Local Funny Person Michelle Biloon’s Set to Take Stage at Punch Line Philly
Michelle Biloon is a 16-year survivor of the comedy business. Now that she’s in Philly, the locally-based comic is gearing up for one of her biggest breaks yet. But as far as being funny (and knowing it) goes, comedy has always been part of Biloon’s identity.
“Ever since I was in kindergarten, I wanted to be funny,” she said. “My older sister was very funny, I remember wanting her to think I was funny.”
A taste of sibling rivalry and a hard diet of David Letterman and Janeane Garofalo formed Biloon’s dry and sarcastic comedic palette. In college at the University of Wisconsin, she was writing and participating in two public access skit shows, “Mad City” and “The Erick Estrada Show.” However, she didn’t dive into stand-up comedy until moving to a new city where she didn’t know anyone. That city was Austin, Texas.
“I went to open mic at the Velveeta Room in Austin,” Biloon recalls. “I think it was November or December of 1999. Then February of 2000 was when I did my first open mic. I did really well, which is what a lot of people who are funny do when they first go on stage.”
At the time, Biloon was working as a web developer for early popular websites like DrKoop (a competitor of WebMD) and later went on to work for sites like MTV, Spike TV and the NFL. In 2004, she found herself in Los Angeles crashing with comedian Maria Bamford, who currently stars in the Netflix series “Lady Dynamite.”
“I was really lucky. There was a huge comedy boom that happened probably 2006-2007,” Biloon said. “I was just in the middle of this post alt comedy kind of a thing where I was actually able to find my way in.”
It was during this time that Biloon really started to hit her stride. In 2006 she started a popular podcast “Walking With Michelle”, which featured guest comics like Doug Benson and Maria Bamford. The podcast was like an early version of “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee” and ran until 2011. It was also around this time that Comedy Central’s Comedy Bang Bang, then called Comedy Death-Ray, moved to the new United Citizens Brigade Theater in Hollywood.
“UCB was a crazy playhouse,” Biloon recalls. “The first time I did Comedy Death-Ray, Louis CK was the host. You know what I mean? Chris Hardwick and Mike Phirman had their band, Hard and Phirm, and they were the house band. It was a great time and I learned a lot. That was kind of my comedy school and where my fandom was.”
After getting married in 2010 and having a child, Biloon stopped doing stand-up. Her peers thought she was done with it and, admittedly, so did she. “‘Oh, I can make so much money by doing these mom tours and write books about my daughter. NO! That would be miserable! That would be the worst idea ever,’” she jokes to herself.
“When we moved [to Philadelphia], I just said, ‘you know, I’m considering this time here as my comedy renaissance.’ I said, ‘now I don’t have a job, this is a totally new place, my daughter was a year and half when we moved here, I don’t need to be so careful with her,’” Biloon said.
Biloon’s first foray in the Philly comedy scene was an open mic at Helium in March 2014. While she shares her time between New York and Los Angeles as well, Philadelphia has become home base. Locally, in 2015 Bardot Cafe in Northern Liberties approached her to do a monthly comedy showcase on the first Wednesday of every month called Northern Comedies. Each comic gets a 10 minute set— it’s kind of like a comedy roulette. It’s also a hit by all accounts — sometimes it gets so packed that people have to stand in the back to watch. “I like to use [Northern Comedies] as a reason to work on material when I do shows around. But here you can step out in ways you can’t in New York and LA. The scene here is great, the comics are just hustling, you know?” Biloon said.
Northern Comedies brings out some of the underground comedy acts from around the county right to Northern Liberties, including David James, a friend of Biloon’s who’s been doing comedy for a decade.
“[Biloon] is already established in LA and has been around,” James said. “She was already really funny and really cool. She’s a friend of mine we always see each other at the clubs or doing comedy shows.”
“It started as something small we talked about to have fun and see where it went. We didn’t expect it to be as big as it has become,” Matt Wertz, manager and bartender at Bardot said. “Michelle works hard to put together an amazing line up each month, which is why I hear our regulars and new faces talking about it.
Aside from Northern Comedies, Biloon has some more local fun lined up around the corner. Punch Line Philly, the latest local addition to the LiveNation empire, opened it’s doors this summer. As soon as Biloon got wind that a comedy club was opening here in the neighborhood, she reached out to some of the venue’s organizers. Her initiative paid off, as she will be the featured opener for Miss Pat from September 1st-3rd.
The talent booker of the Punch Line first heard of Biloon about a decade ago when she played the San Francisco Punch Line. Once the booking agent learned that Biloon lived in Philadelphia, she was immediately booked. A representative from Punch Line Philly says that the new comedy club is committed to supporting the best local comedians and Biloon fits the bill.
Looking even further down the line, Biloon has her sights on doing legs of gigs around the country with the working title, “The Biloon Tour.” It’s a name that fits Biloon’s comical style: She’s making fun of how her name resembles the word balloon, as well as identifying that this tour will be a self-made venture. In the meantime, you can catch Biloon on the “Doug Loves Movies” and the “2 Dope Queens” podcast, at Northern Comedies or up in clubs around the country.