SPOTLIGHT: DYNAMITE SERIES (UNTITLED) #10

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As part of the Dynamite Series @ PHIT, (Untitled) is a show that strives to merge the worlds of improv comedy and visual arts into a unique collaborative experience. Local visual artists across many disciplines share their work with the cast to inspire an improvised theatrical show, the artist then creates a piece of work during the show in response to the action happening on stage. Director Rachel Semigran (PHIT House Team Sabotage) leads a highly trained team capable of falling into different forms or styles to compliment their exploration the purpose and permanence of art and comedy.

In honor of this month’s installment of (Untitled)  and in honor of (Untitled) being named one of Philly’s 13 Comedy Shows to See This Spring (yahoo!) we have collected a few favorite memories from the cast members of this unique and invigorating show.


Hark horse! A sock speaks!
The universe shatters with
Guy Fieri’s tears.

– Ryan Barlow


 

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This is a favorite moment from one of my favorite shows, the one we did at Indy Hall. It’s Andrew and I as mom and son being caught in the vines, and as they wind tighter and tighter, we are having a “serious” conversation. I let him know that he was not an accident. Great because one of the paintings that day had a figure wrapped in vines, so it came directly from that. This picture was drawn by artist Mike Jackson as he watched the scene.

– Karen Coleman


Performing with Untitled is a privilege, getting to bring so many artists from other parts of Philly together with our silly wild fun shows. The cast is wonderfully supportive and will run with the strangest ideas. Plus, watching visual artists get celebrated for their work onstage never fails to make me smile like a goof . Saul (the artist from our last show) is a friend from work, and when he came out everyone chanted his name. He was beaming for days, and is now thinking about taking an improv class.

– Sam Abrams


 

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Danny Coeyman illustration.

– Zachary Uzupis


You can also check out this response from last month’s artist Saul Rosenbaum made after his experience here!

(UNTITLED) #10 is on Saturday, February 13th at 7:30 P.M. Purchase tickets here!

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PHIT Seeking Sketch Producer!

PHIT is excited to announce our search for a new Sketch Producer to join our amazing Artistic Team. The Sketch Producer reports to Jessica Snow, our fearless Artistic Director and supervises all of the sketch comedy programming on PHIT’s stage. They are responsible for providing assistance to our sketch house teams, selecting the great indie sketch teams – both local and visiting from out-of-town – that appear on our stage, sending performance offers and tracking acceptance of those offers and seeing the shows they book to offer feedback to actors and crew of the performances. The Sketch Producer consults with the Artistic Director, other Producers (improv & variety), Executive Director, and performers. A more detailed explanation of the position is available in the Sketch Producer Job Description.

Submissions for the new Sketch Producer are being accepted beginning immediately through Monday, February 15th, 2016 at 11:59 p.m.. We ask that any interested applicants send the following in an email to contact<at>phillyimprovtheater.com with the subject line “Sketch Producer”:

  • a resume
  • a one-page letter explaining your comedy philosophy and why you would be a great Sketch Producer for PHIT

Interviews for qualified candidates will take place during the weekend of February 19th-21st. A final decision will be announced by March 1st.

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Intro class sale: Improv 101 & Sketch 101 Only $199! That’s $100 off now through now February 8th, 2016!

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And just like that, it’s February. Valentine’s Day, presidential primaries, and Punxsutawney Phil’s annual visit are breathing down our necks. One week ago, we were under a mountain of snow. Today, Spring is just around the corner, and the spirit of new growth, we’re having a sale on our Spring Session!

That’s right. Don’t let the plants do all the growing this Spring! Branch out with an improv or sketch class at the Philly Improv Theater. Whether you’re interested in comedy, looking to try something new, or just trying to meet some new people, we got your back! Our classes are creative, inclusive, and, above all, FUN–and for the next week all intro level classes are only $199 through February 8th, 2016! That’s $100 off the full registration cost and you still get access to practice groups, free show admission and more!

Are you hesitant to enroll because you’re thinking “what’s improv or sketch and how can it help me?” you should know that we have a ton of free workshops you can register for THIS WEEK that will give you an overview of what to expect in an eight week class. You’ll have fun, learn something, meet new people and you won’t pay a dime.

This intro class sale includes several special classes such as Musical Improv 101 with Jerome Kurtenbach and Improv For Actors with Tara Demmy. If you’ve been doing improv you can give sketch writing a whirl. If you’e been writing, learn to write on your feet with improv classes. Improv and sketch are basically cousins and there’s something to be gained from learning both. If you’re looking at an Improv 201 through 401 class or Sketch Writing 201 it’s worth noting that this will be the last session at the current prices.

As always, if you’ve enjoyed your time at PHIT please share this information with you friends, family, or even strangers. You can follow us on Twitter @PHITComedy and Facebook and easily retweet and share this information. We count on this organic sharing of information to grow our audience. We can’t do any of this without you!

Hope to see you in a class or around the theater soon!

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ARE YOU A STUDENT AT PHIT IN SEARCH OF STAGE TIME?

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Whether you’re a new student enrolled in 101 or finishing up the PHIT program in 401, The Dean’s List is the perfect space to put into practice everything you’ve been learning in class. Each week three students are selected to perform with three of our glorious instructors. Steve Kleinedler, the host of The Dean’s List, sat down with us to give us the run down on one of the city’s most supportive shows.

I know you know a lot about words Steve – if you could describe The Dean’s List in three words that I MOST LIKELY have never heard of what would they be?

Lucent, lambent, crackerjack — although I might have also just described a campfire.

What was the inspiration behind creating The Dean’s List?
Back when PHIT was still at the Shubin, on Sunday nights we had a show called The Deans. Whichever instructors were available would perform, which was fun, but no one was ever available for rehearsals, so the shows lacked consistency. I was asked to host a show that would involve instructors and students and was given the latitude to develop the format.

What advice do you have for a student that has been picked and has never performed on stage before?
Have fun: everyone (including the audience) has your back! The audience is filled with your classmates, friends, and other performers, and they want to see everyone succeed; the atmosphere is extremely supportive. At the beginning of the last several sessions, students who have just taken their first 101 class have been picked, and each time, they’ve knocked it out of the park.

