Click This: Roe, Schier and Radzinski chat it up on CBS Philly


Here’s a clip from featuring AMIE ROE, KRISTEN SCHIER and MARY RADZINSKI talking about being female in comedy, many of their inspirations coming up, and what their ideal audience might look like.

[view clip]

A new Cagematch champ arises


Last week, newcomer JESSICA TANDY (Jessica Ross & Andy Moskowitz) took down longtime reigning champs, THE ONES YOUR MOMS WARNED YOU ABOUT at PHIT’s CAGEMATCH.

After seeing The Ones toppled after holding on to the title for the better part of the past year, I thought I’d get a bit of insight into how everyone feels about the upset…

J: “I’d say we are definitely proud of our run at the top. The loss stings a bit, especially because we had one of our best performances, but we sure went out fighting.

JESSICA: “It was an awesome night. The Ones really set the bar high and as always put on a great show, they’re one of the best teams in Philly.”

ANDY: “We’re thrilled to be the group to finally take down The Ones, and we’d be lucky to keep our streak going even half as long as they did. We we fresh and new… and with each successive show we will be less fresh and less new, so we know it’s an uphill climb.”

B-LIBS: “As for our run, I personally felt like Julius Caesar: conquering all and then holding massive orgies. So I guess that makes Jessica Tandy Brutus. ‘Et tu, Tandy.'”

JESSICA: “We were just happy to share the stage with an amazing team and debut our work. Andy and I had so much fun performing together and were really proud of our work. Winning was just the icing on the cake.”

ANDY: “I think the most important thing is for us to keep having fun and delighting and surprising each other on stage.”

Finally, THE RICHNE$$ had a final message for their groupies: “Dear Ladies, It was a fun run, but we can’t be tied down right now, girl.  We’ll see you around and all.  Remember, girl, hate the game not the playa!  Most Sinceriously – The Richne$$”

So there you go, some broken hearts, some high hopes and lots of praise and mutual respect for what were a couple of great shows. For fans of The Ones, despair not, as they’re slated to play PHIF in a couple of weeks.

As for Jessica Tandy, the duo needs to be on their game tonight if they’re going to hold on to their newly won title. They take on another newcomer, RINTERSPLINT (Joe Gates, Matt Akana & Marc Reber), at CAGEMATCH 9:30pm tonight at the Shubin.


Sometimes things are funnier in twos


Some improv groups are born out of classes or pieced together through auditions. Others are spin-offs from existing groups. Even still, some are quickly cobbled together in the spirit of experimentation. Rarely, however, is there an established group whose cast is not known at curtain time.

MATT HOLMES (of Rare Bird Show fame) is half of the improvised duo m@&. The other half of the ensemble is still somewhat of a mystery. M@& (pronounced Matt, and…) features Holmes and a random audience member attending that particular performance. At the top of the show, he asks the audience if there’s anyone who’s never seen improv before. Someone pipes up or raises a hand and just like that, they’ve found themselves the unwitting star of the show.

Here and there he may encounter a small audience that’s entirely improvisers, and even in those few cases, he’s managed to find someone who might have taken a class, but has yet to take to the stage in a show. “There’s at least a few people who’ve been brought by a friend or family member” says Holmes, “and they don’t quite know what’s happening.” Many would agree with him, that this comedy amongst strangers makes things little more dangerous and exciting.

The name came about before the concept, as Holmes was looking to work with improvisers he’d met both here in Philadelphia and along his travels. Then, as it sometimes happens prior to creating new and interesting works for the stage, somewhere in the back of his head, he got the idea for an experiment.

While attending Cabrini College, Matt spent the earlier days of his comedy career running and performing with On the Spot, a weekly short-form show. He’d always loved the interaction with audience members that short-form thrives on. So when the opportunity presented itself, he jumped in head-first.

“Matt is the only person I know with the balls and ability to do it alone.” Michael Harris is the Artistic Director of Baltimore Improv Group (BIG) and producer of the Baltimore Improv Festival, which recently featured m@&. “For Matt to be the lone improviser and balance the dual responsibilities of carrying the show and supporting a novice takes a skill and generosity that precious few improvisers possess.”

