Nearly 20 years ago, Jen Childs and friend Peter Pryor founded Philadelphia's 1812 Productions; today, it's the country's only professional theater company dedicated to comedy. The hilarious and multitalented leading lady runs the show, often producing, directing, writing and acting. On the eve of 1812's 2015-2016 season, we sat down for a chat with her about her home city, travel and what she thinks is, in a word, funny.
“The Shoplifters” kicks off the season for 1812. What can audiences expect?
Unlikely thieves, taser battles, an unexpected love story and laughter with abandon.
Where will you celebrate after the show?
Top three spots to catch a comedy show in Philly?
Helium Comedy Club for stand-up, ComedySportz for improv, and 1812’s "This Is the Week That Is" for political humor.
Best drink mixed in Philly?
I am very fond of the Old Fashioned at Ranstead Room.
What’s the funniest thing about Philadelphia?
The accent hon. Would youse like a glass of wuhr-ter?
Funniest city on Earth?
Bumpass, Virginia. The name says it all.
If you owned a jet, where is it headed?
Somewhere I’ve never been. I’d love to go to New Zealand, Brazil, Thailand. So many places I want to see.
Do you travel often?
Not as often as I’d like.
Funniest memory from the road?
My husband and I were in Paris shortly after the movie "Moulin Rouge" came out, so we thought we’d visit the real thing. The show was sold out, so we made the questionable decision to attend one of the lower-rent Moulin-Rouge-wanna-be burlesque shows in the neighborhood. After paying for tickets at the door, we entered and were the only people there. The bar owner had to wake up one of the dancers, who was sleeping in a booth, to start the show. We sat there very awkwardly through our two-drink minimum while several very bored and sleepy French burlesque dancers performed just for us.
A friend visits you in Philly. What do you do?
Where are you headed next?
Most immediately, Normandy for a two-week vacation!
Jen Child's Perfect Philadelphia Day
Morning: Brunch and a Long Walk
Going out to breakfast is one of my favorite activities. There are a number of classic Philly diners to choose from—the Melrose and the Oregon Diner are favorites. But, I would likely opt for a breakfast with vegetarian options like those at Sabrina’s in the Italian Market or Honey’s Sit N’ Eat in Northern Liberties.
I love the new Schuylkill River Trail. Enter on Walnut Street and walk to the art museum, Kelly Drive, on up to Manyunk, and farther if you want. You get a beautiful view of the city and a way to work off breakfast.
Afternoon: Shopping and a Massage
While there are Macy’s all over the country, only in Philadelphia is the store housed in the beautiful and historic John Wanamaker building. The architecture is gorgeous and there are organ concerts daily. I find it elevates even the most mundane shopping excursion.
Then, it's off to Terme Di Aroma in Old City for an aromatherapy massage or a Thai yoga massage, depending on how my body feels.
Evening: Dinner and a Show
The Olde Bar has one of the best daily happy hours in the city. The Jose Garces-run restaurant is housed in the original Bookbinders. Cut glass, dark wood, great vintage cocktails and $1 oysters.
Show time. There is so much theater in Philadelphia, from the traditional to the wildly experimental. Check out www.theatrephiladelphia.org to see what’s playing.