Christine Nangle is another native who went to New York in search of a comedy career. After graduating from Penn, she bypassed stand-up in favor of sketch and improv, and now writes for “Saturday Night Live.” Growing up in the Northeast, she didn’t see a clear path from Alcott Street to Studio 8H, but she says the scene back home has changed. “The community is growing so rapidly. I’ve seen people in Philly who are better writers or performers, but they’re content. And I see people in New York who’ve made it their lives, but they’ll never be as good as people in other places. The important thing is to figure out what ‘successful’ means to you.”
JUST BEFORE THE CALENDAR TURNS, Chantry hosts one of his semi-monthly movie nights in the screening- room of his downtown apartment complex. Horner’s here, along with Darryl Charles, an engineer for Lockheed–Martin who recently graduated from the Raven Lounge to Helium’s roster, and a handful of their stand-up pals who are about to give a really bad flick the Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment. With the show about to start, Horner offers everyone some candy.
“Watermelon slices, everyone,” he says. “I know you asked for these.”
No one takes him up on the offer. Horner drops the bag on the floor, waits a beat, then kicks the candy across the room to Charles, who’s the only African-American guy there.
“Of course you kick them to the black guy,” Charles says.
“It’s all about you,” Horner quips. “That’s why I wore a black coat.”
“I don’t see life in color.”
That’s what it’s like hanging with Horner and his posse of comics — the laughs keep coming. Over drinks a few nights earlier at the Khyber, Horner explained why not much came of whatever portion of his 15 minutes AGT used up last year. In a way, he also explained why the Philadelphia scene isn’t just a means to an end for everyone, and why if he’s still making art he believes in and comedy he believes in 20 years from now, he’d be fine with staying right where he is, much like his hometown idol, the Wid, who’s still making people laugh at the Laff House.
“There’s probably two reasons,” Horner said. “I didn’t try too hard to exploit that exposure. I’m not a big promoter. The second thing is, I’m also pretty happy with my life.”