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The Write Stuff

A "Swiss army knife" of an entertainer, Phil Isme's stand-up comedy routine is garnering even more laughs now that he's focusing on writing.

by Chuck king
phil isme

DELRAY BEACH – If good writing is the key to comedy, Phil Isme is focusing on what’s most important.

Adept at writing for the screen, the stage and the solo microphone, over the past few months it’s stand-up comedy jokes that have captivated Isme.

“Definitely right now stand-up is at the front of the line,” Isme said.

Isme started performing stand-up comedy in 2011 at age 19, but says he didn’t start taking the writing aspect of the art seriously until 2017.

Early in his career, Isme figured that if a bit generated laughs the first time he performed, the work was nearly over.

“I seldom would tweak it,” said Isme, who ultimately revised his approach. “When you see something that works, keep up with it don’t get complacent.

Isme began his performance career on a much larger stage than he’s currently working.

In those early days as a young theater actor he decided that he liked many aspects of production and quickly began dabbling in a little bit of everything.

“I always wanted to be a Swiss army knife – a guy who can do stand-up, act and make content,” Isme said. “But then again, long ago that would be a novelty. But now that’s the bare minimum of what you have to do.”

With COVID restrictions eliminating many outlets for theatrical stage performances, Isme immersed himself in writing.

He had already started writing a web series about a black zombie who’s uncertain about whether people dislike him because of his skin color or because he’s undead. The above video is a scene from that movie, with Isme as the star.

Isme, who works in a health care call center in his hometown of Port St. Lucie, is also writing a screenplay about the perils of working in such a setting.

“That’s something that I always wanted to do is take life experiences but ham it up a little bit for comedic purposes,” Isme said.

During the pandemic Isme dedicated himself to writing at least five pages of his screenplay or web series each day while still refining his stand-up routine.

“It’s kind of weird writing five pages per day, and then trying to write stand-up,” Isme said. “It’s like two different sides of your brain.”

With COVID restrictions lifting, theaters are beginning to reopen. Still, audiences are more likely to find Isme on a stand-up stage, using that side of his brain. It’s still early in June, yet Isme is already booked for shows in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

“Performing is something I really do enjoy,” Isme said.

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