Comedians and former Philadelphians Alison Zeidman and Aaron Hertzog have left us for New York (and feel a little guilty about it), but they’re paying South Broad a visit this weekend for FFA Comedy Jawn at Boot & Saddle, a showcase they co-produce and perform in.
Amber Nelson, from Comedy Central, MTV’s Guy Code and Almost Genius on truTV, headlines Saturday’s installment of the “roughly quarterly” Comedy Jawn, with locals Chip Chantry, “who’s just a joke machine,” Juliet Hope Wayne, a Philadelphia magazine Best of Philly winner for comedy and “the most hilarious storyteller ever,” and Eddie Finn, “a young buck who’s working really hard performing and producing local shows and building quite a name for himself,” lists off Zeidman.
We caught up with Zeidman and Herzog to talk about what makes a great venue and why Philly is a low-pressure scene.
What goes into producing a comedy show?
Alison Zeidman: For Comedy Jawn, we like to start with finding a headliner and build out from there. We both live in New York now — we know, it’s bad, we’re sorry, but that’s why we come back for this show! — so we like to bring down people who are pretty big in that scene and who people might know from TV or whatever, like Amber Nelson. We round it out with local comics we like, and then we pick ourselves, because we are selfish and always want our own stage time.
Aaron Hertzog: Comedy is a precious little baby in terms of there needing to be a lot of things “right” about a room. You want it to feel intimate, you want the crowd to feel comfortable enough to let loose and laugh, but uncomfortable enough to keep them paying attention. Boot & Saddle is perfect for what we’re going for. The standing room, rock-club-style venue is kind of following the model of Patton Oswalt’s Comedians of Comedy tour, which really creates a cool, unique environment for both the audience and the comics.
Do the comics have anything in common?
Zeidman: They’re all stone cold killers, so there’s that.
Hertzog: They make us laugh a lot. Which might not sound like much, but we are both comedy snobs. I’m kidding, kind of. But we do see a lot of comedy, and the people we book on Comedy Jawn are always our favorites.
Who in the upcoming Comedy Jawn are you most excited about?
Hertzog: Before the show I’m mostly worried that nobody will show up. That hasn’t happened yet, though, so maybe I can start letting go of that? I do get excited to come back to Philly and see comics I haven’t seen in a little while do newer jokes — or classics, I love them all — and also watch the headliner do a longer set, which isn’t something you get to do a lot in New York.
Zeidman: If I have to choose one, I would say I’m most excited about my set because, again, I am selfish and always want stage time. I really can’t stress that enough: I’m the worst. Also, I have not had any formal media training and I am afraid to feel, so that is why I sometimes give dumb joke answers like that which probably do not reflect well on my character. I hope to someday be at a high enough place in my career where this becomes a huge problem and somebody has to awkwardly talk to me about it. Preview of that conversation: “People get that I’m joking! They love it!” “No, they don’t. You gotta stop.”
Is Philly a good city for comedians?
Zeidman: I think it’s a good place to start and to experiment in a relatively low-pressure environment. In my experience, the comedy scene here is pretty supportive. Personally, the right move for me was to leave, even though I loved living here, and pursue larger opportunities in a place that has the industry. There are people in Philly trying to build up the local scene and definitely making some good progress — and I like to think that Aaron and I played a role in that — but my advice for any Philly comedian who’s thinking about making a move is that there’s no such thing as too early. … In a larger comedy scene there will be more stage time. If you’re willing to go out every night and do the work you can get a lot out of it and get better a lot more quickly.
Hertzog: I was a Philly comic for eight years before I moved to New York, and it spoiled me because it’s such a great place to perform. There’s a fantastic network of comedians, great clubs and theater venues, and awesome people looking to be entertained. There’s all that in New York too, but I had to start over after getting so used to it here. From experience, I agree with Alison that if a comedian thinks moving to a bigger scene like New York or LA is right for them, there’s no such thing as too early. I think every comic in every smaller scene loves it there and can go on and on about how great it is because they find a community of people they have so much in common with and make friends and have a ton of fun doing a thing they love.
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