Philadelphia’s independent comedy producer Corey Cohen has been putting together some incredible bills at Connie’s Ric Rac in South Philly and we caught up with him to chat a little about life as an independent comedy producer.
We love to see independent producers land big names for their events and Corey is bringing some incredible talent to Philly. If you’re in the area, get out there to Connie’s and experience stand-up at it’s best.
Tell me a little bit about you and what you do?
Well I’ve always loved comedy, and I’ve been performing as an improv and sketch comedian for years. Recently I began booking shows with national comics that I really love but rarely get to see in Philly. That basic idea is what is driving me to do these shows. I think going to see live comedy is something most people love, and they want to do, but they don’t always have many options. All I want is to do as producer is give people the ability to see the coolest and smartest comedians working right now.
How did you get involved with producing comedy in Philadelphia?
I’ve been doing comedy in Philly since I was a teenager, when I started out with improv. Improv led to sketch comedy, but both allowed me to perform around the country and get more deeply involved in the industry. Over the years the comedy scene has really grown, both locally and nationally, and this town is certainly a reflection of that. But there was a gap here, nobody was regularly tracking down and bringing in specific comics, trying to match them to their crowds. I have connections to some comics, decided to push the idea along, and so far it’s been a great success.
I’d imagine you have some pretty crazy stories about working with comedians, care to share one with us?
You know, comedians are crazy in a different way than say, musicians. A crazy musician drinks himself blind, does a bunch of drugs, gets onstage and jumps and screams. A crazy comedian stands backstage quietly, his hands over his face, reciting his bit. Maybe he asks that nobody look at him an hour before the show, maybe he needs water at a certain temperature, stuff like that. In that sense, I have lots of crazy stories about comedians, and they all tend to revolve around some sort of anxiety disorder, so maybe I should make something up.
I once saw Todd Barry punch a guy in the throat for looking at him funny.
You have some great comedians coming up. Do you mind saying a little something about each of them?
Dave Hill is very well mannered, wears spiffy suits, and does brilliant and genuinely absurd stand up. Really excited to have him headline a show here, last time I saw him he had an audience raptly watching him drink soda in between jokes. That’s talent. I mean he made the soda look SO good. Tickets
Chris Valenti is a comedian/musician/songwriter, and apparently a very avid multitasker. He’ll be doing music and comedy for the broken hearted, the emotionally wounded, and the romantically stricken. If it has to do with love and loss, he’ll make you laugh about it. Tickets
Sean Green is a Philly native and is very popular in L.A. and on the radio. If L.A. is anything like I remember it, then Sean’s popularity on the radio is either because of his talent, or because he gets the best drugs. I’m hoping it’s talent, but I figure the show will be a success either way. Tickets
Eddie Pepitone is from Brooklyn but lives in L.A., which means he’s miserable. He’s also hysterically funny and has a way of getting down to the meat of things that I really enjoy. I actually booked Eddie because I was watching a Flight Of The Conchords episode on DVD that he was in, and his part was so funny that I had to look him up. Then I realized I had seen him in a million things, and that he was available to book. Plus I figured being from L.A. he also has awesome, awesome drugs. Tickets
What do you like best about working with Brown Paper Tickets?
You guys have just always been wonderful to deal with. Anytime I’ve ever had a problem, you all helped sort it out immediately. Your customer service is fantastic, which is absolutely necessary when you have shows coming together and something, anything, really, goes wrong. I know I always have the support of BPT, which puts me at ease and let’s me focus on the eight million other things you need to do when producing a show.
If you could book your dream comedy line-up who would it be and why?
My dream lineup only has one guy on it, and it’s because of a long standing desire to see him perform again. I’m talking about Dave Chappelle. He’s not completely retired, I know he still pops up from time to time, but nothing would make me happier than to put him on stage in Philly. I’d be honored. After that I would probably walk into the ocean at sunset, because I’d have done everything I needed to do.
Do you have any advice for our comedy producers out there?
Don’t be afraid to go after the best people out there, and don’t let anyone discourage you. Also, know funny comedians.
Here’s a great interview with comedian and “30 Rock” writer Hannibal Buress after a recent show that Corey produced at Connie’s Ric Rac.