What do jello, lava, Britney Spears and a bunch of words from Urban Dictionary have in common?
They are all words that audience members may shout out during a Porkchop Volcano improv show at the Arlington Drafthouse. Jon Milstein, Seth Alcorn, Conor O’Rourke and Matt Stephan, the four members of the Arlington-based troupe, then have to take these suggestions and turn each into a scene or character, all in the hopes of a good laugh from the audience.
“My favorite part of improv is the thrill, is the rush of a real audience you’ve never met before, you don’t know them, blowing them away, and having them laugh, a good and hearted, genuine laughter,” Milstein said.
While their group does not perform any single “typical” show, each performance will consist of a combination of guessing or scene improv games. The show starts at 9 p.m. in the Arlington Drafthouse’s Green Room — its side bar — and begins with a game that will interact with the audience.
“It’s usually packed by the end of the first game,” Stephan said.
By the time the game is done, the members will also know what the audience will like, and whether their suggestions will be more along the lines of kittens or sex positions, Alcorn said.
A favorite finale is “Dating Game,” where the troupe pulls an audience member up to play a bachelorette or a bachelor hoping to find his or her perfect match. The catch is that each of three improv members involved in the game are in characters suggested by the audience and the bachelor(ette) has to guess what the character is. O’Rourke plays host.
“It’s a high risk, high reward game,” Stephan said. “If we can hit a home run with that one, that’s been a good day.”
Suggestions can get wild. One of the members once had to play someone missing a chunk of his body after a tragic swordfish accident. Ideas also range from family friendly to adult only and even uncomfortable.
“I had a couple of friends who would basically go on Urban Dictionary and the come to the show,” Alcorn said. “So they would shout out all kinds of very disgusting sex acts that nobody actually performs, and then I would have to then explain to the audience what they meant and then work it into a scene.”
The four guys have a couple tricks up their sleeves, though, as they don’t want to go for the gross out, which gets awkward, Stephan said. Even when audience members suggested something dirty, the performers could take it in a different direction that made it cleaner.
“Being able to take an inappropriate or a cliche suggestion and then do something with it that they weren’t expecting, but still works with the suggestion, is pretty great,” Alcorn said.
One example is “Twilight,” a series that both Alcorn and Milstein despise, Alcorn said. It turned into a scene of Milstein playing a human who wanted to be a vampire and Alcorn playing a very reluctant vampire.
“It was just Jon throwing himself at me saying, ‘I want to feel the night rushing through my veins, bite me,'” Alcorn said.
The group tries to keep the suggestions new and challenging, O’Rourke said. To prevent common suggestions, which can happen when they ask for B-list celebrities, the members will use one of the common ones as an example. Even with common suggestions the group can work together to take a boring suggestion and create a new, fun angle.
“What’s always a lot of fun is taking a suggestion, but not taking it too literally, and jumping off and doing something weird with it. Because just because you get the suggestion vampire does not mean you have to come out as a vampire,” O’Rourke said.
The chemistry the group may be its biggest strength, they said. The four men can create a funny scene even if they are not sure where the other is going right away.
Milstein and Alcorn were doing a scene with tweezers last week. It started out with Alcorn giving Milstein a haircut with tweezers.
“And then he came to me with with a bad tooth and I was going to pull it out with tweezers,” Alcorn said. “And the third time we came around in this game, he didn’t say anything, but I knew I was going to do surgery and he put his hand on his appendix, and that was it.”
Once they formed the group, and spitballed until they randomly came up with the name “Porkchop Volcano,” the troupe needed a place to perform. Milstein was friends with the owner of Arlington Drafthouse who offered them two Saturdays. They now are performing up to four shows a month at the bar.
“The Drafthouse is our place,” O’Rourke said. “It’s our home.
Comedian and writer Michael Ian Black is scheduled to perform live stand-up at the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse (2903 Columbia Pike) later this month.
Black began his comedic career co-founding and performing in The State, a sketch-comedy group at NYU which was later featured on MTV. He’s since had roles in numerous TV series, along with movies like Ed, Wet Hot American Summer and This Is 40.
Black’s stand-up shows will take place the Friday, July 24 at 7:30 and 10:15 p.m. and Saturday, July 25 at 7:00 and 10:00 p.m. Tickets are on sale now for $25 and can be purchased at arlingtondrafthouse.com.
In addition to releasing his own comedy CDs “I Am a Wonderful Man” (2007) and “Very Famous,” (2011) Black has co-written and starred in a number of comedy sketches for both film and television.
