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Happy Hour on the Fringe: Blue Heaven Preview

Posted January 6th, 2020

On this episode of Happy Hour on the Fringe, hosts Tenara Calem and Zach Blackwood give you the inside information on the Blue Heaven 2020 lineup, who’s who, where you’ve seen them, what to look out for, and what even is “going blue”?

Blue Heaven Comedy Festival runs February 7 & 8, 2020 at FringeArts with acts starting at 7pm.

Listen to the episode and read the transcript below.

Feature Photo: Lorelei Ramirez, by Mindy Tucker

[Music Intro]

Tenara: Hello and welcome to Happy Hour on the Fringe. FringeArts is Philadelphia’s premier presenter of contemporary performing arts. I’m Tenara Calem, and I do community engagement here at FringeArts.

Zach: I’m Zach Blackwood. I’m an Artistic Producer here and the curator of the Blue Heaven Comedy Festival, and we invite you to pour one up and enjoy our conversations with some of the most imaginative people on this plane of existence. Which feels quite rude to say, given that today it’s just us.

Tenara: Well, I do think that you and I are some of the most imaginative people on this plane of existence. So honestly, accurate.

Zach: It’s true.

Tenara: Right. So today we’re going to be talking about Blue Heaven Comedy Festival 2020-

Zach: Or as I’m calling it, ‘Too Blue Too Heaven.’

Tenara: Amazing. So for those of you who don’t know, we’re going to spend this entire podcast talking about it. So all of your questions will be answered. But first up, Zach Blackwood, what are we drinking?

Zach: I’m having water.

Tenara: I’m having water.

Zach: Water. I’m drinking out my new Nalgene. It’s a beautiful fluorescent red, orange color. And then it has a green lid, with a blue little screw on it. And then an orange, like a macaroni and cheese, Crayola colored attachment on it. I liked it because it was rare.

Tenara: Well, it definitely looks like you’re in grad school with that Nalgene. I’m drinking water out of a vase, because I am likewise, in grad school.

Zach: Well, can we talk about the history of the vase, actually?

Tenara: Yeah. The vase used to live on the desk of our … when I am about to say this word, I don’t mean he’s dead, but our dearly departed, as it no longer works at this institution, former Institutional Giving Coordinator, Hugh Wilikofsky.

Zach: Yes, who is a big comedy fan, so it’s worth bring-

Tenara: Huge comedy fan and somebody who helped us start the podcast.

Zach: Yes. Absolutely.

Tenara: Well, that brings us seamlessly to our next question, which is, for new time audience members. Okay, so somebody who’s brand new to our institution, first I want to ask you if you could explain what the Blue Heaven Comedy Festival is.

Zach: Well, it’s a festival of comedic works by artists, right? So, what FringeArts does, right, is we present world-class contemporary performing arts relevant to Philadelphians. I just threw my hat … You know, relevant to Philadelphians-

Tenara: It’s like your version of a hair toss.

Zach: Any whom. What FringeArts does is present world-class contemporary performing arts, right? And where that’s traditionally been kind of seeded is within music, theater, and dance, and kind of all interdisciplinary permutations there in.

Zach: Katie and myself, my co-producer, as we were conceiving some new festivals here at FringeArts, we were really interested in who’s on the fringe of comedy, right? Who’s on the fringe of circus? And that’s kind of how Blue Heaven and Hand to Hand was born. But Blue Heaven has a name. Is that important to people?

Tenara: It is important to people. I think first let’s … So you’ve about the inception of Blue Heaven, which I really appreciate.

Zach: Oh yeah, so then that’s where it came from.

Tenara: Right. And then what is it?

Zach: So it’s a comedy festival.

Tenara: Amazing.

Zach: It’s two days.

Tenara: Two days.

Zach: It’s January 7th and 8th of 2020. Last year it was the first time we ever did it, and it was like two marathon long, long days of just like slam, bam, bam, laughs per minute. Just like crazy. And it was really about kind of finding the linkage between artists we already worked with a lot.