What is your favorite part about hosting the The Dean’s List?
I get one word of inspiration from the audience, and then get three inspirations based off of the initial word, and sometimes my requests take unintended turns and I end up delving into phonology or something weird, so that’s always fun. My favorite part though, is watching students trust their guts, especially during the montage, and doing some really sophisticated work that they might not have realized that they were capable of doing. It’s great to see the exact moment when everything clicks.

What is the most challenging part about hosting the The Dean’s List?
Making sure my shirts are right-side-out and properly buttoned; it’s a struggle.

If The Dean’s List was any teen heartthrob from the 90’s who would it be?
I’m too old to have teen heart-throb from the 90s. It’s crafty like Dr. Kimberly Shaw from Melrose Place but in a less nefarious way. Heartthrobs… let’s take a look at our Dynamite! magazines from the 70s: it would have to be Kristy McNichol. Or Parker Stevenson. Or both. Not Shaun Cassidy.

What is your advice for aspiring improvisers that are just getting started in the PHIT Training Center?
See as many shows as you can! Take advantage of your PHIT student passes, and most shows around the city are affordable. Connecting what you learn in class with what you see on stage is a critical element of the learning process. Find people you like working with, and meet up with them to see shows and rehearse.

The Dean’s List is every Sunday at 7:00 P.M. as part of our SUPER FREE SUNDAYS at PHIT. Check out the schedule here to see who the opening act is each week!

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Session 2 Classes Enrolling Now! Try Before You Buy With Free Workshops!

A few weeks ago we started our first session of classes for 2016 and we’re already a couple weeks into enrolling Session 2 classes! Whether you are new to improv or sketch or have been around for a while, I’m pret-ty sure Session 2 will have something for you.

Improv Class 2In addition to our regular (and awesome) slate of improv and sketch writing classes, there are a few more great things coming in Session 2 including the return of Musical Improv 101 with Jerome Kurtenbach, a brand new Duos Class with Kristen Schier, the first 2016 section of Sketch Writing 201 with Paul Triggiani, and more to be announced soon! As I always say, if you’re interested in a higher level class it’s best to register early. 201-401 classes tend to sell out long before their start dates. This is also the last chance to get into a class at current prices before prices increase next session! Later this session we will also begin accepting applications for the next round of the PHIT Improv Conservatory instructed by Steve Kleinedler, which will begin classes in May. There will also be lots of one day workshops and practice groups for current students and anyone in between classes to learn a new skill or freshen up an old one.

Are you new to improv or sketch writing and unsure what you’d be getting yourself into? We got your back! We have a ton of free workshops you can register for that will give you an overview of what to expect in an eight week class. You’ll have fun, learn something, meet new people and you won’t pay a dime. Check out this list for upcoming Free Intro to Improv and Free Intro to Sketch Writing workshops. Also, be sure to check out our Diversity Program. We are now accepting applications for the next round of scholarships!

We’re always eager to hear about your class experience. If you have any class related questions, comments or concerns always feel free to email classes@phillyimprovtheater.com and Mike Marbach or David Donnella will help you out. Hope to see you in a class or at a show soon!

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PHIT KIDS & TEENS PROGRAM ENROLLMENT AND FREE OPEN HOUSES!

KIDSKnow a funny kid, class clown or creative young mind? The PHIT Kids and Teens program is currently offering Free Open Houses and classes this spring. In honor of classes beginning on March 12th Rachel Semigran took some time to answer some FAQ regarding the PHIT Kids and Teens program.

1. What inspired you to start the PHIT Kids and Teens program?
I’ve always loved working with young people. I have a Master’s degree in Applied Theatre from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and I have run after-school theater programs at Philadelphia high schools, so I know first-hand just how big of an impact performing arts can have in these age groups. I felt like it was a natural step for the theater to take. It was also a perfect combination of the things I am most passionate: arts accessibility and improv comedy.

17352993029_6975e471e1_z2. When are classes/open houses?
Our FREE Open House will be on Saturday, February 27th from 10:00 A.M. to 11:oo A.M. Here, parents get free coffee and doughnuts while I let them know about all of the wonderful things we offer. The kids and teens get to try out a one-hour workshop with our awesome faculty. For free. Have I mentioned that it’s free yet? It’s free. Our spring session classes run on Saturdays from 10 A.M. to 11:30 A.M. from March 12th, 2016 through May 7th, 2016 (no class March 26th, 2016). They’re also currently $50 off for early registration!

3. What can a Kid or Teen expect when taking a class? 16918975063_5b4b00850f_z
Caring, invested and experienced instructors. Everyone who teaches with us is a PHIT company member and some of whom are full-time teachers outside of their work in comedy. Our program strives to create a safe and inclusive space for anyone who walks through our doors. Whether someone is a total school play star or a first time performer, we meet them where they are. Along with learning performance basics, creating hilarious characters, playing short-form games and being introduced to the skilled technique of long-form improvisation, students can expect to have a lot of fun and tons of laughs all while making really great friends. Students get to meet peers from all walks of life, from all over the city and the suburbs and become an ensemble together. My favorite part of the job is seeing a few shy students walk in on their first day and then spot them on the day of the class show running to their new friends and commanding the stage with pure joy and excitement.17351744080_4975cfc95a_z

4. Are there shows for Kids?
We are currently developing family-friendly programming at PHIT. Keep your eyes and ears open! We also have graduation performances on the last week of classes for friends and family to see what the students have been learning. They’re always so much fun. Kids are natural comedians so you’ll see some of the funniest, most inventive stuff coming out of someone who can barely reach the kitchen sink. It’s inspiring, really.

5. Why is it important to have a program for Kids and Teens? 16919002873_ab4ed75cc2_z (1)
Improv makes you fearless. It improves your listening skills, writing abilities and helps you work well with others. It’s an art that says, “Your idea is great and I want to support you 100%”. Embracing and celebrating young people’s creativity and their individuality is crucial to promoting positive development. Academically and personally, improv comedy has so many wonderful applications for young people. It takes the pressure off of learning lines or scoring points, it just allows students to explore their own genius and make others laugh in the process. I also know there are young people in our city with a passion for comedy and I want our program to reach them and help them explore their talent.

It’s something I wish I had as a kid or teen because I would have probably had a little more self-confidence, and better yet, I could have met people my age who shared my love of making weird faces and talking in funny accents. I was a goofy kid to say the least.

Head to our enrollment page here for more information and to register for classes!

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PHIT is Open!

Following the conclusion of winter storm Jonas overnight PHIT will be open today, Sunday, January 24th, 2016 for all classes, rehearsals, shows and other events. We look forward to seeing you!

