If you’re depressed about the unbearable heat wave this summer, then you should come to Helium Comedy Club for some laughter and air conditioning during the 6th annual Philly’s Phunniest 2011 Competition. Every Sunday night this summer you can watch local stand-up comics compete for the title of Philly’s funniest person. The competition consists of eleven preliminary rounds with three comics advancing each night based on audience voting. Those three comics will then go on to the semi-finals, and the funniest ten will make the final round where the audience will determine who is the funniest person in Philadelphia.
Last night was the second preliminary round hosted by last year’s winner, the bearded and bespectacled Doogie Horner. You might know Horner from his bizarre appearance on America’s Got Talent where he was mercilessly booed by the audience before he could tell any jokes. The clip of his appearance became viral on the internet because of his frustrated and spiteful response to the booing crowd. He began heckling them back shouting “You are terrible people,” which caused them to cheer and advance him to the next round of the competition. He opened the show surprisingly quick with only two jokes, but he later affirmed his title by ending the show with a fantastic ten minute set.
Last night’s winners were Josh Rabinowitz, Alex Grubard, and Mike Rainey, who will be joining last week’s winners, Chip Chantry, Blake Wexler, and Noah Houlihan in the semi finals later this summer.
Recent UPenn grad, Josh Rabinowitz was the first winner called. Despite being very young, Rabinowitz boasts an impressive resume. He’s appeared on “College Humor Live,” the “Daily Show and Friends Show” at Comix Comedy Club, and he will even make an appearance on the second season of “Louie” on FX. The baby-faced Rabinowitz told stories of self-deprecation tinged with sadness and sweetness that made him instantly endearing to the audience. His anecdotes about being socially awkward and uncool are cringingly relatable, and they strike a chord with audiences who have made similar self conscious observations but never dreamed of sharing them with others.
Another winner, and AroundPhilly favorite, Alex Grubard, had the first great set of the evening receiving the consistent, rolling laughter that a comic dreams of. Grubard is another young comic who has managed to make a name for himself in both the NYC and Philly comedy scenes. His jokes are more like articulate, and often absurd, rants about his life. There is something strangely likable and infectious about his bitter and indignant delivery when he talks about being single or not having any money. Towards the end of his set, he asked the audience, “Do you guys get me?” They answered with resounding applause.
The third winner was another crowd favorite, Mike Rainey. His brutal and bawdy comedy had more of mean streak than the other two comics (but maybe that’s just because he has that strong Philly accent that makes everything sound a little bit more vulgar). His brash delivery and subversive material is somewhat similar to Jim Norton’s, so it was no surprise to hear that he was featured on the Opie and Anthony Show. Like Rabinowitz and Grubard, Rainey commanded the club with the confidence and skills of a seasoned pro, which I did not expect to see from a local comedy competition. Overall, I was really impressed with the winners, and can’t wait to see what they’ll be bringing to the semi-finals at the end of the summer.
If you missed last night’s show, don’t worry. This Sunday Doogie Horner will host the third preliminary round and you’ll get a chance to see 14 more comics battle it out for the title of Philly’s Phunniest. For tickets and a line up of all the participating comedians, visit Helium Comedy Club.