Ten days left to submit to the Philadelphia Improv Festival

07/07/2011

The window is getting narrow for you to submit your group to be apart of the 7th Annual PHILADELPHIA IMPROV FESTIVAL, taking place October 3-9 at the Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre. PHIF once again is teaming up with Philadelphia Comedy Collective partner Philly Sketchfest and local comedians to put on Comedy Month, running through October.

Submitted groups will be considered for performance slots Wed – Sun of that week. All submissions are processed via the online form. I recommend you review the submission guidelines so you can make sure you’ve got everything together. If you still have questions after reviewing the guidelines, they can be directed to submissions@phif.org

THE DEADLINE TO SUBMIT IS SUNDAY, JULY 17TH

 

 

Advertisements

Last week of Comedy Month underway

11/16/2010

Posts have been lacking the last few weeks, as I’ve been otherwise occupied deep in the hilarity of the Philadelphia Comedy Collective’s COMEDY MONTH. Both the PHILADELPHIA IMPROV FESTIVAL and the PHILLY SKETCHFEST enjoyed incredible acts playing to record audiences. Recaps of those weeks will be coming soon.

Last night kicked of the final week of Comedy Month, with selections from the PHILADELPHIA JOKE INITIATIVE entitled These Guys Are Good Vol 1. We saw the comedic illusions and body manipulations of flexible comedian JONATHAN BURNS. THOMAS CHOINACKY gave audiences a taste of his obsession with an excerpt from his show Thomas is Titanic. Finally, UN Ambassador and Nobel Laureate BUDDY FELCH dropped jaws with tales of his experiences with Ghandi, the Dalai Lama and other high profile figures. The evening was hosted by the incredibly funny CHRIS COTTON.

The fun continues next with These Guys Are Good Vol 2. In the hopper for tonight are videos and sketches from I’D RATHER BE HERE PRODUCTIONS, the musical comedy stylings of TODD CHAPPELLE, and variety show comedy from 2 DUDES & A DUDE (featuring former 6th Borough sketchers COREY COHEN & JASON MESSINA).

Here’s a look at the rest of PJI Week:

TUESDAY
8PM: THESE GUYS ARE GOOD VOL 2

WEDNESDAY
8PM: NED TALKS

THURSDAY
8PM: THE N CROWD GOES LONG
10PM: COMEDY GONE BAD

FRIDAY
8PM: PREVIEW – A VERY LADIES & GENTLEMEN CHRISTMAS SPECIAL
10PM: COMEDYSPORTZ PRESENTS GAME, SET, MATCH GAME!

SATURDAY
CIF’S NATIONAL COLLEGE IMPROV TOURNAMENT
12PM, 2PM, 4PM & 6PM: EASTERN REGIONAL PRELIMINARIES
9PM: EASTERN REGIONAL FINALS

All shows are held at the Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre, 2111 Sansom St in Center City Philadelphia.

Mixing sketch, stand-up, film, music, education, parody and a healthy dose of competition, this eclectic last week is the perfect topper to what has been an incredible Comedy Month. Come join us as PJI explores the bizarre and surreal corners of today’s comedy.

Tickets and additional information


Philadelphia Improv Festival tickets and workshops on sale

10/15/2010

Tickets and workshops have gone on sale for the 6th annual PHILADELPHIA IMPROV FESTIVAL, kicking off the first week of COMEDY MONTH. This year, the festival will operate on two stages… the Mainstage and bulk of the shows will take place at the Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre, 2111 Sansom St. Friday will also include a set of special shows taking place at the Philadelphia Ethical Society, 1906 Rittenhouse Square.

More info on tickets and workshops are below…

Tickets

Tickets are available in a variety of options to suit your needs. You can purchase a ticket for a single block of shows ($10), as well as passes for a whole night ($25), for the run of PHIF ($60), or even for all of Comedy Month ($100)! Tickets are available at: http://phif.org/tickets.html

Performers get access to all Mainstage shows for free, on a standby basis. For any performers wanting to guarantee seating for any particular show, PHIF is offering block tickets at a 50% discount (discount is not valid for passes).

PHIF also has two sets of shows at the Ethical Society on Friday 11/5… First up, Lekker from Baltimore opens for iO West’s EXTRA-STRENGTH. Then later, comedy duo Dangerous Fools, featuring Philadelphia’s Mary Carpenter and LA’s Thomas Fowler open for the festival’s main act… David Razowsky & Joe Bill. These two old friends and comedy veterans join up for the first time ever on a festival stage! Tickets for these shows are also $10 (passes are not valid – a separate ticket is required), and performers can use their 50% discount for these shows as well.

