looked like he wanted to destroy me.

Nancy Pelosi somehow never looks the same in pictures. So I was really curious to see what she looked like in person.

And the answer is: She’s a total cougar. I’m not kidding at all. She’s REALLY attractive in person. So I wasn’t really lying when I told her that.

But then when I was home I looked up how old she was and she’s 68. So, this means I’m attracted to the 68-year-old Speaker of the House of Representatives. And I more or less told her that on Tuesday night.

I’m even weirder than I thought.


Philly's Phunniest Contest, 8/6

Tonight was Day Two of Philly's Phunniest Person contest at the Helium Comedy Club. Fourteen stand-up comics performed with the goal of going on to the next round. The first day saw Brendan Kennedy and Roger Weaver advance and three more would be join them from tonight's show. A few observations:

- Tonight's crowd was noticeably larger than last night's. Common sense says that the trend will continue into the weekend with the rowdiest crowds for the double-header on Saturday night. Another good trend: we've seen inviting, open-minded audiences that are giving all of the comics a chance.

- Philadelphia city school teachers, for some reason, take up stand-up comedy. If you can perform in front of 30 bored students, maybe you can perform in front of a crowd of a few hundred? Last night it was Josh Bennett and tonight Bob McCormick devoted a good portion of his set to his experiences in the city's public school system.

- Luke Giordano successfully walked the tightrope that is recounting painful childhood memories in a humorous way. It can be easy to get "awws" from the ladies in the crowd, but that's obviously not the reaction you're looking for up there. Luke didn't have that problem though when he talked about his middle school classmates calling him gay in his yearbook.

- Jack Martin compared Jesse Jackson's and Barack Obama's rhyming skills and came to the conclusion that Obama has a better flow. Jack wasn't the only comedian to get political, but none of it got preachy or heavy-handed. Jack also scored points with the crowd for doing a pretty good Obama voice.

- Jason Schneider kept the crowd on its toes with material on how he's a college graduate that doesn't know anything, Social Security and how water doesn't work for him anymore (only cheese at this point). Look, I'm not going to explain it, you should've been there.

- Vince Patterson had a good set with some in-the-news stuff (pretty sure I just made that phrase up) about Obama, gas prices and Vice President Cheney. This is really a tough night to pick 'em, but only three comics can go on.

- The audience seemed to connect pretty well with 19-year old Emerson student Blake Wexler (he's originally from this area) as he talked about throwing up in his backpack, yelling "I don't give a fuck", and more. Again, one of those "you had to be there things", do you really think I'm going to give away their jokes here? Premises only, people.

- Conrad Roth closed out the competition with his dry one-liners and got a good response from the crowd. But was it enough to take him into the next round?

Ladies and gentleman, your winners from tonight's show that will be advancing onto the next round are: Jason Schneider, Conrad Roth and Blake Wexler.

Check back tomorrow for more Philly stand-up action!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

David Terruso's LIFE OF LETTERS #3

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 #4!

Philly's Phunniest Contest, 8/5

Last night the Philly's Phunniest Contest launched with the first night of preliminary round competition. The contest promises to bring a extremely competitive array of stand-up styles and material from across the city and its surrounding areas. A few highlights:

Josh Bennett recounted some crazy tales as a public school teacher that kept the crowd entertained and Dan Sawyer brought an energetic set that included jokes about bidding on eBay drunk.

Brendan Kennedy shared, amongst many things, a riddle about an ex-girlfriend of six years that moved away. Steve Balbier put together E-ZPass and Sonny Corleone (think about it) and got a good reception from the crowd. Roger Weaver's topics included the Tour De France, Steve Buscemi and McCain.

In the end, Brendan Kennedy and Roger Weaver were voted by the crowd onto the semi-finals.

We caught up with the last year's winner and host for this year Steve Gerben, as well as the night's winners in this (admittedly slapped together) video below.

Check back tomorrow for a recap of Wednesday night!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


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

The Princess of the Molemen™ was being held ransom in the cage next to Doogie. She revealed a secret passage beneath his cell and gave him instructions to find her father, King Ralph. Doogie tunneled underground, found the King, and told him that his daughter, the Princess, was still alive.

The Molemen mounted a massive offensive against the farmer, who was armed with a death ray from the future which he used to kill King Ralph.

The farmer and Doogie fought in the basement, where the farmer shot Princess Amidala with the death ray. The Basement People freed themselves from their cages and ate the farmer alive. Doogie rushed to the Princess’s side and discovered that the death ray hadn’t killed her, it had simply burned all the fur off her body, revealing a beautiful woman underneath. Her father dead, shunned by the Molemen, Amidala traveled to the year 3000 with Doogie to honeymoon on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan.

After a month of bliss together, Amidala’s fur began to grow back, and Doogie realized it was time to complete the final leg of their journey.

And now, the final installment of Doogie's "The Time Machine" series. Catch up with past chapters: I, II, III, IV, V, VI and VII.
– – –

Amidala and I caught a rocket back to the Earth the next morning. Now that her fur was growing back, she felt more confident, more attractive, and was openly amorous. She looked like a sheepdog who I had trained to walk on two legs, and french kiss me at embarrassing moments. Her public displays of affection were frequent, and I could feel the eyes of the other rocket passengers on us as she snuggled with me.

Stars streaked past our window. Amidala’s shaggy head rested on my shoulder. I thought she was asleep, so I was surprised when she spoke. “I’m so glad you’re finally finishing your quest, honey.” She squeezed my hand with her albino wolf paw, and planted a furry kiss on my earlobe.

