PHIT Roasts Ignite Philly @ Johnny Brenda’s

You know who doesn’t like balloons? Everyone who flew on the Hindenburg! That’s probably a statement of fact, though it would be difficult to verify. We could track down the last 2 living survivors and ask them but come on, let’s not waste people’s time.

What can be verified is that the team from the Philly Improv Theater had a fantastic time at the Ignite Philly event at Johnny Brenda’s on March 13th, 2014. The task was no simple one: Listen to every Ignite talk and, as it’s happening, write jokes roasting the talk. If that wasn’t daunting enough, at the end of the evening, go up and deliver all these jokes to the crowd (many of whom wrote these presentations).

For the uninitiated, Ignite Philly is part of a worldwide network that entertains and educates people in short 5 minute bursts (live presentations). At the events, each presenter is on stage for a total of 5 minutes (20 slides, at 15 seconds each slide). These talks are a ‘spark’ if you will; they are lightning fast and leave people with a new idea to mull over and talk about.

And talk we did! If you consider 5 people cramming themselves in a booth with laptops, and writing jokes as fast as they can for 3 straight hours, “talking.”


In the coming days you’ll be able to see full videos of all the talks, including a 5 minute one by Executive Director of PHIT Greg Maughan on the history of improv, plus our roast of every talk – including Greg’s – on the Ignite Philly site. But for now, read on to catch a synopsis of every talk, and the jokes the team came up with. PS we weren’t able to get all of these out on stage, so even if you were in attendance, you’ll enjoy the read!


Author’s Note: It was truly a pleasure to participate in this, and work with such talented people. Robert Alesiani, Lizzie Burrows, Ryan T. Barlow and Katrina Halkidis (who was on the team but couldn’t make the event due to illness) are remarkable comedians and I can’t wait to work with them again. And I’d be remised if I didn’t mention how in awe I was at the comedic talents and presence of one Mr. Greg Maughan. Greg doesn’t get to perform nearly as much as he’d like to, he’s a bit busy you know, running the amazing theatre we all love. But when he does you should JUMP at the opportunity to see the show, or be in it if you’re lucky enough. You will not be disappointed!


Meg Wise – Smith Playground and the Importance of Play

Synopsis: Smith Playground, a free park in Fairmount Park supporting unstructured play for kids.


  • Smith playground… where kids play without structure… it’s pretty much lord of the flies
  • Kids designed and built the newest edition to Smith playground.  It’s a giant butt that farts “let it go” from Frozen.
  • Admission is free.  Just like literally every other playground.
  • We partner with cool organizations like ‘spark truck’.  Which is a truck that is on fire.


Bill Mauchly – Bring Back ENIAC

Synopsis: The first general purpose electronic computer, now in pieces in museums and warehouses scattered across the country, should be brought back to Philly.

  • Most of ENIAC is sitting next to the Ark of the Covenant in a warehouse somewhere.
  • ENIAC is so nerdy (how nerdy is it), it’s so nerdy the Franklin Institute won’t even touch it.
  • Philly is finally going to get a huge tech upgrade… with a 67 year old computer.
  • Please help me carry this 500 ton computer back to Philadelphia. I can offer hoagies?


Jesse vanWestrienen – BioMeme

Synopsis:  Biomeme, enabling anyone to do real-time mobile DNA analysis on their smartphone.

  • What’s the stat they said, over a billion smartphones in the world and Biomeme can turn every one of them into a mobile lab – so SkyNet yall, SkyNet is officially becoming self-aware and it’s calling itself Biomeme. Look out for Terminators.
  • BioMeme, we take pictures of picture of plants, and make them into meme’s on Facebook – we’re filing for Chapter 11 soon
  • Because when you think BioGenetics, you think Panama
  • I want to show you the most expensive app ever in order to find out about your sisters baby daddy…so effectively putting Maury Povich out of business, thanks BioMeme!


Michelle Schmitt & Sean McGinnis – Balloon Mapping

Synopsis: The Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science is a global community formed to hold government and industry accountable through the use of citizen collected data – photos taken through balloons and kites.

  • (ReMEMber, when I’M exCITed i TALK like THIS!)
  • I’m a geonerd…I went on three dates with granite…she makes me so harrrrd.
  • Balloons are also great for high-altitude selfies.
  • Who doesn’t fucking love a balloon? Everyone who took the Hindenburg.
  • Think the NSA isn’t spying on you enough… let’s start doing it ourselves! All the time! From space balloons!
  • Yeah, your balloons are cool – but did you jump out of one from space like Felix Baumgartner?


Sarah Joseph – West Philadelphia Alliance for Children

Synopsis: How to build a school library in 11 steps

  • Let’s open up a library…I’m pretty sure there’s an app for that.
  • This is how to build a school library in 11 steps.  That’s one less step than getting sober.
  • Step 12 stop the kids from taking out the National Geographic’s that have boobs in them.
  • 17 libraries open. 17 books shelved.
  • I didn’t see “hire sexy librarian” in your talk.. Oh wait, is this not a porn?


Deva Watson – Palates to Palettes

Synopsis: Food is art, and everyone, regardless of income level, should get to experience it in all its greatest forms.

