Charles in charge at Helium


No matter how much success he will have telling jokes, Darryl Charles never figures to heckle his humility, as he sees himself as “just a guy looking to be a part of a community that appreciates laughter.” The 32-year-old will assist that entity’s emergence tonight through Saturday by hosting five Helium Comedy Club shows.

“I love trying to fit in with the scene, which is all about being honest and true to myself,” he said of his quest for chuckles and cheers. “Philadelphia is a great location for sharing that vibe, and Helium is especially good at channeling it.”

The affable individual, who resides in West Passyunk with Lori, his wife of three years and contributor to their turf’s neighbors association, has generated a genial relationship with the Center City-situated haven, including making four finals, from five appearances, in its Philly’s Phunniest competition. He has handled hosting duties periodically since 2011 and will welcome to the stage Kevin Nealon, of “Saturday Night Live” fame, after delivering his personal experience-heavy material.

“I make observations from my life and try to extrapolate them to broader topics,” Charles said of his shtick, including a well-received bit on traveling to China. “I’m thankful to be in the Helium stable because I think many people in Philly can relate to what I’m expressing.”

As he prepares for his quintet of openers, the six-year veteran of the comedy circuit has accumulated enough stops to know the nights will not disappoint in terms of audiences’ anticipation for originality and hilarity. Like any performer, humble or not, he vows to partner his passion with patrons’ perspectives on a universe that all but begs for its inhabitants not to take it too seriously.

“I began by seeing how the desire to make myself laugh would play out in front of people,” Charles said of his give-and-take approach to his secondary, in terms of time yet primary in terms of enjoyment, vocation. “Now that I look back, I’m still striving to be someone who can provide a break from the ruts that people often find themselves in. I’m enjoying being encouraging to others, too, because everybody doing this just wants to have a good time.”

Happily honing his delivery in the City of Brotherly Love, the grateful guffaw inducer hails from another metropolis known for housing comedic crusaders, New York City. The Brooklyn native, though, never contemplated a life of levity in the Empire State, instead entering a realm that one could contend is as far removed from comedy as anything can be.

“I came to Philadelphia to attend Temple University and majored in electrical engineering,” Charles, who has followed up his collegiate studies through a New Jersey-based employer, said of his journey to starting a jovial existence. “It’s been a pretty enjoyable ride ever since. I used to be in Point Breeze, and we’ve been here in West Passyunk for two years. South Philly has great proximity to so many locations, so I’m never that far from much of anything.”

His closeness to desired destinations includes the ability to venture to numerous comedy-friendly spots. A lifelong lover of stand-up, he began to seek spaces for his execution of it late last decade and has become a much admired hire.

“I needed to develop courage before going out there, though,” Charles said of evolving from a fan of such pioneering behemoths as Richard Pryor to a fellow releaser of endorphins. “I realized that nobody gets shot or yelled at during an open mic, and everything just kind of snowballed to the point where I love what I’m doing and I’m making great friendships.”

Those unions have helped him to become aligned with ComedySportz, an improv group featuring, among many others, South Philly-based theater constants Jennifer Childs, Scott Greer and Dave Jadico, and to grace such venues as Boot & Saddle, 1131 S. Broad St., for Free for All Comedy’s The Magnificent Seven and L’Etage, 624 S. Sixth St., for last fall’s Comedian Deconstruction.

“I think it was after my first or second Philly’s Phunniest competition where I determined there’s a reason not to stop,” Charles said. “I’ve taken some lumps like everybody, but overall, it’s been amazing.”

His talent and diligence have yielded multiple WitOut awards and, for little more than a year, have aided in his prosperity as half of the Darryl Timaree Fun Hour. The project, born out of a ’12 fundraiser for Philly Sketchfest, which Marconi native Dave Terruso co-founded, combines Charles’ comedic craft with Dr. Timaree Schmit’s expertise on sexuality to produce taboo-free explorations of life and love.

“We’re out there every second Friday of the month [at Philly Improv Theater] educating people,” he said. “Just like whatever other gigs I’m fortunate to get, I’m interested in establishing connections with audiences and being in the moment as a representative of the city’s comedy identity. I’ve never thought about putting any pressure on myself to make sure I become some sort of Philly comedy legend. I’m having a great time watching the comedy community grow, especially in South Philly, because people are making great strides.”

Charles intends to continue his personal and purposeful journey for the rest of the year through ComedySportz and Fun Hour appearances and will headline at the Manayunk-situated Crazy Cow Comedy Club Sept. 5-6. He also is hoping to have a website up by the end of the year and as long as the world remains riotous, he promises to be an observant pursuer of hilarity and harmony.

“You can’t force anything,” he said of composing his sets. “If you don’t think something is funny, chances are audiences won’t either. Fortunately, I’ve most often felt great about the interactions and look forward to the good and even the bad. Well, not too much bad.” 

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Contact Managing Editor Joseph Myers at or ext. 124.