Comedian Profile: Mark Bringhurst

06/14/2010

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?

MARK BRINGHURST


Might have seen him in: CUBED, Ladies & Gentlemen, Delaware Comedy Theatre

Hangs his hat in: Berlin, NJ

Stomping Grounds: Berlin, NJ

Pays the Bills: Teaching 5th grade

Other Hobbies: writing, hiking, reading

Why Improv?

I have been acting since elementary school but did not discover improv until I was well into adulthood.  I was visiting Disney World’s Pleasure Island (which is now sadly only a memory) and attended my first improv show at the Comedy Warehouse.  I started out the evening thinking “This is awesome!” which later progressed to “I could do this!” which finally ended up with “I HAVE to do this!”  When I came back to New Jersey I did some internet searching and signed up for classes with ComedySportz.  After going through every level class that ComedySportz offered, I was beyond hooked and knew I had to continue.  At the time, the “closest” group that was holding auditions was Delaware Comedy Theatre in Lewes, Delaware.  The fact that I was willing to make a six-hour round trip drive to Lewes at least once a week for several years tells you that I had either found my calling or I was out of my mind…or a little of both.

Improvisational comedy is such a rewarding performance outlet.  I enjoy playing many different types of characters and experimenting with different types of physical comedy.  Anything is possible in any given show.  I am never limited by the words and stage directions someone else has written for me.  It is also rewarding to know that when you elicit any kind of reaction from an audience member…laughter…a happy sigh…a gasp…it is a result of something that you developed on stage in that moment–something that only you and your scene partner(s) brought to life.  The improv scene in Philadelphia has also allowed me to be a part of many different types of improv, from musical to premise-based, from shortform to longform, so it is always exciting, changing, growing, and completely fulfilling!

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


Opening Tonight: Rogers and Hammerstein Are Dead

05/13/2010

Tonight marks the long-awaited opening night of Ladies & Gentlemen: Rogers & Hammerstein Are Dead, presented by the Philadelphia Joke Initiative.

Ladies & Gentlemen aims to create full-length completely improvised musicals, with each new run of shows paying homage to noted composers and songwriters of musical theatre. Future runs may well be inspired by the songs and lyrics of Irving Berlin, Stephen Sondheim, Andrew Lloyd Webber or Gilbert & Sullivan.

First up however, are the darlings of the golden age, Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein – known for such Broadway classics as Oklahoma!, South Pacific, The King & I, Carousel and The Sound of Music.

Over the last few months, the cast (under the direction of Jason Stockdale) has been completely immersed in the world of the famed songwriting duo, studying everything from song structure to character archetypes to dance styles – making sure that what they belt out is not only on key, but also on point. Every night will be a different musical, yet the goal is to have each one ring true to the musical tropes that R&H became so famed for throughout the 40s and 50s.

Ladies & Gentlemen features: Kennedy Allen, Mark Bringhurst, Olivia Brubaker, Olwyn Conway, Rob Cutler, Apple Milkshake, Joe Sabatino, Kristen Schier, Kelly Vrooman & Alan Williams.

The show opens tonight (May 13th) with a grand reception, and continues through May 29th.

LADIES & GENTLEMEN: ROGERS & HAMMERSTEIN ARE DEAD
PRESENTED BY THE PHILADELPHIA JOKE INITIATIVE
OPENS MAY 13 (w/ OPENING NIGHT RECEPTION)
THU-SAT @ 8PM, SUN @ 7PM –  THROUGH MAY 29TH
THE LATVIAN SOCIETY | 531 N 7TH ST | TICKETS: $12-$20


Tonight: Friday comedy with PHIT

05/08/2009

Tonight PHIT starts their Shubin weekend with a special night of births and birthdays.

Starting at 8PM, head down to check out DAN STABB & MARK BRINGHURST as they celebrate CUBED turning 1. Then MEG & ROB will premier their new sketch show, WE STOLE THIS BABY.

At 10PM, stick around to catch a show by THE MOOPS, PHIT’s powerhouse team of some of the areas top talent.

PHILLY IMPROV THEATER @ THE SHUBIN
407 BAINBRIDGE ST | FRIDAY, MAY 8TH
8PM – CUBED ANNIVERSARY SHOW + MEG & ROB: WE STOLE THIS BABY
10PM – THE MOOPS
TICKETS: $10 | BYOB


From the Sidelines: Five Questions with Mark Bringhurst

01/15/2009

What is your approach to improv?