According to the Drafthouse’s event page, “Black is currently co-host of a popular podcast with Tom Cavanagh, entitled ‘Mike and Tom Eat Snacks,’ and of a new podcast with Michael Showalter, ‘Topics.'” He’s also had roles this year on the Comedy Central series Inside Amy Schumer and Another Period, and the soon-to-be-released Netflix series Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp.
South African comedian Trevor Noah will succeed Jon Stewart as host of The Daily Show, and next week he’s coming to Arlington.
Noah, 31, is scheduled to perform seven shows at the Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse starting Thursday, April 9. He’s set to perform two shows apiece on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and one show on Sunday, April 12. As of this morning, all of the shows are sold out, according to the Drafthouse’s website.
Noah has been a Daily Show correspondent for two months on the show, but according to his biography on the Drafthouse’s website, he’s performed sold out shows across the globe, discussing everything from his upbringing in South Africa during Apartheid to the American “sports industrial complex.” It was announced this morning that Noah has been tapped as the Daily Show’s new host.
Noah is currently wrapping up a tour of the Middle East. He performs in Oman — the country bordering Saudi Arabia and Yemen — tomorrow.
Comedian Jeff Foxworthy, best known for his “You might be a redneck if…” bit, is coming to Arlington on April 12 for a reflux disease and esophageal cancer awareness fundraiser.
The fundraiser will include stand-up comedy from Foxworthy and an opening act, determined by a nationwide competition, and it’s called “No Laughing Matter.” The event will be at the Crystal Gateway Marriott (1700 Jefferson Davis Highway) at 7:00 p.m., and tickets are on sale for between $79 and $790.
The fundraiser aims to educate people on the link between acid reflux disease and esophageal cancer, and it’s sponsored by the Esophageal Cancer Action Network.
Along with the chance to hear Foxworthy’s routine, attendees will get access to an open bar of beer and wine, “light fare” at their table and the chance to win prizes like a walk-on role on HBO’s “Veep” and a tour of the White House’s west wing.
VIP tickets are available for the chance to take photos and mingle with Foxworthy — plus get an additional 90 minutes of open bar — for $200.
Photo via JeffFoxworthy.com
(Updated at 3:45 p.m.) The Comedy Spot, the stand-up and improvisational comedy venue on the third floor of Ballston Common Mall, will shut its doors this weekend and move into D.C.
Tomorrow night (Thursday), The Comedy Spot will host its final standup show, a free showcase for comics who have performed over the last 10 years at the venue.
Saturday night will be the final shows for the regular Comedysportz and The Blue Show improv comedy shows, at 7:30 and 10:00 p.m. respectively. Each show costs $15 and a large cast of present and past performers will take the stage for the final time.
According to the host of the weekly open mic night, Kenneth Llewellyn, the Comedy Spot decided to let its lease run out, rather than renew before the mall undergoes its planned major renovation.
“The Comedy Spot is one of the longest running comedy mics in the DMV area,” Llewellyn said in an email. He’s hosted the free Thursday night shows, which have been held weekly for six years, since 2013. “After six years. the venue is closing so we’re having one last show featuring some of the all-time greats.”
The Comedy Spot’s owner, Liz Demery, told ARLnow.com in an email that her “rather expensive lease was up.”
“I adore the people and audiences at the DC Improv,” she wrote. “Instead of having to maintain a physical space, we get to show up and play at their excellent location.”
Tom Green — the comedian best known for the 1990s MTV program “The Tom Green Show” and “putting his bum” on things — is scheduled to perform stand-up comedy at the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse (2903 Columbia Pike) in December.
Green will perform four shows in two nights on Friday, Dec. 5 and Saturday, Dec. 6, with performances at 7:00 and 10:00 p.m. each night. Tickets are already on sale online — each show costs $25.
Green gained notoriety in the ’90s for his talk show, which the Drafthouse promo for his performances says “paved the way for shows like ‘Jackass, ‘Punk’d’ and ‘Fear Factor.’ With its guerrilla video tactics and outrageous stunts, it was unlike anything that had been seen before.”
Green also had prominently roles in movies like “Road Trip,” “Stealing Harvard” and “Freddy Got Fingered.”
Green now hosts “Tom Green Live,” a talk show on AXS TV.
Photo via Facebook
On Wednesday, Sept. 10, at 7:30 p.m., the Drafthouse will host 10 D.C.-area comics who will perform brief acts to be featured on the late night show, which airs locally Mondays and Fridays on My20 at midnight.
The show, hosted and produced by comic Steve Hofstetter, goes from city to city, featuring local comics. Its shows are also available on YouTube. After the 10 comics perform, Hofstetter performs a set and answers questions from the crowd.
