Philadelphia isn’t a city particularly known for its outstanding comedy, movies or acting; we’re getting there, but we’re no New York City.
"After I tell people I do hundreds of shows a year, they often ask, 'What’s the worst show you’ve ever done?' And I always tell them, 'It’s debatable, but I guarantee you it happened in Philadelphia.'"
Gethard started his beef with Philadelphia when he decided to title a live version of his public access show “New York is Better Than Philly.” The crowd did not react in a positive manner:
"The show started with an audience member lighting a copy of my book—which has my face on it—on fire, and throwing it on the stage. My first few minutes of stage time were spent frantically stomping on an image of myself, hoping I wouldn’t be responsible for comedy’s version of the Great White tragedy."
He also recalls a time when he performed with the Upright Citizens Brigade at Villanova University for, to his and the rest of the troupe’s surprise, a children’s leukemia benefit. The show awkwardly opened with a priest interviewing a young cancer patient. Following the ‘opening act’ was the UCB comedy show, which was met with an audience of chirping crickets.
Years later he took the stage at the Theater of Living Arts as a part of the Upright Citizens Brigade touring group. Audience members were expecting UCB’s big names like Ed Helms, Rob Riggle and Amy Poehler; but due to the event being poorly advertised–and possibly a little misleading–show-goers arrived to find that lesser-known comedians Chris Gethard and Brian Huskey were there to entertain them for the evening.
“The place was packed, no seats, just hundreds of agro Philly dudes in hoodies drinking and yelling s**t before the show even started. Only in Philly does the crowd make an effort to heckle a completely empty stage.”
“We started the show, and they were into it. But as a performer, you learn how to read the rhythm of a crowd, and this one was having a good time with a very visceral negative energy just under the surface. The show felt like a high wire act; they were down to enjoy it for what it was, but the second they saw the potential for a slip, they were going to be cheering for our death instead of our success.”
Philebrity took the liberty of tearing Chris a new one and they pretty much nailed it–in terms of our general feelings on the matter. Really, we're not all that bothered by it. Sounds like Gethard is just a mediocre comedian who can’t get the bad taste of Philadelphia out of his mouth.
Yes, Philadelphia is known for dabbling in the fine art of booing, name-calling and heckling behavior when it comes to live entertainment of any kind. Honestly, we can come off as terrible human beings when grouped together. Let’s please not forget that it’s always a bad idea to negatively generalize–as we’ve been for fashion and sports. If visitors stepped outside of the more touristy areas, they might just find a more pleasant, welcoming side of Philadelphia that's rarely explored (or talked about).