[ comedy month picks ]
Modeled after the famed TED talks, the "ideas worth spreading" in the first-ever NED talks verify that comedy can be both snicker-worthy and enlightening. Four comedians will be asked to expand on one simple question: What does comedy mean to you? Among the presenters are Meg and Rob's Meg Favreau, who'll lay out the evolution of a joke; Kelly Jennings from ComedySportz, talking about how comedians come together as a group; and Secret Pants' Paul Triggiani, who has the scoop on how the Internet can be used to funny folks' advantage. Wed., Nov. 17, 8 p.m., $10.
Farting onstage will almost always inspire a chuckle, but comedian Don Montrey says it'll take more than a little noisy butt air to wrangle the top prize at Philly's Dirtiest Sketch competition. "It's easy to [pass gas] on stage to get people to laugh, so a lot of times people stay away from that," he says, "but you are supposed to be as dirty and scatological as you can be." This year's competition will feature Comedy Month participants like Dependable Felons and the Feeko Brothers, but Montrey says the team to out-gross is Secret Pants — who've taken the top prize two years running. Tue., Nov. 9, 8 p.m., $10.
Five local improv groups, including Temple's Fowl Play, UArts' the Yes, Ampersands and Haverford's Lighted Fools, will go joke-to-joke with 13 other troupes in the College Improv Tournament's Eastern Regionals, hosted by the Chicago Improv Festival. Teams will be given 25 minutes each to woo the judges; four finalists (plus one wild card) will compete again that night for the chance to conquer nationals in February. Executive Director Jonathan Pitts says that while the tournament is competitive, it's set up as an educational tool for young people to learn from their peers, and to have a chance to be seen by people who might actually hire them. Sat., Nov. 20, preliminary rounds at noon, 2, 4 and 6 p.m., $10; tournament at 9 p.m., $15.
All Comedy Month events at Philly Shakespeare Theatre, 2111 Sansom St., 215-496-9722, phlcomedy.com.