I love the Philly area. I really do. Sure it could be warmer, and not have the Phillies. But other than that, it’s gay-with-3-a’s faaabulous.
But there are times when I get jealous of other cities.
Usually, it’s a simple pining for to say I’m from Truth or Consequences, New Mexico or even Beer Bottle Crossing, Idaho.
But sometimes, not always, I wish I lived in NY or LA. If you listen to comedy podcasts, and that’s a thing that I do, you hear hosts and guests alike plugging their shows. They’re cheap, stacked to the rafters with name-brand comedians, and pretty much every night of the week. The depth and breadth of shows is mind-knuckling.
So when the girlfriend and I were discussing where to go for a post-Holidays mini-holiday as a Xmas present to each other, LA jumped to mind. So two $300 Virgin America tickets later, we were knee-deep in comedic possibilities. You know, like that time you stood up in the hot tub at the family reunion.
Like a funny Bonnaroo, tough decisions will need to be made. Or we’ll just see half of every show. After the jump, it’s a recap of all the shows I’ve found about so far, along with clips and referential humor.
Splitsider and The Comedy Bureau have been vital for my research, so props to them. Now on to the list before I find any more potential shows I have to write about.
8 - Thrilling Adventure Hour (Largo @ The Coronet - $27)
This is one of my favorite podcasts, and the thought of seeing it live embiggens my soul. It’s the only must-see show on this page.
The conceit is that these are original radio plays performed by a troupe of talented comedic actors. Paul F. Tompkins, Paget Brewster, Busy Phillips, Nathan Fillion, Patton Oswalt, John Hodgman, Colin Hanks, Joshua Malina, Alison Brie, and I can’t continue any list after mentioning Miss Brie. She’s a list-stopper.
The writing is whip-smart, hilarious, and often more touching than it has any right to be.
There are several recurring “shows” within the Thrilling Adventure hour, but the 2 main ones are “Beyond Belief” and “Sparks Nevada, Marshall on Mars”. Underrated is “Captain Laserbeam”, especially since they added a gravelly-voiced Dark Knighty character (Phillip Fathom).
Beyond Belief stars my comedic hero Paul F. Tompkins and Paget Brewster as a Frank & Sadie Doyle, a pair of happily married and joyfully alcoholic NY socialites who see ghosts and solve supernatural mysteries. They are ridiculously good at delivering the silliest of lines. I could listen to Paget recite names of African animals all day. Also they talk about and drink booze a lot. It’s episodic, but the depth comes from the love & devotion the characters have for each other. Here’s an older snippet:Winnie Cooper getting all femme fatale
The other “headliner” is Sparks Nevada. It’s the story of a Earthling (Marc Evan Jackson) who becomes a sheriff on the Wild West-like planet of Mars. He takes himself a little too seriously, is not emotionally available, and is easily grossed out. Also, he has robot fists. He has a Martian sidekick Croach (Mark Gagliardi) who is a stickler for the pronunciation of his home planet and for the varying levels of “onus” that tie him to Sparks. There’s an on-again, off-again love affair with The Red Plains Rider (Busy Phillips), and countless other opportunities to make puns that mix the old west with outer space (e.g. there’s a showdown with a robot called “Techs”).
This has longer story arcs, character development, and genuine pathos. You actually come to care about these characters, which is the basic litmus test for good fiction.
This is not the best clip, but trust me, it’s good. This MP3 is a better example.I’m totally from Earth too! We have so much in common…
Midnight - Tomorrow! with Ron Lynch ($8)
Given that we’ll be leaving Philly at 7:30AM on Saturday, I doubt we’ll be up for this midnight show. But if we are, it sounds interesting.
Here’s a 6-year old “best-of” reel.
Plus, it has Brendon Small, who made Home Movies.
7:30 – Asssscat (UCB-FREE)
Free improv with Matt Besser, Ian Walsh, Andrew Daly, & Ian Roberts? Yes, please.
This looks like a pilot for a Comedy Central show. I would have watched the hell out of this. And not just because it mentions Al Albert’s Showcase!
