Two full length Stage Fright shows now online


Yesterday was the closing night of STAGE FRIGHT: AN IMPROVISED HOMAGE TO HITCHCOCK. For those of you who missed the run, or for anyone who might want to catch a little more, there are now two full shows available on Vimeo. Featured below are the shows from the last two Saturdays. A special thanks to KEVIN REGAN for filming.

Show from Saturday, April 23rd
Suggested Location: Library + Suggested Psychological Fear: Spiders

Show from Saturday, April 30th
Suggested Location: Blimp + Suggested Psychological Obsession: Counting

Philadelphia Improv Festival tickets and workshops on sale


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 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:

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 are now available for registration at:

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.


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


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

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

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


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

Insomniac Alert: Get Dazed and Amused this weekend


Ever get an itch for live comedy at 4AM? Then your insomnia-fueled dreams are about to come true my friend, as improvisers from both Philadelphia and Los Angeles take to the Adrienne’s Second Stage tomorrow for DAZED & AMUSED: THE 24 HOUR IMPROV MARATHON.

Produced by the PHILADELPHIA JOKE INITIATIVE and directed by MARY CARPENTER, the second year of this ambitious show runs from Friday at 10PM until Saturday at 10PM, featuring a full 24 consecutive hours of non-stop improv. Joining Carpenter on stage are Los Angelenos ALEXIS SIMPSON & THOMAS FOWLER (both former Philadelphians), in addition to local comedians MARIO FRABONINATHAN HOLT, KAREN GETZ, ALLI SOOWAL, JIM CARPENTER and DAVE DRITSAS.

The cast plans to keep a bit of variety in their games, performing both long and shortform formats. While they will remain on stage for the full marathon, cast members are allowed two 30 minute naps… however they must do so in full view of the audience, in one of two cots that will sit onstage. The only time anyone will be able to leave the stage is to use facilities, because according to cast member Simpson “hey, who wants to see that?”

In a world where the actors create everything, sleep-deprived hallucinations should pose no threat. “Not only did we survive,” recalls Carpenter of last year’s endeavor, “we put on a fantastic show.”

She adds, “Improv always makes people ask ‘How’d they do that?’ Doing it for 24 straight hours, well that’s ‘How’d they do that’ to the nth degree. For those final minutes, the entire audience was on its feet.”

All proceeds after production expenses benefit EDUCATIONWORKS, a non-profit organization that provides unique educational opportunities and academic enrichment for students in the Philadelphia area.

PJI has a variety of ticket options available… so if you want to just catch the opening or closing, want to come see middle of the night insanity or are brave enough to forge through the whole shebang, there’s an option to fit your both your wallet and your sleeping habits (or lack thereof).


FRI 8/27 @ 10PM – SAT 8/28 @ 10PM
TICKETS: $7 – $24

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.

From The Archives: Female & Funny


Now that this blog is streamed on to the front page of PhillyImprov, the articles section of the site has basically become an archive. So over the next few days I’m going to be posting some of the archived interviews. Some are still relevant, while others provide an interesting look back at our history.


Female & Funny
Contributed by: Matt Holmes
Originally published: February, 2006

For years I’ve heard about how women in comedy struggle with being pigeon-holed into certain roles, not getting respect for their ideas or abilities, or being treated like tokens. If you look at comedy groups from the past and present, you do sometimes get the feeling of a boys’ club, with women often being used only for sexy parts. I’m probably one of the few people whose early background includes a group where men were often in the minority. I interviewed some hilarious improvisors who just so happen to be ladies to discuss what it’s like to be a female improvisor.

Jill Bernard is the Director of ComedySportz-Twin Cities‘ workshop program. Her one-woman improv piece, Drum Machine,  has been a national stand-out, and she recently taught improv comedy on MTV’s MADE. She points out the matter of numbers. “There are more men in the work, which means you often end up the only woman on a team. When we talk about “group mind” we really mean “prevalent ideas.” Being the only woman on the team means that the “group mind” won’t really reflect much about, well, being a woman.”

She also pointed out that women have kind of an advantage over men in at least one area. “We have societal permission to be emotional. No one’s going to call me a “fag” for doing something sensitive. Also, because there are less women in improv, good female improvisors can basically write their own ticket. They’re in demand.”

Karen Herr, one of the original members of the all-female improv group, goga , which stands for ‘girl-on-girl action’, says that improv is thrilling in a way for women that it probably isn’t if you’re a guy, because people expect guys to do crazy/wacky things. Audiences expect Will Ferrells and Bill Murrays. They don’t expect, even now, to see Elaine Mays or Lilly Tomlins. “It’s amazing but I still meet people who are surprised when women are funny and physical, and are stunned when women do comedy that has nothing to do with their menstrual cycle. The biggest reward has been traveling with my all-girl group to other countries and seeing afterwards that we’ve not only entertained, but that we even inspire women in the audience to be freer, and maybe bolder and more willing to break out of the rules about women having to be less goofy than men.”

