Laugh Till You Hurl

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia                                                                                                       (Photo:


Laughing is a good thing and in Philadelphia we have plenty of opportunities to do that. Open the paper, listen to the radio, visit City Hall and to keep ourselves from crying, we have laughter.  Popping your surgical staples, strangulating your hernia, projectile vomiting variety of laughter. Good times people.

Philadelphia also has a booming comedy culture- with teeming hoards of funny people on dozens of small stages in the city.  I won’t pretend that I am all that plugged into this pool of hilarity, but having taken improv classes at Comedy Sportz I’ve become somewhat familiar with the scene.


Um, I guess you can skip the rest of my article and checked out two ginormous dumps of Philly comedy info…

Oh look, on there is a list of improv and sketch comedy groups. So I am going to skip listing them for you. Go right here and you’ll find 44-esque (I counted fast) groups to peruse.

And you must see Comic vs. Audience blog. I almost choked on my tongue and ripped off a fingernail when I had seismic laughter checking out the header photo. Or maybe I was having a seizure. The have great event listings. In fact, there are listed comedy events for every day this week. Go there now. Also they have  a database of comics. A great resource for comedians and audiences alike.

OK, so now that I have stolen my own thunder, here is my flimsy overview of comedy in Philly.

Live comedy takes many forms in Philadelphia.  I can think of four subtypes off the top of my head…improv, sketch, stand-up, and people doing colossolly stupid things.

IMPROV COMEDY- (ie. Making Funny out of Thin Air, Causing Altitude Sickness)

There are two types of improv comedy- a) short form improv & b) long form improv. To explain this crudely, short form is bursts of games, structured exercises, and rapid fire improvising lasting only a few minutes. Audiences are delighted by fusillade of surprises along the way. Long form is more scene-based and stories have more time to emerge and develop and captivate the attention of the audience. Both forms are satisfying in different ways   They are distinct entities, but there is a great deal of cross-fertilization and while people may prefer one form over the other, a lot of people do both. Sorry to geek out on you about improv comedy, but it is what I know best.  You can see great improv every week in Philadelphia… Here are some one-off and recurring events.

The Philly N Crowd– These folks are short-form, who perform weekly in Philadelphia. Next show- Friday, July 24th– Location: The Actor’s Center 257 N. 3rd St. $10 in advance and $15 at the door.

Comedy Sportz– They are like a university of short form improv silliness. With weekly performances, regular classes, and many alums spinning off their own comedy troupes, Comedy Sportz is everywhere. Check out their Saturday performances at 7:30 pm & 10:00 pm on Saturdays. The Playground @ the Adrienne, 2030 Sansom St.  Tickets are $15, with reduced rate of $12 for senior citizens.

Philly Improv Theater (PHIT) is the only longform improv theater in Philly.  The host classes, put on performances, and are active in promoting the improv creative form. From what I can see there are several extremely talented improv groups connected with PHIT. I hate to single any one group out, but a good gateway drug into longform improv is Rare Bird Show. This ensemble of three people are a pleasure to watch as they take one suggestion from the audience and turn it into a 30 minute performance, unique, unrehearsed and never repeated.

Rare Bird show performs Friday, August 7th at 7 pm at PHIT’s location, the Shubin Theater, at 407 Bainbridge St. in Philadelphia. Tickets are $10 and available online and at the door.

STAND UP COMEDY- (Bipolar Swings from Cringing to Laughing up a Lung)

I really should get my friend Darryl Charles to write out this section. He has been on the amateur stand up circuit in Philadelphia for a while now. He’s trying to make it and now that I’ve mentioned him on my blog, he’s halfway there.

Darryl Charles, Phunniest in Philly by Phar

Darryl Charles, Phunniest in Philly by Phar (Photo Credit: Teri Cannistraci)

Darryl can be seen at many open mic nights in Philly, but stand up is a tough business. Often he waits around for hours to get on stage at the Laff House, Raven Lounge, or Helium. Some nights he doesn’t get to perform at all.

Helium’s annual Philadelphia’s Phunniest Person contest commences July 28th with preliminary rounds. Darryl is performing on Tuesday, July 28th at 8 pm at Helium at 2031 Sansom and will be 9th on the list. Tickets are $10, but as you may know, you gotta cough up $ for two drinks. Hopefully, we’ll be warmed up enough to lose our lunch in delightful laughter at Darryl. I’m going and have an extra ticket.

Here’s more stand-up comedy. Check out Ministry of Secret Jokes at Fergie’s Pub at 1214 Sansom St. in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, they are on hiatus for the summer. Their disappearance is for secret reasons (natch). They are very mysterious as you will see by their web site, but apparently they like to blab to the press. Check out this winter article by the Phillyist.  Next performance is September 30th. I strongly suggest you check out their web site because its hilarious & potentially dangerous. PLEASE, do not click the secret button!

SKETCH COMEDY (Vignettes that Will Make You Vomit in Pleasure)

I’m pretty useless in informing you about this form of comedy (which is about short sketches or vignettes- you know kinda like Saturday Night Live). Using Google, I found some great events that HAVE ALREADY PASSED. So, I suck. But here’s some info in case you want to become a scary fan.

Secretpants just performed a great show at the Khyber on July 20th.  They seem pretty funny (or at least their website is). No new events listed, but they have a mailing list, which I just joined.


Philadelphians being themselves is epic comedy. That is why I love this city. Checking out Wing Bowl photos is a great place to start. Check out Frank “Frank De Fraud” Farrell blowing chunks. Funny and yummy.

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