With a stage name like “Emo," audiences might not expect Emo Philips to be a particularly playful comedian.
Philips, who will perform at the 15th annual North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival tonight, has been doing comedy since the 1980s.
“Festivals are great because there’s nothing but other performers as far as the eye can see," said Philips in an email. "It’s like taking a plane to Comedy Land."
Franklin Street's Dirty South Improv started and hosts the festival. Every year, owner Zach Ward tries to get big names to headline.
“Emo has to be one of the most dedicated joke writers in comedy,” Ward said. “Every time a comic like Emo comes to the festival it lends credibility to the festival, our theater here in Chapel Hill and the comedy scene in North Carolina... It feels like we're doing something right.”
UNC freshman J.J. Tyson has been a fan since he saw Philips in the "Weird Al" Yankovic movie "UHF" movie at 13 years old.
“When I heard Emo Philips was headlining, I got really excited," he said. "A lot of people don’t know who he is and I think that’s a shame — the minute that you see him, you pretty much have to become a fan."
Philips said he loves performing comedy because of the adrenaline rush.
"Imagine that your job is to open a tiger cage and let the tiger out and run from it for an hour and then put it back into the cage," he said. "You feel nervous and scared beforehand — then you release the tiger and it chases you and you get the most amazing adrenaline rush and for an hour all non-tiger thoughts are banished from your mind and it's exciting and wonderful."