Comedy in Center City

My name is Chris Whitehair, and this semester I have been interning with Center City Comedy (CCC). For those of you who don’t know, CCC is the premier comedy production company in Philadelphia. What started with one open mic at the Raven Lounge on Thursday nights at 9 has snowballed into a comedy boom in this city over the last three and a half years. Since coming to Temple and embarking on a career in comedy, I have been enamored with the hard work this company puts into this comedy scene night in and night out: producing live shows, sketches, booking live performances and all the while creating advertisements for all of these productions.

Although I have learned several nuances of the comedy/entertainment industry while working with CCC, one of the most valuable skills I have learned is how to host a comedy show. Learning how to host is a big part of my plan to take over the comedy scene in this city. Thankfully, CCC has given me the opportunity to do just that at their weekly open mic at the Raven Lounge. Despite what comedy accolades in this city might say, this is the best open mic in the city. What makes it so special is that it isn’t just an open mic where every comedian WILL get their stage time if they’re determined enough to stick around, but it’s a showcase of the best underground comedy talent in Philadelphia. Every week we pack a small second floor bar with 45+ people to enjoy a¬†phenomenal, hilarious and FREE comedy show. Being employed by CCC, I help them run this room every week.

Generally, I’ll DJ for the first portion of the show. I never understood how important music was to a comedy show until working with this company. Setting the mood and getting the vibe in the room just right before the show starts and between every comedian is crucial. At half time, comedians usually take themselves outside to stretch their legs and ¬†have a smoke before we start the show again. Where I used to go outside and shoot the breeze with comedians about the show, I now need to stay in and keep the room moving. Music still needs to be played, and there’s at least another 25+ comedians who still need stage time. While I keep the tunes playing, I create the list for the 2nd portion of the show.

During the second half, CCC has me work the floor. I take guests to their seats, I help the wait staff, I keep the door closed to keep as much noise out as possible and I keep table talk to a minimum all while enjoying the comedic stylings of Philly’s best up and coming artists. After the 2nd portion, now it’s my time to shine, the final portion of the evening that we call the “3rd Half” (CCC defies the laws of mathematics. They got their education in Philadelphia, what do you expect?). The 3rd Half is the portion of the show where the audience starts to filter out because its getting late. The quality of the show decreases dramatically as well because all the best comedians were put in the the earlier parts of the show. However, someone needs to host it. That someone is me. Although it isn’t exactly ideal, it makes you tougher. The crowds are unruly and unwilling to pay attention which makes me work twice as hard to keep their attention for myself and the comedians who I am introducing. Here is a clip of my hosting the 3rd Half at the Raven Lounge.

https://youtu.be/a3iZNsnCxXs

Although working with CCC to run this room is a lot of fun, it’s way more work than I thought it would be and it isn’t easy. I am blessed to be able to work with this company and gain the hosting experience that they are giving me. It isn’t just the hosting experience, though. The knowledge I’ve gained about how to produce a great show like we do at the Raven Lounge is a life lesson I will take with me through the rest of my career. In years to come, I know I will be producing live comedy shows. I also know I will be applying the model I’ve observed at the Raven Lounge to make these shows a success!

Chris Whitehair