Tonight: Sketchfest Comedy Competition at Helium

09/01/2010

ANIMOSITY PIERRE, the organizers of the PHILLY SKETCHFEST, host a sketch comedy competition tonight at Helium Comedy Club. Up and coming sketch groups each compete to earn a performance slot in PSF2010. On the bill for tonight:

Camp Woods
Young Folks Comedy
Bare Hug
Brendan and Aaron
Second Place Champions
Chris Jones (Schwarzkopf Entertainment)

Each group gets six minutes to wow the audience and the judges. The judges include Rob Baniewicz (of Meg & Rob), Alli Soowal (of Real Housewives & PHIF producer) and PSF producer Ben Maher.

Tickets are $12 (w/ two item minimum) and proceeds benefit PSF2010. Also, performers from last year’s Sketchfest get a half price discount.

PHILLY SKETCHFEST’S COMEDY COMPETITION
WED, SEPT 1 @ 8PM
HELIUM COMEDY CLUB | 2031 SANSOM ST
TICKETS: $12 | 21+


Comedian Profile: Kristen Schier

08/27/2010

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?

KRISTEN SCHIER


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

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

Punchline!
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.


Tonight: Snakes brings hip hop humor to the Shubin

04/09/2010

Head on over to the Shubin Theater tonight for a serious dose of comedy courtesy of the PHILLY IMPROV THEATER. Local favorites REAL HOUSEWIVES OF PHILADELPHIA, FLETCHER and M@& are all set to perform, along with NYC import, SNAKES.

Snakes is a comedy rap duo comprised of Billy Scafuri and Adam Lustick, a couple of gentlemen you may know from the sketch group Harvard Sailing Team. Billy and Adam recently won an ENCY Award for Best Musical Comedy Act. They have a knack for pleasing audiences with hard-hitting tight beats matched to outrageous lyrics on some very uncommon rap subjects… everything from economics to underwear, with all the sandwiches and proctologists in between.

Fresh on the heels of last month’s win, we got a chance to talk to them as they prepare to roll into the Shubin tonight:

Did you two meet via Harvard Sailing Team, or does your partnership predate the sketch group?

After writing comedy in college and working at Saturday Night Live, Billy started the Harvard Sailing Team with his childhood friend Chris Smith, an acting student at NYU. Many other of Chris’ friends were then brought onto the team; one of whom was, and still is, Adam. Although, before we had officialy met, we did carry a couple kegs of beer up a flight of stairs together. But basically, we met doing Harvard Sailing Team.

While we’re beginning to see comedic rap in various places, it still seems to be a relatively new platform for comedic expression. What about the format attracted you?

A trend of comedy rap certainly seems to be bubbling to the surface. Between Aziz Ansari putting out his RAAAAAANDY rap album, Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino) burning it up, and the Flight of the Conchords fellas doing their thing, silly music of quality is enjoying a resurgence and we’re thrilled to be a part of it.

For us, the whole thing is predicated on a deep love of hip hop. Both of us grew up worshipping Biggie Smalls, Tupac, Snoop Dogg, Nas, the Wu Tang Clan and so forth, and have always had the utmost reverence for and the desire to be rappers. Billy flexed his skills by winning a few freestyle rap competitions against other comedians in NYC, asked Adam if he’d want to start a hip hop group, we hooked up with legit music producer Rich Royce and the rest is Snakes history. Snistory.

What sort of challenges have you faced in exploring your comedy musically?

Trying to strike the balance between a funny song and a catchy song and realizing the two aren’t mutually exclusive.

Rap is a genre that has seen more that its fair share of controversy over subject matter and explicit lyrics. Anything too taboo for Snakes?

You have our word that we will never, and we mean NEVER, rap about the political constructs and intrinsic class divisions in 18th century Austria under the rule of the Hapsburg Empire. Some wounds are just too fresh.

Speaking of avoiding wounds… in listening to your songs, you seem to be able to manage a respect for the genre while still poking fun at some of its more egregious and hackneyed truisms. Do you find it difficult striking that sort of balance?

It can be tricky. Thanks to our producer, Rich Royce, the beats are deadly serious and with hip hop, if you have a beat you can nod your head to, you’re halfway home. And it’s due to the sincerity and the legitimacy of the music, that we’re able to rhyme about underpants, sandwiches, Tamagachis and the Dalai Lama and get away with it.

Congratulations on your recent ECNY award win.

Thanks for the congrats…

Are you surprised at the notoriety and buzz that Snakes is garnering?

We’re not not surprised. Just jazzed people are enjoying the music.

What do you see as a next step for the group?

We’ve been working on our second album, which will be out this summer. We have music videos, a TV pilot and film scripts in development. We’re looking to tour colleges, prisons and nursing homes. And we’re in the market for an Italian restaurant that leaves you full but not too full.

You can get in on what everyone’s talking about by checking out Snakes at 8pm tonight.

FRIDAY, APRIL 9TH
SNAKES + REAL HOUSEWIVES OF PHILADELPHIA – 8PM
FLETCHER + M@& – 9:30PM
PHIT @ THE SHUBIN | 407 BAINBRIDGE
$10 EA / BYOB | TICKETS


PJIs Cecily and Gwendolyn run begins tonight

01/13/2010

Over the past few months, the PHILADELPHIA JOKE INITIATIVE has presented a number of single night showcases, including the Mike Connor Travelogues and a fundraiser featuring music from the Hopper Brothers. Beginning tonight, this small production company launches its largest endeavor to date, and plans to do so with a little Victorian class.