Students who cannot make class because of difficulty traveling in their vicinity should contact the Class Registrar to schedule a make-up session in another class section later this week.

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Creating a Welcoming and Safe Environment in Comedy

Recent events in the PHIT community and throughout the Philly comedy community have focused attention on how we all as comedians deal with issues of discrimination and harassment in the comedy world. The conversation isn’t just a local one – across the country women and men have been speaking out against injustices in their communities and specific institutions and individuals who are part of the problem.

I recognize that these are a deeply personal issues. Like many of you, I have family and friends who have suffered discrimination or harassment and have seen the toll this kind of aggression can take on someone. People’s opinions on how best to address discrimination and harassment can vary widely and wildly, but at the end of the day the common goal in all attempts to address these issues always seems to be greater tolerence, understanding and respect for every person. I’ve been encouraged this week as I followed or heard about conversations online and around town that strived for constructive, open dialogue regarding these types of concerns and had these end goals as their focus.

I believe it is important for me to contribute something to this conversation on behalf of PHIT  – to speak about what we are doing to fostering greater diversity in comedy by creating safe and welcoming environments for all types of comedians. As the founder and owner of a comedy theater I understand I have the primary responsibility to ensure that we are creating a culture and environment free from any type of discrimination and harassment at PHIT. I want to be unquestionably clear: the health, safety, and security of our entire community is important above anything else. Creativite pursuits require trust and support, and our first job before all others is to create this type of environment so that the learning, creation, and performance we each come here to pursue can occur.

I am the first person to acknowledge that in the past we were not always as proactive as we should have been in addressing these types of concerns, and first person to admit that when it comes to issues as important as discrimination and harassment we should always strive to do better when handling such sensitive issues. In the past year PHIT implemented a Discrimination and Harassment Policy and trained all of our Company Members (those performers, instructors, and staff with consistent involvement at the theater as members of house teams, hosts of variety shows, teachers or key volunteers behind the scenes) in how it worked. The policy applies to anyone affiliated with our community – from audience members, to students, performers, teachers, and staff.

I fully understand that implementing and following through on a policy isn’t cause to declare victory.  Real change requires a shift in culture through a commitment to supporting victims, who are predominantly women,  and setting a standard of behavior that makes it clear this type of behavior is completely unacceptable and indefensible. Effecting these changes requires education, consistency, and time.  There is often talk of blurred lines in comedy and as a fellow comedian I fully understand those challenges and in no way want to stifle the creative process.  However I feel very strongly – and no one will be able to convince me otherwise – that creating a safe, respectful environment for everyone and offering creative, alternative comedy are not and should not be  mutually exclusive.

If any member of our community has a concern related to discrimination or harassment they can always contact me directly or reach out to another member of our community who helps to run or supervise things at the theater if they are more comfortable making an initial report to someone else. This list of people would include:

Jessica Snow, Artistic Director
Mike Marbach, Education Director
Kristen Schier, Improv Producer
Joe Moore, Variety Producer
Jack O’Keeffe, Production Coordinator
Rachel Semigran, Kids & Teens Coordinator
David Donnella, Diversity Coordinator/Class Registrar
Maureen Scullion, HR Consultant
House Managers (Tom Hannigan, Rick Helpa, Teresa Nutter, Courtney Painter)
Instructors
House Team/Dynamite Series Directors

It is my hope that we can all work together to provide a safe environment that treats every individual with dignity and respect on our stage, in our classrooms and anywhere the PHIT community gathers.

Sincerely,

Greg Maughan
Founder/Owner
Philly Improv Theater

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FRIDAY & SATURDAY SHOWS CANCELLED!

Snow-DayThe mayor has declared a state of emergency in Philadelphia starting at 9pm. Blizzard conditions are expected soon. All shows Friday night, January 22nd, 2016 are cancelled. All classes, practice groups, rehearsals, shows and other events, on Saturday, January 23rd, 2016 are cancelled.

Enjoy the snow and be careful out there!

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THREE NEW VARIETY SHOWS THIS WEEK

Puppets, Lady Bits and Porn! This week brings three new variety shows to the PHIT stage. To celebrate the arrival of three new shows we have put together a Q&A with some of the hosts.

Beth & Ralph’s Porn Stash: Hosted by Betty J. Smithsonian and Ralph Andracchio12528065_10100373302845327_677219647_n

What is the show about?
It’s about two local funny people watching the odd clip of porn and not necessarily making fun of the people or the situation, but using it as a springboard for a deeper discussion about the human experience.

What inspired you two to put this show together?
What inspired us was the two of us having such a great rapport, wanting to work together, and also wanting to create a show that would catch people’s attention and spark conversations.

Is there anything the audience should come in expecting?
The audience should expect frank, fun discussions about life, sexuality, and why at the end of the day we’re all just looking to get off and be happy.

Sell me your show in one sentence.
Eyes aren’t the windows to the soul, your porn choices are.

Beth and Ralph’s Porn Stash can be seen Thursday, January 21st at 10:30pm. Tickets can be purchased here!

Lady Bits: Hosted by Rachel Semigran, Alyssa Jackson, and Sue Nelson.

AlyssaJacksonBigWhat is Lady Bits?
Lady Bits is a variety panel show for ladies, by ladies, anyone who identifies as a lady, and for those who love ladies.

When did Lady Bits first happen?
The first version of Lady Bits was during the Black Friday Comedy Marathon in November.

In one sentence, what is your show?
It’s like The View, but younger, and later, and funny.

Coming into the show is there anything one should expect?
To find out what’s really going on inside the minds of a handful of lady folk through delightfully funny bits, games, and good ole fashioned conversation. They might even learn something along the way, be it from the hosts, guests panelists, or the expert for the month!

This month’s Lady Bits will feature Sexologist Timaree Schmit. Schmidt earned a Ph.D. in Human Sexuality Education from Widener University, the a culmination of a lifelong search for rational, sex-positive, empirically-based knowledge about sexuality. She now works as an adjunct professor, guest lecturer, writer and consultant. More information on Dr. Timeree can be found on her website.

See Lady Bits with Special Guest Dr. Timaree Schmit on January 22nd at 10:30pm. Tickets can be purchased here!

