5 Comedy Shows to See This Week

Photo from Facebook/Official Nikki Glaser

Photo from Facebook/Official Nikki Glaser

Get In @ Good Good Comedy Theatre | Thursday, December 1
John McKeever and Tim Butterly of Comedy Central’s Delco Proper, set in Delaware County, are kicking off a new weekly comedy showcase at Good Good Comedy Theatre along with the theater’s founders, Aaron Nevins and Kate Banford. Tickets are only $5 and they promise “an insane show with a stacked lineup full of surprises.” Read more »

Tracy Morgan Isn’t Changing a Thing

Tracy Morgan attends FX Networks upfront premiere of The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story on March 30, 2016, in New York. Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Tracy Morgan attends FX Networks upfront premiere of The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story on March 30, 2016, in New York. Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Tracy Morgan considers himself to be very fortunate. But he’s not lucky. As he tells me on the phone, “Luck is for losers.”

The Saturday Night Live alum and 30 Rock scene-stealer has made his return to the stage two years after a car accident that left him in a coma with a traumatic brain injury and took the life of a close friend, fellow comedian James McNair. After a long recovery, Morgan made his first big appearance at the 2015 Emmys, stepping up to the mic to a standing ovation. A few weeks later he returned to his old stomping grounds to host SNL, and earlier this year kicked off his Picking Up the Pieces standup tour.

Morgan approaches our conversation about the King of Prussia stop of the tour with his signature loose style, though he’s quick to tell me to move on when the interview touches on topics he doesn’t want to discuss. Those include politics (he isn’t interested) and an upcoming film with It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s Charlie Day (he doesn’t want to jinx it). Read more »

Lighten Up With a Comedy Show

Madonna Refugia brings her one-woman show, Not That Madonna, to Plays and Players. Photo by Johnny Bleibdrey

Madonna Refugia brings her one-woman show, Not That Madonna, to Plays and Players. Photo by Johnny Bleibdrey

The Borscht Belt @ Gershman Y | Thursday, August 11
Marisa Scheinfeld documents the decline of the Catskills in the photo exhibit The Borscht Belt: Revisiting the Remains of America’s Jewish Vacationland. It opens Thursday with a tour and a joke-telling competition in homage to the place where the likes of Mel Brooks, Joan Rivers, Rodney Dangerfield, Billy Crystal and many others got their starts. I did a quick search and I’m pretty sure Wikipedia’s description of “Borscht Belt humor” is spot-on: It typically includes bad luck, puns and aggravating relatives. Read more »

A Jewish-Palestinian Lesbian Couple Walks Into a Bar

Eman El-Husseini and Jess Salomon.

Eman El-Husseini and Jess Salomon.

After a year of marriage, and some concern over whether one of them might actually be a spy, Jess Salomon and Eman El-Husseini have decided to stay together no matter what.

“We’re in this for the long haul,” Salomon says. “It doesn’t matter what either of us does, we aren’t going to break up. Mostly because we can’t let people be right.” Read more »

Chip Chantry on Opening for Louis C.K. at Helium

Louis C.K., Chip Chantry, Chip's dog

Chip Chantry (right, with his dog) opened for Louis C.K. on Tuesday night at Helium.

Chip Chantry is having one hell of a week.

On Sunday, he proposed to his longtime girlfriend. She said yes. On Tuesday, he got a call in the afternoon — about an hour before Louis C.K.’s surprise show would been announced — that he would be opening for the star of Louie. It was just a two-man show, so he got to do a 20-minute set before Louis C.K. Chantry will open for Louis C.K. again tonight at another show where C.K. tries out new material.

Chantry grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs and has been a fixture of the Philadelphia comedy scene almost since he started doing stand-up more than a decade ago. He won the 2013 Philly’s Phunniest contest at Helium, and tours around the country. He’s also one of my favorite comedians. I chatted with him about opening with Louis C.K., crowds in Philly versus crowds on the West Coast, how he got his start in stand-up and his own process of trying out new material.

How did you come to open for Louis C.K.?

It literally happened at noon yesterday when I got a phone call from the owner. I had heard about [a surprise] show, but I didn’t know it was going to be him. I know the owner, so when we were talking I said, “Hey, if you need an opener, let me know.” And he called me yesterday at noon so I had about eight hours to prepare myself. It was just a two-man show, which was nice. Read more »

The Surprise Louis C.K. Sets: Here’s What You Missed Last Night

By David Shankbone - Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19241576

Louis C.K. Photo | David Shankbone via Creative Commons.

Trim and dapper in a dark suit and bright tie, Louis C.K. looked surprisingly businesslike for a guy testing out new material last night at Helium. The club had announced a little after 1 p.m. yesterday that C.K. — arguably the biggest star in the comedy galaxy at the moment — would be that evening’s surprise headliner. Within minutes, a line stretched down Sansom Street and around the corner; hours later, a second show was added, and both were sellouts. Word from those leaving the 8 p.m. set was that he was polished, smooth, hilarious — less like a stand-up sweating it out at the comedy gym and more like he’d been doing these bits for years.

Read more »

Tina Fey: Don’t Ask Me to Explain My Jokes

If you’ve followed Tina Fey over the past few years, you know she’s no fan of the Internet — despite the fact that the Internet really, really loves her. On talk show interviews she’s rolled her eyes at blogging culture, and the need to regurgitate stories over and over again. In The Advocate in November, she turned up her nose at the web: “I don’t worry about what the Internet says. Getting in trouble with the Internet is not real. The Internet is not a force you have to obey.” And now, in a new interview with a Net-a-Porter, she attacks again, saying “Steer clear of the Internet and you’ll live forever.”

That statement followed a discussion about a couple episodes and characters on her Netflix sitcom Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt that some deemed racially insensitive. “We did an  episode and the Internet was in a whirlwind, calling it ‘racist,’ she told the magazine.

Read more »

INTERVIEW: Comedian and 30 Rock Star Judah Friedlander

Judah Friedlander | Photo by Yoko Haraoka

Judah Friedlander | Photo by Yoko Haraoka

Judah Friedlander is probably best known for his work on the television comedy 30 Rock, where he played the lazy, porn-loving skit writer Frank Rossitano. He’s also known for his signature disheveled look: bespectacled, unshaven and sporting a trucker hat with ever-changing messages on the front. But Friedlander has also morphed his look for roles such as the critically acclaimed American Splendor and The Wrestler, as well as for cameos in cult favorites including Zoolander, Wet Hot American Summer and Sharknado 2.

Friedlander explores another area of creative expression in his new book, If the Raindrops United: Drawings and Cartoons, published just last month. The 208-page book provides a window into the actor’s quirky, original brain. His previous book, a self-help karate manual titled How to Beat up Anybody: An Instructional and Inspirational Karate Book by the World Champion, was written by his alter ego, the World Champ, whose specialty is deadpan narcissism with a touch of supremely inflated ego. The World Champ has been an integral part of the comic’s standup for years and talks like a twisted amalgam of comedian Steven Wright, boxer Muhammed Ali and martial artist Bruce Lee — a lethal blend of low-energy, raging confidence.

Friedlander is currently on tour doing standup and visits the Helium Club for a four-day run beginning this Wednesday. Friedlander says he plans on stopping by a table tennis club as well as the Philadelphia Museum of Art while in town. (He’s a devotee of both ping pong and the visual arts.) We caught up by phone with the actor from his hotel in Buffalo to discuss 30 Rock, cartooning and his plans for taping his own comedy special next year.  

Read more »

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