Zach: Like Erin Markey, like Cole Escola, and new artists, people who are maybe like the next concentric circle out, or almost like a chain curation model. Like who do those people work with when they’re in their comedy gear rather than in their contemporary performance gear? And not to say that those two gears are not the same gear, right?

Tenara: Right. I mean we can talk about this later, but I personally feel like the container through which we are watching one piece of work really does change the work depending on how the container is framed.

Zach: Exactly.

Tenara: So you can have one show, and it could be in a contemporary performing arts festival and it’s perceived in one way, but if you put it in a comedy festival and it’s the same fricking show, it’s received a completely different way.

Zach: Yeah. Last year it featured really, really great artists. I already mentioned Cole Escola and Erin Markey, but Michelle Buteau was here.

Tenara: Jaboukie Young-White.

Zach: Jaboukie Young-White. Yes.

Tenara: He was amazing.

Zach: An icon, a short king.

Tenara: Whitmer Thomas.

Zach: Whitmer Thomas, yes. Sarah Squirm, Ruby McCollister, Larry Owens, who you might know from A Strange Loop.

Tenara: Okay.

Zach: Well, it was just kind of amazing to see all of these artists come here and really take a chance on this thing. I was sending emails like, “I promise we are real. If you Google this name, nothing will come up. We are real.” You know? And these people took a chance and now in the second year, we’re trying to match up to the great success of last year. Really and truly.

Tenara: Yeah, for real.

Zach: Like I don’t have huge, huge plans to expand in 2020. It’s a lot of the artists that I really wanted to work with in year one. And then as I move forward and thinking about the future of it, I definitely have growth opportunities in mind. But for me it’s always artist first. Who are the people doing really, really exciting things? I will say, this year I did a lot more traveling to scout, last year I was really scouting in New York and Philly.

Zach: But this year I was scouting in LA and San Francisco, and keeping an ear to the ground in places I really wasn’t aware of. And then I went to Scotland as well, another kind of comedy hotbed, a place where a lot of American comics go to not be seen and work on a new act. And are like, “I can run 28 shows-”

Tenara: And really refined material here.

Zach: Yes with that 30 cap audience of Brits. That’s how you learn.

Tenara: Oh my god, if you can make them laugh, then like …

Zach: Well, and make them laugh as an American, who’s coming in here with references about goop.

Tenara: They’re like, “What is a Jade egg?” Yeah, I get you. Talk me about what Blue Heaven, the name, actually means.

Zach: Blue Heaven is like phraseology, comes from the idea of a personal place. I always say my deeply personal sensation about a thing, because it’s not a real place, it’s a place inside of you, blue heaven. For me it’s like … Anybody else do hypnosis podcasts? It’s like the place that I imagined in my head when I’m trying to like escape from the world or something, it’s my blue heaven.

Zach: It’s also just a place you’ve carved out in the world for yourself. And to me, that says something about the artists who are involved, but it’s also a turn phrase, play on words, if you will. Because ‘going blue’ in comedy is like, give me your nastiest, like give me a whole heck of a joke.

Tenara: Does ‘going blue’ have anything to do with blue collar?

Zach: I don’t know.

Tenara: That’s just a question that literally jumped into my head this minute.

Zach: I always think about it in terms of when people … See, here’s the thing, I’m not a comedian, I’ve never been a comedian.

Tenara: But you are funny.

Zach: I was going to get there. But no, no, I’m kidding. But no, I’m not a comedian, right? So I’m really outside looking in on a lot of this stuff, and I recognize that. And I don’t know where the hell it comes from. I always imagine it this way, like when somebody serves you a steak and you’re like, “Can I have that steak rare?”

Zach: I don’t eat steak, I’m just going to clarify that for the people. But then they bring it back to you, and you cut it open, and you’re like, “That’s not rare. That’s blue.” In reference to how raw it is … Wait, we can look it up. I have a computer right here. ‘Going blue.’.

Tenara: Wait, a steak is blue?

