Lyle Drescher wanted Mark Normand to perform at his comedy space for almost a year, he said.
“In my notes, I have a bunch of people I want to book at Cave and he was number one on the list,” Drescher said.
Mark Normand is a New York comedian who was featured on Comedy Central. He performed at Cave Philly, an underground comedy performance space on North 17th street near Norris, with students and community audience members on Nov. 19. Anthony Devito, a New York-based comedian recently on The Late Night Show with Stephen Colbert, opened for him.
Normand held three shows at Cave Philly, all of which were sold out. He performed for close to an hour and told jokes about political correctness, racism and the reality of dating as an adult.
“I had one of those white lives matter rallies go by my house the other day, I freaked out then I realized, ah, it’s just a half marathon,” Normand said during his performance as the crowd laughed and cheered throughout the entire show.
LaMaire Lee, 29, a South Philly resident, enjoyed watching Normand’s show.
“Mark’s very funny, I loved all of his jokes. It was so funny…I love to hear his stories.”
Franklin Neblett, a junior English major, hosted the show and did a five-minute performance at the beginning. It was the second headliner that Neblett has hosted for Cave.
“It’s nerve-wracking, but once you get on stage you got to get the nerves out of the way and realize, ‘I got a job to do,’ Neblett said. “It’s my job to get this crowd warm for the feature and then Mark. It was a lot of fun.”
After Neblett performed, he invited DeVito on the stage who joked about performing comedy in an “active fire hazard” and underneath the bathroom pipes. He then joked for another 15 minutes about relationships, his family and childhood before introducing Normand.
Lee comes to every Cave show he can because he loves Cave Philly’s environment and he enjoyed watching Normand’s show, he said.
“Anybody who wants to be there can come and try [open mic] which is great because we need more spaces like that,” Lee said.
Drescher and Dave Hogsett, two seniors majoring in film and arts, started Cave Philly in Hogsetts’ basement on 15th street near Fontain in September 2017 because they wanted to experience comedy shows but were too young to get into them, since some comedy shows are in bars.
“He’s one of my favorite comedians, I really respect him,” Drescher said. “Mark Normand is someone you can tell just loves comedy and works hard and so I think he wanted to do the gig because he just likes doing comedy a lot.”
Cave Philly expanded this year to go beyond just hosting weekly basement comedy shows. Drescher said he and Hogsett try to do two to three shows a week including game shows, burlesque shows and headliners.
Anyone can come to the shows which are advertised on their social media. Some shows are free but shows with headliners like Sean Donnelly, from Comedy Central and the Late Night, and Normand’s require tickets.
“We bridge the gap between students that want something to do and artists that want an audience,” Hogsett said. “So it’s a really supportive space.”
Drescher and Hogsett said that Cave Philly is an intimate and ‘electric’ place to experience comedy, since it is small and ‘underground.’
“You’re not going to get to see comedy like the way you see it at Cave anywhere else in the city, except maybe one of the black box theaters,” Drescher said. “Because it’s a very closed environment and its a venue unlike any other venue for comedy.”
Normand coming to a basement show in North Philadelphia speaks to his love for comedy and the craft, Neblett said.
“It’s people at the end of the day and it’s a microphone so why not come and be funny, so him coming into a place like this makes me have even more respect for him,” he said. “You look at his credits and the list of things he’s done, he doesn’t have to be the guy that comes to the basement and tells jokes but he’s like ‘No let’s do it,’ and it’s great.”