"Matt is the only person I know with the balls and ability to do it alone"

It would seem that festival producers are apt to agree with Harris. M@& has been featured at festivals and comedy shows in places like Atlanta, Baltimore, Minneapolis and State College, to name a few. And he doesn’t show any signs of slowing. After his current run of six shows in the Philly Fringe Festival, he’ll be featured here in his home city at both Duofest next month and the Philadelphia Improv Festival in November. Kristen Schier, a producer for Duofest, thinks it’s pretty easy for folks to enjoy the show. “M@& is effortless joy. Holmes’ simple approach is they key to his brilliance.”

Indeed, simplicity would seem to be a driving force behind the whole project for Holmes. “I have this big, open loose thing where I can do whatever I want on stage.” He adds, “and what I want to do is have fun, make it easy for me and for my partner, and have it be funny for everyone watching. If my m.o. were more complicated, I couldn’t do this show.”

With never knowing who he might pull up, each night is gamble… where the only thing that’s certain is that the volunteer will be as much a part of the show as he is. “We’re a team up there. I’m not trying to make fun of them of just use them. We’re playing together.” Even with the more reluctant audience members, Holmes makes an effort to keep them in the show. During one performance, he had a girl who wasn’t quite playing along and was unsure of what to do. He could tell she wanted to leave the stage, and then she finally did. “(So) I do a scene where she’s back in her seat in the audience, but I’m serenading her.” It’s these different sort of moments that create fun challenges and take shows into interesting places. “I want the audience volunteer to think it was something fun that they liked doing.”

Sometimes the volunteer finds huge success on stage in the process. In Minneapolis at Brave New Workshop, the man pulled up had never seen an improv show before. In a scene where Holmes was a gunfighter, he’d accused the man of using his mother as a human shield. The man came back with a line about how he really didn’t technically kill her. Suddenly they found themselves in a chain reaction where the volunteer was indirectly responsible for all these deaths. “He found this really funny game for us to play… that was all him.”

That sort of playfulness seems nearly instinctual. “Once in a while a non-performer will come up with a killer line or know just how to play along.” Holmes has had people not believe that he doesn’t plan at least some of what happens. If the audience member is good, he’s heard people murmur about whether they were a plant. He also likes to use the suggestion in a very obvious way so that the audience can see it couldn’t be planned unless he was paying someone to sit there and yell it at him. “I’ll usually try to start something at first, at least to get us going… but I’ve started scenes later on where I’m just sitting there, letting my partner push us in a direction… I’m not plucking out improv geniuses or diamonds in the rough… It’s not a conspiracy, we’re just playing pretend.”

"Probably the strongest game improviser I know"

It’s said that one of most equally frustrating and complimentary things an improviser can hear after a show is that the audience doesn’t believe it’s made up. Recounting the recent m@& show in Baltimore, Harris attributes choice and openness as factors in making it seem so effortless. “Matt’s character choices not only drew the audience in, but led his scene partner out of his shell and into active participation… it was one of the highlights of the Baltimore Improv Festival.”

Nathan Edmondson and Alexis Simpson have been improvising with Holmes for the better part of a decade in their highly acclaimed group, Rare Bird Show. They’ve witnessed firsthand how easy he makes it to work with them. “Matt has (an) insane natural talent as an improviser and is a true student of comedy,” says Edmondson. Simpson agrees, “he’s like a wind up toy… just give him a word and let him go. He is probably the strongest game improviser I know.” They both feel comfortable and confident sharing scenes with him. Edmondson adds, “when you’re on stage with him, you can rest assured that the funny will happen.”

With any luck, we can rest assured that the funny will continue to happen. Holmes sees himself continuing this for some time. “It’s nice to have something that really challenges and excites me… I haven’t had any terrible, awful, shameful shows with this project.” He’s got a run of shows coming up here in Philly, and something tells me we’re likely to see him on the road again as well. “The show is just really easy to do while I’m visiting someplace, ’cause it’s just me… the audience is already there.”

Who knows who his next scene partner might be. “If an audience member can bring their 80-year-old grandmother or their 16-year-old cousin or their blind date and maybe see them up on stage in a comedy show, I think that’s an interesting night out.”


Comedian Profile: Andy Moskowitz


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: Fletcher, ComedySportz, Pasiónes de Pasiónes

Hangs his hat in: Fairmount

Stomping Grounds: Ardmore, PA

Pays the Bills as: Medical Copywriter

Other Hobbies: Film and film criticism, running, card tricks

Why Improv?