Zach: Yeah. The idea that it’s purple-y in color almost because it’s not cooked through.

Tenara: Huh. I’m a vegetarian, so I don’t know what that means.

Zach: Guys, I got it actually.

Tenara: Okay, so where does ‘going blue’ come from?

Zach: See, now I’m just revealing I didn’t really look this up. I knew the term, right-

Tenara: No, the term exists. Fun story, I took an improv class once, and they told me that when an audience members shouts a suggestion at you, like, “Oh give me a word.” And the audience member’s like, “Dick.” You know, that is an example of the audience going blue and it’s our job to work around that or against that in whatever way that makes it …

Zach: So it actually comes from blue movies.

Tenara: What?

Zach: A blue movie is a euphemistic term for porno.

Tenara: Ah. So before we get into actual, like who’s in Blue Heaven 2020, Too Blue Too Heaven, walk us through your curatorial framework for these comedians. Because I know that there are some metrics that are really important to you. And when I say metrics, I don’t mean actual numbers, but just the parameters in which these comedians are playing.

Zach: Yeah. Like to say it’s about carving out a space for yourself and then booking people who are seen as conventionally … You know what I mean? Like eventually commercial artists, doesn’t make sense to me.

Tenara: Yeah.

Zach: To me it’s all about … I included this actually in a lot of emails to artists, because I know do a lot of cold calls here. I’m reaching out to people and I don’t really book comedy all year. It’s me like, “I love … Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, and I’m reaching out to you, because something in your comedy reminds me of Rosas Danst Rosas.”

Zach: It’s not really that, but it’s more like a curatorial philosophy rooted in identifying and nurturing comedy artists with really rigorous ambitions for their work, where the work has a stated aim or ambition, and socially relevant voices. So that means people who we maybe haven’t heard from in the long, long, long history of comedy.

Tenara: Well, I think it’s really important that you mentioned that there’s ambition within the work. Because I think that oftentimes we hear in the comedy world that to be clear or transparent about what that ambition is, is actually against comedy for some reason.

Zach: It’s hokey, too earnest.

Tenara: Or not even too earnest, but just if the ambition is to reveal a system of oppression that we all have to navigate through, that that’s bringing something into comedy that doesn’t belong there. Like comedy is just about jokes. When it’s just like … That doesn’t make any sense.

Zach: Yeah. I’m going to say a thing that’s a little spicy. But I do think that there’s ambitions even in what Daniel Tosh is doing, right? Sometimes an ambition is to keep a status quo.

Tenara: Yeah.

Zach: Or to kind of uphold an existing kind of patriarchal structure.

Tenara: Yeah.

Zach: Yeah. I do think that even if that’s not being explicated in that way, some of that work really does have an underlying ambition.

Tenara: Well I’m really glad that you’ve said that, because I think it’s important … So maybe let me reframe …

Zach: And the artist might not be aware of it, I’m not saying it’s malicious.

Tenara: Maybe they’re not aware of it, but I think it is important to be like, even what you consider to be the most neutral comedy does have an ambition. And maybe actually what you’re responding to is that what you perceive to be neutral is an ambition to maintain the status quo.

Zach: Ding, ding, ding. Whoo. Yes, that’s the thing.

Tenara: So something that we’ve talked about before is that Mike Birbiglia, as amazing of a comedian as he is, is not a Blue Heaven artist. So can you talk about why that is?

Zach: Well, maybe he is. Maybe he is.

Tenara: I like how you’re playing this. Mike Birbiglia, call us.

Zach: Call us. But no, I guess the work that I’ve seen from Mike right now, while it deals with … It deals with more conventional issues, it’s not, to me, identifying an unseen voice.

Tenara: Yeah.

Zach: And that’s where there’s a challenge, to me. And what I’m really interested in is subject matter that people thought couldn’t be funny, identities that people thought couldn’t be funny, and people engaging with their identities in ways that might not feel like they’re trying to be modeling behavior. Like really just individualized perspectives on the issues that foreground the public imagination right now. And I know that that sounds really academic and goofy, but the way that that bears out is in a work like Whitmer Thomas’ The Golden One from last year. I love that piece.

