Best of the Best: The Week in Review. The Top 4 and a Poll

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Today we are wrapping up our Best of the Best week with our top 4 most viewed posts. It’s been fun taking a look back at some of the stories we’ve brought to you and we hope you’ve enjoyed reading them again or for the first time. Our mission has been, and will remain, to bring you stories that showcase people of all walks of life in the hopes that we can find a common thread amongst us to bring us closer as a society.

Throughout the week we re-posted the complete stories of numbers 10-5. However, today, we will list the top 4 here, since they were very recent to One Unified Project. We encourage you to read the story in its entirety though, if you haven’t already.

We’d like to thank all of our subjects who were so giving of their time and their personal stories that inspired us. Without you (and our readers) we’d just be speculating and talking to each other. Not as much fun.

Once again, we appreciate you for following us and the stories we’ve brought to you. Be sure to take today’s poll to help us make One Unified Project the best it can be.

Here are our top 4. You can click on any story to read the original interview.
#4: School of Rock…Keeping Classic Rock Alive
#3: Another Irish Perspective…Without Corned Beef and Cabbage
#2: From the City of Brotherly Love to Second City…The Road to Comedy
#1: Mitch Schecter…From Local Philly Bands to a Successful Musical Career

March Madness Results. And the Winners Are…

We hope you’ve enjoyed your Easter and Passover holidays!

Before we coast into a new week here at One Unified, we’re annoucning the winners of our March Madness comedy brackets. We asked you to help us wind down from 16 of the best comedians and 16 of the funniest movies of all time. And after the votes were tallied, we have your winners!

You’re favorite comedian is….

robin williams

ROBIN WILLIAMS!

And…

You’re favorite comedy movie of all time…

It’s a tie!

blazing saddles

BLAZING SADDLES….

and….

caddyshack

CADDYSHACK!

Congratulations to our winners and every movie and comedian in our bracket. Thank you for the many, many laughs over the years. And thank YOU to everyone who voted in our our March Madness event!
With Love. xo

Michelle & Noelle

From Politics to Comedy…More Similar Than You’d Think.

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What do you do for a living full-time?
I’m actually a lobbyist. I work in politics here in Philadelphia. You have to have a good sense of humor and laugh or you’d cry.

What role does comedy play in your life?
I do amateur stand up comedy when I can get to an open mic night. I think there’s a lot in common with what I do professionally, for a living, and comedy; which is building a connection with your audience. I think practicing each has made me better at the other one.

What made you go into comedy? Did you always have an interest in it?
In college and even in law school, I was doing a lot of writing, a lot of satire. I had gotten away from it for a while and then a good friend of mine said she was taking a stand up comedy class and asked if I would do it with her. We thought that we see he funniest people ever (laughter) so, we took the class. It was a lot of fun. You can’t teach somebody to be funny, but there are a couple of hard and fast rules that are helpful to have under your belt. A lot of it (comedy) is instinctual and they teach how to hone their instincts. That’s how my most recent incarnation of my comedy career came about.

Where did you take the classes?
PHIT (Philly Improv Theater) in Queen Village and taught by the awesome Chip Chantry who is one of Philly’s funniest guys and Mary Radzinski, who is one of Philly’s funniest women. My summer goal this year, is to do stand up a lot more consistently, once we get out of this campaign season and I can focus more of goofing off.

What would you say is your style of comedy?
I’m very dry and observational. I don’t know if I really have a style. I’m pretty sarcastic. I think one of the things I’m pretty good at is finding a common theme in things that you might not think run together. I have one bit about dating websites and how I’m on online dating and I Segway into Amish dating, that there’s an online dating site for them. Then I kind of riff into what that would be like. I’ll take a thing that exists and take it to the very extreme, making it as ludicrous as possible, and bringing it back full circle.

Who inspires you or makes you laugh?
I would say the thing that got me really interested in comedy was the sketch comedy show “The Kids in The Hall”. This Canadian troupe that I grew up sneaking down to the TV to watch HBO at 1:00 in the morning to watch these guys. They were so cutting edge and extreme. Especially in terms in one of their cast mates, [who was] openly gay and a lot of LGBT humor, which you just didn’t see in the 80’s and they just owned it and it was hilarious. I still get sucked in and can watch ten hours of it straight. They’re just so brilliant and funny and just pair really well together. They all have their unique personalities and it worked. Even 20 years after, they’re still hilarious.

