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Montgomery Theater is currently playing host to Tom McCarthy’s The Philly Fan. The one-man show is a comical love letter to the trials and tribulations of pledging one’s allegiance to Philadelphia sports.
McCarthy, a Barrymore Award winner, had little trouble connecting to his onstage personality, an unnamed narrator that allows the audience to easily place themselves in his shoes. As a native to the City of Brotherly Love, McCarthy describes each performance as a Philadelphia sports addict’s therapy session.
“It gives me a chance every night to VENT,” he laughs.
He explains that the inspiration and content for the show has been accumulating for the past fifty years as the city’s intense sports culture merged with his own identity.
“Almost the last line in the play is ‘Wait ‘til next year,’ and the Philadelphia fans has been waiting a long, long time.”
The Eagles have not won a championship since 1960, around the time when football started to replace baseball as America’s pastime. Yet, McCarthy’s narration encapsulates all four major Philadelphia sports leagues. He does not identify himself as betrothed to one of these teams in particular, but he notes that storming the city streets to celebrate the Phillies’ win in 2008 certainly didn’t hurt.
Yet without the repetitive let down of Philadelphia teams, The Philly Fan would not be able to unite its audience members as well as it does. Out of humor and accessibility, Philly sports fans effortlessly connect to McCarthy’s persona. Why? After all of these years, it seems that hope for the future always overcomes loss.
“I think there is hope because if not, hundreds of thousands of Philadelphia sports fans are out of their minds. We stay with them. We’re still looking for a championship. That’s the essence of the Philadelphia fan,” McCarthy explains, “Hope.”