For Philly, by Philly

Philly Fringe 2019: Philly Improv Theater presents Riot in Rittenhouse’

2 minute read
Just go wit it. (Image courtesy of Paul Triggiani.)
Just go wit it. (Image courtesy of Paul Triggiani.)

It’s the question everyone is dying to answer at any time of day or night: where do people go for the best cheesesteak in town? And it’s a fitting opener for the Philly Improv Theater’s Riot in Rittenhouse, a sketch comedy romp by Philadelphia for Philadelphia.

And by “everyone,” I mean Philadelphians dealing with tourists. Of course you shouldn’t go to Pat’s or Geno’s, but what about Jim’s on South? Dalessandro's? Tony Luke’s? Nope, says the cast of Riot in Rittenhouse. The answer lies inside the Planet Fitness on Aramingo Avenue, where there’s pair of exercising women (arguing, or maybe just agreeing loudly with each other), both named Debbie. One will take you home to Mayfair, where a lawn chair marks her spot, and show you the truth.

Talking up Philly

Riot in Rittenhouse, directed by Paul Triggiani, stars an ensemble of 11 PHIT performers who make themselves at home on the mainstage at the Adrienne and in the audience. I don’t know if everyone in the cast is a Philly native, but they sound just like the ladies at my polling place on 11th Street.

If you love Philly (or just live here), this is a worthy Fringe ticket, so I don’t want to spoil the sketches. Let’s just say that the neighbors develop a special relationship to their sinkhole, and everyone ends ups “aggressively talking to the wrong guy.” Is it true that the Eagles win opened new vistas of hospitality at Lincoln Financial Field? Is Quizzo next to godliness? Is Jason Segal in the house? Youse can decide.

In it together

Animations by Dan Corkery intercut the live action. Remember HitchBOT? It remembers us. Barbera’s on the Boulevard is getting a little desperate (shout-out to the stellar voice-over here). Projected backdrops like North Broad Street a few blocks up from City Hall and a train car on the Market-Frankford Line (“if the train’s not going there, you don’t need to be there”) enhance the settings.

The Riot in Rittenhouse crew manages to turn a slew of Philly trademarks on their head to hearty comedic effect, while staying true to our city’s spirit. Just like a good sinkhole, you never know what will bring the neighborhood together.

What, When, Where

Riot in Rittenhouse: A Philly Sketch Comedy Show. Directed by Paul Triggiani. Through September 14 at the mainstage at the Adrienne, 2030 Sansom Street, Philadelphia. (215) 413-1318 or

The Adrienne is an ADA-compliant venue.

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