So you prefer more of a comedy troupe as opposed to individual stand up?
They’re very different, stylistically. There’s some people who are super into improv. I’m not that into improv. I tend to prefer scripted, with a little bit of ad-libbing, so I rally like sketch comedy. I think it’s a real talent to be able to take three minutes and build this complete narrative. You don’t have a lot of time, but you’re able to create these characters and this story out of essentially nothing. Good sketch comedy is a really talented group of people behind it. In terms of individual stand up comics, my taste sort of goes all over the place. I loved Eddie Murphy and all those specials that I was probably way too young to be watching or even understand. Louis C.K.’s stand up comedy; he’s basically a philosopher. Stand up comedy isn’t just about making people laugh. It really is making people think, philosophical musings. People laugh their asses off at Louis C.K. But when you actually listen to what he’s saying, there’s some pretty deep shit in there.

Some people would have a hard time getting up in front of a crowd to try to make them laugh. Do you ever find it hard?
Yeah, you get nervous but at the end of the day, what’s the worst that can happen? Nobody’s going to die if nobody laughs. There’s not like, a bus full of orphans in the parking lot with a bomb attached to it and [someone saying] “if you don’t get at least 50 laughs these kids are gonna…” I mean, who cares. To an extent, you have to not be self-conscious about it. Even the best comedians still get nervous. A lot of it is the audience too. Laughter is contagious. If you’ve got a couple of good people who have ridiculous laughs, people will catch on to that and it’ll build. You can do the same set in front of 20 different groups of people and half will think you’re hilarious and the other half will throw rotten tomatoes at you. You can’t take it personally.

Do you plan on doing more stand up?
It’s hard because most open mic nights are weeknights, so when I’m working 12-14 hour days it’s tough. I’ve been doing a lot of writing, so hopefully over the summer when I have a lot more free time, and all the legislatures are in recess, I can go make the rounds and try out some new material. Hopefully improve some of the stuff I have in the books. A lot of it is just doing it consistently. Like I said, with my job that’s difficult to do so that’s really my goal this summer.

Is this something you’d like to do as a career if you had the opportunity?
Not really. I like doing it for fun. The people who do it professionally I have tremendous respect for because it’s a lot of time, a lot of talent, a lot of traveling. My passion really is making the city of Philadelphia a better place. That’s why I’m so engaged just in terms of community stuff and political stuff. If making people laugh while I happen to do that occurs, then that’s even better. But I’m a committed amateur when it comes to stand up comedy.

March Madness: The Final Four!

Thanks for voting on our two polls this week. We’ve been asking who you think is the funniest comedian, and the funniest movie of all time. And our bracket is down to just 4 in each category. So please, take a second (literally) and vote for your favorite. The winners will be posted on our site this Sunday!

March Madness Comedians Bracket! The Sweet 16. Choose Which Comedian Gets the Last Laugh!

We want to know what makes you laugh! Get in our comedians bracket by casting your vote on who you think is the funniest from the choices below. Check back on Thursday to see who has made the cut to move on to the next round.
And be sure to make your picks in our movie bracket as well.
And don’t miss tomorrow’s very special interview….
Now, get to voting. And tell a friend.

(We realize that these lists are in no way all inclusive of the many, many talented stand-up comedians that have entertained us through the years. However, we adopted a very scientific method allowing us to select an array of men and women, active and retired, alive and passed on. So we ask that you base your decision on who you think is funniest out of the options presented.)

 

March Madness Movie Bracket! The Sweet 16. Vote to See Which Comedy Goes the Distance.

We want to know what makes you laugh! Get in our comedy movie bracket by casting your vote on the movie you think was the funniest from the choices below. Check back on Thursday to see which movies have made the cut to move on to the next round.
And be sure to make your picks in our comedians bracket as well.
And don’t miss tomorrow’s very special interview….
Now, get to voting. And tell a friend.