Also, on Tuesday – Thursday, PHIF is extending the price of a single block ticket to include the whole night. So you can come out and enjoy lots of great comedy for one low price!

 

Workshops

Workshops are now available for registration at: http://phif.org/workshops.html

This year PHIF is offering eight different workshops from some of the best instructors in the country, including a longer Master Class co-taught by David Razowsky & Joe Bill.

PHIF is also offering a free workshop seminar about getting media attention, hosted by PHIF & NCCAF publicist Carrie Gorn. She’ll have tons of valuable information and there will be a Q&A to help you get the most out of your press efforts. There’s no registration for the seminar… just show up. But keep in mind to arrive early, as space may be limited.

FRIDAY WORKSHOPS


Your Power Improv Toolkit

w/ Joe Bill
Friday 11/5 2pm – 5pm
$35 Performers / $50 Non-Performers

It’s Funny Because It’s True
w/ Mary Carpenter & Thomas Fowler
Friday 11/5 2pm – 5pm
$35 Performers / $50 Non-Performers

SATURDAY WORKSHOPS

Falling In Love On Stage
w/ Will Luera
Saturday 11/6 10am – 1pm
$35 Performers / $50 Non-Performers

Getting Media Attention Without Committing Murder

w/ Carrie Gorn – PHIF, PCC & NCCAF Publicist
Saturday 11/6 10am – 1pm
A Special Free Workshop Seminar

Revelations!
w/ David Razowsky
Saturday 11/6 2pm – 5pm
$35 Performers / $50 Non-Performers

Uber-Agreement
w/ Jen Caldwell
Saturday 11/6 2pm – 5pm
$35 Performers / $50 Non-Performers

SUNDAY WORKSHOPS

Playing Around – A Master Class
w/ David Razowsky & Joe Bill
Sunday 11/7 10:30am – 2:30pm
$45 Performers / $65 Non-Performers

How To Have Fun & Play Pretend Without Wanting To Shoot Yourself In the Face
w/ Matt Holmes
Sunday 11/7 3pm – 6pm
$35 Performers / $50 Non-Performers


Schedule announced for 2010 Philadelphia Improv Festival

10/05/2010

Now in its sixth year, the PHILADELPHIA IMPROV FESTIVAL is expanding in some big ways this November. In addition to partnering with the Philly Sketchfest and the Philadelphia Joke Initiative to create Comedy Month, the improv festival itself is branching out to include a full week of programming and is set to present shows on multiple stages. The mainstage for this year will be the Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre (2111 Sansom St), with secondary shows held at the Philadelphia Ethical Society (1906 Rittenhouse Square).

Highlights throughout PHIF include acts from cities all across the country, including Extra-Strength and BillyHawk from iO West in Los Angeles, Atlanta’s Einstein Meets Elvis, Detroit’s Simply Coney and ImprovBoston’s Mainstage show, as well as a large and exciting collection of groups from around the Mid-Atlantic region and beyond.

PHIF will also boast an assortment of local acts including critically acclaimed groups like Ladies & Gentlemen, M@& and Fletcher, an indeed rare full-cast appearance of Rare Bird Show, six-time Cagematch Champions The Ones Your Moms Warned You About and 2010 Troika Champs, Pasiónes de Pasiónes.

An exciting theme emerging in 2010 is also a myriad of multi-city shows that put groups of improvisers together that normally can’t be seen anywhere else. Musical group Vox Pop features players from DC and New York. Former Philadelphian Tom Fowler returns from LA to perform with local fave Mary Carpenter, reprising their highly praised duo, Dangerous Fools. Players from Philadelphia, Chicago, LA, Boston, DC and Atlanta will be jumping in the raft for Adrift. Finally, two improv legends, David Razowsky from LA and Joe Bill from Chicago, will join one another onstage for the first ever festival performance of Razowsky & Bill.

Here’s a full rundown of the schedule:

MONDAY 11/1

Comedy Month Opening Night Reception

TUESDAY 11/2

7:30PM – MAINSTAGE
Pasiónes de Pasiónes
The N Crowd

9:00PM – MAINSTAGE
The Ones Your Moms Warned You About
BWP
Ladies & Gentlemen


WEDNESDAY 11/3

7:30PM – MAINSTAGE
The Cascade
The Dogs Bollocks
M@&

9:00PM – MAINSTAGE
Cubed
The Moving Walkways
ComedySportz Philly: Improvised Shakespeare