CECILY & GWENDOLYN’S FANTASTICAL BALLOON RIDE opens tonight and runs through January 31st at the Latvian Society in Northern Liberties.

The show, featuring KELLY JENNINGS and KAREN GETZ in the eponymous roles of Cecily and Gwendolyn, is a fully improvised imagining of two slightly mad Victorian ladies who fancy themselves anthropologists. When all is said and done and chronometers have been synced, each evening explores the notion that these time traveling ladies find themselves 175 years through space and time via their hot air balloon in present day Philadelphia – where each night’s audience will serve as lab rats of sorts… from whom they’ll extract their conclusions about the “modern” society in which we live.

I was fortunate enough to attend a private performance this past weekend, and can honestly say that I’ve never been quite so excited to see how audiences will react to a show. Karen and Kelly (as pictured L to R above) have taken the idea of audience participation, and replaced it with complete audience immersion. The entire show is an evening that we’re all invited to take part in. Everything from the set to the seating, the costumes to the conversation, all welcome the audience member in, begging to be engaged, hoping to engross. Sitting there with only a handful of people, I’ve never felt so unconscious of my contribution. Getz and Jennings do a remarkable job of captivating with ease. Something that while I know from talking to them has taken years to develop, comes across as simple and organic.

As you can tell, I’m really excited about how it all drew me in and am excited to hear how audiences respond to this level of participatory immersion.

If you’re interested in reading  more about the show, more can be found in this recent writeup in the CityPaper. You can also get to know these ladies by watching their YouTube videos or by joining them on Facebook.

During its three week run (Thursdays through Sundays, excepting tonight’s opening) the show will play host to a myriad of comedy guests, including local talent the likes of Chip Chantry, Cubed, Rare Bird Show, BWP, Leo Callahan, the N Crowd, Real Housewives of Philadelphia and ComedySportz Improvised Shakespeare as well as Hello Laser from the Magnet Theater in NYC.

CECILY & GWENDOLYN’S FANTASTICAL BALLOON RIDE
THE LATVIAN SOCIETY | 531 N 7TH ST
JANUARY 13-31, 2010 | 7PM
PRESENTED BY PJI WITH SUPPORT FROM FREEFALL PRODUCTIONS


N Crowd double header featuring Real Housewives

01/06/2010

The N CROWD will be putting on a double header of shows at 8 & 10PM this week for First Friday. The early show is the full regular weekly shortform program. If you’re in the mood for backstabbing, gold-digging and random charity fundraisers, then stick around for the 10PM show, which will also feature local ladies of satire, THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF PHILADELPHIA.

THE N CROWD DOUBLE HEADER
FRIDAY, JAN 8TH
8PM – REGULAR SHOW
10PM – W/ GUEST REAL HOUSEWIVES

ACTORS CENTER | 257 N THIRD ST

$10 ONLINE / $15 AT DOOR


Comedy for the Weekend Warrior

08/19/2009

I’m on vacation this week, but I’m posting from the remote recesses of upstate NY to tell you about the incredible weekend of comedy kicking off tomorrow night (hey, it’s summer – weekends can start on Thursday in the summer).

THURSDAY

10PM – ILLEGAL REFILL w/ ROOKIE CARD
Studio 34 | 4522 Baltimore Ave (BYO/pay what you can)

FRIDAY

8PM – N CROWD w/ BWP
Actors Center | 257 N Third St ($10 adv/$15 door)

10PM – REAL HOUSEWIVES OF PHILADELPHIA w/ N CROWD
Actors Center | 257 N Third St ($15)

SATURDAY

7:30PM – WOMEN WITH CLASS (Directed by Bill McLaughlin & Andrew Stanton of APBT)
Morrisville Borough Annex | 31 East Cleveland Ave ($8)

7:30PM & 10PM – COMEDYSPORTZ DOUBLE HEADER
Playground at the Adrienne | 2030 Sansom St ($15)


PHIT lineup for July

07/06/2009

PHIT_LogoTonight, the PHILLY IMPROV THEATER kicks off two weeks of comedy at the Shubin Theater. PHIT has put together a fun lineup full of new shows, special themes, visitors from afar, some old favorites and three nights of female comedy lovingly known as BONERAMA. Check it out:

Monday, July 6
8PM: The Comic vs Audience Comedy Show – $5

Wednesday, July 8
8PM: Guilty Pleasures – $5
10PM: The Bully Pulpit – $5

Thursday, July 9
8PM: Improv Comedy, PhD – Drexel Football Team & Everything Must Go – $5
10PM: CAGEMATCH: m@& vs Rookie Card – $5

Friday, July 10
8PM: Longform Improv: Angry People Building Things and Activity Book – $10
10PM: Longform Improv: WhipSuit and An Improv Jam – $10

Saturday, July 11
8PM: Longform Improv: Angry People Building Things and Activity Book – $10
10PM: Longform Improv: WhipSuit and An Improv Jam – $10
11:30PM: Sketch Up or Shut Up – FREE

Tuesday, July 14
8PM: Longform Improv: Fletcher and Parallelogramophonograph – $10

Thursday, July 16
8PM: Bonerama: The Real Housewives of Philadelphia – $10
10PM: Bonerama: CAGEMATCH: Brenda vs Pony Coat – $10

Friday, July 17
8PM: Bonerama: BWP and Cecily & Gwendolyn – $10
10PM: Bonerama: The Bonerama Variety Hour – $10

Saturday, July 18
8PM: Bonerama: BWP and Cecily & Gwendolyn – $10
10PM: Bonerama: The Bonerama Variety Hour – $10

Tickets are available now at phillyimprovtheater.com