Puppet Slam: Hosted by Joe Moore

1. What is it about?JoeMoore
Puppet Slams are typically like open mic for puppeteers, but I’m using the name lightly. I’m bad at naming things and co-opting that name kind of worked. Ours is more about giving people the chance to try something new on stage, or to flesh out pieces. I want to encourage people to not just try pieces with puppetry but sketches or monologues that might be more experimental. I know so many talented comedians in Philadelphia who are also incredible artists and it would be cool to see them combine both disciplines to make something unique.

2. What inspired it?
I honestly just wanted to see it happen at PHIT. It seemed like the perfect home to nurture a show like this and there are so many creative people in the city doing puppetry and other neat performance art, but there are a limited number of platforms. I figured this would be a fun way to bring them together under the PHIT umbrella. There’s also no consistent puppet slam or anything like it in Philly right now so it seemed like a good idea. But I’m a total idiot so who knows.

3. What should the audience expect?
I don’t know! Which is kind of the exciting and terrifying part of this show. It’s different with each performer and group. There will, however, definitely be lots of puppets. There will be live acts and some videos. I’m super excited to see where this goes, the performers are split down the middle, there are seasoned professionals and people doing this for the first time!

4. If you had to sell it in 1 sentence, what would that sentence be?
This show will be so much fun you will never want to leave the theater so you will have all your mail forwarded there and you will call out of work to wait there until the next one and it will unlock your truest potential as an artist and it will consume your whole life forever and ever and God will bless you the chosen one so why not come huh?

Get your tickets for Puppet Slam this Friday, January 22nd at 11:55 PM here!

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SPOTLIGHT: JANUARY LAUNCH PAD TEAM RAGE FRIENDS

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For the month of January, every Wednesday night at 7:30 P.M., PHIT stage will be the proud home of indie team Rage Friends (coached by Hunter Steffes). The Launch Pad program is an opportunity for local improv teams to participate in a three-month intensive development, coaching, and performance period with PHIT.

To celebrate Rage Friends’ current work with PHIT we have put together a lovely Q&A to help you get to know this dynamic team.

What brought you all together as a team?
A Rage Friends Fairy Godmother thought we all worked well together and once we hung out as a group, we knew we had something pretty great going on. We really like working with each other, supporting each other and we always have fun together. The last year has been an absolute blast.

What sort of themes often find their way into a Rage Friends performance?
Rage Friends shows tend to utilize relationship based scene work with strong characters and even stronger accents. We often end up outdoors but no matter what, there is always an adventure.

I most recently saw you all perform at the PHIT Diversity Ball and was very intrigued by the form that you guys used – could you speak more about that?
Since we began as a team, we’ve been refining our form where we attempt a Harold. We’ve recently adjusted our opening and we’re very excited to debut it for our Launch Pad shows!

How does Rage Friends “get in the zone” as they say, for a show?
Whenever we are all together we get a little giddy and hyped which we channel into productive energy for shows. We like to draw on our friendship and we know that we are totally supported by each other throughout the performance. However, we sure do love a rousing game of Big Booty and our Coven version of Pass the Face.

Does Rage Friends have any New Year’s Resolutions?
Make mistakes. Listen intently. Live in the moment.

What makes Rage Friends giggle?
We giggle often! Our favorite giggles come from each other, double entendres, bad rapping, German accents, apple dumplings, musical references incorporated into daily conversations and basically anything.

If Rage Friends was any teen heartthrob from the 90’s who would it be?
We feel like a Zach Morris.

Do you have any advice for aspiring improvisers?
We think that it is really important to have fun and be able to laugh at yourself. We also think it’s important to make mistakes and push past your comfort zone because that’s where the fun happens. Also, if you like performing with a group of people, get a team together. It really is such a great learning and growing experience.

What do you hope audience members will take away from a Rage Friends show?
We basically want everyone to leave the theater and want to be our friend.

Want to check out a Rage Friends performance at PHIT? Purchase tickets here!

Below are shows Rage Friends will be performing in after their Launch Pad run:
Friday, February 5 – The Dungeon
Tuesday, February 16 – Free Improv at the Grape Room
Thursday, February 18 – American Sardine Bar: Uncanned

Can’t get enough Rage Friends? Have no fear! They have created a Buzzfeed Quiz just for YOU to find out which Rage Friend you are! Take the quiz here!

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SPOTLIGHT: THE WADSWORTH CONSTANT

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The Wadsworth Constant (part of the Dynamite Series at PHIT) is a show unlike any other in which veteran performers Kristen Scheir and Nick Gillette blend absurdist theater and improv comedy to create an experience that embodies the truth, wildness, and humor of what it is to be human.

In honor of their January installment that is fast approaching Kristen and Nick have indulged us in a very illuminating Q&A.

How is your act different than other improv shows our audience viewers may have seen?

KS: Well it is slightly different because we are aiming at improvising an absurdist play. The show isn’t really your traditional improv show. Comedy isn’t our chief goal with the show. We try to play the show where ever it lands.
NG: The Wadsworth Constant has its own pace. I’ve heard the phrase slow comedy more and more these days, and I’m starting to think we fit pretty squarely in that description. Many improv shows are like juicy chicken nuggets served hot right away. We sit on an egg, hatch a little chick, hand feed it until it’s grown, then slaughter it, throw the head to the dog, pluck and gut it, dry rub it with all-spice, spit roast it over coals, and serve it hot by the end of 50 minutes. I think it makes for more memorable shows.

What was the catalyst / inspiration for creating this act?

KS: At least part of it is that I really wanted to work with Nick. I have admired his work as an actor/improviser for a long time. We both had some similar vocabulary with our theater backgrounds and improvised absurdism seemed to fit what we both were interested in exploring. Ralph created the Dynamite Series as a way of connecting different communities and pushing the boundaries of improv so it was a perfect vehicle to showcase Wadsworth. We were trying something new and more theatrical.
NG: Kristen asked me if I wanted to perform in a Beckett inspired duo, which leads me to believe she can read minds.

When you are performing are there specific elements or themes you are aiming to hit?

