What they say it is: Polygon Comedy is celebrating Fringe the best way we know how–with great local independent comedy from around the area! Join us for standup, sketch, comedy, improv, storytelling, and everything in between!
After a busy weekend that included two Live Arts/Fringe events (Thursday and Friday) a friend’s afternoon wedding on Saturday, a late-night West Philly S.T.A.R.W.O.O.D. show, and a visit to my grandmother for the manufactured-yet-endearing Hallmark-holiday of “grandparents day” . . . .you might think i’d be looking forward to staying in for the Sunday evening.
Obviously, you must not know me very well.
We’ve made it an annual goal to attend as many Fringe/Livearts (now “Fringearts”) events as we can, so when I realized our Sunday evening was wide open, I rallied Tara for a short–and ideally affordable–outing. The Fringearts guidebook is now arranged by neighborhood–an excellent innovation for quick reference, IMHO–and it turned out that there was an improv show happening just a few blocks from our home at the local yoga studio. Even better, admission was only $12–a great affordable way to end the weekend with (hopefully) a couple laughs.
We arrived early and hung out on Baltimore Ave. Another couple were waiting on the steps as well, and we headed up together. Regrettably, only one other person showed up, making the audience a grand total of 5 bodies–common’, Philly, this is pathetic–support the f%&king arts! I was naturally worried that the situation might end up feeling awkward with such a small turnout, but thankfully the low-key Fringy vibe saved the evening–we were an intimate crowd with direct access to the performers, and it ended up feeling like a very good time.
Performers included “Rosen and Milkshake” (<–links to a past performance) and Alex Pearlman, all local performers with previous standup credentials and unpretentious indie appeal. Rosen and Milkshake were up first, and absolutely killed me, i’m not kidding. Bravely facing a nearly empty room, these guys took the standard “suggest a scenario” improv situation and absolutely blew. it. up. Personally, I think Rosen’s awkward delivery and oddly sweet sincerity carry this act–Milkshake is funny in his own right, but Rosen brings a highly memorable Napoleon Dynamite twist to what might otherwise be two funny guys doing jokes. The audience suggestion was “An Elephant”, leading the pair to dream up a nearly 20 minute routine featuring the King of Frankfort receiving, riding, and eventually killing the “last Asian elephant”, all with the help of Rosen’s toadying butler. Imaginary cannons, flashbacks, revelations, and witty one-liners had me in sincere stitches for the entire act. Perhaps the wittiest line of the entire show was when Milkshake demanded, “Are you FILMING me on your iPhone?!?” and Rosen quips, “no im holding up an iCandle”. Fucking A, these guys were funny, and I’d see them again in a second.
Second up was Alex Pearlman, a guy who looks so much like a young Conan O’Brien, I refused to even mention it to him–he’s GOT to hear this every single day. His set was a more straightforward comedian routine with a roster of anecdotes and life observations. Mr. Pearlman kept it short and sweet, punchy, and didn’t milk gags past their sell-by date–he ran through his routine with the obvious poise of a practiced performer. Not all of his gags were A-grade material, but I appreciated his blunt, honest, and open dialog–it worked especially well in this intimate situation. He’s a younger guy with a good approach to comedy..talk honestly about life, joke about the pain (his dog needed expensive surgery, so he’s staging a benefit….plus, applying for a job at Loews)….and above all, don’t be afraid to “go there” for the risk-laughs payoff (I asked the Israeli vet, “when you walled off and snipped out the cancer in my dog, did you call it Palestine?”).
Overall, this was a short and sweet Fringe-style event (lowbrow, affordable, accessible) that I’m very glad we attended. Hoping to attend Alex’s benefit gig at Ruba Club 29Sep, and hoping S.T.A.R.W.O.O.D. makes it onto the bill as well.
Rosen and Milkshake bravely faced an ‘intimate’ crowd. I believe Clay saw Rosen as the straight guy to Milkshake . . . I believe he described him as ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ funny . . . awkward pauses and displays of anxiety when delivering lines–yet still confident enough to be in front of a full room performing. A la Laurel and Hardy, perhaps?
I have to admit, I debated with myself about the effectiveness of this duo. Clay will disagree, but I felt that Milkshake built the scene and held the thread while Rosen would typically only throw in the odd “uhmm ok”, or “yeah, sure” here and there. Rosen would occasionally come through with a straight one liner–perhaps this was planned–however at times I wondered if Milkshake felt as though he was carrying the show. I also enjoyed their devotion to the twenty minute scene. My expectation for improv was that it would be a number of quick exercises rather than one continuous piece. But, regardless of the skill of the individual performers in this improv piece, I thoroughly enjoyed it–a wonderful way to spend a Sunday evening.
Although I did really enjoy the improv, my favorite of the evening was the stand up comedian, Alex Pearlman, who followed Rosen and Milkshake. First of all, jokes about politics and racisism can bomb so much harder in a room of five. Can you imagine doing stand up to five people!? Really–imagine facing your friends (much less strangers) and bounce even five minutes of jokes off of them and then try to envision yourself not bombing! Perhas you, loyal reader, are a natural comedian and this hypothetical scenario does not phase you . . however, I personally would think any kind of standup comedy experience would be super intimidating at best. Alex Pearlman was a high quality comedian, and he stole my heart when he described an anecdote/joke in which saved his dog from sure death via expensive VSEC surgery.
I hope everyone takes some time to consider the big benefit event Alex is planning to help cover the cost of his dog’s surgery. It is currently under development (final date and location to be confirmed), but it sounds like a lot of entertainment for ten bucks–an hour and half of comedy, half hour burlesque and three bands! For ten bucks! Help a puppy out! Check out Ruba Club’s website for more info, or Alex’s facebook site.