An old lady directly across from us stared at me with disgust, and mouthed the words “alien lover.”

– – –

I knew Wells had begun the Time Machine the night of September 25th, 1894 while at his country home in Sandgate. Transporting the Time Machine to England was much easier in the year 3000 than it had been in colonial Philadelphia. Once we returned to earth, all we had to do was drag the machine to the nearest transporter station and then plug in the coordinates of Wells’s country estate. Within seconds we were transported to the exact spot which, 1106 years in the past, would be Wells’s back yard. At the moment it was simply miles of charred rubble, since Great Britain had been decimated by soccer androids after the 2588 World Cup.

The Time Machine sat in the middle of a grey wasteland. A listless wind kicked up clouds of ash. I felt a sense of loss now that the end was so close at hand. I had gone through so much to make it to this point. Would the prize be worth the price I had paid?

I put the brass key into its slot and grabbed the crystal topped lever.
I looked over at Amidala, who was braiding her stomach hair into a French twist. “Hold on,” I told her. She put her arms around my waist and I threw the lever back. The machine spun faster and faster, until everything became a blur.

– – –

We stopped with a lurch. Amidala and I stumbled out of the machine and promptly threw up. As soon as I finished saying goodbye to my Venusian flapjacks, I looked up and saw the night sky. Clouds covered the moon. We were on a manicured lawn. I could barely see the outline of a house, and landscaped shrubbery.

Then someone knocked me off my feet.

We hit the ground and wrestled for a moment, but I karate chopped him in the neck and threw him to the side.

I heard Amidala scream, “What are you doing?”

“Amidala!” I yelled, and then someone punched me in the stomach. I lashed out but missed. I was knocked to the ground from behind, and landed on an unconscious body. I realized there were people all around me, fighting with each other, and attacking me as well, brawling blindly in the dark.

I heard a gunshot from within the house. Then another. Then two more.

Amidala screamed again.

I fought my way towards her voice. I could see her white fur glowing in the night. She was surrounded by black figures who had pinned her to the ground. I beat them off her, picked her up, and ran towards the house. “It’s you! It’s you!” she said breathlessly.

“Yes, it’s me,” I dragged her behind me. “Run for the house!”

Just then another figure leapt into our path. “Stop!” he yelled. I bowled into him, but he held me fast. Amidala broke free. We were almost at the door. “Keep running!” I yelled to her.

Amidala made it to the house, but a second before her hand was on the knob, the door flew open and a shaft of bright light flooded the lawn. A man in a smoking jacket stood in the doorway, a rifle held ready at his waist. His face was contorted with fear, a frayed rope about to snap. He screamed in horror when he saw Amidala who, blinded by the bright light, flailed her arms wildly. The man in the smoking jacket pulled the trigger. The rifle went off, and Amidala fell to the ground.

I turned around to struggle out of my attacker’s grip, and found myself looking into my own face. It looked resigned, and mildly annoyed. “Aw shit,” it said. “Well, that didn’t work.”

– – –

Ten minutes later I sat in H.G. Wells’s parlor. I sat on the couch, the divan, the chairs, the floor. I lounged against the mantle, stood in the door jamb, and rummaged through the icebox. Two of me lay dead in the dining room, and one in the bedroom hallway. A hundred different versions of me from alternate timelines crowded his house.

Wells was badly shaken. His smoking jacket was covered in blood, and he had a broken nose, because I had punched him in the face. He tried not to look me in the eyes, but it was difficult, since there was scarcely an inch of the house I didn’t occupy. A hundred different Doogie’s filled the room.

One of me brought him a snifter of brandy and a bag of ice to hold against his nose.

Wells cleared his throat. “Uh, which one of you punched me?” Everyone pointed to me, except the two Doogies who were arm wrestling.

“I’m terribly sorry I shot your girlfriend,” Wells said. “I thought she was a polar bear.”

“A polar bear? In England?” I said.

“Well I don’t know!” He waved his arms around the room. “All these chaps were running around here, attacking me, and then I ran outside and saw this big hairy beast!”

I lunged at him when he said “beast,” but luckily for him I held myself back. One of me said “We’ve been trying to stop Wells, but no matter how many times we go back in time and replay this night, Amidala always gets shot.”

I had traveled back in time to this moment a hundred times, each time running into more and more timeline versions of myself, all trying to stop Amidala from getting shot. But every time something had gone wrong, and the outcome ended up the same. It appeared the past was immovable.

I looked around the room at all the other Doogies: so fat. I addressed them as one. “Do you know what happens next?”

They nodded wearily.

I turned to Wells. “Okay, I’m here to watch you write your new book. So get crackin’.”

He looked at me, honestly puzzled. “Which one?”

“You know, the one about a machine that travels through time!”

“A machine that travels through . . . time?” He lowered the bag of ice. “That’s a bloody good idea!”

I grabbed the snifter of brandy out of Wells’s hand and tossed it back. It burned going down and my eyes welled with tears. I choked out a bitter laugh. I looked at a Doogie who was fingering an astrolabe on Wells’s mantle. “I know what you’re thinking,” he said.

“It’s so ironic,” I said. “Amidala would have loved it.”

The next installment of Doogie's live comedy show, THE MINISTRY OF SECRET JOKES is on Wednesday, August 27th at Fergie's Pub (1214 Sansom St.)