Bryce Remsburg was in a comedy writing class in Annenberg Hall when he and a few classmates decided they wanted to continue with sketch comedy after the course ended.
Remsburg, a 2005 broadcast telecommunications and mass media graduate, started the comedy troupe Secret Pants with his former classmates in Spring 2004.
“In our comedy writing class we were learning to make sketches, do live performance and shoot and edit videos,” Remsburg said. “We were goofing off at the end of the semester when a group of us decided to keep it going.”
At the group’s first meeting, Remsburg said dozens of people interested in sketch comedy showed up. One of them was Paul Triggiani, a 2004 Temple graduate with a degree in mass communication.
Ten years later, Triggiani and Remsburg now make up two out of five members still active in Secret Pants.
“In the beginning, it was crazy and unmanageable and we knew it wouldn’t work with that many people,” Remsburg said. “We cut down to a group of 13 people and called ourselves Secret Pants.”
After the name was set, the group performed in its first live show in 2005, and its first Internet video was published in Fall 2004, before YouTube gained more popularity.
Even though the group is involved in Philly Improv Theater and other individual endeavors, Secret Pants still meets consistently as a group every Wednesday and performs on special occasions.
Triggiani also spends a lot of time with the Philly Improv Theater, where he teaches class and directs another sketch comedy troupe called The Flat Earth.
He also hosts a free show called TV Party, with Rob Baniewicz, held at midnight every first Friday of the month.
“We screen usually two shows on a theme, and our last theme was ‘Shows Set in the Future,’” Triggiani said. “It’s a drunk and rowdy mess, and we love it.”
“Back when we started, there was no path to get involved in comedy and we kind of had to figure it out as we went,” Remsburg said. “There’s a system in place now that was not there for us 11 years ago, and all of us made that trail.”
Triggiani credits part of Philly’s growing comedy scene to Temple Smash, Temple’s first student-produced comedy variety TV show that was launched in 2009.
“Lately there’s a ton of people coming out of Temple Smash,” he said. “There wasn’t an outlet for live comedy in Philly before. We had to perform at bars for people who didn’t care.”
“There were maybe half a dozen people when we started and now there’s hundreds,” he added. “We’re proud to be a part of that and we’re proud of Philly for becoming a comedy city.”
Secret Pants was recently selected out of hundreds of applicants to perform at the Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival this year on March 12 and 13.
“We used to travel a bit but we haven’t been out of Philly in almost seven years and we’ve never performed out of the country,” Remsburg said. “Toronto is almost going to be like a reunion for us. We’ll do two shows, take some workshops and have fun.”
Secret Pants will do two shorts and participate in some workshops while at the festival. Triggiani’s other comedy group, The Flat Earth, is also performing in Toronto. He said that the festival typically only invites 15-20 groups from out of the country to participate.
“I basically said to all of the groups in Philly that we all need to apply to Toronto to create a Philly presence,” Triggiani said.
Secret Pants is performing a “best of” set that is essentially about death, Triggiani explained. This kind of dark material is really popular in Philly, so they’re hoping it will be in Toronto too.
Through each of their individual successes, Remsburg and Triggiani said they never forget their alma mater.
“One great thing about Temple is no matter where you go, there’s a network that it brings you into,” Remsburg said. “There’s so many credible alumni and you don’t really realize the breadth of it until you’re out in the real world.”
Chelsey Hamilton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.