Tenara: I love that piece so much, it was so beautiful.

Zach: But it was a piece … It was a new way of musical about maternal grief, but so funny.

Tenara: It was so funny.

Zach: And I cried also.

Tenara: Yeah.

Zach: And to me that makes me so, so happy. I think about Jacqueline Novak’s Get On Your Knees, which has had an amazing run in New York, which will hopefully be in Philly soon so that all of you can see it. I don’t know where you’re listening from, maybe you’re in Antarctica, bad luck for you. But that’s another piece that really talked about gender in what expectations we place on women, and who’s allowed to talk about sexuality, frankly, as well.

Zach: It’s beautiful and it gives you a way in. And I think this year I was really, really interested in zeroing in on women and non binary people. But like not exclusively, not in a way that felt targeted. That’s just really the work that I saw this year as I was imagining kind of a threading theme. I think a gender presentation and expectations, and just expectations about identity more broadly were important to me.

Zach: Yeah. I don’t know. It’s difficult to articulate. And I don’t want for anybody listening to this who’s not one of the 10 artists, 10 lead artists at Blue Heaven this year to feel like that means I don’t think that your work is deeply rigorous at all. It’s like, there’s also limitations, there’s also circumstances of scheduling, who’s available when, and all that stuff. But I don’t know. It’s not a hard thing, it’s not a hard and fast thing, I mean, like a rigid thing.

Zach: `But I do always want to be moving the needle and advancing the conversation around comedy, and identity, and politics, and where those things all intersect, and that we can hold all these things in our minds at the same time. We’re really sophisticated comedy audiences today. There’s more a move today towards specificity and absurdity in this way.

Tenara: Well, yeah, I’m glad you said the word ‘specificity’. I don’t know if this is an active part of your curation process, but something that I get really excited about with Blue Heaven is that, so often the the angry white male voice that arises through comedy being like, “Well if I’m not allowed to make this joke at anybody’s expense, then what is the alternative?”

Tenara: And it’s like, literally Blue Heaven, a fringe festival comedy. Like, there’s so many … Just take a look at the roster of who those people are, even the white men that are in that festival are doing really smart comedy that’s honest and truthful and doesn’t punch down on anybody else.

Zach: Well, and that’s based in their own experiences for the most part. That’s never like, “I need to talk about a stereotype about another ethnicity or cultural group to be funny.”

Tenara: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Zach: Like, you don’t even know them. Shut up.

Tenara: Yeah. So we talked a lot about the comedy festival and about the comedians, but who the fricking frack are they, Zack? Just let’s run down the list.

Zach: Okay, so day one?

Tenara: Day one, let’s go.

Zach: Lorelei Ramirez.

Tenara: Who’s that?

Zach: Lorelei Ramirez is a superstar visual artist and comedic artist and a phenom. Just had an exhibition, like a visual art exhibition-

Tenara: Rad.

Zach: Actually you can find them at and see their work.

Tenara: Is there any particular like TV show that we may have seen them in?

Zach: Los Espookys.

Tenara: Ooh.

Zach: Yes, yes. Which is deeply exciting. I love that show. And thinking again about the way that the comedy needle is moving. That is a Spanish language comedy show that-

Tenara: On HBO.

Zach: On HBO, where people who don’t speak Spanish are watching it. So that’s Lorelei. Lorelei will present a piece called Alive (For Now), that focuses on questions of mental health, questions of depression, questions of fatalism to a certain degree. It’s really nice, it’s good stuff. It was included in Under The Radar’s Incoming Series in January, which is where I got to see it for the first time. And that, to me, was interesting, this is a standup comic who is entering into this kind of theatrical performance realm or has been there, being presented by the public theater. That’s exciting and cool. So that’s Lorelei.