To please the audience…to give them more of what they are responding to and less of what lacks response

Is there anything in particular that you find informs or inspires your scenework?

I love character work and just letting myself “become” that character physically and mentally…not thinking of what lines to say but letting the lines come out naturally in that character’s voice

Are there any pre-show warmups or rituals that you do?

Group mind games

What is something that’s proven to be a significant challenge in improving your work?

Playing it too safe–replaying characters that I have found I do well and not branching out enough to experiment with characters further from my comfort zone

What advice would you give to those who are new to improv?

See at many shows with different improv groups as possible;  take workshops and classes whenever possible;  follow your dreams


Must See: Shubin Saturday

07/09/2008

Today I’ll be kicking off a new department, Must See. These posts will feature shows that I personally recommend that you do not miss. While I will always recommend you seeing the awesomeness of my own shows, these are rather the shows that you’ll be likely to find me in the audience next to you pining for the comedy magic that’s about to happen. So without further ado, my first recommendation…

THIS SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE SHUBIN

Once a month PHIT puts together a week of shows at the Shubin Theatre. Most are consistently pretty good, but sometimes the stars align and a lineup comes into existence that will knock the socks off your feet and then proceed to knit you new socks spun with laughter, attitude and tangible awesomeness. This Saturday is one of those nights.

First up is the 8PM show. I can’t even adequately express how damn excited I am for this pairing.

– First off is CUBED, consisting of local improvisers Dan Stabb (DCT North, Troika, my old former PHIT classmate) and Mark Bringhurst (Makeout Clinic, DCT, PHIT Instructor). The duo debuted only a few short months ago, but are already garnering amazing praise. They tackle premise based situation improv (think Bassprov, Code Duello, BWP) as a pair of cubicle dwellers sharing a 4×5 walled partition. The audience provides the name of their company and corporate memos that the two use for inspiration. I guarantee cube farming has seldom been so much fun.

– Next up is DR FANTASTIC, visiting from WIT in DC. Dr Fantastic is, well, aptly named and nothing short of exactly that. The group features Michael Bass, Topher Bellavia, David Johnson, Tyler Korba, Zhubin Parang, Rory Scovel and Molly Woods. These folks are fast, they’re crazy and they’re damn funny. Consistently. I’ve seen them three times and been blown away each time. They aren’t afraid of anything and thrive on breaking convention… but every step of the way they do it together… a seamless group mind that sets the bar about 50 f**king feet in the sky. I’m not going to say any more about what they do so as I think you’ll be the better for not having a clue, but let me just say that they could be in the headlining block of my festival in heartbeat based on what I’ve seen before.

When those two sets are done you’ve got exactly enough time to scoop your gray matter off the Shubin walls, change your shorts and buy a ticket for the 10PM show (or if you’re smart, get an advanced ticket).

The late block kicks off with a set from BARK WHARF. I can’t actually speak for this three-person ensemble as I’ve never seen them perform as a group, but I can most certainly speak for these three people: Matt Klinman, Ali King and Jesse Paulsen. I’ve been around these fine folks in many a workshop and they’re a joy. They are also all alums of Haverford, which if you haven’t put 2 and 2 together yet, churns out batshit crazy good improvisers like it’s their job (Alexis Simpson, Scott Sheppard, the list goes on and on…).

Rounding out the evening is MEG & ROB. This much lauded sketch duo (Meg Favreau and Rob Baniewicz) has been on a quest of world domination, having recently played at Chicago Snubfest and will be touching down at the Shubin right before heading back out to play the Minnesota Fringe Festival. As much as we can see them pretty consistently at Die Actor Die, Bedtime Stories and a rare Troika appearance, their shows always seem to feel fleeting for some reason. It’s a rare treat for me to feel like that watching sketch, so I plan to take advantage of this and take in some fun times from the creators of Reviving the Lecture Circuit, Love Over the Phone and Dan Henkle, Relationship Expert.

PHIT @ THE SHUBIN
Saturday, July 11th
8 & 10PM
407 Bainbridge St
Tickets – $10