When Philly last saw Joe Mande about a month and a half ago, he was putting a fur coat on Michael Ian Black at the Trocadero theater and escorting him off stage. Mande was the opener/emcee at the taping of Black’s Comedy Central special Very Famous, a mostly thankless task he pulled off with ease like a seasoned vet. Of course, Mande’s been around. He created the website/book Look At This Fucking Hipster, was a regular on the only VH1 show worth watching, Best Week Ever, and was named Best New Comedian of ’09 by Time Out New York. He also made Heeb magazine’s “100 Jews to Watch” list, which, he jokes, is “pretty much the second best list a Jew could ever hope to be on.”
Now, Mande is headed to lovable South Philly dive Connie’s Ric Rac, which is slowly but surely becoming a burgeoning venue for comedy. Mande is one of a number of comedians who have graced the Ric Rac stage this year. Dave Hill, Hannibal Burress and, just last week, Matt McCarthy—you’d recognize him as the large ginger who plays the Xfinity guy on those Dish Network commercials—have also put in time there. Most notably, Todd Barry, one of comedy’s top names, played two sold-out shows at the Ric Rac in February.
Comedy promoter Corey Cohen is responsible for delivering these comedians of note to this tiny hole-in-the-wall in the Italian Market. Cohen has always loved comedy, has performed improv and sketch for several years and has become deeply involved in the industry. He began booking these shows at the Ric Rac to bring comedians he felt were falling through Philadelphia’s cracks.
“All I want is to do as producer is give people the ability to see the coolest and smartest comedians working right now,” he says over whiskey at Oscar’s Tavern. “Over the years the comedy scene has really grown, both locally and nationally, and this town is certainly a reflection of that. But there was a gap here. Nobody was regularly tracking down and bringing in these specific comics, trying to match them to their crowds. I’ve given it a shot, and so far it’s been a great success.”
Mande’s set will be followed by a screening of Down the Show, a sketch television show created, directed and written by the Philadelphia comedy community at large. The hilarious (and hilariously named) Noah Garfinkel opens the night of yuks.
Joe Mande performs Fri., April 29, 9pm. $15. With Noah Garfinkel. Connie’s Ric Rac, 1132 S. Ninth St.