Then there’s this one, which is like an unaired Comedy Central pilot for Date Rape Cops.
8 – Rob Delaney & Friends (Largo – $25)
He might be the funniest guy on Twitter.
9 - Power Violence (Complex Hollywood – $?)
This show starts off with moshing and seems to devolve into a ramshackle mix of standup, sketch, and not sure what else. Zach Galifianakis made an appearance this year, so that’s something.
9:30 – Hot Sauce (UCB – $5)
This show is sold out, and why wouldn’t it be? You’ve got Jean-Ralphio from Parks & Rec and the one decent male character on Happy Endings. And a squirrelly third guy I don’t know.
There is a stand-by line, so we may try to get into that and then just yell at the third guy to name something he’s been in.
7 – Hot Tub with Kurt & Kristen (Virgil – $6)
This was a weekly show in Brooklyn that I always meant to see, but never got the chance. Now I do. We’ll need to decide between this and What’s Up Tiger Lily?, but this week’s lineup which features Paul Scheer, Jonah Ray, Jon Daly, & Jane Borden probably trumps WUTL?’s lineup of Marc Maron & some other guys and gals.
Love Kristen Schaal, and the spirit exhibited in this non-embeddable video seems fresh and fun and then fresh again.
7:30 – Eddie Izzard (Largo - $25)
You may think I’m crazy, but this “Works in Progress” show will probably lose out to one of the other shows with multiple comedians. Oh well, we’ll always have Mystery Men.
8 – What’s Up Tiger Lily? (Hollywood Studio Bar – FREE)
Maria Bamford and another blond host this show, which has had some killer lineups in recent weeks. Based on name recognition alone, however, this week, as mentioned above, is a bit underwhelming. Marc Maron would be interesting, but I’m not familiar with the other comedians. Feel free to correct me about how wrong I am, man.
This is the only clip I could find, so it is what it is.
11 – Stage Four (Anthony Jeselnik – $5)
Saw AJ at the Troc last year and it was just OK. He crafted great jokes, but every joke was pretty much the same Roast format that has jump-started his career. It got repetitive. As the clip below, shows, he’s capable of different things, so may be 11 PM on a Monday will bring a little more variety.
But if we go to this, we might be able to see Amy Schumer bend over and pick stuff up.
Tuesday, January 15th
7 – Doug Loves Movies (UCB – Free)
Another of my favorite podcasts. Host Doug Benson has a loose format that involves guests discussing movies they’ve seen recently, then playing movie-centric games. Games you’d play on long car rides to pass the time.
The best game is The Leonard Maltin Game, in which the contestants try to guess a movie based on unhelpful clues from Leonard’s review of said movie. Oh, and they can bid Name That Tune-style on how many actors (from bottom-billed upward) they get as extra clues.
It’s very much dependent on the guests. sometimes the games provide fodder for comedy (i.e. people don’t understand the game) and sometimes no one cares about the games.
The best eps I remember are (1) Paul F. Tompkins impersonating 3 different celebrities (Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, Garry Marshall, & Ice T) and (2) TJ Miller, Jeff Garlin, and Pete Holmes, who’ve all hijacked individual episodes, combined to take the podcast to Cuba. I think it was 10 minutes in before Doug got a word in edgewise. And they talked so long, not a single game was played or fuck given.
8 – Put Your Hands Together (UCB – $5)
This is taking over Comedy Bang Bang’s long-running Tuesday night slot, so there’s a lot of breathy anticipation about it. They haven’t listed the comedians yet, but its debut show had a great lineup and good word.
May have to decide between this and Holy Fuck.
One benefit is that people who go to the DLM show can stay for this one.
This probably gets squeezed out, but it’s a great concept, and it has Dan Telfer who makes the best dinosaur humor.
9 – Holy Fuck! (Downtown Independent Theater – FREE)
They’re recording an album over 4 different shows with some pretty cool comedians:
9:30 – Flyover Comedy (Hollywood Improv – $14)