We suggest steering clear of the 2017 Black Friday Comedy Marathon

Local improv crew Hey, We're Cool appears in the 2016 marathon. (Photo courtesy of PHIT Comedy.)

Certainly the holiday season is peppered with bad ideas — doorbuster sales at the mall, overambitious Friendsgiving potluck recipes, that third piece of pie, getting engaged — but if you avoid one weird tradition this year, it probably should be PHIT Comedy’s fourth annual Black Friday Comedy Marathon at the Adrienne, running for 40 hours straight starting at 9am on Friday, November 24.  

Women, fear, holidays, strangers

Things get uncomfortable fast: Clamor of Harpies, an all-ladies improv group, is onstage at 9:25am on Friday, promising “big ideas and unapologetic voices,” two things we’ve recently had quite enough of from women.

It is not any more fun at 11am, when Scary Motherfuckers, the world’s most intimidating improv team, provides “rib-shattering HAHAS to all you poseurs and babies.” And everything keeps going downhill thanks to WTF Holiday Videos with Mike Fenn, beginning at 1:01pm. You’ve just barely escaped Thanksgiving, and Fenn is going to “find several different holiday-themed videos and offer commentary on them.”

The bad ideas keep rolling with Matt Schmid and Pim van H’s Making Fast Friends at 6:30pm: apparently the performers “asked a bunch of random strangers around town to join them and do an improv show together.” Yes, a little risk-taking keeps the theater fresh, but there’s no call for roping inexperienced strangers into this.

The weird wee hours

If we need to warn you about the daytime shenanigans, it should go without saying that the overnight line-up is repellent. At 2:20am, it’s the 2017 World Don’t Let the Ball Hit the Floor Championship, which, by the creators’ own admission, is booby-trapped this year. At 3:40am, during 2017: A Mad Libs Retrospective, the hallowed pastime of ‘90s childhood car trips will be used to dredge up this abysmal American year with the audience providing the nouns, verbs, and adjectives.

And at 4:35am, a troupe of no less than 27 performers will take five minutes to present Jurassic Park: Abridged and Unrehearsed, before another bunch of sleep-deprived weirdos do improv while eating painfully spicy sauce and call it comedy.  

We’re ashamed to say that BSR’s own social-media manager and occasional contributor Neil Bardhan appears in The Hot Sauce Challenge, as well as starring in what may be the marathon’s nadir: Man vs. Totino’s at 6:55am on Saturday, where he holds a Totino’s Pizza Rolls eating contest… against himself. Fortunately, this lasts only five minutes, because at 7am, a cast of 10 will take the stage to try drinking an entire case of beer in only five minutes.

Babies, Wawa, your terrible family 

At 11:45 on Saturday morning, with Babies of Interest, Ryan T. Barlow ruins his long-running interview-format variety show, People of Interest, by replacing his usual adult guests with infants. Speaking of growing the family, at 5:55pm on Saturday, Sean Sullivan presents Family Legacy Infinity, demonstrating that “your ancestors were terrible people and so are you,” which is no doubt true, but is this really the time to dwell on it?

Among all this, it’s hard to reckon with the fact that comedians like Rachel Fogletto (Saturday at 6:32pm) and THE LEGENDARY WID (Friday at 4:30pm) are joining in, or Nick Kupsey, author of the Inferno-style modern masterwork The Five People You Meet in Wawa. Plus, to be fair, there are top-notch local improv groups like American Express (Saturday at 12:25pm). And we can’t help admitting that Que?, happening at 3:52pm on Saturday, with four cast members who speak fluent Spanish and one who doesn’t, might be an interesting look at linguistic bridges and barriers.

You can come and go at will for the duration of the Marathon by purchasing a wristband, but, as I think we’ve made clear overall, we don’t know why you’d want to do that.  

Phit Comedy’s annual Black Friday Comedy Marathon is coming to the Second Stage at the Adrienne (2030 Sansom Street, Philadelphia), running for 40 hours straight starting at 9am on Friday, November 24. Here’s the full lineup. The final act begins on Sunday, November 26, at 12:40am.  

Rich Rubin

of Guerneville, CA on November 23, 2017

I'm not sure why the rant against a very esteemed improv group (it's not like it's a review, the event hasn't happened yet). Is this some would-be satire that missed its mark? Did you audition for them and get rejected? Not to mention: "Clamor of Harpies, an all-ladies improv group, is onstage at 9:25 a.m. on Friday, promising `big ideas and unapologetic voices,' two things we’ve recently had quite enough of from women." Did a woman really write this? While your editor is on Twitter doing a great job of calling out misogynists, you're actually posting this?

Editor's Response

This is from our What’s New What’s Next section, which contains all previews. Clearly, it’s a joke, and we are all fans of improv, especially the improv in which our social media manager performs.

Beth Jana Eisenberg

of Philadelphia, PA on November 23, 2017

Is this real or satire? It’s not a review, right? It’s just an opinion based on a description they have read online? An opinion based on words that attempt to describe a thing? I’ve never met Alaina Mabaso, but based on her name alone, she sounds really great. Based on her actual writing, she seems like a snore. But her name is delightful!

Author's Response

I think we’re living in a world that’s gotten so extreme that we can’t trust ourselves to determine satire from reality. In this case, PHIT Comedy is an excellent group, and I personally hope women in comedy (or anywhere) with big ideas and unapologetic voices get as much airtime as possible.

As for my name — thank you! I like it, too. Whether or not I’m a snore is something only readers like you can judge.

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