KS: Absurdism definitely has its troupes. Sparsely populated worlds, repetition, a sense of timelessness, darker themes of death and decay and meaninglessness. We are certainly mindful of these characteristics going into the show but they are not our focus. We try, however, not to steer the show to heavily towards them. It can seem inorganic when we do that. Steve Klienedler coaches us on occasion and gave us helpful feedback one rehearsal. I know I mainly try to be very present, listen really hard and react honestly. He encouraged us not to be a palimpsest of absurdisim but to discover it as we go. This has been a key note for me in how I approach the show because I definitely tend to be heavy handed.
NG: Beckett’s plays are rife with characters suffering something they’re missing, and unable to satisfy. We play with hunger, loneliness, dread of the unknown, and the inescapable looming curtain of death drawing slowly over each and every one of us. For some reason, it’s hilarious.

What do you hope audience members will take away from a performance by The Wadsworth Constant?

KS: Well I do hope whoever comes to see The Wadsworth Constant enjoys the show on some level. I hope they find something meaningful – but then again, I hope we do too. I don’t think we have a consistent thing we want an audience to take away because the shows really are so different.
NG: I hope people get a chance to laugh and commiserate at our bizarre shared human condition. We’re all in this weird soup of reality together, which when you see on display as Kristen and I play it, naked of emotional armor and trapped in an irreproducible living moment, appears for what it is, bled of the comfort of familiar context, sad and wondrous and strange and vital to behold.

Do you have any advice for aspiring improvisers?

KS: Love your choices and commit to them. Listen to your scene partner. They are a genius. Play.
NG: Take a risk. Be affected. Play hard, listen harder.

If The Wadsworth Constant were a sandwich what would it be?

KS: The Wadsworth Constant would be a moldy pickled herring sandwich. The only food you have left so you have to eat it.
NG: Bread, meat, cheese, meat, cheese, meat, cheese, meat, cheese, meat, cheese, meat, bread.

If you were feeling blue what would, without out a doubt, make you laugh on the spot?

KS: Bad commercials. Accident lawyers,used car commercials, self-made low budget bad commercials. They are funny and sad.
NG: This meme. https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/8f/b8/3d/8fb83dae33c84a203836abf1d8b7867a.jpg

The next performance of The Wadsworth Constant is on January 16th at 7:30 P.M. Get tickets here!

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SPOTLIGHT: DECEMBER LAUNCH PAD TEAM ROBOBRO

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This past month, Launch Pad team RoboBro, coached by Tom Hannigan (Outside Voices), has captivated Philadelphia audiences with their commitment to the characters they create and their infectious playfulness. The Launch Pad program is an opportunity for local improv teams to participate in a three-month intensive development, coaching, and performance period with PHIT.

In honor of their final Launch Pad show this upcoming Wednesday, RoboBro has taken time to answer some hard-hitting questions.

How did you guys know you were destined to perform together?
Once Mercury was in retrograde and Jupiter was ascending, the water crystals spoke their truth and we were merely vessels for their energy. And once that happened, and our auras all glowed the same burnt sienna, we knew this was something we needed to explore.

What sort of themes always find their way into a Robobro performance?
The Connecticut penal code turns up in scenes with surprising frequency.

How does Robobro feel about the new Adele album?
Please don’t ask.  It’s really tearing the group apart.

Panera or Subway?
Until now, we were unaware that the team is almost equally divided between Subway-eating street urchins and old-money aristocrats who prefer to eat “real” food.  It’s really tearing the group apart.

What makes Robobro giggle?
Geoff.

If Robobro was any teen heartthrob from the 90’s who would it be?
Ryder Strong.  He was a good friend, and that’s what really counts.  Plus, Will Friedle is overrated.

Do you have any advice for aspiring improvisers?
Eat a twelve inch cheese hoagie from Wawa before every show, do six minutes worth of a squats during a show, and have Tom Hannigan as a coach. That last one is real.

What do you hope audience members will take away from a Robobro show?Forgiveness, understanding, compassion, patience, love… the same things one hopes anyone takes away from a traumatic event.

Don’t miss RoboBro’s final Launchpad show on Wednesday, December 23rd 7:30 PM. Get tickets here!

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WHICH BIG BABY ARE YOU???

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We’ve all been there. Sitting in the audience of a Big Baby show, fully enraptured and delighted with the world they have created, but there is one thing you can’t help but wonder as you watch these talented beings and that is WHICH BIG BABY ARE YOUHave no fear! We’ve partnered with Big Baby to create a quiz in which this life goal can finally be realized. Just in time for their 100th show on December 19th! 

TAKE THE QUIZ HERE!

Feeling SO thrilled about this 100th show that you wanna wear it on your body? That’s totally doable! Order a Big Baby T-shirt here!

 

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A FOND FAREWELL TO TRASH ISLAND

 

11249166_1122294801131617_642442264749470938_nAs PHIT continues to transform and grow in the coming months we must give a loving goodbye to the extremely talented team that is Trash Island. Over the past year Trash Island has evolved into an amazing ensemble of supportive, witty, unique players that have brought remarkable shows to the PHIT stage.

As it so happens in the lifespan of every team – from auditions, to casting, to practicing, to performing – Trash Island will be retiring at the end of this month.

As we reach their final performance (December 12th 9:00 P.M.) we’ve asked the cast to share their thoughts about this great team.


Performing every week with these weirdo goofballs was an experience I’ll never forget.  Being on Trash Island helped me grow tremendously, as an improvisor and as a human being.  Big thanks to PHIT and Jess Snow for letting us be as strange as we wanted to be for so long. – Mallory Rhodes


I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to play with Trash Island on the PHIT stage.  It’s really wonderful to reflect on the journey the team has taken as well as the tremendous growth I’ve been able to witness in each performer individually.  I recall very vividly on the first day of rehearsal, Jess asked us who knew of or had performed a Harold.  Less than half of our nine members raised their hands, but over time I think we found something really wonderful about how we took that form and gave it our own unique point of view.  Its hard for me to put into words what Trash Island is or how we played, but I can’t help but think of us like a bunch of young kids on the playground.  Timid, shy, and scared, but fiercely loyal, tremendously supportive of each other, and always with a sense of wonder, innocence, and excitement.  So often, Jess would caution us to start our scene work small and grounded, but so often, we’d find a way of cramming 4, 5, or 6 people into our first scene.  We just loved each other and we loved being on stage with each other.

As a teammate, scene partner, and side-line audience member, I’ve gotten the ability to watch a group of really talented people grow into some really special actors to the Philly comedy community and beyond.

Stephanie – A Trash Island original member who brought such a wonderful point of view to all of her scene work.  She was the queen of dead pan and straight manning and playing with her provided a opportunities to discover layers, deep worlds, and grounded commentary.

