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Mary Kay

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Campus Philly Team: Alex Grubard

If you follow us pretty regularly, you’ve probably noticed that I am not the only note-worthy blogger providing you with witty commentary on our lovely Philadelphia area (but don’t tell my mother that). And it may surprise you to know that us tireless writers actually have lives outside of the office hours (but don’t tell our editors that). Here at Campus Philly, our team consists of students, writers, social networking addicts, possible ax-murderers, and, in the case of 25-year old Alex Grubard, stand-up comics.

If that name sounds familiar, it’s no wonder- Grubard has been our prime source for news and updates on the Philly comedy scene since the beginning of the fall semester, but he’s been a stand-up comic for much, much longer. Growing up in a Boston suburb, he watched “Seinfeld” and Comedy Central with religious fervor, and started making his rounds around the comedy clubs of Manhattan at eighteen, gathering experience and advice from comics around the area.

He recalls in particular a piece of advice comic Steve Hoffsteter gave him when he was first starting out: “Write 10 minutes of jokes, pick the best five, practice and perform them. You’ll suck, but you’ll get better”. After taking his advice and moving back and forth from Brooklyn to Philadelphia between comedy scenes like the New York Comedy Club and Laff House on South Street, he has developed a system of alternative comedy that’s served him pretty well in the past few years: now he’s set up shop permanently in Philadelphia and intends on staying for a while.

So what’s it like to be funny for a living? Surprisingly difficult, as he reveals. He’s tried to be a children’s joke writer after doing comedy for two years and found it challenging. “You’re not even shooting for funny- you just want them to get it. It’s all about really simple puns and knock-knock jokes.” While he’s never been harassed on the adult stage- “I’ve been heckled but never booed”- he admits as a comic you’re more likely to get silence than outward rejection. And even that is hard to come by- “You can write a joke about anything” he insists. “It’s okay not to be funny- honestly, even onstage, laughter is overrated. You want to get laughs, no question, but you’re out there to entertain. If you want to laugh, go see a Creed show. Stand-up comedy is supposed to engage you.”

So when I express interest in finding out how somebody can get started (if you haven’t noticed by now, I’m kind of hilarious), he’s got some surprisingly deep advice. “The thing with comedy is that there’s no clear program”, he reassures me. “Everybody’s funny in some way. In fact, I think everybody should do stand-up at least once in their lives. It’s an art form that is pure self-expression; you’re trying to engage people with your own perspective and voice. It’s hard to be so in the moment with anything else”.

Alex Grubard is a student at Temple University, blogger for Campus Philly, and an occasional part-time caterer. 

You can contact Magali Roman at

images © Campus Philly

Winter Break in Philly

School’s out, your fall semester internship is probably finished, and you’re stuck with the decision of either spending your entire break lodged up in your house on Facebook watching others live their lives, or actually exploring what Philly has to offer first hand. I’m going to make the choice for you—you’re choosing the latter. So here’s what great opportunities await you during the one time a year when the stress of writing a paper isn’t on your mind.

Historic Philadelphia

It’s commonly known that Philadelphia boasts a hearty historic background. It would be just plain wasteful to not take advantage of this factor. Walk the streets of our forefathers and see firsthand where our nation was founded.


Artistic Philadelphia

Philly’s art culture has always been huge, but recently it has exploded. Everyone knows about the commercial draws around the city, but smaller boutique galleries have been opening up all around. Take this time off to see art from all aspects of life.


Recreational Philadelphia

If landmarks and museums aren’t your style, maybe this part of Philly will strike your fancy. Living in a large city definitely has its advantages, and always having something to do is one of them. While free, why not throw yourself into the action, no matter where it takes you.


You can contact Zach Thornbury at
images © Photo by G. Widman for GPTMC

Yelle at Union Transfer

Here at Campus Philly, we’ve got some serious French fever and electropop chart-topper Yelle reigns at the top of our obsession list. With a recently released dance album and a sold-out Paris gig, there’s nothing we’d rather be listening to at the moment.

