What started out as a raunchy web series is about to launch three Philadelphia-area comedians — as well as an entire county — into the national spotlight.
“Delco Proper” is the brainchild of good friends Tommy Pope, Tim Butterly and John McKeever. “It shows how [the main characters], who are just breaching into their 30s, deal with living in the same neighborhood, changing relationships and just basically being a grownup,” Pope says.
Pope, a native of Drexel Hill, chose Delaware County, or “Delco” as it is commonly known, for its rarely-changing, yet genuine, landscape. “In a lot of these small towns, there’s sort of an arrested development, where these people really don’t start growing up until they either have kids, start getting married or a business is dropped on them.”
Thanks to Comedy Central, the collective vision of Pope, Butterly and McKeever has expanded far beyond the scope of greater Philadelphia. The trio’s first episode, “The Funeral,” amassed over 125,000 views on YouTube and paved the way for three more webisodes on the comedy network’s YouTube channel.
With the cast’s Delco roots, we couldn’t help but ask the creators of “Delco Proper” to take us on a tour of their favorite local hangouts. Here where you can find them:
Charlie’s Hamburgers is a small hamburger stand in Folsom, Pennsylvania. Despite its unimpressive location behind a CVS and a tavern, the stand nevertheless reached its own level of notoriety when it was voted one of the “10 Best Fast Food Places” by Esquire Magazine in 2009.
“It reminds me of the way your dad would assemble a burger,” Pope said of the stand’s signature delicacy. “He would throw them on a hot griddle, they wouldn’t be superbig fancy patties, everything about it is just normal.” Adds Butterly, “I’m sick of going out and paying twenty bucks for a burger. Have someone named Bernadette just throw it on a grill and let me eat 10 of them for $9!”
Deep in Clifton Heights, the members-only Polish Americans Citizens Association might seem like little more than a darkened basement bar where area residents come to sip beer and watch the game. However, the establishment, of which Pope and his brothers have been longtime members, also earned its place in “Delco Proper” infamy as the setting of the series’ episode “For the Troops.”
“There’s few places in neighborhoods like that where you can find a place that hasn’t changed in years,” McKeever observed. “I saw two decorations in there from 1989 and I think that just gives the place its character.” Adds Butterly, “The whole point of our show was that you have this group of dudes who have a hard time changing who they are because the town never changes. And places like VFWs are indicative of that mentality.” While playing an intense game of shuffleboard, two “Delco Proper” fans snapped pictures with the gang and even played a game of pool with them. “Their show is basically the humor I grew up with my entire life,” said PACA member John Martin, whose father, Kier, is also a member.
It’s no secret that Wawa is the lifeblood of the Philadelphia area. Entire communities cram themselves into these convenience stores for coffee, freshly-made sandwiches and, of course, gasoline.
“It’s a staple in the community because it’s accessible from every corner,” says Pope. “It’s only ours,” Butterly added. “We like Wawa, don’t change it, gimme a meatball sandwich.” The store at the corner of Burmont and Garrett roads in Drexel Hill supplied the successful comedians with the day’s supply of apple fritters, string cheese and iced tea.
Putt-Putt Golf N Games
Tucked away in the back of a shopping center in Clifton Heights is Putt Putt Golf N Games. Under the watchful gaze of an almost obtrusive cell phone tower, golfers of all ages and skill levels make lifetime memories as they tap colorful balls into the holes of several obstacle-laden courses. While Pope won a game against Butterly and McKeever, the emotional highlight of the visit was when Butterly was able to recreate a childhood photo of his, taken at the very same course.
“If you look at Tim’s photograph, all they did was paint the back wall, and it’s been 30 years,” Pope remarked. “They just have a very simple mindset here and they like to feel that nothing has changed. I saw two of my friends with their now-kids [at Putt-Putt], and they’re like salmon: They just come back here to die.” McKeever, on the other hand, was gloating about his two holes-in-one on the miniature greens: “When I got the first hole-in-one, I was thinking, the ball is in the hole, and my feet aren’t on the ground. When I got my second one, I was like, ’That’s it. Nike’s calling.’”
So, what’s next for “Delco Proper”? Well, Comedy Central enjoyed the web series so much that it felt that a regular TV series, half-hour episodes and all, might be the next addition to its lineup of original programming, alongside shows like “Workaholics” and “Broad City.”
“Comedy Central bought a pilot from us, so we’re writing the script now, and then they make a decision as to whether or not the script gets filmed, and then it goes to series,” Pope explains. He went on to say that he, Butterly and McKeever certainly hadn’t forgotten their Philly area roots; their crew is comprised of local area talent that will only grow in size as the series itself does.