Aaron Nevins, co-founder of Good Good Comedy, thinks if the apocalypse happened tomorrow, the world would be fine — as long as the comedians survived.
Members of the Philly comedy community lent their individual skills, ranging from handiwork to business knowledge, to help him and co-founder Kate Banford open a permanent Good Good Comedy Theatre in Chinatown.
“The whole comedy community wants to be involved in that process,” he said. The comedians often worked for pizza and beer, he added.
In February, Nevins and Banford started a Kickstarter campaign to open a permanent theater. With the help of their friends and supporters, they broke the $12,000 goal in two days and nearly tripled it by the end of the month-long fundraiser.
Nevins said Good Good Comedy is helping differentiate Philly’s comedy scene by combining different genres. In Five Dollar Comedy Week, the original Good Good Comedy project, comedians could pitch anything they wanted if they followed one rule: it couldn’t be just stand-up, just improv or just sketch.
“There will be a concept show that utilizes improv or utilizing the joke-writing skills of stand- up comedians,” Banford said.
“…but it’s something completely new that nobody’s ever done before,” Nevins added.
According to “The Big Five personality traits of professional comedians compared to amateur comedians, comedy writers, and college students” by Gil Greengross and Geoffrey F. Miller in psychology journal Personality and Individual Differences, comedians tend to have even higher levels of creativity than other artist as well as higher emotional stability. The comedy duo joked that they have “compatible forms of neurosis,” but they have built their comedy group into a Philadelphia staple in only two years.
Nevins and Banford started Five Dollar Comedy Week, a comedy festival, in 2014. They received 70 pitches for the first festival. After one year and three festivals, they realized they had about 90 shows, none of which were being reproduced. The pair started Good Good Comedy to perform those shows and new concepts more regularly.
Now they will have a space to put on comedy shows every night and Five Dollar Comedy Week will return for its fourth festival from Nov. 13 through Nov. 19.
Nevins said “concept shows” exist in comedy communities in other cities, but because of Five Dollar Comedy Week and Good Good Comedy, they make up a particular large part of the Philly comedy scene.
“I feel like that’s put us on the radar of a lot of people in other cities, just because they’ve been like, ‘I hear about this weird show you do where 15 comedians are high and one is sober and the audience has to find the sober one,’” he said.
“It’s more like, ‘I heard about that concept,’ rather than, ‘I saw a funny comedian from your city,’” he added. “Concepts will travel a lot quicker.”
Nevins said the shows are highly curated and combine their favorite aspects of comedy.
“We put on our own shows, Philadelphia concept shows, and then we bring in out of town acts,” Banford said. “There aren’t a lot of theaters in other cities that do both those things.”
Nevins said the comedy scene was “shifting” when he and Banford started doing stand-up. The scene became a place for “comedy nerds,” Nevins said, not just people “whose co-workers dragged them there.”
“We created a space that allows for more and more people to be attracted to it,” Banford said.
Banford said Good Good Comedy shows converge several different types of comedy in order to get “people from different scenes involved.”
“[The new theater] will be such an opportunity for more funny people to show up in Philadelphia and come out of their shell and start doing comedy, or even discover comedy in Philadelphia,” Nevins said. “Nothing is more exciting than a new hilarious person showing up.”
“That is my favorite thing,” Banford added. “To see someone I’ve never seen before doing something really funny.”
Good Good Comedy is always open for pitches and will host three or four comedy shows every night at the new theater.
The Good Good Comedy Theater will open on Oct. 14. Opening week will feature shows like “The Slam,” a hybrid of comedy and poetry, and “Your Mom is Funny,” in which comedians and their moms write stand-up for each other.
“I’m excited about it the same way I would be excited about it if it wasn’t even our theater,” Nevins said. “Now seven nights a week you can walk into this one place and see a really funny comedy show, which hasn’t existed exactly in Philadelphia up to this point.”
“Just show up,” he added, “and you’ll enjoy it. And if you don’t enjoy it, you’ll definitely enjoy the next show.”
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