Editors Note: In this segment, we step away from the stage and take a look at comedians in the Philadelphia area… Learn a little more about where they come from, what they do while not performing and of course the question we all ask ourselves… Why do we do it?
Might have seen him in: Rare Bird Show
Hangs his hat in: Fishtown
Stomping Grounds: Franklin, PA
Pays the Bills as: Actor, Filmmaker, Theatrical Director of “Terror Behind the Walls” at Eastern State Penitentiary, Teacher, Care Giver, Standardized Patient, sometimes Bouncer, and Doer of What Needs Doing
Projects: I’ve just started directing a new PHIT house team! Great group of extremely talented individuals. Can’t wait to see what they’re able to create together. I think they might take over the world. I’m scared.
Reel 9 Productions is my film production group that we launched in the last few months. Currently, we’re working on a documentary focusing on some individuals in South Philly called, “Born and Raised.” Our first film, “Number 9,” was just accepted into the New Filmmakers Film Festival in NYC, and will be playing July 28th somewhere up there. End of this month, we’re playing at the New Hope Film Festival. We also received an Accolade Award for that piece which surprised the heck out of us! We shot “Number 9” at Eastern State Penitentiary in two days. My film partner, Erin, ran the camera while holding the boom mic and carrying all the extension chords because our rental equipments’ batteries weren’t charged. She followed me around doing stupid stuff until we had enough footage to make a coherent, dramatic film. We’re looking forward to some fun, new projects coming soon. If you can laugh, we might need your help…
Other Hobbies: I love watching movies. If I had to pick one hobby, I think it would be just to watch movies. Fly-fishing is a past-time I’d like to reincorporate more regularly. Traveling is a lot of fun. In January I was out volunteering at the Sundance Film Festival, staying in Salt Lake City and soaking in the mountains and lakes of varying size. I was just touring around Ohio visiting Haunted Houses for work. Ohio is flat. Yoga is good in so many ways, especially to balance out Muay Thai kicks.
I grew up watching Stand Up, Stand Up and thinking it’d be great to be a stand up comedian. Then there was Whose Line Is It Anyway (British version). In college, I studied theater and auditioned for every improv troupe around, got into them, but was too busy (scared) to be able to join up. Once I moved to Philly after graduation, I took up improv to stay creative between acting in theater productions. I was lucky enough to fall in with Matt Holmes and Alexis Simpson, and Rare Bird Show became my creative outlet for 4 years. I could get my performance fix without having to commit to the rehearsal schedule of doing theater so it fed the bug enough while I worked a soul(and time)-sucking desk job. It’s funny, when I told my close friends here in Philly I was joining an improv troupe, my buddy turned to me and said in all honesty, “Don’t you have to be funny to do that sorta thing?”
Improv has allowed that freaking crazy, spontaneous kid who used to jump around his grandmother’s house with abandon to show up again in my life. Now I’m addicted to the rush of being on stage: that fear and adrenaline that pumps through your system and the pressure that it’s up to you and your team to make it entertaining. So much of life can be (and often has to be) tamed, planned and overly analyzed. When you’re on stage, you just have to be in the moment and react. Commit. React. Do it NOW. It’s refreshing. And it’s such an intellectual endeavor when you look at it objectively. I like that side of it too. I think mostly I just like being a ham and being stupid in front of people. We’re all such idiots in life. On stage you’re given the chance to live that openly and share it with a group of people and people ENJOY it! It’s a great thing to be a part of.
I’ll conclude with the memory of my very first improv performance. I was nine years old and my neighbor and best friend decided that we should do a clown show for the block of kids and their parents. I was filled with dread as we found ridiculous, over sized costumes and applied colorful face paint. My friend told me how she’d introduce the show, we’d dance around, she’d do this funny thing and then I’d do something and then we’d dance some more. Our rehearsal was about as long as it took to write that sentence. We were off finding patrons and soon a dozen kids and mothers were sitting on the side walk in front of my porch. FEAR gripped my stomach. We danced around, my friend said some stuff that wasn’t so funny then she pushed me out in front of everyone and I froze. “……hi……um…..” and I don’t remember the rest. Next thing, my friend is walking around in her swim suit for some reason screaming nonsense at the top of her lungs and people left. Lady across the street suggested we rehearse a bit more before charging 10 cents a pop. Ta Da!
If you know someone who you think should be profiled, we’d love to hear about them.