Zach: After that will be Courtney Pauroso with a show called Gutterplum. Courtney is an improv superstar, really based in LA. But I saw Courtney originally in the Edinburgh International Fringe, at the recommendation of Trey Lyford, Philadelphia superstar theater maker and clown. And Courtney is a clown, like a trained clown. Works at the Lyric Hyperion with Dr. Brown, who’s seen as one of the leaders in clowning here in the U.S.

Zach: And she was just written up in the New York Times article about the sexy clown stable. Right, which is a term, actually, that’s very loaded. It came from a pretty sexist review in Scotland talking … Basically where Dr. Brown was given credit for the work of a few women clowns. And then they’ve kind of twisted that and turned it on its head and have been talking about the way that their work really deals specifically with sex and gender, while confronting the audience. That piece is also one of the few pieces that we’ll talk about that’s really about expectations of identity. It follows a woman from her first period to your death, and all of the roles that she takes on in that lifespan.

Tenara: Yeah, I want to provide some context to our audiences, perhaps, who might need it, that when we say ‘clown’, certainly some people may think of like-

Zach: A red nose?

Tenara: Well and not even that, because sometimes that is part of what’s happening. But that clowns are like, in a circus with face paint on and stuff. But my intersection was what clown means in this instance is that this is a comedian who is playing at extreme vulnerability and is inviting the audience into that process.

Zach: And they’re aware you’re there.

Tenara: They’re very aware that you’re there. They are not trying to hide it. That vulnerability becomes an invitation to you, as the audience member, and that there’s oftentimes a level of like, “This is so stupid, but they’re doing it anyway because they think it’s more important to try.” Like that being a part of clowning. So just like, when we say ‘clown’, we don’t necessarily mean coming out of a clown car at the Ringling Brothers Circus.

Zach: Honk, honk.

Tenara: Right, exactly. This is like a different kind … It’s just a different style of comedic performance. But it’s good to see that there’s going to be so many examples of this in this festival, if people are curious.

Zach: Yeah. Truly, Google it, you’ll have a lovely day. After that, we’ll have Megan Stalter and Sarah Squirm doing a kind of co-bill. Sarah Squirm is the only artist returning from Blue Heaven One.

Tenara: Her piece last year …

Zach: Tell me about your experience of it, that should be interesting.

Tenara: So like, she … I laughed really hard and … So I’ll say that, first of all. But the part that really got me was mine and Sarah’s mutual and fervent dislike of Mark Maron. And Sarah Squirm hates him so much that she threw something at the screen on which his face was projected. And I really resonate with that experience because I could not wish to hear somebody’s voice less than that man. So come at me, Mark Maron bros.

Zach: Please don’t. Mark Maron could put out a hit on us. So Sarah Squirm deals a lot with, again, gender expectations, body expectation. You should check out her adult swim infomercial FLAYAWAY. Megan Stalter.

Tenara: Oh my God.

Zach: Oh my God.

Tenara: Oh my God. Megan has a YouTube channel you have to watch. It’s The Megan Salter Show. It is like this absurdist talk show moment. And her comedy is very … Like nothing is allowed to let slide, I’ll never be able to explain this-

Tenara: She … Okay, so her Twitter-

Zach: Great Twitter comedy.

Tenara: Yeah, her Twitter is replete with goodies. And one of my favorite little Twitter videos that she did was, woman finding out that no one else is dressing up for the Halloween party. And so she’s on the phone with her friends and she’s like dressed up in a bumblebee costume and she’s like slowly through the course of this phone call, finding out that none of her friends are dressing up in costumes for Halloween. And you see just the sheer disappointment that is breaking on her face. Everybody should go and check that out.

Zach: She acts with her whole face.

Tenara: Yes. Yeah.

Zach: Which I think is very important to me.

Tenara: She’s a very skilled actress. Yeah.

Zach: And she’s one of the new artists on National Lampoon Radio Hour. So National Lampoon Radio Hour, talk about … Seminal right? That’s why we have SNL, so many things owe everything to National Lampoon. And to reframe National Lampoon as a more inclusive, more permissive environment, has been a big sign that we’re experiencing a seismic shift in comedy right now. So, yeah. And we’re going to keep going. At 11:00 PM on day one, you can experience Patti Harrison and Friends. Patti Harrison is-

Tenara: My favorite character on Shrill.

