I’ve always really admired the work done by the guys over at Comedians For A Cause what with their charity raising efforts by throwing comedy shows. Over the years, Joe Mayo and Mike Rainey, along with others, have raised a great deal of funds for various charitable causes including individuals who’ve come across hard times in the Philly comedy scene. Joe was even nice enough to advise me on a previous charity I threw a few years ago for the Wounded Warrior Project, which raised over seven thousand dollars for American veterans.
Joe Mayo has been in the comedy scene for a long time, much before it’s more recent boom, and has witnessed its impressive evolution first hand. The following article are his thoughts on what the Philly comedy scene has become and what it could turn into.
Please enjoy the following article by comedian Joe Mayo
Being a well known, seasoned veteran of the Philadelphia comedy circuit, I can tell you first hand things are a lot different today than they were in 2006 when I first took the stage. Back then you had cliques amongst comics. These groups would stay very tight knit in small numbers and pretty much keep to themselves. There was not much intermingling between the groups except for maybe a simple greeting or “Hey, good set man,” after someone had just got off stage. Where as today, there is one big posse consisting of every comedian in the city. Personally, I believe the synergy, and sense of camaraderie in and about the local scene, is a direct result of the rise in popularity of sketch comedy. Sketch and improv comedians work in groups and depend on each other to complete their bits, while stand up comics are alone on the stage, unless you’re a ventriloquist (Yawn). Over the last two years, sketch and improv has expanded immensely, in large part to the re-opening of PHIT (Philly Improv Theater). Many stand up artists were exposed to sketch and improv with this surge and started dabbling in both genres of comedy.
Synergy is the interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects. The product Philadelphia audiences are getting today, is much greater than that of seven years ago. There is a more professional aspect brought by all comics on the show when either performing in a large club, a small theater, or dive bar. I truly believe the vibe on the scene today is attributed to the teamwork going on around every corner of comedy. This group effort has allowed comics, with the support of their peers, to bring to life their brightest ideas. A perfect example of this excellence in motion would be the numerous recurring shows at PHIT, annual award shows, charitable groups, and even political rallies. It’s everyone working together from the same starting point; Philly comedy. People are helping people in search of a better outcome, and from this comic’s point of view, I am very pleased to be a part of it. In the next few weeks, Mike Rainey and I will have the pleasure of working along side Ben Maher and the Philly Sketchfest. Every year, they choose a charity to donate 10% of ticket sales and 50% of raffle proceeds from the month long comedy festival. This year that benefactor is Comedians for a Cause, a charity started by myself and Mike Rainey in 2010 with the goal of helping sick children, the terminally ill, and families dealing with said situations in their time of need. On top of the many shows we have put together, we have also coordinated toys for tots, school supplies drives, and two hurricane relief projects so it gets deeper than comedy shows. None of this would have been accomplished without the presence of synergy. I guess what I am saying is that Philly comedy, and the friends I have met through it, has changed my life for the better and allows me to be in a position to change other’s lives for the better as well. I wish all my friends and colleagues on the circuit the best of luck and success in their future endeavors.
- Joe Mayo
You can visit Comedians For A Cause’s Facebook Page Here