When I was a kid, I hated waiting for stuff. Crowded restaurants, amusement park lines — even the mail — were all torture for my impatient 8-year-old psyche. Hannukah was especially difficult, because the best presents were reserved for the final night. I had to endure seven nights of wax lips & gelt before I got the big one. And every year, my mom would tell me I had to learn to “delay gratification.”
Twenty years later, I’m still a kid and I still hate waiting. Improv is the instant gratification artform. You’re on stage, you get an idea, you spit it out, and the rewards are instantaneous. Improv is the last night of Hannukah. Or a VIP pass to Disney Land. Or the table reserved for the mafia at Buca di Beppo, even on a busy Friday night. See where I’m going with this?

See Andy in these upcoming Fringe Festival shows

9/3, 9/7 & 9/15 @ 8:30PM | 9/10 @ 11:30PM | 9/12 @ 5PM

Pasiónes de Pasiónes
9/5 @ 8:30PM | 9/10 & 9/18 @ 7PM

If you know someone who you think should be profiled, we’d love to hear about them.

Comedian Profile: Kristen Schier


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 her in: the N Crowd, Fletcher, Real Housewives of Philadelphia, Ladies & Gentlemen or the Amie and Kristen Show

Hangs her hat in: West Philly

Stomping Grounds: Lived in Chardon, OH up to 4th grade (about 9 years or so). I went to Unionville High School, however, I have lived in Philly longer that I have lived anywhere else in my life

Pays the Bills as: Teacher/Actor – Yea that’s right, I am trying to make a living at this stuff

Other Hobbies: I love to play the ukelele (though I am not very good at it yet), karaoke (which you don’t have to be good at), dancing (I am VERY good at) and clowning (weeeee). I also love to go out to eat and I love to go shopping even though I don’t have any money. I like when there are a lot of people around. I am a social creature.

Why Improv?

Oohh geez, you had to ask that, didn’t you. I love to do improv because it is a big beautiful empty space to create theater and play with people. It is a place where I can take huge risks that have no real life consequences. I love improv because in ways to complicated to talk about now, I believe it makes you a better person. I love performing for people and making people laugh. I love collaborating with other people. It is probably the closest I will ever get to being a rockstar – unless I get a lot better at the uke.

See Kristen in these upcoming Fringe Festival shows

9/3, 9/7 & 9/15 @ 8:30PM | 9/10 @ 11:30PM | 9/12 @ 5PM

9/2 & 9/11 @ 8:30PM | 9/5 @ 5PM | 9/7 @ 7PM | 9/10 @ 10PM

Real Housewives of Philadelphia
9/3 & 9/16 @ 10PM | 9/6 @ 8PM

N Crowd
9/10 @ 8PM | 9/17 @ 8 & 10PM

If you know someone who you think should be profiled, we’d love to hear about them.

Comedian Profile: Nick Gillette



Might have seen him in: Everything Must Go (recently retired house team), Velvet Helmet, and Nathan Edmondson’s New As-of-yet-unnamed Team (forthcoming)

Hangs his hat in: South Philly (soon, Souther Philly)

Stomping Grounds: Downingtown, PA, which, as kids, we would refer to as “Down In G Town”

Pays the Bills: Tour Guide at Eastern State Penitentiary

Other Hobbies: Dungeons and Dragons (just started a new campaign as the Dungeon Master), Burlesque (I perform regularly with Revival Burlesque and Cabaret Red Light), Secret Mime (mime is so universally and undeservedly loathed, I feel like I have to practice in secret.)

Why Improv?

I got into improv in college because there is nothing as invigorating as the risk of standing in front of a crowd with your teammates and being rewarded by bringing the house down.  It rewards presence.  I spend an unfortunately large portion of my life dealing with people automatically, and I’m glad to participate in any activity that demands living on the cusp of the moment.

If you know someone who you think should be profiled, we’d love to hear about them.

Comedian Profile: Mary Carpenter


Editors Note: In celebration of The 2010 ComedySportz World Championship, this week we’ll be profiling comedians from the local ComedySportz roster…


Might have seen her in: ComedySportz Philly (going on 18 years), Dangerous Fools, 24 Hour Improv Marathon

Hangs her hat in: Mt Airy, PA

Stomping Grounds: Villanova, PA

Pays the Bills: Theatre Jack of all trades

Projects: Writing, producing & performing original one-woman show “the New & Improved Stages of Grief” for 2010 Philadelphia Fringe Festival

Other Hobbies: Writing, knitting, crosswords, pretending to be a mother

Why Improv?

Never boring, You’re never done, and it still curls my toes

If you know someone who you think should be profiled, we’d love to hear about them.