 

From the City of Brotherly Love to Second City…The Road to Comedy.

Today we’re talking to Philly raised comedian, Patrick Flanagan.

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When did you realize you wanted to pursue a career in comedy?

“The earliest memory I have of, at least getting satisfaction from doing anything comedic, was during a joke contest in the Poconos. It was a family resort we went to every year and every year they did a joke contest. The winner came away with a T-shirt and probably a free beer or whatever. The previous year, I had enjoyed it so much that I wanted to be in it the next year. My mom and I had written a joke weeks before going and when the constant came around, I entered it. My step dad did as well, I think to make me a little more comfortable. And he told some standard adult joke and I came up with some weird knock knock joke. I ended up winning the contest, probably not because I was funny, but because I was a cute kid that was brave enough to be in the contest. I think just the satisfaction from that was kind of the starting point of it all.”

How old were you then?

“I was probably about 7.”

That takes a lot of courage, especially at that age, to get up in front of people and tell a joke!

“I guess so. It was a very supported environment because I had been going there for years and I kind of knew a lot of the people there and the people in my family. It was just kind of the right place, right time.”

Was your family supportive when you told them you were going to pursue this as a career?

“Absolutely, yeah. They’ve always been. So coming out to shows or providing material, being the people they are, pointing out to me stuff that I should do. They suggest things I should add to my routine. Everyone’s been very supportive.”

How did you get started? Did you go to school or was it a hands on learning process?

“I guess just from a performance stance, not only comedy, I started doing plays in grade school. From there, I think my dad was the one that told me about the high school for the creative and performing arts. So, I auditioned there. When you go there for four years, you actually have a major like you would in college. Mine was theatre. So I studied theatre for four years there. I got to do comedy stuff there with my friends but mostly it was musical theatre and drama and some dance and stuff. That was great for getting comfortable with the stage and doing dramatic stuff. But then comedy became more of a personal pursuit when I met my best friends in high school and all of shared the same love for it. We had a film class, so we could borrow equipment and stuff, and we started making our own videos there. That was kind of the start of making my own comedy material. Other schooling beyond that, I did Philadelphia Comedy Academy which is a stand up class ran out of the Helium Comedy Club in Philly. There’s a seasoned comedian, who’s full-time job is traveling the country as a comedian, his name is Brad Trackman, he runs that class and does a great job. I took that for two years. I’m still in touch with him, he’s a great guy. I like to send him any accomplishments I have cause he likes to hear about students that have progressed into something. Then there was a lot of trial and for on my own just doing stand up and also filming skits. Luckily, I got to move to Chicago a little over a year and a half ago. Once I did, I started classes at Second City. I figured it’d be a great opportunity to study at a place that’s known for producing professional comedians and comedy actors. That’s where I’m at now.”

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Was the anyone that inspired you? A favorite comedian?

“For me, growing up, for the longest time, it was Jim Carrey. Just the stuff he could do physically. Then I found that I could do the same )or convinced myself that I could do the same). I was just impressed with his ability to do huge characters and be as hilarious, physically, as he is. And then be able to go on to do something as dramatic and funny as like “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” or some of his other more serious roles. I would kind of act like his characters at home and my brother or mom would get a kick out of it, which encouraged me to do more. From that, I started doing voices too. My earliest impersonation was Jimmy Stewart. I was a little kid doing Jimmy Stewart. My mom thought that was hilarious. I’d do a monologue from “Harvey”, is what I think I did.”

Do you perform live now, while taking classes at Second City?

