BY CHARLIE TAYLOR Delco Proper is a web-based Comedy Central sitcom that satirizes the land down under Philadelphia known as Delaware County, aka Delco. It is a magical place full of angry white under-performing males, bearded and beer-filled, bumping heads in the pursuit of tiny dreams forever thwarted — imagine if the 700 level was a working class inner-ring suburb of Philly instead of the drunken fight club at the the upper reaches of long-gone Veteran’s Stadium. In short, it’s Trump country, which of course makes it ripe for satire.
The show was created and written by Delco residents John McKeever and Tommy Pope, who, along with comedian Tim Butterly [pictured, below right], portray a hapless triumvirate of low-rent suburban fail. McKeever plays John, a stubbly yutz who works at the family lumber yard. Pope plays a sex-obsessed moron named Tommy capable of scoring a triple double in his local softball league (ten hits, ten strikeouts, and ten beers) and Butterly is a deranged bear-like man-child named Izzi whose sole motivation for attending a friend’s funeral is to kick the ass of a nemesis he knows will be there. There will be blood, it’s just a question of when. During the viewing or during the wake? The first episode went live last summer, and three more episodes went live earlier this year.
Phawker was lucky enough to talk with Tim Butterly about the origins of the show and the promising future of this online hit. In addition, Butterly talked with us about his favorite Philly stereotypes and the true beauty of Delaware County. Tonight at Milkboy, you can catch Butterly as he joins forces with Alex Pearlman, Sidney Gantt, Jon Delcollo and other local comedy luminaries for a night of comedy called Laughs On Philly: Unpasteurized.
PHAWKER: How do you explain Delaware County to people who didn’t grow up or live around Philadelphia or its surrounding counties?
TIM BUTTERLY: It’s a very family oriented place – for better or for worse. I guess the ‘for worse’ clause at the end of that explains it a little bit. It’s a working class place, where you kind of have to watch what you say because people still hold you accountable. I don’t know, I guess I’m alluding to the fact that there is still a threat of violence depending on how you act around people. It informs the way you treat people, whereas the younger types that move into Philadelphia, they are a little passive-aggressive, and Delaware County is just plain aggressive.
PHAWKER: Where exactly are you from in Delco?
TIM BUTTERLY: I am from Philly actually, the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia, which is a very Delco area of Philly. We all put our sweat pants on one leg at a time and go buy breakfast at a gas station in the same way. We are still waiting for the gentrifiers to show up. So it is very similar. Tommy from the show, he is as Delco as it gets and the first time we hung out, our humor lined up perfectly because our upbringings were almost identical even though he’s from Delco and I’m from Delco East.
TIM BUTTERLY: Sure, the premise of Delco Proper is that it’s about the type of fellas that grow up in a place like that. We get to play heightened versions of ourselves. We really want to show what people from our area are like. We write stories for them and we write from a place where these are the people that we actually care about. So as much as it looks like we are making fun of Delaware County, we are actually kind of celebrating Delaware County because this is what our families are like, everyone we have ever cared about – this is what they are like. We have basically written a story about John McKeever. He works at a family owned lumberyard and there’s endless potential for stories there. The main thing is that we just want these guys to live in a world that we know.
PHAWKER: How did you get hooked up with Comedy Central?
TIM BUTTERLY: The Comedy Central connection happened because John and Tommy spent years just making things for free and releasing them on YouTube. We had all been working together so long that the stuff got so good – I should rephrase that – we got so good at doing this that eventually someone was like, ‘Someone should pay these guys to do this.’ So it was only a matter of time before someone heard something. So from there, we got a meeting with Comedy Central and we pitched our lifestyle. Now, it’s on the verge of becoming a television show.
PHAWKER: Speaking of that, what are the upsides and downsides of being a web-only series?
TIM BUTTERLY: That’s a great question. The web-only thing is hard to explain to people. Young people get it and they watch most of the content on the Internet. But that’s not everybody. Our primary demographic is around 18 to 40 year old males, that’s a pretty wide age gap. Anyone over 35, they look at like you just told them that they could only watch it on frying pans. They have no idea what you are talking about.
Comedy Central just announced that they bought a pilot script for it for television. They just announced it two weeks ago so we can talk about it now. That’s our line now, that is was on the web but we always had this understanding that it was good enough for TV and we are getting closer to that opportunity.
PHAWKER: How do you walk the thin line between punching up and punching down, between being a biting social satirist and just making fun of poor uneducated people?
TIM BUTTERLY: I know at least internally I justify it as that is who I am, I’m not making fun of other people, I’m making fun of myself. I leave it up to the people watching it to decide if that is enough of an explanation for them. We aren’t punching down, we are punching ourselves here.
PHAWKER: Best type of humor. My final question: what is your favorite Philly stereotype to mock?
TIM BUTTERLY: I would go with sports radio caller. I think that’s an easy answer for me. They have this philosophy that covers their entire life and it’s almost like wringing out a rag. If you condensed their shit head philosophy, you have all the people calling about the Flyers on WIP.
PHAWKER: Absolutely, or the people that call onto Mike Missanelli’s show every week.
TIM BUTTERLY: “This is what I’ve been talking the whole time yo. They need to restructure the whole team, but not get rid of anybody because I like where these guys are going.”
PHAWKER: What can you tell me about Laughs On Philly: Unpasteurized?
TIM BUTTERLY: It’s just one of those awesome standup shows where I’ve been performing with all of these people for a long time so I don’t have to worry about any wieners being on the show and ruining it. I’m probably the weakest stand up on the entire thing. These are just good comics and I’m just some fat guy laughing at myself.