Stuart – Stuart brought very unique, absurd, and richly detailed characters into all of his scene work.  He created characters and drama out of nothing more than simply sitting and eating a clementine.  He challenged his scene partners to live and enjoy the tension and was a mental work out any time I had the opportunity to straight man for him.

Kevin Murphy – Kevin brought such joy and excitement to all of his improv.  He was fearless and unapologetic, often starting scenes with nothing more than a physical twitch, a bounce in his step, or an odd vocal choice and within seconds found a way to weave it into a fully formed person.  He does an amazing John Travolta impression and playing against him in a scene was always a pure joy because there wasn’t anything I could offer him that he wouldn’t gladly take and turn into comedy and instant laughs.

Mallory – In many ways Mallory was the Harry Potter of our group 🙂 She came onto our team as a meek, young, but excited raw talent and I am so lucky to have had a front row seat to watching her grow into an incredible risk taker, polished technical improviser, and a strong and dedicated leader for our team.  I never had any fear or uncertainly playing with Mallory.  Playing with her was pure excitement and wonder, knowing that whatever turn we took or curve ball she threw would be an adventure but I was safe by her side.  I’m touched to have been her Sirius Black.

Ned – Ned evolved tremendously as an improviser and actor during our time.  Ned is so, so smart and so passionate about life and learning it was always wonderful to see the amazing details he managed to seamlessly weave into his characters and scenes.  I’ll always be impressed with his intelligence and his dedication to the craft of improv.  He worked hard and played hard and made every scene and character beautifully real and he made me a better performer for it.

Ricky – I had an acting teacher once tell me that we should approach acting and improv like a child.  Children are fearless and unapologetic. They create worlds and play with reckless abandon and innocence.  Ricky personifies everything that is good about “playing like a child.”  Watching Ricky improv is like watching a puppy on Christmas morning.  Everything is new and shiny.  He has so much fun in the worlds that he creates and I always loved watching the moments when he got so wrapped up in his scenes that his excitement would bubble over into laughter.  Plus he was able to offer so many brilliant button lines for our shows.

Kim – Kim was a grounding force for our team.  In a world of absurd characters and bizarre choices, she brought emotional intelligence and weight to every scene she was in.  Kim did not only care about us as scene partners, she cared about us as people.  Her warmth and kindness radiated out of every scene she did and playing with her was always a reminder that relationships are key to any solid scene

Jamie – Jamie impresses me so much as an improviser and I am so lucky to performed with him.  He has the rare ability to take the shape of whatever a particular scene or show needs.  He thinks on multiple levels and is so smart about the choices he makes.  Jamie is a selfless gifter who has left me speechless at his brilliance and a smart justifier, who can hit anything you throw at him for a home run.  He makes bold character choices, yet surprises you with a grounded, emotional, real character that is wonderfully funny yet tragically heartbreaking.  He’s a tremendous actor and I cant wait to continue to watch him perform at PHIT.

Kevin Ruth – Kevin makes such strong, detailed choices and his skills as a writer have helped to shape and craft many a scene. Countless times, we found ourselves starting a group game and out of the corner of my eye, I’d find Kevin driving with a brilliant physical choice or solid object work.  His scene work is nuanced and the worlds he creates are always perfectly painted.   He responds without hesitation as if his dialogue is a memorized script and is always finding ways to heighten and explore.  Hoffman is lucky to have him join their ranks. – Dave Sucharski


I moved to New York a month into rehearsing. I didn’t even perform in front of an audience with them. Then I moved back, saw a couple of their shows, enjoyed them, and moved away again.

However, I can say that I met some great people. Also, Trash Island. I was so proud of that name. It wasn’t even my idea. I was just very proud to be a part of something named Trash Island. I didn’t even get to be proud out loud! The revealing was after I moved.
Anyways, things come to an end and better thing come about.

Enjoy your new projects, Trash Islanders! – Stephanie Drejerwski


I am incredibly thankful to Jess and the theater for the opportunity to be a part of Trash Island.  While I had taken improv classes in St. Louis and Philly, Trash Island was my first official team and it played a huge role in making Philly feel like home to me.  I had only been in the city for a few months when I joined the team and my teammates made me feel like family from day one.  We grew to love playing together so much that we often ended up with a million people in our scenes, even during first beats. At some point, we decided to embrace our undying love for group scenes and we haven’t looked back since.

I’ve really enjoyed seeing our growth over time, both as individuals and as a team.  Each person brought something special to the team – Dave’s initiations and amazing sideline support, Kevin Ruth’s beautiful attention to detail, Jamie’s ability to up the stakes in every scene, Stuart’s unique characters, Kevin Murphy’s enthusiasm, Ricky’s creative worlds with endless possibilities, Ned’s character voices and brilliant pulls, and Mallory’s fearlessness and ability to “yes, and” anything… and so much more. I was also lucky enough to work with Stephanie in class and on an indie team – her expressions and clever choices will always make me smile.  My improv journey has been richer because of every person on this team and every adventure we had, whether it was during practices, on our home stage at PHIT, or at festivals in Bethlehem, North Carolina, and New York.

Many of my favorite Trash Island memories involve warmups… singing at the top of our lungs about how a certain teammate needs a good man each time we conquer a mind meld, turning over every chair in sight, and creating all sorts of chaos.  I wish every day could start with a warmup and so much joy.  It’s a beautiful thing.

Finding time to play make-believe with people you love is worth it.  Thank you to everyone who came out to see us play together onstage.  I hope you had fun and enjoyed seeing your suggestions turn into Trash Island originals.  And thank you to Greg, Jess, Kristin, Ralph, the theater’s many volunteers, and each of my teammates for making this an amazing journey. – Kim Dahl


Survivors journal, day 479:

If you had told me 479 days ago that I  would be shipwrecked only to be saved by the floating garbage mass located somewhere in the pacific know as the Trash Island and that the other survivors I would meet there would become a loyal, goofy, comfortable, and endlessly ambitious ragtag family I would’ve said “Like and environmentally conscious update on Gilligan’s Island?” But more importantly, if you had told me back then that these people and the experiences we would share would go on to become more important that coming up with a zany (if derivative) sitcom premise I would have been shocked. To use a simile, living on this island has been like if, I don’t know, maybe you’d been learning improv and thought you knew what you were doing only to find out that the only way you learn improv is by doing it for audiences with a group of people you’ve fallen a little bit in love with. But of course that’s just a for-instance, we’re on a floating island of trash, for god sakes! And I’ve become better at surviving on an island because I’ve had the distinct honor to truly learn how to survive from survival geniuses: Dave, Ruthie, Kim, Ricky, Mal, Ned, Murph, Stuart, and Jess. Thanks a milli– A BOAT! OH GOD, WE’RE SAVED! – Jamie Glasheen


The thing I will take with me from watching Trash Island was how playful they were as a team. They masterfully constructed chaos and always seemed to be a little more off the leash than some other teams. I will miss them. – Kristen Schier


I remember sitting in on Trash Island rehearsals and seeing them warm up for shows and thinking how in love they all are with each other. And that feeling translated to the stage. There shows were always so much fun to watch. I’ll miss you all! – Ralph Andracchio


You can purchase tickets for the Dec. 12th show here!

