For one night only, Manatawny Still Works will transform into a comedic playground, with comedian Hersh Rephun flying in from the West Coast to take stage for the distillery’s first-ever Comedy Night on March 28 from 8–10:30 p.m.
Locals can expect Rephun’s show, aptly named 3 Bitches Ain’t Enough, to be a chock-full of impressions, characters and his signature mother issues, leaving the crowd laughing from start to finish. But, what really is the scoop on this jokester? We tapped the L.A. star about why he’s excited to visit Pottstown, how he broke into comedy, his notorious Walken impersonation (yeah—you won’t want to miss that!), and even, funny food memories.
PA Eats: You’re arriving on the Manatawny Still Works’ scene this Saturday, eager to stir up (many) laughs, but also to sample each of distiller Max Pfeffer’s spirits. Besides Three Bitches—which per your show’s name is already on your mind—what MSW spirit do you have your thirsty eyes on?
Hersh Rephun: I want to try J. Potts Unaged Whiskey. John Potts colonized the part of Penn’s Woods where the Manatawny Creek joined the Schuylkill River. These woods were immortalized in the film Deliverance. I’m kidding. (I think I’m kidding.) Am I kidding? I gotta research this stuff better.
It’s time to take a trip down memory lane. I’ve read that you dabbled in comedy in your early 20s but didn’t go full-time comedian until mid-40s. What inspired you to take your jokes and share ‘em with many audiences?
An agent wanted to put me on the college circuit when I was 22, but I was newly married and we were having our first child, so I chose a more stable career in advertising. Over the years, I entertained clients at dinners, and the dinners got bigger and bigger to where I could no longer expense them—half the people weren’t even clients, they just came for the show! So after two marriages and five kids, I’ve been moving the show to bigger and bigger venues.
Folks can catch you performing regularly throughout L.A. What’s trending right now on the West Coast in the comedy world?
There are two kinds of comics in L.A.: the ones who just want to get cast in a TV series—and the ones who actually will. Both are funny, but I try to make friends with the latter. Seriously, though, it’s a great town for learning your craft. At any given night at The Comedy Store or The Ice House, you can see any number of people who make you ache to be a better comic. Bill Burr is one of them. And he’s a nice guy, too. I hate that.
We’ve heard that you do a mean Christopher Walken impersonation. Which shade of Walken do you do best—Pulp Fiction? SNL? Batman Returns? Captain Hook?
Well…the thing…you gotta LOVE…is that Walken…is ALWAYS Walken. I just pick themes…scenarios. You know, Jailhouse Walken, some people call it “Jail Walken.” Or “Sore Walken.” That’s another one I do. Trust me—the impression is better live.
You’re a comedian, which means you can save any experience with a joke. So, what’s the most disastrous meal you’ve ever made and how did you save it?
Pancakes. Sounds simple, but either you make good pancakes or you don’t. And why does the first one always come out terrible? There’s no consistency. Before I knew my limitations, I tried to make a huge pancake breakfast for 10 kids at my buddy’s house. I figured if I added fruit, it’d turn out better. It was worse—like something out of SpongeBob. And I tried to add more oil—too much—so it splattered everywhere. I saved it by offering to use the same recipe to spackle my friend’s walls so he could repaint.
What’s your best food (or drink-related) joke you’ve ever come up with?
You’ll hear a lot of them at the show, but the biggest drink-related reaction I ever got was in L.A., by stating with great emotion that “I have a year of sobriety…” The crowd was so supportive and enthusiastic, they just applauded for a solid minute. It bordered on a standing ovation. Then I finished my sentence: “…on my agenda.” They knew they’d been had, and for a second I thought they’d be furious. But they loved it.
My mom made the best breaded veal I’ve ever tasted. Until this day, I’ve never tasted anything like it. If she was making it for dinner, my friends would walk off the football field or the basketball court mid-game just to get there. One friend, a do-gooder, told us veal was raised in a tiny pen and it was cruel and he’d never eat veal. When we finally tricked him into trying my mom’s and he found out what it was, he said, “Well, it’s not like I could have rescued it.” And then, he had another chop.
Your act is a mix of parodies, voices, music and original songs. If you were to make us one promise of what’s going to make us laugh, what part of your routine will send us rolling on the MSW floor?
Amy, you’re trying to trick me into giving away punchlines! All the stuff you mentioned is in the service of telling stories about my life. And the funniest stuff tends to be about my drinking adventures (and misadventures). Hopefully, as the evening goes on, we’ll all really get on a roll and create some new stories of our own!
- Photography: Hersh Rephun