Move over NY and LA, here comes Philly! Philadelphia Comedy is gaining a stronghold. Folks who love comedy will find all art forms represented in the City of Brotherly Love: standup, sketch, and improv. The main source of information is a Philadelphia Comedy Blog called WitOut http://www.witout.net, where you will find a complete listing of performers and venues.
Last year at this time, I signed up with the Philadelphia Improv Theatre (PHIT) to take an Improv Level 1 class. My instructor was Rick Horner. I recently signed up for sketch comedy writing at PHIT and attended standup classes at The Helium Comedy Club with Brad Trackman. Yes, that's in addition to writing a humor book called Sitting on Cold Porcelain. Okay, so now I can stand in front of a mirror with a mic and command all my funny extremities to become double-jointed and write my own press release. I can't decide on a favorite comedy art form, I like them all.
I have kept in touch with Rick Horner via Facebook and found out that he has organized the 1st Annual F Harold Comedy Festival for people like me, who love all forms of comedy, so I attended opening night on June 7th, and asked for an interview. I was amazed at the talent represented on stage. His goal is to give the Philadelphia community an "opportunity to see a cross-section of local talent."
The Festival runs until June 12th, so you can still buy tickets at the Walnut Street Theatre, Studio 5, box office.
You will love it!
Following is my interview with Rick:
Opening night at the F Harold Comedy Festival was fantastic. Can you tell me more about the performers in the lineup?
What an opening night! John Kensil is a popular local stand up comedian I was fortunate enough to book, The Hendersons are a brand-new long form improv group debuting an awesome show at the F. Harold!
Rosen & Milkshake are an incredible rockin' Philly favorite, hot off the heels of a dynamite performance at Duofest (an improv festival specifically for duos only), and Carolyn Busa is one the hottest comedians performing all over Philadelphia!
Grimmacchio, who also had a terrific performance at last weekend's Duofest, delighted audiences Tuesday to a sold-out crowd, and Ryan Carey had a tremendous set of his stand-up! Aaron Hertzog can be seen all around Philadelphia either doing solo stand-up or performing with one of his improv groups, Hate Speech Committee, Get a Room, or The Hendersons!
I was lucky to have Pat House close out the night with some of his wonderful stand-up - and Pat will be hosting all of Sunday's shows as well. All talent, all Philly, all handled beautifully by a great group of volunteers - Emily Davis, Cara Schmidt, Mark Dames, and Greg Maughan.
Where do you yourself perform Improv in Philadelphia?
I perform in three duos!
WhipSuit (performing tonight!) has a regular performance every third Friday of the month at O'Neals pub, 611 South 3rd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147 (great food and drink specials!) at 8:15pm.
Horner & Davis (performing Saturday night!) and Suggestical, An Improvised Musical perform all over town, with the Philly Improv Theater at the Shubin Theatre, 407 Bainbridge Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147; and with Polygon Comedy at other venues like Tabu Lounge & Sports Bar, 200 South 12th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107.
I also coach improv (currently coaching Rintersplit (performing Thursday) and Iron Lung (performing Friday night!) I am available for additional improv coaching gigs at firstname.lastname@example.org or 267.278.5250.
I also run the Improv Incubator weekly at the Community Education Center in West Philadelphia (3500 Lancaster Ave, Philadelphia PA 19104) which is a social and creative mixer where the entire Philly improv community is invited to meet, play, and perform scenes.
Did you grow up in the area?
I grew up in Northeast Philadelphia and I love Philly and all of the amazing talent inside and all around it!!! Now I live in Telford - if you can find it, come visit me and I will have coffee with you.
What do you do at PHIT?
I am a recently-retired House Team Director at PHIT (former House Team Activity Book). I am also one of the many instructors there - actually I have a class that is starting soon, Improv Level 201! Improv Level 201 is Wednesday nights from 7 to 9:30 starting Wednesday 6/22/11 , and there are 7 spots left (plus if you register by 6/15/11 you can save $50)! Commercial over. You had me as a teacher Rose, so you know I'm all about making students work hard, get better, and look good.
What are your long-term goals for the F Harold Comedy Festival?
It is so amazing that so many great companies are producing great comedy — PHIT, ComedySportz, PHIF, PJI, The N Crowd — I could go on and on. F. Harold is a little different from other things happening in Philly because it is a blend of the parts of comedy that seem to be finding so much overlap in the city already, thanks to Philly Improv Theater and The Philadelphia Joke Initiative. They have fostered a true sense of cohesiveness between stand-up, sketch and improv and the goal of the F. Harold is to allow all the talent Philly has to offer the opportunity to both demonstrate and exhibit each other, and showcase new ideas and people.
If people from out-of-town want to get a feel for Philly comedy, where are the best places to go?
I am going to give you some websites:
Philadelphia Improv Festival (http://www.phif.org)
Philly Improv Theater (http://www.phillyimprovtheater.com)
Philadelphia Joke Initiative (http://www.contactpji.com)
Polygon Comedy (http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_223016407708844)
The N Crowd (http://www.phillyncrowd.com)
Helium Comedy Club (http://www.heliumcomedy.com)
Do you have a blog, Facebook page, twitter account where folks can learn more about you and F Harold?
Yes! The wonderful web page developed by Jess Carpenter (performing Saturday night!) with logos and flyers created by Cara Schmidt and Chris Calletta: F Harold Presents and links to all other social media.