Maybe it's the slowly recovering economy, or the Republican primaries — or perhaps it's the 2012 Mayan prophecy — but lately we've noticed an uptick in comedy activity in these parts. Every couple weeks, it seems, there's a new improv troupe or comedy venue.
And if there is a Pittsburgh comedy rennaissance afoot, another sign might be an honor for one of our longer-standing improv troupes. This week, it was announced that the dudes in Hustlebot are among the 25 finalists in Comedy Central's first-ever Short Pilot Contest.
Contestants submitted a script and an 8- to 15-minute pilot presentation for an original TV show. Hustlebot's was titled "Stoners with a Time Machine." You can imagine the possibilities.
The contest is held in conjunction with The New York Television Festival. The top prize includes a development deal with Comedy Central and $7,500. The winner will be selected at the end of April.
Hustlebot, consisting of David Fedor, John Feightner, Larry Phillips and Joe Wichryk, began writing and performing under that name in 2006. The company — which modestly bills itself as "Pittsburgh's Best Comedy Troupe" — performs regularly at The Pittsburgh Improv Jam, held every Thursday at Downtown's. Cabaret at Theater Square.
The lads are also working on a movie with North Shore Pictures.
For a sample of their work, try the "Videos" page of the Hustlebot website, especially their audition pitch for Dark Knight Rises director Christopher Nolan.
As a finalist in the Comedy Central contest, Hustlebot is invited to be an Official Artist in the 2012 New York Television Festival, in Manhattan. The group also gets a chance to pitch its pilot to six additional channels, including Sundance Channel.