Zach: Yes. ‘Sociopath adjacent’ is how she’s described in her official bio.

Tenara: Okay. I want to be clear that her character on Shrill is described as sociopathic adjacent.

Zach: Patti Harrison kind of came to prominence after defending Donald Trump’s trans military ban. To clarify, Patti Harrison is part of that community, I think that’s a part of the story.

Tenara: No, it’s important context to know that she’s not defending Donald Trump’s decision from the role as a cisgender woman.

Zach: It’s deep irony, right? And what she’s saying is like, “Donald Trump, I think you’re so hot I think you’re so sexy. You can do whatever you want.” And in this way, turns the absurdity of what he’s saying on it’s head. Takes right-wing rhetoric … Treats it really earnestly, because it’s not earnest.

Tenara: Right. Well, and with the sole purpose of exposing, not only their hypocrisy within the right wing rhetoric, but also the audience’s hypocrisy.

Zach: Exactly.

Tenara: Right.

Zach: Patti is just really funny. Like I know that that’s rude to say, but she’s just really, really funny.

Tenara: Why is that rude to say about a comedy artist.

Zach: I know, because then it makes it sound like I am an authority on who’s funny, and that’s never what I want to be.

Tenara: You can be like, “I find her really funny.”

Zach: Yeah, you’re right. You’re right. And she works with Mitra Jouhari and Catherine Cohen on a show called It’s a Guy Thing. She’s on Shrill, she’s on Difficult People. She’s just great.

Tenara: Is she closing out the night on day one?

Zach: She’s closing out the night with friends, with friends. And I have it on good authority that there will be some music as a part of that set.

Tenara: Oh my God. So day one on that Friday, February 7th begins-

Zach: 7:00 PM.

Tenara: At 7:00 PM, and it is like … Per tradition that we’ve just started, this is the second annual Blue Heaven. This is a packed night. So come ready to pace yourself and enjoy comedy from top to bottom. And-

Zach: I know it’s a long haul that first day, but you can break it in half. There’s two blocks. Buy a ticket to Lorelei and Courtney. You can buy a ticket to Meg, Sarah, and Patti and friends. You can do whatever you want, you can design your own experience.

Tenara: Well, and there is going to be a break in between those two blocks, so for those folks who really want to see all of those acts, there are opportunities to get up, get a drink of water, go to the bathroom, get some food from La Peg.

Zach: And we also have a theater menu, so you can go get yourself some French fries and eat them while you’re watching comedy.

Tenara: Which is pretty much all I’ll be doing for my birthday, which is on February 8th the second day of the Blue Heaven Comedy Festival.

Zach: Generally that’s not allowed, but we do it special for you comedy dweebs.

Tenara: And because it’s my birthday.

Zach: No. Anyway, so day two, starting with Max Wittert. Max Witter is an artist I first saw Clusterfest in San Francisco. He’s known as an illustrator as well as a comic. He also has a great podcast called Get Real and another great podcasts called So Fashionating with Ruby McCollister, who was also in last year’s Blue Heaven.

Tenara: She also went to college with me.

Zach: So what’s great about Max Wittert is, the show’s called Portrait of the Artist Seated with Grapes. And it’s really, really exciting because it takes us into the world of Max’s illustrations. So Max’s illustrations become the environment in which the piece exists, which is really, really exciting. Max is known for a really, really great comic about how when the Jean Gray was in the original X-Men comic.

Zach: So again, playing with expectations of gender and identity and all of these fun, fun things. So yeah, I’m really, really excited for Max. I think you guys are really, really going to love what Max is doing and I’m super pumped.

Tenara: And then following Max we have …

Zach: Natalie Palamides.

Tenara: Oh my gosh.

