A Fond Farewell to Mayor Karen

528459_502864123094428_462683889_nThe time has come to say goodbye to our longest running House Team, Mayor Karen. Over the last four years, MK has grown into one of the most fun and flawless teams on the Philly comedy scene. In addition, her cast members have grown individually and have become  wonderful performers, instructors, and directors in their own rights. And now that these formidable players are taking different paths in life (to move to other cities, move to other projects, or even start families) we wanted to take a moment and share a brief oral history of the team, comprised of their best memories from this long run, in their own words…

Nathan Edmondson (director, 2010-2012): “PHIT had recently cast a new team or two (in May 2010) and Greg thought there was enough talent left over from the auditions to put together an additional team.  So these performers had already been through and overlooked for two callbacks when I brought them back for a third.  It was my luck that they hadn’t been scooped up already.  I had the privilege of watching them rehearse every week, grow as performers and have them as good friends.  You’re already missed Mayor Karen!  Our holiday parties were the best!”

Rachel Semigran (cast, 2010-2012): Whenever Nathan would sass us in rehearsal for talking or dicking around we’d call him ‘Mad Dad.’ So like a bunch of weirdos, we bought him a Father’s Day card and sent it to his home. Also, before I left to study in London, during my last show, Nick Gilette, being the mad genius that he is, managed to make my very last scene about me transforming into David Bowie and made it so that, ‘The only thing left to do…is go to England.’ Then everyone hugged me on stage and I cried a lot. The one scene that has stuck out in my brain as one of my all-time favorite improv moments was when Nick sat backwards on a chair, very seductively, and without missing a beat, Nora said with a lusty voice, ‘I love it when you babysit me.’ And then the scene was wiped. Perfection. Once a Mayor, always a Mayor.”

Alan Kaufmann (cast 2010-2014): “It’s really hard to choose, but one of my favorite MK moments was in one rehearsal Nathan told us to do a run of scenes but play in the style of another team member, so we all had a lot of fun twirling around and pretending to eat sandwiches.”

Steve Swan (cast 2011-2014): “We were in Toronto for an improv festival and hurricane Sandy was hitting and all transportation was being shut down.  We were on one of the last buses out.  Our driver was a barrel chested man standing six feet twenty, who defiantly cursed the storm as the rain pounded against him.  Throughout the harrowing journey, he sang of a love, long ago lost…  Also, Nora snuck on without a ticket, so I’m pretty sure she can be legally deported.”

Michael Tomasetti (cast, 2010-2012): “The Mayors were all warming up behind the curtain at The Shubin before we went on. We were doing a ‘pumped up’ warm-up and grabbing each other on the shoulders and shaking each other. Hochman and I took it to another level, I got caught up in the moment and ended up headbutting him really hard in the head. We both sort of held each others’ heads, hoped we didn’t have a minor concussion and did a show.”

Jen Curcio (cast, 2013-2014): “I loved all of the combat scenes Mayor Karen ever did, but especially the one I had with Lizzie Spellman. We were lotion wrestling at Victoria’s Secret and it was magical.”

Lizzie Spellman (cast, 2013-2014): “I really trust these guys when we’re on stage. Mayor Karen is the only team that I will do actual improvised stage combat with, and not have to worry that I might get mortally wounded.”

Nathan: “One time Hochman almost killed Alan.”

Michael Hochman (cast, 2010-2014): “I once almost killed Alan Kaufmann. We were doing the Philly Improv Festival, playing a scene in which I was Alan’s ballet director at a company for large performers. When he insisted he wasn’t too puny for the company, I challenged him to catch me, and we went right into an committed attempt at a jump / lift. When we hit the ground instead, (half off the edge of the stage) the crowd audibly gasped in concern for Alan’s well being. Then Alan bounced back up, and continued the scene without missing a beat.”

Becca Trabin (cast, 2010-2014): “Some of my all-time favorite scenes where when Hochman put his arm between Nora’s legs as an improv dick and she didn’t  bat an eye, she played a guy with a hand on the end of his penis amazingly for the whole show. Tomasetti initiated actual making-out in a few scenes. Jen Curcio has told several monologues that BEGIN with someone from her home town dying mysteriously. When we first put on Page One at the Fringe Festival, I was astounded by all of my teammate’s abilities to create and sustain grounded, hilarious characters who you root for even though they’re terrible. Those shows were on fire.”

Rob Gentile (cast, 2011-2014): “There was a time Jason told us that we shouldn’t be afraid to be blunt. Becca steps out mid show and to the crowd says, ‘ORIGIN STORY’ and we see a scene from a character’s history, genius. I love that move. It was so simple and I was dying on the side of the stage.  Also, birds. With out Mayor Karen I would not have realized that birds are the funniest animal on the planet. Thank guys!”

Nathan: “At one point we thought Greg was going to kill all of us.”

Nick Gillette (cast, 2010-2012): “It’s the moments between shows I remember most. Burgers at the POPE making dirty jokes with Tomasetti. The after party of Alan’s wedding. We raffled Mayor Nutter’s Phillies box seat tickets to support our trip to the Chicago Improv Festival in 2011 and toasted MK in the tallest building in the Western hemisphere. I submit this photo instead of 1000 words.”


You can catch Mayor Karen’s last show Saturday, May 3 2014 at 10:30PM. Tickets available online.

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