“Yeah, it’s an interesting training program because you can just go and take classes but then at the end of the classes they do have a graduation performance. So you’ll do that after all of your classes and it’s just one show. The classes run for eight weeks and then they have, I think a total of 3, possibly 4, stages there. They’re running shows very night. So they have to keep turning over content. There’s a bunch of opportunities to audition over there to be in these shows on the smaller side stages and stuff. As long as you apply yourself and go out for those auditions, hopefully you’ll get a role. Luckily, I’ve been able to be a part of what they call coached ensembles where they’ll have senior level improvisers take on a cast of improvisers and they’ll have some concept that they’ll wanna do. One of my previous shows was called “Vogue”. We had this whole improvised show based around the 80’s dance craze, “Vogue”. You had these larger than life characters that were into “vogue-ing”. Every night we’d have this dramatic/comedic improvised show for 20 minutes. The end would culminate into a vogue dance competition. Another one (show) I was involved in was called “Naked”. That one was just supposed to be very serious, dramatic improv but to have real life comedy come through. We were these two couples and each couple had some issue in their relationship and the other couple would be there to support them and be an open ear. That was the concept for that one.
I have a coached ensemble coming up, so I’ll be performing all of April at Second City, so I’m excited about that. I don’t know the concept of that one yet cause I haven’t met with the director/coach, but I’m sure it’s a fun idea. They usually are.
All of my coaches have been fantastic and supportive. I can still go to them for advice.”

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How long do you have to prep or rehearse before a show goes on?

“It differs according to the group. The previous one I was in, we had like 6 rehearsals. It was just to get comfortable with how the other people perform, what kind of knowledge they have, their ability as an improviser, their comedic tone. This way you can create a real ensemble out of it and become a team. What I’ve been learning, is that a lot of improv is being a good teammate and not “one upping” each other but making the other person look good, if not funnier than you. It’s interesting. You really have to know the people you’re improvising with so you can have a really good show.”

Have you ever performed alone and not part of an ensemble?

“Not in an improv sense. I did stand up for a little bit, but I wasn’t necessarily too happy with my material. I wanted to do more mature stuff, but I guess my mind wasn’t in a mature place. I don’t know if I’ll return to it soon, but I wouldn’t put it beyond me, I might try it again. Currently I like improvising and doing sketch stuff. The thing about Second City is that they have this great improv breeding program, but here really more known for their sketch material. It’s all written, worked out material. What they do is teach you this skill of improvising, but the whole point of it is to come out with these nuggets of ideas from your improv. Then you take those ideas and turn them into fully realized sketch ideas. Like if you’re in a kitchen and something funny happens in your scene, you might (after the show), make a bunch of notes about how this scene in the kitchen was pretty funny. Then just working on that idea over and over again until you have this complete skit. In their review shows, which is what they run on their main stages, is all skits that have come from improv. They’ll work new material into it, they’ll remove some skits when they’re kind of tired or bored with them and have this ever evolving, rotating show of skits that have come from improv. They always finish out with improv games to keep it fun and fresh at the end. But that’s kind of the whole life cycle of work over there.”

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Do you ever get stage fright or anxiety before getting on stage?

“I would say always a little bit of excitement, I don’t think fright. That anticipation, butterflies kind of feeling. But the odd thing is, is that once I’m on the stage doing it, it subsides. I felt it more with stand up. Maybe it’s weird that I’d feel it more with stand up, with material where I knew what I was gonna say, but when it comes to improv I’m more controlled on stage.”

Have you ever had an experience where you got out these and didn’t get the laughs?

“Certainly in stand up, yeah. But with improvising, in a way, I’m never really going for the laugh cause that would be kind of cheap, in a way. Instead, trying to act more appropriate for the scene. So if I’m frustrated with somebody as the character in my scene, I’m gonna play a frustrated person and then hopefully something naturally funny comes out of that. If you ever really find yourself, in real life, being frustrated with someone and expressing that, but then also cracking a joke or making some kind of a quip, it would be unnatural in a way. A lot of he humor that I’m doing comes from honesty and what would actually happen in real life. Maybe what’s funny is how this particular character acts I that situation, but I’m never really expecting a laugh, I guess. I’m always surprised more at what gets the bigger laughs. It’s a constant lesson, in a way. Those things seem to be the more natural stuff. In my show “Naked”, it was supposed to just be dramatic improv. This one particular scene, I was confronting my wife about how she hasn’t been paying the bills and she’s been spending the money on something else and we couldn’t pay our mortgage that month. She had bought this really expensive espresso machine and I went on a tear about how we don’t need this coffee machine and that I never said I wanted one. She goes on to tell me how she knows I love espresso. I come back with telling her I’m ok with Folgers. The honesty in saying that Folgers is fine with me and everyone knows that it’s a really cheap coffee made the audience erupted from there. Writing that out, I probably wouldn’t have thought that would be funny but to get the kind of response we got from that was surprising and great at the same time. It was a crazy lesson.”

