Crossroads Comedy Theater’s Michael Marbach talks about upcoming Christmas-themed shows

-Brenda Hillegas

Crossroads Comedy Theater’s Artistic Director and Founder, Michael Marbach, is looking forward to the holiday season with some unique, one-night-only (and in person!) performances that are guaranteed to get you and your friends into the spirit as well! Are you ready to experience some sketch comedy, stand-up performances, hilarious news segments, song and dance, and even burlesque? Great! Michael talked to me a bit about some of the content you’ll see this December and why these shows shouldn’t be missed!

Q: Crossroads Comedy Theater is pulling together a couple limited in-person holiday programs and performances. Why did you feel the holidays were a good theme to base some shows around?
A: I’ve always loved programming around the holidays. Not just the December holidays, but Thanksgiving, Halloween, 4th of July… all of it. The holidays bring people together. This year, especially compared to last year, people will be coming together to celebrate again. I wanted Crossroads to be another place where people could gather and get into the holiday spirit.

Q: Why did you pick these specific shows and can you tell me a bit about the team who helped you curate them?
A: Most of the shows that we have during this run are ones with which I have a personal connection. I have directed Not Yet Rated and Study Hall for years and both are easy to give a holiday theme. Winter Wonderjawn has been booked by me and by Curt Riedy of Philly Sketch Fest. 

Q: So many great one-night-only events! I’m eying up the Winter Wonderjawn variety show with music, stand-up, clowning, burlesque, and more…any hints on what that “more” may be? 
A: Yeah this run is full of stuff that you won’t see again or will have to wait a while. The Future and The Wadworth Constant haven’t performed in Philly since 2018 and both were favorites during their runs. As for Winter Wonderjawn that’s going to be a supersized holiday extravaganza kind of thing. In addition to the aforementioned fun stuff we’ll have a lot of holiday themed sketch comedy from some of Philly’s best. It’s all hosted by the fantastic Geoff Jackson who is worth the price of admission alone.

Q: I see you’ll be doing some celebrity voices too during a reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. What’s your favorite impression to do?
A: My all time favorites are Johnny Carson and Jimmy Stewart. They are both long gone now, so I would say my favorite *living* impressions would be Owen Wilson and Gilbert Gottfried. Every year I add in new impressions. This year I think I might hit 50 different voices.

Q: Extree! Extree! Is a show that discusses the news of the week and improvises hilarious scenes inspired by it. What stories have you enjoyed bringing to the stage recently?
A: One of the more recent ones is about the North Shore Pizza Dough Blob. This Domino’s Pizza in New Orleans threw some dough into a dumpster and it grew out of control. That lead to some really fun scenes. I also enjoy bringing the more serious topics to the show like voting rights or covid stories. Our performers will always find the funny without punching down on anyone.

Q: Crossroads has a few six-week improv and sketch comedy courses ready to go in January. What can you say to anyone who may be on the fence about signing up? And will there be a spring session for anyone who may miss out in winter?
A: Yes! We have some great new classes coming up. We’re still new and people are still learning that we exist, but the classes we have put up, overall, have done very well which is very encouraging. What I would say to anyone on the fence is – get off the fence! Our next classes start in January and they are an amazing way to start your year. You learn a new skill, build up self confidence in front of groups, improve your listening skills, express yourself creatively, meet new people, and have fun for a couple hours a week. That’s several common new year’s resolutions right there. If something doesn’t fit your schedule we definitely expect to offer more classes after January. 

Q: When we spoke in July 2020, you mentioned some of your favorite recent stand-up specials and sketch comedy shows. Since then, what have you been watching that makes you laugh?
A: I continue to put on the second season of I Think You Should Leave on Netflix whenever I need a laugh. 

Q: What’s your favorite way to get into the holiday spirit?
A: Holiday programming at the theater and decorating the house. 

Q: For a complete night out, what are some of your favorite restaurants around Theatre Exile for dinner recommendations?
A: Theater Exile is so close to Passyunk Ave which is full of great places. If you’re looking for take-out I highly suggest Redcrest Fried Chicken. It’s one of the best chicken sandwiches in the city. I’ve heard great things about River Twice, but haven’t not been there myself yet. We also have a small selection of drinks and snacks at the theater, so if people do arrive hungry or thirsty we have some things to get them through.

Read more about the theater’s upcoming shows and classes on the RowHome blog here. Tickets can be purchased on the Crossroads Comedy Theater website.

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