Zach: So this is definitely one of the shows I’m most most excited for. It won the Edinburgh Total Theater Award in 2018, the year before that, Natalie Palamides won the Edinburgh Best Newcomer Comedy Award, which is like huge, huge honor. Natalie’s also worked with the Pig Iron Theater Company before-

Tenara: I’ve heard of them.

Zach: Yeah, Natalie’s great. And Natalie also voices Buttercup on the new Power Puff Girls.

Tenara: That’s critical information.

Zach: It is. It’s just, to me, interesting to think about the way that these people contain multitudes.

Tenara: Absolutely.

Zach: She’s a great voice actor. The piece is called NATE, and in it Natalie plays Nate. And Nate is a man, and a man who just learned what consent is and maybe does not fully understand it.

Tenara: But is trying really hard.

Zach: And trying to tell you. It’s like, this is important news and I need to share with you what this is. And then Nate kind of, through a series of moments of audience participation and call and response, unpacks the idea of consent and reveals where they’re slippage and stickiness.

Tenara: And also where our culture’s propensity to paint things in black and white can really end up hurting a dialogue or a restorative conversation.

Zach: Yeah. It’s really, really good. And I think what we’ll need to do is really contextualize that for audiences, because it is heavy, heavy clowning.

Tenara: I will say, right away, that we are going to have a counselor on site for all of Blue Heaven. But particularly because some of the acts are interrogating some pretty heavy subjects, obviously smartly in a way that always makes me laugh when I watch it.

Tenara: But for those of you who are concerned about any content considerations or your own stamina with the material, you are always more than welcome to take a dip out. And the counselor will be on site and will be able to talk to anybody who needs some guidance.

Zach: And this is not to scare you away at all. The work is stunning and is really, really rigorous in it’s consideration of the subject matter that it chooses to confront. What I will note is that you have to come because NATE has been shot as a comedy special produced by none other than Amy Poehler.

Tenara: I don’t know who that is. Do you know who that is?

Zach: Leslie Knope.

Tenara: Oh.

Zach: Yeah, so Natalie Palamides, even Mike Birbiglia has said, “Natalie Palamides is doing such a deeply profound and original thing in comedy right now, seek out her next live show it’s unlike anything you will ever see.”

Tenara: Yeah, I will echo Mike Birbiglia. He and I really agree on this one in that, though the subject matter for NATE might sound like a really unfunny territory, I promise that the maker is so smart and so hilarious.

Zach: And knows what they’re taking on.

Tenara: And absolutely takes that responsibility so seriously. So great.

Zach: Then we’ll have a break.

Tenara: Then we’ll have break.

Zach: A well deserved break before bringing up Jamie LoftusBoss Whom is Girl. Jamie Loftus, great, great, great comic. Great writer as well. Also has a great podcast. This piece, Boss Whom is Girl is really interrogating the idea of corporate capitalist based feminism.

Tenara: “Lean in.”

Zach: Lean in. It directly confronts “Lean in.”

Tenara: Oh good.

Zach: And also Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos. So she performs in this like affected voice. It talks about girl power, it talks about the inverted pussy pyramid of girl-bossery, and it’s really committed to the confronting the idea that a feminism that punches down or that still involves-

Tenara: Climbing over people? Yeah.

Zach: Climbing over the labor of others, is not feminism.

Tenara: Surprise.

Zach: And it’s really, really fantastic. Jamie’s performance in it is stunning, like really, really special. There will also be some audience participation here.

Tenara: Amazing. So then, closing out Blue Heaven and headlining our spectacular festival …

Zach: Technically everyone’s headline. But no, this is the closeout for the festival is Joel Kim Booster. LA based comedian and writer.

Tenara: Also in Shrill.

Zach: Yes. Featured on the Late Late Show with James Corden, Conan, Netflix, Comedy Central.

Tenara: Literally everyone.

Zach: Yeah. He’s written for Big Mouth, The Other Two, Billy on the Street, he’s currently on NBC’s Sunnyside as Jun Ho. And you can buy his album Model Minority right now.

Tenara: He’s so funny.