 

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WELCOME OUR DECEMBER LAUNCH PAD TEAM: ROBOBRO

ROBOBROPOSTCARD-3RoboBro, a brand new independent team that formed out of improv classes at PHIT is taking the stage this month as part of Launch Pad! From class together to the stage together, from an opening through the show, RoboBro says their goal is to “keep the fun going.”
PHIT company member Tom Hannigan (Improv House Team Outside Voices) has been working with the team as their Launch Pad coach. The Launch Pad program is an opportunity for local improv teams to participate in a three-month intensive development, coaching, and performance period with PHIT.

You can connect with Launch Pad on Facebook for more information!

Come out to see RoboBro in a one-month run of weekly shows opening House Team Harold Nights starting Wednesday, December 2nd.

Wednesday, December 2 – 7:30PM
Wednesday, December 9 – 7:30PM
Wednesday, December 16 – 7:30PM
Wednesday, December 23 – 7:30PM

Learn more about our Launch Pad program and apply by clicking here!

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15 SHOWS TO SEE AT BFCM2015

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  1. FRI 10:10 A.M. TAFT (IMPROV)
    TAFT’s his name. TAFT’s his game. Hailing from the 1910 Progressive Era, brother man TAFT is a Philadelphian Improv team that likes to get stuck in the tub and ‘Yes And’ their way out. TAFT features Chris McGee, Matthew Jay, Walker Green, Laura Boss, Julia Celley, John Hanson, Biz Harnish, and Matt Merin. TAFT is coached by Rob Alesiani.
  2. FRI. 11:25 A.M. SAD TROMBONE (IMPROV)
    SAD TROMBONE is the comedy duo of Steve Kleinedler and Ralph Andracchio, seasoned performers and instructors at PHIT. SAD TROMBONE absorbs the audience’s sad and disappointing experiences and molds them into something wonderful and glorious losing themselves in engaging characters and stories that will have the audience forgetting why they were even sad in the first place.
  3. FRI. 12:45 P.M.  HANNAH TRAV (STAND UP)
    Hannah Trav is a nice lady and a funny stand up comedian with very high self esteem. Trav tackles tough topics like Tinder, alliteration, interracial dating, politics, and more!
  4. FRI. 2:30 P.M. MATT SCHMID (STAND UP)
    Matthew Schmid, sketch writer for The Flat Earth and The Incredible Shrinking Matt & Jacquie, explores his inadequacies and insecurities in a blend of storytelling and observational comedy. Matthew Schmid’s monologues have appeared in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency and this year he appeared on and won Nerdist’s Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction Podcast.

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  5. FRI. 3:15 P.M. FJORD (IMPROV)
    Direct quote: “We do fun, character based improv, so we thought we’d throw a funeral!” FJORD features: Kathryn Amrhein, Ryan Birchmeier, Gab Bottoni, Scott Campbell, Sarah Clemency, Alex Coffey, Casey Hogan, Shawna Stoltzfoos and Joe Tuzzi and is directed by Adam Siry.
  6. FRI. 10:40 P.M. MATT TSANG (STORYTELLING)
    What’s the definition of selective memory? It’s whatever you want it to be. Matthew’s story is full of gains and losses but the audience will walk away a winner.

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  7. FRI. 7:45 P.M. HOUSE OF SOLITUDE (IMPROV)

    HOUSE OF SOLITUTDE is a Philly comedy duo featuring Caitlin Weigel and Dan Corkery. Though they mostly stick to sketch, in the spirit of BFCM they return to their roots and offer up a steaming pile of improv.
  8. SAT. 2:20 A.M. PROPER DODGY MAKEOVER (IMPROV)
    PROPER DODGY (Rachel Semigran and Lizzie Spellman) are just two fit chavettes here to vamp up your style and your outlook on life. Learn the ins and outs of british banter and how to rock out your wild side.
  9. SAT. 6:35 A.M. CHICKEN BURLESQUE (SKETCH)
    What better way to start your day than with the mysterious Chicken Patty (Sam Abrams) as she dazzles you with her fine feathers, even finer dipping sauces, and her words directly “maybe even see her chicken nuggets!”
  10. SAT. 10:14 AM ONE ACT (SKETCH)
    The folks (Jack O’Keefe, Jolie Darrow, Courtney Painter, Andrew Coppola, Pim Van HuŸkelom, and Jon Plester) behind the frighteningly delight ‘Toy Testing’ at Five Dollar Comedy Week will be doing something a little different with a suggestion than what they’re used to — They’re making a script out of it!
  11. SAT. 1:15 P.M. DADDY BULLDOG (IMPROV)
    “DADDY BULLDOG is my favorite improv team” – Taylor Swift. DADDY BULLDOG features Chris Berg, Eric Everwine, Lali Gill, Earl Harris, Cara McGuffin, Diana Petrovich, Brett Rader, and Tim Rapp. Directed by Alex Gross.
  12. SAT. 3:45 P.M. BROUGHT TO YOU BY (SKETCH) 
    “We hope you like memorial videos, because we made a lot of them.” Casey Hogan, Peter Danger (Szekeres)Alex Coffey, Julia Hudson, Drew Klemens, Dan McClory and Kristopher Hodge bring you BROUGHT TO YOU BY…a showcase of top notch, one might say “quite funny” video sketches!
  13. SAT. 4:45 P.M. CECILY ALEXANDRIA (STAND UP)
    Cecily Alexandria is a comedian from the Philadelphia, PA area. Her comedy is based on her own life experiences and observations. She’s not black enough, skinny enough but she is funny enough and you’ll want to ask her for directions. Cecily Alexandria uses her own life to relate and create a funny and relatable experiences.
  14. SAT. 10:00 P.M. THE FUTURE11096_815609481821271_6328098785097247494_n
    THE FUTURE is scheduled to perform on Saturday night at 10:00 P.M., which is pretty much when they normally perform at PHIT. To break from this monotony, they’ll be hosting a spelling bee instead. What can go wrong? THE FUTURE is composed of Fred Brown, David Donella, Molly Scullion, Kristen Schier, and Caitlin Weigel and is directed by Mike Marbach.
  15. SAT. 11:00 P.M. BARBARA BUSH (SKETCH)
    Now that the self-proclaimed “First Ladies of Comedy” BARBARA BUSHED (featuring Kathryn Amrhein, Jolie Darrow, Julia Hudson, Sue Nelson, Courtney Painter, Shawna Stoltzfoos, Nicole Zeits and directed by Jacquie Baker) has been writing and performing sketch together for nearly a year they will be entertaining your special eyes with a “Best of Barbara Bush” show. Be prepared to be dazzled by some oldies, but goodies along with with some shiny new sketches!

