Before he ever told a joke in public, the Philly-born comedian who’s gigging at SugarHouse this weekend was the bane of bad comics.
Many standup comics know what it’s like to be heckled during a performance. But there’s at least one comedian who has experienced the harassment of performers from the other side of the footlights.
Will “Spank” Horton, a member of the semi-formal aggregation of comedians collectively known as the Plastic Cup Boyz, unabashedly admits he wasn’t shy about voicing his displeasure with comics he found lacking in his pre-performing days.
“I was wrong, but yeah, I did it,” chuckles Horton who, with fellow Paper Cupper Na’im Lynn, hits SugarHouse casino Saturday night. “I just remember us going out for ‘comedy night’ [while a student at Lincoln University]. I was always the class clown; whenever anyone wasn’t funny, they looked at me to boo ’em and get ’em off the stage. So that’s what I did!”
But that’s not where the story ends. Incredibly, Horton has crossed paths with his victims through the years.
“A couple of ’em,” he said. “Some of them are still working today. But I never told ’em. However he did recall copping to the truth to a comic who once shared the bill with an object of Horton’s displeasure.
“I said, I remember when you came with this guy and I booed him,” recalled Horton. “He said, ‘Oh my God! That was you? Everybody knew who you was—at Lincoln University!’”
Horton, Lynn and the other Plastic Cup Boyz –the name comes from the group’s fondness for imbibing “over-21 beverages” while they’re hanging out—are in a position for which most comedians would likely part with an arm or leg. The members have long enjoyed the patronage of Kevin Hart, who arguably reigns as comedy’s biggest star, despite the occasional, controversial gaffe. Hart has featured the PCB on his triumphant tours, as well as on his Comedy Central series, “The Next Level.”
Theirs is no nascent relationship: Horton and Hart grew up in adjoining North Philadelphia neighborhoods and first encountered each other as basketball-playing teens. Hart’s support of the troupe and its members extends to a still-in-production Hart tour documentary series that Netflix is expected to release later this year.
Although being part of the unstoppable Kevin Hart show biz machine puts Horton in an enviable position—and one of which he is deeply appreciative—he is eyeing a future beyond Hart’s orbit.
“That’s why I moved to L.A. three years ago,” he reasoned. “Every day I sit down and jot down notes from where I can start my own TV show.
“I'm just watching a bunch of TV right now. I watch a lot of shows on Netflix, just trying to see a lane where everybody is going. I know I might have to go that way because when you pitch [an idea], it’s gotta be something that they're familiar with and something that is winning right now.
“So I got to go in that lane, but I got to show ’em my whole lane within that lane. I want to show ’em where I can stand out and make something that is a little better than maybe the other shows they may have.”
SugarHouse, 1001 N. Delaware Ave., Philadelphia; 8 p.m. Saturday; $39; www.ticketmaster.com.