Full casts of new house teams announced


Yesterday we told you about Laura Abernethy being added to the King Friday roster. Well, WitOut has the details on the new PHIT house team casts as well…

Directed by Matt Holmes

Aaron Hertzog
Alex Gross
Dennis Trafny
Jen Curcio
Lizzie Spellman
Mark Leopold
Rob Cutler
Scott Sheppard
Tara Demmy

Directed by Kristen Schier

AJ Ortiz
Billy Thompson
Brian Ratcliffe
Claire Halberstadt
Erin Pitts
Karen Coleman
Matt Akana
Nathan Edmondson
Scott Hinners

There you have it folks. A hundred plus hopefuls, and PHIT has two new and very dynamic teams. We’re all excited to see how they come out of the gate…

Little Plates, Big Tapas premieres this Friday


Building on the success of last year’s Fringe show, HOW TO SOLVE A BEAR, The GROUNDSWELL PLAYERS – (aka LEO CALLAHAN) are mounting a new production this weekend in cooperation with the PHILADELPHIA JOKE INITIATIVE entitled LITTLE PLATES, BIG TAPAS. Billed as a ‘darkly comic offering’ – the show is a scripted play, workshopped from improvisation, and then subsequently fine-tuned under the direction of DAN PLEHAL.

L to R: Scott Sheppard, Jack Meaney


Set in a pasta joint, newly handed down to a culinary trained son – the show explores the comedic clash between big city dreams and small town realities as he attempts to turn the little establishment into a high profile tapas eatery.

SCOTT SHEPPARD, JESSE PAULSEN, JACK MEANEY and ALISON KING brought their previous experiences from How To Solve a Bear into the production, this time joined by long time Leo Callahan collaborators NICHOLAS MIRRA and NICK KERR. Kerr’s character even sets the mood with some piano playing.

While improvisation is a tool utilized by many writers during the development process, for theatrical newcomers like Mirra, the experience of honing and performing that material is something very different indeed. “I came to (the show) with the perspective of an improviser and writer, not an actor… it’s been an exhilarating and challenging process.”

For Mirra, the work has evolved from something familiar yet fleeting, to a body of work with real sustainability. “We tend to appreciate and then forget, because it’s improv and inherently transient… trying to capture, define and repeat is not something I’m accustomed to worrying about.” And it’s in that repeated execution that the reward becomes evident. “Everything we do on stage is imbued with intention and forethought.”

And just what can we expect from this little labor of love? I think Mirra sums it up best… “(the show) is a small-town comedy located at the intersection of food, family, love, loss, ambition, and Himalayan fungi.”

Little Plates, Big Tapas runs just four nights, Feb. 11-14 at the LATVIAN SOCIETY (541 N 7th St). But if you’re looking to catch a glimpse of this limited engagement, you’d best move quickly. Friday and Saturday shows are already sold out. Tickets are available at the Philadelphia Joke Initiative’s website.

Friday: Leo Callahan with Rare Bird Show


Local rising improv group LEO CALLAHAN is all set to storm the Arts Parlor for their first show of 2010. The night will feature the debut of their newest member, JACK MEANEY, as well as a guest performance from the much exalted RARE BIRD SHOW.

For those of you not yet familiar with Leo Callahan, the group is a fairly recent addition to the scene that is rapidly growing in popularity… Featuring all Haverford Alums, three of whom were former members of Illegal Refill (RIP), these comedians are fast, smart and obviously a tight bunch. I’m excited to see what newcomer Jack brings to the stage and group dynamic.

L to R: Nick Kerr, Nicholas Mirra, Ali King, Scott Sheppard, and Jesse Paulsen. Not pictured: Jack Meaney


PHIT Presents Shubin Week!


Tonight marks the start of another week of hilarity served up courtesy of the Philly Improv Theater. All shows will take place at the Shubin Theater, 407 Bainbridge St.

Tickets and additional information can be found at phillyimprovtheater.com

Monday, October 6
The Comic vs. Audience Comedy Show – $5
with Tim Ryan, Luke Giordano, Doogie Horner, and Chip Chantry

Wednesday, October 8
Bedtime Stories: Nerd Hobbies – $10

Kent Haines: Why am I Not Famous? – $5

Thursday, October 9
The Dave Hill Explosion – $10

CAGEMATCH: Cubed vs Illegal Refill – $5

Friday, October 10
House Team Premiere! – $10
Featuring teams directed by Scott Sheppard & Executive Director Greg Maughan

House Team Premiere & RAGNARÖCK (UCB) – $10
Featuring a troupe directed by Rick Horner and, from the UCBT, RAGNARÖCK

Saturday, October 11
House Team Premiere & RAGNARÖCK (UCB) – $10
Featuring a troupe directed by Rick Horner and, from the UCBT, RAGNARÖCK

House Team Premiere! – $10
Featuring teams directed by Scott Sheppard & Executive Director Greg Maughan

Must See: Shubin Saturday


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…


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.

Saturday, July 11th
8 & 10PM
407 Bainbridge St
Tickets – $10

PHIT Announces First Ever House Teams


The Philadelphia Improv Theater has officially announced the rosters of their brand spankin’ new house teams, and we’re super excited about both the veteran talent and the up-and-comers on these lists.


directed by Rick Horner

Mike Schwartz, John Nolan, Jana Savini, Kim Breslin, Jason Stockdale, Alan Williams, Kelly Jo Little, Diana DePasquale & Sarah Goldrath


directed by Scott Sheppard

Dan Rich, Rob Baniewicz, John Buseman, Kristen Schier, Gillienne Nadeau, Jay Brenner & Sam George


directed by Greg Maughan

Nick Gillette, Bob Swenson, Jefferson Haynes, Meg Favreau, AJ Horan, Katie Horahan, Rob Cutler & Shane Jenkins.

In their recent newsletter, PHIT gaves us a little taste of what we can expect:

“Over the next few months you are going to come to know and love all these people… if you don’t already – and see them become a great addition to the scene. So is the rest of the country: after premiering in the Fall, our house teams will start traveling, first to the People’s Improv Theater in NYC, then to festivals all over the country!”

Congrats to all the teams, we look forward to see you take the stage!

PHIT House Team Auditions Next Week!


Next week the Philly Improv Theater will be holding auditions to cast its first-ever house teams. This is big news and an exciting step for the growth of improv in the city. PHIT has some ambitious plans for the teams it will be putting together. Each team will be assigned a dedicated director, receive free weekly rehearsal space, have the opportunity to perform at venues across the city like the Shubin and Fergies, as well as represent PHIT at festivals. Directors involved in this venture include PHIT Executive Director Greg Maughan, Improv Incubator Founder / PHIF Producer Rick Horner and the Arden Theatre Company’s Scott Sheppard.

Next Monday, PHIT will be auditioning folks in groups of 8 at the Arden Theatre – but if you want in, you’ll have to schedule an audition appointment by emailing PHIT with your interest no later than 5pm on Friday.

More details can be found here…