Composed of lead singer and namesake Julie Budet with bandmates GrandMarnier and Tepr, Yelle has risen to impressive international fame thanks to the MySpace internet music invasion–she’s often referenced by the blogsphere in the same vein as international lady pop powerhouses Robyn, La Roux, and M.I.A. Budet and GrandMarnier began making music together in 2000, but it wasn’t until 2005, when the duo posted a shocking dis called “Je Veux te Voir” on MySpace, that they got the attention of a record label and began producing their debut album, Pop Up. Five years and four top ten singles later, they show no signs of slowing down, releasing their critically acclaimed sophomore effort, Safari Disco Club, and embarking on a world tour of the States, Europe, and South America.

In person, Yelle (which stands for “You Enjoy Life”), is adorable and friendly, introducing herself as Julie and speaking in surprisingly fluid yet charmingly accented English. She describes her meteoric rise to fame as surprising and a little overwhelming, but notes, “I think it’s really important to stay happy about little things. I try to live day by day and not to plan too much”. Lack of planning is certainly working out for them, as they’ve toured 11 cities in the US, with Philly as their final stop. “We’re really happy to be in Philadelphia, it’s a cool city and we’ve heard good things about it,” Budet says with a grin, “We’re doing lots of magazines, radio and blogs, and it’s really cool to see the American crowd and media following us and supporting us.”

Safari Disco Club has a more tribal vibe, spurned by GrandMernier’s dynamic percussion, but this is no Vampire Weekend afro-indie act: rather, the techno mixing brings to mind a New Years Eve dance party on the set of “The Lion King”. As opposed to Pop Up, Safari Disco Club, “is more produced, because for the first record we had jobs and didn’t have a lot of time to work on the music. This time we spent one year totally focused on this record and we had more time to produce more melodies and harmonies and everything.”

The power behind the voice could easily be felt at Union Transfer when they performed “Les animaux dance dans le safari disco club” (the animals dance in the safari disco club), easily referring to the pounding crowd before her, singing along in messy, “We don’t know how-to-speak-French-but-who-cares mumbles to new hits like “Comme Un Enfant” and old favorites like remixed versions of “Ce Jeu”, and “Mon Meilleur Ami”. Regarding her new, international audience, we have to ask –will she ever sing in English? “I don’t know, because it’s really important for us to express ourselves in French: it’s easy to write, to find the right word to express emotion. I think people also really like the fact that we sing in French, and even if they don’t understand it, because it’s different and unique, so I think it’s important to keep that.”

Until then, they’ve got a sold-out show in Paris to keep them occupied, “We’re gonna start working on new stuff on January and February because we have off, then after that we are already in talks to play in Asia,” as well as a well-deserved Christmas break.

It’s hard, then, to keep track of time when on tour? “Yeah, when you wake up in a hotel and you just go- okay, am I in the UK? No, I am in Colombia!” explains GrandMarnier. “…that’s weird” he deadpans with a mock-serious grin. Adds Budet, “When we arrived in Philly, I was asleep in the van and the guys let me sleep in. So, when I woke up I was all alone in a van in the parking lot. ”She raises her eyebrows up and in a hilarious mock-terrified face, and explains, “I was like, ‘Where am I? I don’t know!’”. Picking up wad of cash on the nearby table, she pretends it’s a phone, “HELP! COME GET ME!” she cries into the cash, and as the room erupts in laughter, it’s easy to see that Budet’s sense of humor, combined with GrandMarnier’s master mixing and their unabashed happiness at playing before dozens of screaming Philadelphians (true story –they delayed a song because people couldn’t stop cheering), this is one French obsession we’re going to have some trouble getting over.

Yelle’s sophomore album, Safari Disco Club, is available now on iTunes and Vinyl. You can check out their mixes and singles on their website.

You can contact Magali Roman at


images ©

AAMP: Mixing Metaphors

I stepped into the African American Museum in Philadelphia and I was greeted with history. The walls echoed voices of past heroes, activists who later became legends and I crept in quietly into the space that was silent in the early morning that I arrived. I paid my student admission price of $8 and gained entry. I was extremely glad to have finally made it to see the Mixing Metaphors exhibit.

