Interview with Bully Pulpit creator and host Luke Giordano

bullypulpitOn Wednesday, July 8th, the PHILLY IMPROV THEATER welcomes a brand new show to it’s monthly lineup, THE BULLY PULPIT. I recently had an opportunity to chat with creator and host LUKE GIORDANO:

Thanks again for taking the time to talk with me… First of all, can you tell us a little about the idea behind your new show, the Bully Pulpit?

Well, basically, the idea comes from a few places. It’s largely inspired by Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn that ran on Comedy Central for a few years, which is a show I feel like is really mostly appreciated by stand-up comedians. It was that and also that just hanging around with comedians in a diner at 2AM is so funny — I wanted something where that kind of atmosphere of making jokes and smashing each other could be recreated onstage. And I’d been talking for a couple months about how I’d like to see a show like that, a host and four comedian panelists talking about current events or whatever they wanted. So I figured I’d have to start it myself.

As the host, do you plan to guide the format with regards to the topics covered, or will it be more conversational in nature?

It’ll be a bit of both. I’ll have a list of topics that we’ll go through, but after I introduce the topic, it’s pretty up in the air with what’s going to happen. I’ll try to bring it back in or move on to the next topic if we get too far off course, but as long as the discussion is funny and good and interesting, I feel like we can see where it takes us, even if it goes off on a huge tangent. There’ll be more structured segments, too, like we’ll put up a bad movie trailer or YouTube videos and tear them apart, that kind of stuff. The format can lend itself to anything.

Do you see this as something where the comics will know the topics ahead of time, or where they’re reacting w/ commentary off the cuff?

This is something I’ve thought about a lot, actually. I think we’re gonna sort of straddle the line a little bit. I’ll e-mail the topics to the comedians a few days before the show so they can familiarize themselves with them. If they want to go ahead and write jokes based on the topics, that’s fine. If they don’t want to even look at the e-mail, that’s cool too. They can be exactly as prepared or unprepared as they want to be. Because if we’re talking about a topic for ten minutes or so or if we’re going off on tangents, it’s going to eventually move to more in-the-moment humor. I think the show will gravitate towards that naturally, even if any given topic starts out with some written material from the panelists.

So you’ve got some great local comics for your first panel… Kent Haines, Doogie Horner, Sidney Gantt & Pat Barker. Do you see your show as becoming a new standard for primarily showcasing local comics, or are you looking to invite people from out of the area as well?

I can definitely see getting some New York guys on the show after it picks up some steam after a few months. Right now, I think I’m just gonna concentrate on booking local stand-ups that I know and know each other. At some point, I want to start trying out local sketch and improv people and getting them on the show. I also want to try to book people against each other after the show has been established. Like booking two guys I know don’t like each other and pit them against one another. But do it in a way that doesn’t get in the way of the show. Or guys that are friends that it’s fun to watch smash each other — I want Brendan Kennedy, Benny Michaels, and Mike Rainey on a show together at some point for that reason. But I know Dave Walk has gotten requests from New York guys to be on the Comic vs. Audience Show, so if any of them wants to be on this one, they’re welcome.

Your show is scheduled on the Wednesday night of Shubin Week. This has historically been a difficult night to bring in the crowds, even with the amazing programming put together in the past. What do you think it will be about your show that hopefully causes people to take notice and get in the seats?

This is another thing I’ve been thinking about. Hopefully, through word of mouth, among other things, more and more people will come each month. Just like Guilty Pleasures, now at 8:00, this is a very unique show to the city. There’s nothing out there quite like either one of these shows. Same with Why Am I Not Famous?!?. And Guilty Pleasures is a great show that had a big audience last month in the 10:00 spot. Part of that big audience was people who knew Brendan, but part of it was also because Guilty Pleasures is always a hilarious show. When I was with the Drexel Football Team, I learned how to advertise and pack people in for our improv shows very successfully, but that was at a college and kind of an insular environment. People didn’t have to walk too far to get to our shows. Now that I’m out in the real world, my tactics have to change. I’m anticipating a slow build to massive popularity. Hopefully.

Well thanks again for the taking time to chat with me today. It sounds like you have something really fun in the works. If you could leave our readers with one final thought in anticipation of your show, what would it be?

Thanks, it was a lot of fun. I just read Roger Ebert’s review of Transformers 2 and it’s one of those great Ebert reviews where he just levels it, destroys it. Don’t go see Transformers 2. Come see The Bully Pulpit instead and watch us make fun of Transformers 2.




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