Funny Business: The Best of Comedy This Fall

By Nicole Finkbiner
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Sep. 21, 2011

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Dennis Trafny and Kevin Pettit hamming it up in The Gross Show with host Alex Gross (middle).

Philadelphia Comedy Month
For three straight glorious weeks, some of the funniest local and national acts will be right here in our city, hamming it up nightly. It all kicks off with the Philly Improv Festival (Oct. 5-9), featuring an impressive lineup of local favorites like Matt& and The Kristen & Amie Show in addition to nationally renown improviser, Jill Bernard’s one-woman, multi-character musical, Drum Machine. Next up is Philly Sketch Fest (Oct. 10-17), followed by the city’s first City Spotlight (Oct. 17-21), a mix of film screenings and stand-up. The comedy extravaganza concludes with the Mid Atlantic Regional College Improv Championship.

Oct. 5-23. Various times. $10-$20. Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre, 2111 Sansom St. 215.496.9722. phlcomedy.com

I Love Mitch Hedberg
Local artists and comedians will come together to pay tribute to a late and great comic whose unique delivery and memorable one-liners garnered him a cult following. The evening will include a comedy showcase, free beer, unreleased footage of Hedberg and a special appearance by his widow, Lynn Shawcrowft. The gallery will also unveil a Hedberg-inspired art show featuring the work of several local artists on view through Oct. 15.

Oct. 1. 7pm. Free. PhilaMOCA, 531 N. 12th St. 267.519.9651. philamoca.org

Superheroes Are Super!
Comic book nerds rejoice! Now you can watch your favorite classic comic book titles come to life during these staged, word-for-word readings, equipped with low-budget costumes, special effects, witty wordplay and, of course, some physical hijinks. The October “issue” will include a performance of Tomb of Dracula #10 from 1976 and a special appearance by Philly cartoonist Robert Berry, who will be honoring the recently deceased graphic artist Gene Colan and his legendary work. December’s “issue” will have a holiday theme.

Oct. 21-22. Dec. 9-10. 9pm. $12-$15. Plays & Players Theater, 1714 Delancey St. 215.735.0630. playsandplayers.org

Paul Mooney
While probably best known as “Negrodamus” from Chappelle’s Show, this vet comic got his start in the business back in the ’70s writing material for Richard Pryor and went on to serve as head writer on In Living Color.

Oct. 5-8. 8pm, 10:30pm. $15-$22. Helium, 2031 Sansom St. 215.496.9001. heliumcomedy.com

This Is the Week That Is
1812 Productions, Philly’s all-comedy theater, is bringing back its hit original political satire for its sixth straight year. With a script that changes nightly, a team of comics takes on local and national politics with wit and maybe even a song or two. The theater will also be kicking off its 15th season in October with the critically acclaimed off-Broadway comedy Mistakes Were Made.

Nov. 25-Dec. 31. Various times. $28-$36. Plays & Players Theater, 1714 Delancey St. 215.735.0630. playsandplayers.org

The Gross Show
This trashy talk show aims to make The Jerry Springer Show look like an episode of Little House on the Prairie. Each month, host Alex Gross and a few comedic guests seek out some of the most fucked up people in Philly, air their dirty laundry and hopefully get the audience feeling appalled, amused and uncomfortable.

Sept. 30, Oct. 28 and Dec. 9. 10:30pm. $10. The Shubin Theater, 407 Bainbridge St. 215.592.0119. phillyimprovtheater.com

Michael Ian Black
After his sold-out show at the Troc last year, Black is returning for his new “Black is White” tour. If by some chance you don’t recognize his name, you’d definitely recognize his face. The actor, writer and director has appeared on numerous TV series including The State, Stella, Michael & Michael Have Issues and VH1’s I Love the … series.

Nov. 11. 8pm. $19. The Trocadero, 1003 Arch St. 215.922.6888. thetroc.com

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Fall Arts Guide
By PW Staff

Dear culture vultures: For months we scoured the city to bring you the best of what Philly has to offer this season, and we think we’ve done a damn good job of bringing something for everyone. Into art? You should know that curators and artists everywhere are doing their best to take art out of their galleries and into your community. Want theater? We found a scrappy, independent circus troupe whose stunts you should never try at home. There’s also a roundup of what’s on tap for our favorite stages. If comedy is your thing, we've got a list of the season's best events (like a tribute to the late Mitch Hedberg, he of the famous one-line zingers). Music? Check. Dance? The Russian ballet awaits you on. We even examine the state of storytelling, which, of course, is the world's oldest favorite pastime yet somehow a "novelty" in today's world. Enjoy all this and more!

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