THURSDAY 11/4

7:30PM – MAINSTAGE
Herschel
Fletcher
Strippers Picnic

9:00PM – MAINSTAGE
Marbles
Marjean
Rare Bird Show


FRIDAY 11/5

7:00PM – MAINSTAGE
DCUP
Plan B
Einstein Meets Elvis

7:30PM – ETHICAL SOCIETY
Lekker
Extra-Strength

8:30PM – MAINSTAGE
Leo Callahan
Identity Theft
Vox Pop

9:00PM – ETHICAL SOCIETY
Dangerous Fools
Razowsky & Bill

10:00PM – MAINSTAGE
The Imposters
Simply Coney
Red Dragon
Hello Laser


SATURDAY 11/6

7:00PM – MAINSTAGE
Bombardo
Adrift
Gus

8:30PM – MAINSTAGE
Trike
Jaye Stays
BillyHawk

10:00PM – MAINSTAGE
Real Housewives of Philadelphia
Surf ‘n Turf
ImprovBoston Mainstage
All Star Show


SUNDAY 11/7

College Night

Tickets go on sale next week, and range from $10 for a single show, up to $100 for a full Comedy Month Pass. Visit the PHIF website for more details.


Sometimes things are funnier in twos

09/10/2010

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.”

Agreed.


PHIF now accepting submissions

07/08/2010

Submissions are now open for the sixth annual PHILADELPHIA IMPROV FESTIVAL.

This year, the festival has expanded to seven days and two venues, kicking off the first week of the Philadelphia Comedy Collective’s Comedy Month.

PHIF has commissioned several big acts this year and tapped instructors the likes of JOE BILL, DAVID RAZOWSKY and WILL LUERA.

More details and the online submission form can be found here.


Announcing Philadelphia Comedy Collective and Comedy Month

06/10/2010

Philadelphia Improv Festival, Philly Sketchfest, and The Philadelphia Joke Initiative Join Forces To Form Philadelphia Comedy Collective

New Collaborative Set to Present Month of Comedy in November

Three of the top forces in the local comedy scene are teaming up this year, becoming The Philadelphia Comedy Collective, and presenting Comedy Month. Forming the new collaborative are the Philadelphia Improv Festival, Philly Sketchfest, and The Philadelphia Joke Initiative. Their first endeavor, Comedy Month, will run from November 1-21 at the Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre, 2111 Sansom Street. The producers will announce the performance schedule later this summer.

The first week of the festival will be the now week-long Philadelphia Improv Festival featuring local longform and shortform improv acts and troupes from all over the country. Now in its sixth year, the Philadelphia Improv Festival has hosted top-notch local acts along with teams from the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater (NYC), iO West (LA), DSI Comedy Theater (NC), Second City (Chicago), the Magnet Theater (NYC), Washington Improv Theater (DC), and the People’s Improv Theater (NYC). The Philadelphia Improv Festival is produced by Matt Nelson, Alli Soowal, and Jason Stockdale.

Following the improv festival, Philly Sketchfest will present its third annual event, a full week dedicated to sketch comedy. Philly Sketchfest is the brainchild of sketch troupe Animosity Pierre’s manager Ben Maher and Pierre members Matt Lally and Dave Terruso; Jessica Ciaramella and Cathleen Collins are associate producers. As active members of the Philadelphia sketch scene, these comedians have experienced the growth of comedy in the city firsthand. In 2009, the festival grew to include over a dozen local and national sketch groups.

The Philadelphia Joke Initiative (PJI) will handle the final week of performances. The comedy advocacy organization recently completed a successful run of its improvised musical, “Rodgers and Hammerstein are Dead.” The group was founded in 2009 and is dedicated to supporting comedy and comedians in the greater Philadelphia area. PJI recognizes comedy has inherent cultural value, and will foster Philadelphia’s cultural community by regularly producing comedy events, nurturing local talent, encouraging that talent to remain in Philadelphia, and raising the profile of Philadelphia-based comedy on the national market. PJI is run by Alexis Simpson and Kate Sabato.

About The Philadelphia Comedy Collective

The Philadelphia Comedy Collective is a consortium of local producers, performers, and companies unified for the purpose of comedy advocacy, cultural vitality, and excellence in improvisation, sketch, stand up, theater, film, music, and other comedy media.


Philadelphia Improv Festival, Philly Sketchfest, and The Philadelphia Joke Initiative Join Forces To Form Philadelphia Comedy Collective

New Collaborative Set to Present Month of Comedy in NovemberPhiladelphia Improv Festival, Philly Sketchfest, and The Philadelphia Joke Initiative Join Forces To Form Philadelphia Comedy Collective

New Collaborative Set to Present Month of Comedy in November