  • So full disclosure, i was writing jokes for half this presentation waiting for Pilates to come up.
  • With a name like Deva you might think I’m high maintenance, but I’m actually pretty down to Earth. Moving on.. all you mother fuckers better call me chef!!!
  • If restaurants are art forms, subway has to be paint by numbers… if paint by the numbers tasted like a shitty hoagie.
  • as we all know, Behind any great chef is a team of great people… who are addicted to cocaine.
  • We take kids to eat in restaurants they’ll never be able to afford to eat in again until they’ve sold their souls to corporate america.
  • Craig LaBan only gave these kids two bells.
  • I brought a bunch of underprivileged kids to Le Bec Fin and it closed forever.


Yowel Shaw – Really Good Elevator Music

Synopsis: The history of elevator music, and different approaches to change it to promote community in public space.

  • Elevator music founded by Satan in the middle ages.
  • So, Comcast plays music to make me even angrier?
  • Muzak will make everyone happier, I will now start playing it… I AM NOW IN CONTROL. YOU ARE NOW MY SLAVES.
  • Oh good the songs were actually ambient noises while people said creepy things to you… so, exactly how I ride in an elevator.


Greg Maughan – Philly Improv Theater

Synopsis: What’s improv, where’d it come from and why do I care?

  • Thank you guys for acting like you know what the Philly Improv Theater is so now Greg won’t kill himself tonight.
  • There’s actually a bit of a feud between improv and stand up in Philly. It’s like the Jets & the Sharks if the Jets & the Sharks never got laid.
  • “Yes, And” does work everywhere, like when I’m on a date and the woman asks if I’m enjoying my dinner I say Yes, and you should fuck me later.
  • Improved has arrived… it just hasn’t made me cum… EVER
  • UCB in the house? Philly Improv Theater in the house?? Uh Oh, Improv Fight – which is even gayer than it sounds
  • Oh and here’s an ad for PHIT, that’s the only reason I really came here tonight


Jim MacMillan – Gun Crisis News

Synopsis: Exactly what it sounds like, an overview of the gun crisis in Philadelphia presented by, a team of people seeking solutions to end the epidemic of homicide by gunfire in our city.

  • And no, we did not touch this one.


Jen Devor & Megan Rosenbach – Building Communities in Newbold

Synopsis: presented tips on connecting, engaging and supporting neighborhood schools.

  • We went to art school…. sooo we opened our own non-profit so we could eat.
  • Yeah, we have a full time librarian.  OH SNAP!!! It’s a library throw down, West Philly Alliance for Children?
  • We became very familiar with the dewey decimal system because you know, we’re all about useable 21st century skills
  • We started going into the school uninvited. We got chased out a lot by the police.
  • Get to know someone in the building.  Just in case you get locked out.
  • Yup.  Attractive white girls are preeeeety good at solving the problems of inner city schools.  we learned this from ‘Dangerous Minds’


Hillary Rea – Spoken word/comedian

Synopsis: Philly gets a bad rap a lot of the time, here’s why it’s great.

  • Everyone who isn’t from Philly can eat a dick.
  • Some people bring fans to shows to cheer. We bring people to heckle. It’s the nicest we can muster. WE LOVE YOU JT!!! (everyone give the finger)
  • No, seriously, I slipped my boyfriend a finger last night and he gave me a fist.
  • I just learned the official hasgtag for this is #IgnitePhilly, I’ve been using #VeggieWingBowl all night!!


Martin Brown – Buzzwords of Modern Life

Synopsis: Honestly we’re still trying to figure out what this one was about, but it was presented by the co-owner of Little Baby’s Ice Cream on Frankford Ave

  • Honestly, guys it’s time to get honest.  I really hate ice-cream and I’m lactose intolerant.
  • This is about the 10th time I’ve been on this stage, and in honor of that I really decided to phone this one in.
  • I have some zines for you guys (throw piles of notebook paper at audience).
  • Wanna talk to me about ice cream? Buy me a beer! Want get into these pants? Buy me some Pizza Brain.


(13) Kristyn Stewart – Philadelphia Center for Arts & Technology

Synopsis: The crisis of adult literacy in Philadelphia, and how it has far-reaching impacts on children, the economy, poverty and crime.

  • Philadelphia: Where you’ll have nightmares about Philadelphians heckling you about your statistics.
  • Seriously, when is someone going to just come up here on stage and say “FUCK TOM CORBETT!”?
  • Guys, please don’t poop in the urinal in an effort to impress Kristyn. I really have to pee.
  • To be fair, our 3 year olds are texting at a 12th grade level.


James Yoakum – Cooper River Distillery

Synopsis: James Yoakum, Founder and Chief Distiller of Cooper River Distillers in Camden, NJ, presents on craft/artisan/micro-distilling and craft/artisan/micro-spirits

  • A distillery in Camden… because ya know, law school didn’t work out
  • A distillery in Camden bc we all know what Camden needs more of.. Alcoholism
  • Quinoa whiskey, because your vegan cousin also likes to do the walk of shame.
  • I actually prefer to get my alcohol from the guy in the suit, because I already get my weed from that douchebag in a flannel shirt.


Jennifer Bogoni – Spark

Synopsis: Awkward is the new cool, why the middle (school) matters in improving drop-out rates in Philadelphia and elsewhere

  • True story: all the pictures in my presentation were just family photographs.
  • I also want a sturdy bridge to jump off after hearing those dropout stats – thanks for nothing!
  • The real question: how did this talk relate to spaghetti bridges you make in middle school science class?
  • Jenni bogoni do you like macaroni?
  • I know what my focus was in high school. The girls who wouldn’t go out with me.

See you next time, if not sooner! If you’d like to learn the skills that helped us do what we did at this Ignite event, you can. Just enroll in an improv, sketch or stand-up class today at PHIT!

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