Having covered a preview of this exhibit in September prior to its opening I was hopeful that I’d have the chance to view the imagery in person. The innovative exhibition has been on display since September 21st and ends its inspiring run on December 31st.

While taking my journey through the museum I came across very old photographs of families in many dynamics, painted images on quilts and glass along with oil paintings of choir rehearsals and a special graduation day. With over 90 sculptures, drawings and much more, there were stories being told in the most subtle and imaginary whispers. I noticed artist Carrie Mae Weems’ sepia photograph “May Flowers” with three little girls in the circular frame. I wondered what their thoughts were while taking the snapshot, with flowers in their hair, highlighting their youthful beauty. I was fascinated by the works of Whitfield Lovell, Faith Ringgold and Henry Clay Anderson. All of which had a unique way of expressing themselves. Ringgold’s piece titled “Aunt Emmy” showed a beautiful and colorful quilted canvas. I recall the museum’s description of the exhibit, “The term ‘Mixing Metaphors’ is used to encourage the observer to think of ways to in which art and storytelling illustrate experiences.” Indeed I was sold on the style and presentation of the artful creations.

During a phone interview prior to my museum visit I spoke with Adrienne Whaley, Museum Educator at AAMP. She explained to me, “This exhibit is a treasure trove in which you can draw your own conclusions based on what you see.” I did find that while observing there wasn’t a harsh depiction of the history on view. These 36 guest artists transformed momentous and harmonious references, making them clever and original. I saw a collage of black and white photos with the likes of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., protestors marching, and even a simple photo of a barber inside the shop, his 1970’s clean white shoes resting on the bottom of the chair where customers sit. The collection in the museum was completely innovating. As Ms. Whaley put it, “We want you the community to see variations of African American life through different lenses and to immerse yourself in. Take a couple of trips back to the museum to fully take in the strength, beauty and diverse materials.”

For more information about this exhibit please click here.
You can contact Elishia Peterson at

Penn Players: Rocky Horror

University of Pennsylvania’s 75 year old theater group the Penn Players had been anticipating their Fall performance all semester. That show was the cult hit The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Held this past weekend The Rocky Horror Picture Show was the Penn Players Fall musical they perform every year. They also perform a play in the Spring, a 24 hour theater festival and a play-reading series. One thing that makes the Penn Players unique is that they are the only student theatre group that hires a professional director for their productions.

The Richard O’Brien musical was directed by Ben Smallen and musically directed by Ryan Touhey. The cast and crew were filled with students such as choreographer Kari Marton-Rollins and producers Jeremy Berman and Bhakti Modi. Frank-N-Furter, the cult role made famous by Tim Curry, was played by Trevor Pierce. The main protagonists Brad and Janet are played by Mike Jorizzo and Rebecca Scholl. Jesse Franklin played the titular character Rocky Horror. The show had a full accompanying band consisting of synth, bass, guitar and drums.

The Penn Players theater troupe began in 1936 and continues today. Videos and clips from past shows presented by the Penn Players can be found on their Youtube Channel. Their videos have over 19,000 accumulated views on the web site.

Penn Players shows take place at the Harold Prince Theatre in the Annenberg Center for Performing Arts.

You can contact Alex Grubard at

Photo: Pennsylvania Players © 2011

Ridaroo: College Carpooling

Aksel Gungor is living proof that the American Dream is alive and well. He was born in France and spent his youth between Paris and Istanbul, Turkey, moving to America in 1998 at the age of eleven. In 2010 he graduated from Drexel and started his own company, Ridaroo. Find out here how this globetrotter paved his own way.

What is Ridaroo?

Ridaroo is a web application that facilitates ride-sharing within organizations such as universities, corporations and government agencies. Ridaroo can also be used for event purposes like music concerts and/or conferences.

How did you start Ridaroo?

I started Ridaroo with Andy Guy while I was finishing up my last year at Drexel. So right out of school, I interviewed for a couple of jobs but turned down offers and built Ridaroo instead.

