LOL WITH IT: Comedian Aaron Hertzog's farewell address
As Philly becomes more and more of a comedy-farm market for big-industry cities, we continue to say goodbye to beloved acts. One of them, Aaron Hertzog, Helium emcee and host of Philly Improv Theater's "Hey Everybody" showcase (final show tonight at 10 p.m.), emigrates to L.A. this week — but not before a little farewell one-on-one with us.
City Paper: So what's the plan?
Aaron Herzog: This Wednesday, I leave for L.A. [Temple grad] Luke Giordano has offered to let me stay in his apartment for the first month. Then in January, [Philly comedians] Brendan Kennedy and Shannon Brown are moving out and we're all gonna get a happy home together.
CP: What's the career strategy?
AH: I started out with standup, and then gradually got into sketch and improv. So the plan is to hit standup the hardest, because that's what I'm most ready to showcase. I'll do open-mics and try to cash in on any connections I have out there. I think [former Philly comic] Blake Wexler still runs a show out there. I recently opened for Kyle Kinane at Helium, and he told me I could contact him when I get out there, and he will recommend me for some shows.
CP: In terms of paying bills, do you have money saved, or a job lined up?
AH: No, I'm in no position to do this financially. I'm taking a huge leap. I have a few day-job connections that I can possibly cash in on. I have a little money saved up but not a lot at all.
CP: Who's going to be the new editor of your very successful Philly comedy blog, witout.net?
AH: Alison Zeidman. Last spring, I put a message on Facebook that I was going to look for some contributors, and she started writing some articles and show reviews, and everything she did was fantastic. I knew I was moving about four months ago, and I told her that she was my No. 1 choice to take over the site. And she was not smart enough not to accept it. (It's a completely thankless job!) But we've been tag-teaming it together for a little bit now. I had started slacking off a little because I was sort of checked out, but she lit a fire under me to get more new writers, so we've had a lot more content over the last few months.
CP: This is one of the bigger waves of talent leaving Philly. Are we ever gonna attract comedians?
AH: I hope so. NYC and L.A. are the industry towns, and then you have Chicago a little bit. But then there are those next towns that have a great scene, but don't really have the industry there, like Portland, Austin, Boston and Philly. Right now there aren't many industry connections here, but people move here to do comedy. I want to do comedy as my career, and if I could do that while staying in Philly, I'd do it in a heartbeat.
CP: What bits from your catalog will you showcase at your final set?
AH: I've been thinking about that. I have some jokes that I think kind of establish who I am. Like, I'm 28 right now, but I don't think I'm a good adult. I've never learned to be a “technical adult” in the traditional sense of the word. A lot of my material is talking about how bad I am at things, and weird fears I have (like I'm still afraid of being kidnapped). So those are some good things that I can use to establish myself initially, and then get into some of the other weird-ball things later.
CP: What types of demo material do you have ready to present to agents?
AH: Right now I have my website, and I have some older clips on there from when I was a big fat person. And I recorded a half-hour last month, so I'll have that chopped up into smaller clips. I also have a spec-script that I wrote, and I'm working on a pilot right now to have ready in case people want that. I'm getting my "packet" together. That's a buzzword [in L.A.], I hear. You have to have a writing packet.
CP: What are your favorite Philly comedy memories?
AH: I think most of my favorite moments have come on shows like “Bedtime Stories” or “Die Actor Die,” those variety shows where standups and sketch comedians are all on the same show. When Chip's "One Man Show" was at the Khyber, we hung out and did karaoke until 2 a.m. Or when we did the Guerilla Comedy shows with Johnny Goodtimes, where we would announce the show’s location day-of and have the open-mic in someone's backyard or in a pizza place. It's those kind of things that can only happen when everyone's unemployed or underemployed, and have nothing better to do.
CP: What's your Breaking Bad quotient?
AH: I'm caught-up, and I've seen most of it twice. I think The Wire still might have a little bit of an edge on it, but it's a really close second, and it's been getting nothing but better every season. I think The Wire's edge is that it has more cultural significance. It reaches over-arching problems of government and bureaucracy, and shows the problems of government and the street a little better than Breaking Bad. But as far as narrative goes, I think Breaking is probably better. I've finished episodes, and just starting yelling at my screen because it's so good.
For tickets to tonight's final "Hey Everybody" showcase (which, between you and me, has pretty much the greatest lineup in the show's history), visit phillyimprovtheater.com. Check out the video below of a much-heavier Hertzog performing at a Phila Guerilla open mic.