A $10 pass will grant you admission into any show (based on seating availability) during the marathon. Wristbands will be available at the box office starting 30 minutes before the first show of the marathon on Friday, November 28th at 9:30 a.m.

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BLACK FRIDAY SALE! ALL IMPROV 101 & SKETCH 101 CLASSES ONLY $199 NOW THROUGH 11/30/15!

PHIT Sale BF-2015
Just in time for the holiday gift giving season comes a PHIT intro class sale! Now through November 30th, 2015 Improv 101 and Sketch 101 classes at PHIT are only $199! That’s $100 off the regular price! You can take one of our full 8 week intro classes and you’ll still get all the awesome perks:

  • Student pass that gets you into all PHIT shows for FREE!
  • Access to improv practice groups that double your class time!
  • Script reading & pizza party for sketch writing classes!
  • Graduation shows for friend and family for improv classes!
  • Lots of new friends!

It’s a Black Friday sale you don’t have to worry about getting trampled at to get the class you want and you don’t have to skip out on Thanksgiving dinner to camp outside the theater for hours. Simply look go to the ENROLL NOW page of the PHIT website, find the 101 class that you want and register for it!

Giving the gift of a PHIT class to yourself or a friend or family member goes a lot further than the 8 weeks of class and the student pass. The benefits of improv stretch far beyond the classroom. Are you looking to start the new year doing breaking your normal routine and doing something fun and different? Just move to town and want to meet some new people? Want to improve your listening skills? Trying to overcome social anxiety, stage fright, or just being in front of crowds? Want to explore a more creative side of yourself? WE CAN HELP!

Unsure if you’re ready to jump right in? Check out our FREE Intro classes enrolling now! The big sale ends November 30th, so don’t wait too long!

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SPOTLIGHT: KATHRYN AMRHEIN & SARAH CLEMENCY

11082623_10152596103392504_1301139245195093427_nTonight at 9:00 P.M. catch KATHRYN AMRHEIN & SARAH CLEMENCY’S riveting show as they open for PHIT Sketch House Team THE FLAT EARTH.

What is Kathryn Amrhein (Fjord, Barbara Bush) and Sarah Clemency’s (Fjord, Fleeksquad) show even gonna be like? Let these Six Super Stoked Sweet questions answered by Sarah lure you in:

What is the format of your show?
It is a musical sketch show with a through line that follows one character.

What was the catalyst / inspiration for making this show?
Kathryn came to me asking if I would want to work on a musical sketch show. I admire Kathryn’s performing and writing so much that I’d be dumb to say no. Also, musical theater is a big part of my background so I was very pumped to work on a show where music was very heavily involved.

What do you hope audience members will take away from this performance?
I hope the audience will take away that dating in any capacity can be extremely awkward. It isn’t like it is in the movies.

Can you name a few of your favorite sketches?
“Mighty Mouse” by Andy Kaufman, I guess it’s not a full sketch, but it makes me crack up every single time I watch it. Also, Amy Schumer’s “Milk Milk Lemonade “, I’m always on board for a good poop joke.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers and comedians?
DO IT! If you have an idea just go for it!! If you put it off or think it’s not good enough you will never see what you can actually accomplish!

If this show were any musician (and I’m using this word loosely) from the 90’s who would it be?
N’SYNC because we are coming out with puppet versions of ourselves very soon.

Get tickets here!

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Flat Earth’s Favorite On Stage Deaths

Since their first show over three years ago, Flat Earth has gained a reputation as being one of Philadelphia’s goofiest, most whimsical sketch teams. They have also developed a reputation for having a pretty high kill count for their characters. To ring in their brand new show Sorry For Your Loss, we’re counting down our top five favorite Flat Earth deaths.

5. SPY STUFF

Flat Earth - Spy StuffOur hero, an international spy, is captured by a nefarious super villain. The only thing standing in the way of the villain’s plan for world domination is a secret code that only our hero knows. The villain decides to use some “advance interrogation” tactics and calls in his henchman, a temp from the henchmen temp agency, who accidentally shoots our hero in the head.

 

 

 

 

4. DEER HUNTER

Flat Earth - Deer Hunter​A hunter struggles with his own humanity as he comes face to face with a deer. He realizes that he doesn’t have the heart to shoot the deer, so he smothers it with a pillow.

 

3. 80’s BULLY

Flat Earth - 80's BullyNot all the deaths on this list are funny, some are tragic. Such is the case with 80’s Bully, as our hero, a bully from the 80’s, sacrifices himself during an act of sheer heroism and dies in a horrible BMX biking accident.

 

 

2. THE MAESTRO

Flat Earth - MaestroThe Flat Earth’s high concept show “The Flat Earth’s 9th” was off to a good start when we had our favorite new-age music composer perform at the top of our show. After a few moments without any chord changes, we realized that this wasn’t just some dreamy soundscape, but the composer had died of a heart attack on stage.

 

 

1. COME SEE…

Flat Earth - Come and SeeWhat’s our number one, favorite Flat Earth death? You’ll have to stop in to see it live at Philly Improv Theater during our upcoming run of shows: November 12, 13, 19, & 20th at 9pm!

Get tickets here.

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