So, Drexel’s career services department had a ride-board that allowed students to put up post it notes essentially with ride-requests. But they had someone on staff manually matching students and emailing them regarding available rides…

We approached them and suggested a better process, essentially an online ride-board which grew into Ridaroo: an interactive peer to peer ride-sharing tool. The analogy we use a lot is “Ridaroo is like online dating but for ride-sharing”

Did you find that your major helped you toward your business?

I was a Finance major so that definitely helped in making financial projections with our pro forms and such but I wouldn’t say that it’s helpful on a daily basis. I had a minor in Digital Media, and given the nature of Ridaroo, that it’s a web application, that really helped with design and coding aspects.

What were some cultural differences you noticed in American academics?

I think the key difference was strictness. Something that hit me early on was that teachers, schools, etc. were much more laid back in the U.S. than they were in France. This may have changed now though.

Are there other majors you would have focused on instead, knowing now what your route ultimately led you to?

Yes, I think if I were to go back and do it, I think I would do something computer science related. Having said that, I sort of learned coding on my own and if I had time to devote to it, I think I could learn some programming on my own as well. Nonetheless, it would have helped to get the foundation through school.

What’s the next step for Ridaroo?

Definitely setting up Ridaroo for bigger organizations, in corporate, university and government spaces. Right now we’re flirting with the idea of raising some money in order to hire more people and grow faster.

Any advice for up and coming students?

Yes, take advantage of the resources at your university as much as possible. Talk to professors, deans, etc. and use the gym/library, even for personal development. There’s no better time to start a company, if that’s your goal, during college. I would advise students who don’t really know what they want to do yet to experiment as much as possible with different business ideas and in different industries. Just go out there and get your feet wet.

You can contact David Finkel at

Graphics ©

2011 Global Ethics Case Competition

When I first arrived at the Fox School of Business at Temple University to report upon the 2011 Global Ethics Case Competition, I looked for a student to help orient me but found none. I stood in the doorway of the battle ground and saw a slew of suits, each individual appearing ready to represent someone in court or do my taxes. It wasn’t until Professor Pyser entered that teams assembled and judges took their seats in the back. Pyser, an affable man to say the least, headed to the front podium, calming every last minute query along the way, and welcomed all to the competition. He stood pensively with paternal eyes and congratulated each contestant for their collected achievement for reaching the championship and then said with absolute confidence, “Man plans, and God laughs.” The sentiment of the statement absolutely proved itself to be the theme of the afternoon.

As stated in the press release, “The Fox School of Business (FSBM) Global Case Competition is a real-time business simulation that calls on students to understand what it means to take and apply ethical frameworks and approaches to the most challenging of business decisions. This event begins a yearlong dialogue engaging academic, professional and business communities around integration of ethics, corporate social responsibility and sustainability.”

Each team evolved from a different section Pyser taught throughout the semester, integrating the lessons and resources acquired from his lessons to represent mock cases as inquiry circles before a panel of judges comprised of seasoned professionals, ranging from lawyers, journalists, CEOs, and other high ranking real-time players of industry. Teams fictionally represented companies such as Whole Foods, Waste Management, and Target, reporting upon their ethical, community oriented sides for ten minutes only to then subject themselves to a barrage of curveballs thrown by the judges.

“What is your company hiding?” “What are your competitors doing along the same lines?” “How does your company work with local government?” These are just a few of the questions raised, not to mention calling a few teams accountable for specific accusations that they may or may not have been aware of.
Poised and unflinching, the students in each team worked together, taking cues from one another, and fielded each question considerately and sensitively. They responded professionally, stepping forward towards the judges and addressing them with a tenacity that blurred the lines between student and professional.

Sure, there was going to be a winner, and sure, there were varying prizes for placement, but that was beside the point. Professor Pyser successfully honed students in each of his classes to conduct themselves as capable, competent business men and women. The reward in preparation for the rest of their lives in such an austere job climate these days is truly infinite. As the competition came to a close, Pyser took the podium again with a glint in his eye on par with a winning coach and asked the room to remember their first day of class and to recognize the distance traveled. The winner had yet to be announced, but there wasn’t a look of uncertainty in the room.
You can contact David Finkel at

images ©