2015 Year In Review – Aaron Nevins of Hang On! and Good Good Comedy

This week Philly Sketchfest will be taking a look back at the year 2015 through the eyes of the writers, performers, directors and producers that make sketch comedy in Philadelphia a reality. Aaron Nevins is so many things; a performer, host, writer, creator, producer and thankfully, a supporter of comedy in Philadelphia. As host of the interactive talk show, Hang On! he enabled audiences to share status with his guest comedians to hilarious and unexpected results. Along with his production partner Kate Banford, he introduced Philadelphia to Five Dollar Comedy Week, a low cost, high-concept week of comedy shows that begat their latest endeavor, Good Good Comedy. With productions that take place across the cities venues such as Plays & Players Theater, Underground Arts, Vox Populi and PhilaMOCA, there are now more opportunities for sketch comedians to perform their material in Philadelphia and for that, we are thankful. In Aaron’s review of sketch comedy in 2015, one show in particular group from The Incredible Shrinking Matt & Jacquie stood out for him. You can see Matt & Jacquie this Friday night, on New Year’s Day, when they perform their first sketch of 2016 at our Sketch Hangover! In the meantime, please enjoy Aaron Nevins’ appreciation of ‘Sketch Comedy’…

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aaron nevinsAs hokey as it may sound, the two most important attributes in comedy are brains and heart. Anything that is funny has one or the other in some supply. Even the dumbest, most unfeeling bit you can think of is secretly employing one or the other or both in some way. A lot of comedy is heavy on brains. The best jokes are often smart, well-crafted and have something profound to say about life. And while they’re funny for that reason, it’s rare to also walk away from a comedy show feeling a hard-to-pinpoint emotional resonance.A lot of theater I’ve seen is heavy on heart. It can make you feel something even though you sometimes have no idea what you’re even watching. With that said, I rarely leave with the impression that the people behind it really labored over making me laugh, or even making logical sense.

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The Incredible Shrinking Matt & Jacquie presents ‘Sketch Comedy’
Matt and Jacquie with Jon and Ian Ben Jones ArtThe Incredible Shrinking Matt & Jacquie’s “Sketch Comedy,” and the comedy that those two create in general, is one of those rare perfect combinations of brains and heart. I’d pay a shitload of money to watch a hundred audiences in a row react to the climactic emotional gut-punch in their Dogs sketch. The noises uttered by the crowd will never be found on a laugh track. There’s no onomatopoeia for the sound of a roomful of people simultaneously being struck by unexpected emotions at a show that was advertised as “Sketch Comedy.”

The opening and closing sketches are a prime example of how excellent their marriage of brains and heart is. They employ some of the smartest comedic tricks I’ve seen, but it’s their use of heart and realism that makes it work in the first place. It’s like if the best dramatic film you ever saw turned out to just be the setup to an even better punchline. And they do the whole damn thing without once winking, being ironic or commenting on what they’re doing. It’s meta sketch comedy that’s so confident, it doesn’t need to ask you “Do you see what we’re doing here?”

I realized about halfway through their show that Matt & Jacquie share a kindred comedic spirit with some of the best Pixar movies. There’s a reason it’s become a cliche for people to talk about how much they cried during Up. It’s because it hits people in a way that most entertainment doesn’t. It’s a highly considered, carefully measured combination of brains and heart. And that’s exactly how I’d describe what Matt & Jacquie do.

tl;dr – I guess what I’m saying is Matt & Jacquie should write for Pixar. But what I think I’m really saying is that Matt & Jacquie should be the next Pixar.

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If you would like to share your 2015 sketch comedy year in review with Philly Sketchfest and our internet audience, please email brian.kelly@phillysketchfest.com. Your review will be shared here on our website!

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