Zach: When I was thinking about standup, like the room for stand up in this festival that’s mostly shows and playing with theater-

Tenara: Yeah, no, he is a standup comedian.

Zach: Yes, and very, very excited for that. And that’s how Michelle and Jaboukie were last year, after all of these experiences of like world building, it’s nice to also just like hear jokes and laugh. And it’s also a great way to be like, and then we’re done and we’re going home-

Tenara: Right. And also to demonstrate that, again, and we’ve talked about this already, that just because your form and format is standup comedy doesn’t mean that you’re not working with experimental ambitions.

Zach: Exactly.

Tenara: And Joel Kim Booster absolutely fits that description.

Zach: There’s so much more information about all of these artists on our website. That was really just a brief, brief, brief overview. A survey even.

Tenara: The oeuvre? No, oeuvre is not the right word.

Zach: No.

Tenara: I’m learning.

Zach: But you’re capturing the milieu of these … No, that’s not … Can we talk about comedy again?

Tenara: Okay. So the last question that I have for you is, if you and I were going to do a comedy special, what would it be about?

Zach: I’m not funny, I must say. No, no, no, I’m not funny. Like I can be funny in conversation, even in conversation with myself, but I don’t know. I don’t know. What do you want it to be about? Oh, I figured it out.

Tenara: See, this is like what … All right, go, go, tell me.

Zach: So I’ve always said my podcast idea is rooted in Big Little Lies, where we just shuffle up all of the filmographies of every actress from Big Little Lies and then just watch one of them each week and then talk about it, and talk about how it relates to the trajectory of that artist. Would that be fun?

Tenara: Sure. Because I would be the person in the room who would care not one bit about any of these actresses and not know any of their movies.

Zach: Okay. Let’s think of a different one.

Tenara: No, but I’m saying that that could lend an interesting flave. An outside eye, a new fresh look.

Zach: Oh, you know what it is. I’ve got it. I’ve so got it.

Tenara: What is it?

Zach: So I love appointment television, like I love prestige television. But my greatest guilty pleasure, and this is so disgusting, is like really, really awful, awful offensive reality TV. And I watch it to get mad and I write about it and I have think pieces on my hard drive about Vanderpump Rules and why it’s so harmful a television show, and about Real Housewives of Orange County and how this is … Like they’re all trans-phobic, and homophobic, and racist on Real Housewives of Orange County.

Zach: And I would love to actually explicate that and not just watch it as like, “Wow, can you believe their plastic surgery?” Which I think is really sexist and gross, but to actually concentrate on the fact that these people are harmful, and have dark, twisted souls. And I would love to have like a week by week run through of calling in the Real Housewives of Orange County. Restorative justice for the real housewives of Orange County.

Tenara: What role do you see me playing in that?

Zach: Well, because I trust you from a justice perspective. I do, I do. And I think that you would help me to identify things that even I don’t see when I’m watching this. I mean, I’m at my identity intersection, and while we share a lot of values and things, I think we come from different places.

Tenara: I think that we would do a comedy special about like being on a farm.

Zach: What? What in the hell do I know about being on a farm?

Tenara: Exactly.

Zach: I will say, I’ve been dressing like a farmhand lately around work.

Tenara: Yeah, okay, you’ve got that down.

Zach: I’ve been wearing brown.

Tenara: Well, Thank you everybody for-

Zach: Great, great, great insights about comedy.

Tenara: Joining us for this episode of Happy Hour in the Fringe, Blue Heaven 2020, Too Blue Too Heaven, will take place at FringeArts on February 7th and 8th.

Zach: Make sure that when you come on February 8th you wish Tenara a very special 27th birthday, because that’s when her birthday is.

Tenara: And a special thank you to our sponsor, Haddon Planning Group. Tickets are on sale now, you can visit to buy tickets [crosstalk 00:32:12], or call our box office at (215) 413-1318. You can also find out more information about the lineup and the festival on by following us on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, or go to the FringeArts app. Thanks everybody.

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