Mary Carpenter, of Philly ComedySportz and 13 Skirts, an all-female sketch/improv group, talked about audience expectations. “An audience sees a woman and makes automatic assumptions, whether conscious or not, that the girls won’t be as funny as the boys. Also, they make an immediate assessment of her looks; is she pretty enough to watch, but not so pretty as to be threatening. If you’re working in comedy, it seems that women have to work twice as hard to convince an audience that they deserve to be there.” Mary says she’s been blessed to work with people who don’t box her in or use her on stage.

Kelly Jennings, also of Philly ComedySportz, as well as LunchLady Doris and Killer Pussy, a duo with Karen Getz, says she’s also been fortunate to work with men who have a great deal of respect for women. “I have on occasion worked with men who seem compelled to block every offer they receive from a woman. They want to stereotype women into the ‘girlfriend” or the ‘mother” with subsets of ‘bitch” or ‘saint.” These men have no trouble playing multiple characters of any gender or personality but when a woman tries to do the same they immediately endow her as a lesbian or Helga the Russian gymnast or maybe both. Again, I count myself really lucky to have crossed paths with not more than three or four men like this in over 15 years in improv.”

Kennedy Allen agrees about typecasting. “One thing that does bug the hell out of me is male improvisors have a tendency to ignore your character decisions. I can’t count how many times I’ve committed to a male character and been referred to as lady or she .” Kennedy has years of theater experience, but is new to improv as a member of Philly’s N Crowd . She says she’s seen two extremes from females: bonding together to show the men a thing or two, or the unfortunate occasional competition.

Kelly Jennings talks about improvising with women. “Working with other women is a blessing and a curse. For me it all comes down to experience, training, and talent. I find that the women who have limited experience or talent tend to typecast themselves…especially if they are working with men. It doesn’t seem to have anything to do with how their male counterparts are treating them. They do it to themselves. Playing with women who have more experience and/or a lot of talent is like playing with your telepathic twin. Neither of you need to work hard to try and understand the other person and you are free to really experience the moment-to-moment thrillride of creating something on the spot with no idea where the ride will go next. I have had that experience with male improvisers as well, but it took a little longer for us to really discover a level of trust and understanding so we could get to that point. Working with all women in a group of varying talent and experience is challenging because there is an unspoken code between women that we “hel p each other” and “support each other.” The ways in which that code is carried out is sometimes counterproductive to growth. “

Just as much as dealing with audience perceptions and expectations, it seems that women often have to overcome the perceptions of other performers and limitations that they place on themselves.

One thing that I heard again and again is the difference in temperament between women and men.

Jill Bernard – “This is something I learned in the He Plays/She Plays workshop that Mark Sutton and Stacey Hillal teach – male improvisors need to understand that women have the courage to create slow comedy with emotional depth. Men sometimes want to barrel through that with ha ha fast and funny, instead of making room for it. The show is richer if both exist.”

Karen Herr – “I think women can be more patient than men, again, I’m stereotyping but the advantage of that is more discovery-less invention in scenes.”

Mary Carpenter – “In a comic sense, we don’t always need the laugh every line; we’ll wait and build a scene with stakes that heighten to a point where the humor comes from situation and recognition, not quick jokes. Plus, we can always show them our tits and put them off balance.”

Another common statement is that comedy works best with a lot of different kinds of energy and input, and that improvisors should be improvisors, regardless of what else they are. According to Jill, “A lot of the complaints that are put into the “women’s issues” column really cross over into the “sucky improvisors’ issues” column, so you need to make sure you know from which you’re drawing. If you’re a good improviser first, you won’t run into any problems.”

I asked each of these phenomenal performers what they would say to women who are interested in getting into improv.

Mary Carpenter – “Go for it. When you’re scared, be the pioneer and venture out first. Don’t get backed into a corner or let people put you in uncomfortable situations-give back as strong as you get. Don’t be afraid to let your creative genius out.”

Jill Bernard – “You may meet men who are dicks. Don’t worry. Eventually no one else will work with them and they’ll be a bunch of white dudes performing for a bunch of other white dudes, a ridiculous percentage of which are wearing backwards white ballcaps. These are not our people. We can afford to let them go.”

Kelly Jennings – “Take classes, watch a lot of different types of companies perform, be open to learning new styles or ways of performing improv, but in the end pick what works best for you not what some guru or website or performance group says is the ‘right way.” Always strive to improve your techniques. Learn to tell your mind to be quiet and listen, really listen with all five senses. Don’t wimp out!”

Kennedy Allen – “If you’ve got your sights set on improv, do it. Especially in this city, where the gettin’s still good. There are workshops that will help hone their skill and troupes hungry for talent. It can be intimidating at first, like with anything new, but I can think of a ton of other reasons more reasonable to quit than being a woman in a male-dominated art form.”

Karen Herr – “The world needs to hear what you think is funny or horrible or outrageous. Don’t keep it waiting.”