The Chestnut Hill Improv Group is an improv comedy group located in the Chestnut Hill area
of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania who create a weekly podcast between 15-20 minutes long, each episode featuring two self-contained sketches. It was originated in late 2009 by actors Andrew Gilmore, Phyllis Gosfield and Joe McCann. Their podcast is something of a cross between old-time radio of the '40s (the emphasis on voice characterizations and "theater of the mind" rather than the group performing in a visual medium) and better-known forms of sketch comedy such as Saturday Night Live
. Each episode is 100% unscripted, starting with about 20 minutes of uncut material which is then edited to remove various giggling, boring bits, punchlines that don't pay off, etc., and then published in podcast form.
The Chestnut Hill Improv Group's dozens of episodes can be heard on their website.
Their work contains examples of:
- Amusing Alien: Joe's character Nehbut.
- Bad Cop/Incompetent Cop: O'Flanngan and O'Nottagan in episode 7.
- Brick Joke: Sometimes something in the first sketch of an episode becomes a brick joke in the second sketch. Particularly notable in episode 54.
- Corpsing: Would be more surprising if this didn't happen in an improv series such as this.
- As much of it as possible is removed in editing, but it's not easy.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Joe and Andrew, and many of the characters they play.
- Continuity Nod: As the podcast goes on, there are more and more references to characters or events from past sketches.
- Depraved Dentist: Played for laughs in episode 32.
- Dramatic Thunder: The Thunderous Underline as illustrated on the trope page is parodied in several sketches.
- Early-Installment Weirdness: About half of the episodes so far featured introductions by Andrew Gilmore as himself. He later found this to be superfluous and not particularly entertaining, so episodes 50 onward just start with the first sketch.
- Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Andrew's recurring character Timmy.
- The Igor: Andrew's character Mongo who turns up in several sketches.
- Incredibly Lame Pun: Hoo boy... gotta be at least a dozen per episode.
- Just a Stupid Accent: They tend to slip a lot- which happened so often that it was finally lampshaded in episode 68 with a sketch about a man whose voice changes uncontrollably.
- Loads and Loads of Roles: With the exception of episode 23 which had a guest performer, all voices in every podcast episode are done by Joe, Andrew and Phyllis.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Impersonations in various episodes include Arnold Schwarzenegger, Cheech Marin, Mike Tyson, Anthony Hopkins, Ed Wynn and others.
- No Fourth Wall: Some sketches end with the group breaking character after the sketch is over.
- Especially notable in episode 37 where Andrew's character acknowledges that the preceding was one of the worst sketches the group had ever done.
- Only Sane Man: Phyllis tends to be this in most sketches.
- Rule of Funny: Pretty much everything in the group's sketches run on this, which explains the plot holes and leaps in logic, which really don't matter as long as you're laughing.
- Self-Deprecation: The episode descriptions on the website use this a lot.
- Shout Out: See below.
- Small Reference Pools: They LOVE this almost as much as they love subverting it with obscure references.
- The Smurfette Principle: Not intentional, but it kinda worked out that way.
- Snake Oil Salesman: Episode 46's Dr. Dudley and his patented hickory nut cure-all.
- Stealth Pun: The puns are usually real groaners, but sometimes they can sneak up on you.
- Talk Show: Chat-O-Rama with your host, Bernard Hyphen-Hyphen Smith.
- Those Two Guys: Joe and Andrew's characters are often this, especially the plumbers Chico and Olaf who appeared in a few early sketches.
- Throw It In