What do you find gets the most laughs from an audience?

“You definitely have to relate to the audience. I think doing anything relatable and having a slightly larger than life character people really enjoy. Then things are bit more highlighted or bold in a way. When you have a bold character reacting to something, their reaction or expression is easier to dad on stage, and it hits home more with the audience. You can’t be too subtle or people won’t see it. You need to draw attention to yourself. If I come out with any large character, or a voice, even a stereotype…I do a lot of east coast characters because I’m from there. So I’ll do New York or even the northeast Philly accent. People seem to love that kind of stuff. You need to commit to every kind of character, voice or action you’re doing. If you don’t commit 100%, people see that immediately. It reads as hesitation, which reads as lack of confidence in your own ability or performance.”

Do you feel that some of the characters you tend to do are parts of you, or created in your imagination?

“I’d say probably stuff I’ve witnessed, but not necessarily a part of me. Either teachers I’ve had, people I’ve worked with. It goes back to one of my best friends in high school, we would always imitate the teachers that had really distinct personalities or ways of talking. We’d do our own scenes with “them” in it.”

I watched some videos of yours on the YouTube channel “Late Night Brewery”. Tell me a bit about “Late Night Brewery”.

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“I went to high school with the other two guys in the videos. We had a very dark sense of humor when we were doing that stuff. We would get together and do writing sessions and hang out. The name of our group came from the fact that our best ideas came late at night when we were sharing a beer with each other in a round table setting spitting out ideas. Not taking any critiques too close to heart. Just putting anything out there. Doing it late at night with some beers is where the name came from. Also, brewery came from combining different formulas and stuff. Just liked the idea.”

What else do you find funny? What never fails to get you rolling?

“When it comes to stand up, it’s anyone who’s almost self-deprecating, honest about who they are. They can be completely reveal their most inner thoughts, but they’re funny. Things that everyone else thinks but isn’t vocal about. When you can relate to it, the audience is all on the same page, you feel like “hey maybe I’m not that crazy”, is always nice. Also, outside the box comedy. Monty Python kind of stuff, like really odd time periods or habits with modern social issues or bringing social issues to life by frame working it in some kind of over the top setting. South Park does it all the time. They take this base idea, a current issue, but blow it completely out of proportion into this hyper realized kind of world. I’m always pretty impressed with the intelligence and humor to do something like that. To bring it full circle.”

Do you think it’s a more difficult playing field for writers and comedians because of all the political correctness in the world these days?

“No, I don’t think so. I think the comedian will always have carte blanche to do what hey want because you can’t attack a comedian. They’re always so hard on themselves and they’re the first ones to call bullshit on themselves so you can be as bold and say whatever you want. It probably makes for a lot of viral clips and things but, luckily we still have the role of the comedian in so with to do that kind of thing. Everyone else can be super serious but a comedian can talk about anything they’d like cause they’re not afraid to. When Letterman had the controversy of the affair, it didn’t really go anywhere. How do you make fun of David Letterman, who’s the guy who has been making fun of everybody else and then made fun of himself and was honest about it.”

Where do you want to see your career take you?

“I do have a job currently, but I’d like to be performing full-time. Continuing to be making comedic videos. That’s something I do love, I love the film making process. Either working with a network, doing a show as a writer or performer. Or traveling in a comedic show, stage show or ensemble, just working as a comedian. I don’t need fame in any way. I would just rather be able to make a living doing comedy. Be able to pay the bills and still eat, feel fulfilled at the end of the day. That’s what I’m trying to get to. Right now I’m trying to pay off all my debt and loans, get my living expenses as low as possible so I can take more risks and go to more auditions and put myself out there more. Now that I’m in this hotbed for comedy that is Chicago.”

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Check out some of Patricks videos from Late Night Brewery: http://www.lnbfilms.com
Photos courtesy of Patrick Flanagan