Tickets for the show are $10 online.
The True Lies sidekick and Best Damn Sports Show Period host, who rose to fame as a writer on Roseanne, will be in Arlington for four standup performances: Friday, April 11 and Saturday, April 12 at 7:30 and 10:00 p.m.
Tickets to the show are $25.
Comedians from the comedy website CollegeHumor are coming to the Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse next month.
The comedy duo Jake and Amir — Jake Hurwitz and Amir Blumenfeld — and CollegeHumor Executive Editor Streeter Seidell will perform Thursday, Nov. 14, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 and only ages 18 and up will be admitted.
Arlington is the first stop of the trio’s nationwide tour, for which they’ve shot a brief comedic promotional video. Jake and Amir’s online comedy series has won several “Webbies,” while Seidell is also the co-host and writer of the MTV show “Pranked,” along with Blumenfeld.
Image courtesy of CollegeHumor
Coulier is perhaps best known for playing “Uncle” Joey Gladstone on the ABC series Full House in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Other entertainment credits include hosting the show America’s Funniest People, and providing voiceovers for the animated series The Real Ghostbusters. Coulier is also widely believed to the the subject of the Alanis Morissette Song “You Oughta Know.”
Coulier will be performing stand-up comedy at Artisphere in Rosslyn (1101 Wilson Blvd) on Saturday, April 20. He will perform two shows, at 7:30 and 10:00 p.m. Tickets to each are $30.
The Michigan native will also be performing at a comedy, improv and illusion variety show at Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse (2903 Columbia Pike) on Thursday, April 18, at 7:30 p.m. Coulier will share the stage with a master illusionist and the Porkchop Volcano improv troupe at the family-friendly (PG rated) show. Tickets are $25 and will benefit Patrick Henry Elementary School.
We last reported on Coulier when he performed at Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse in 2011.
The group — which was formed when a group of Senate staffers set out to satirize their employers — has been poking fun at Washington politics for more than 30 years. They are regularly featured on National Public Radio and have made appearances on network TV.
The Steps will be performing at the Yorktown High School Auditorium (5200 Yorktown Blvd) from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 13
The group is coming to Yorktown to benefit the student productions and educational workshops of the school’s theater program. Tickets are available online for $40.
On Saturday, September 22, the art venue will host “Popped-Up Videos Live.” The show will feature 1990s “statement videos” with fun facts and jokes interspersed. The comedic event will show videos from artists like Arrested Development, TLC, Van Halen, Porno for Pyros and Queen Latifah.
Guest comedians and personalities will join host Andrew Bucket, who is touted as a music video historian. During the show, the audience can participate in games and trivia to win prizes.
Admission is $10 for the program, which runs from 8:00-10:00 p.m. in the Dome Theatre. Tickets can be purchased online.
The former MTV host also has writer, producer and director on his resume, but he’s best known for his starring roles in mediocre 1990s comedies like Encino Man, Son in Law, In the Army Now, Jury Duty and Bio-Dome. More recently, Shore has had guest roles on TV series like Entourage and the short-lived “reality” show Sunset Tan.
Shore is scheduled for four performances (an early show and a late show) on Friday, Sept. 16 and Saturday, Sept. 17. Tickets are currently on sale for $25.
“Shore’s stand-up is sprinkled with autobiographical tidbits from his wacky life,” according to the Cinema Drafthouse’s web site. “His goal is to make sure the fans leave the show learning something about him.”
Just remember: it’s for a good cause.
Eleven local comedians — men and women — are going shirt and pant-less on stage tonight to help raise money for the Japanese Red Cross and its tsunami relief efforts.
The show, which organizers are calling “The 11th Street Underwear Showcase/Tsunami Relief Show,” is being held at Eleventh Street Lounge in Clarendon (1041 N. Highland Street) from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. tonight. Tickets are $5.
See the event’s Facebook page for more info.
Dave Coulier, of Full House and America’s Funniest People fame, will be performing a “special family-friendly comedy show” at the Drafthouse on Mother’s Day weekend. Tickets to see “Uncle Joey” — on Friday, May 6 and Saturday, May 7 — are $23 apiece.
Just one week after Coulier’s squeaky-clean stand-up act, the only performer ever banned for life from MTV will take the stage.
Andrew Dice Clay, described in promotional materials as the “most controversial and outrageous comic of all time,” was the first comic to sell out Madison Square Garden two nights in a row. Now, having just landed a reoccurring role on HBO’s Entourage, he’s coming to Arlington for two nights of comedy.
Dice will be performing at 7:30 and 9:55 p.m. on Friday, May 13 and Saturday, May 14. Tickets are $40.