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The gang does the Mann: Highlights from ‘The Always Sunny Podcast’ live in Philly

The crowd cheered a surprise appearance by Kaitlin Olson and booed a shocking confession from Glenn Howerton.

Rob McElhenney (from left), Charlie Day, and Glenn Howerton enter the stage at the Mann Center through a Paddy's Pub door.
Rob McElhenney (from left), Charlie Day, and Glenn Howerton enter the stage at the Mann Center through a Paddy's Pub door.Read moreCourtesy of the Mann Center

Laughing in the face of tropical storm threats, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia fans from across the region flocked to the Mann Center Saturday night in Dayman suits, Green Man outfits, and Birds of War costumes for a live taping of The Always Sunny Podcast.

Show stars Glenn Howerton, Charlie Day, and South Philly native Rob McElhenney, along with cohost and series writer Megan Ganz, led sing-alongs, told behind-the-scenes stories, and appropriately pandered to their Philly fan base by punctuating everything with “Go Birds.”

Those who braved the weather were treated to plenty of surprises, from a Mummers band parading through the stands before the show to a shocking confession by Howerton and a surprise appearance by series costar Kaitlin Olson.

Now in its second year, the podcast is a retrospective of the hit TV show, which, at 16 seasons, is the longest-running live-action comedy series in history. The podcast has been on hiatus due to the ongoing writers and actor strike. The proceeds from Saturday’s performance will be donated to the SAG-AFTRA Foundation and the Entertainment Community Fund.

“This show is pro-union,” McElhenney said to thunderous applause.

Hilarious, nostalgic, and, at times, unexpectedly sentimental, here are highlights from The Always Sunny Podcast live at the Mann.

The McCloskey connection

After performing Friday night at the XPoNential Music Festival, musician Don McCloskey and his band served as the opening act for the show. Turns out McCloskey, a native of Bristol, goes way back with McElhenney. The two attended high school together at Saint Joseph’s Prep.

Strawberry Mansion mayhem

While discussing scenes filmed in Philly, the gang talked about taping the Season 9 episode “Mac Day” at the Strawberry Mansion Bridge.

“Do you remember what happened that day when we were shooting at Strawberry Mansion, when everybody parked in the parking lot and then we went and we shot and we came back to the cars?” McElhenney said. “All of the cars got broken into. Every single person got robbed — and these are members of the crew who are from Philly!”

Dennis’ first cheesesteak

Despite being on a show with Philadelphia in the title for 16 years, Howerton confessed that he’s never had a cheesesteak.

“I’ve never even had a bite,” he said.

The crowd booed him like a Cowboys interloper at an Eagles tailgate.

“You have to understand that the boos and the laughter are the same thing,” McElhenney said. “It’s all love.”

Deciding to finally get wit it, Howerton tried four cheesesteaks, from Pat’s, Geno’s, Joe’s, and Angelo’s (I don’t know who picked those spots, but the fact that Pat’s and Geno’s made the cut and Dalessandro’s didn’t, immediately makes the entire thing suspect).

Howerton crowned Angelo’s the winner and officially declared that cheesesteaks are “f— ing delicious.”

The greatest episode

When asked to pick what, in their opinion, is the show’s greatest episode, the stars settled on “The Nightman Cometh,” the Season 4 musical finale.

McElhenney said most of the people who played extras in the theater audience during the taping had never seen It’s Always Sunny.

“They could not believe that this was a television show … there was just a lot of confusion, and we kept saying ‘Just shoot them, shoot them, the more confused they are, the better!’” he said.

It wasn’t until his old high school buddy McCloskey invited the gang to perform songs and scenes from the episode at the Troubadour in Los Angeles that they realized how popular it was.

“I remember coming out on the stage and [people knew] not just the songs, but the lines of the episode,” McElhenney said. “It was like The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It felt like we actually had a hit show.”

Sweet Dee drops in

After faking fans out with a prerecorded video message, Olson brought the crowd to its feet by running out on stage, high-fiving fans, and flapping her Eagles wings.

“I’m crashing your partayyyyyy,” she said. “Go Birds.”

‘Profound love’

McElhenney spoke of many of his Philadelphia memories, from doing nitrous balloons in the Mann Center parking lot as a teen to filming at his alma mater, St. Joe’s.

But his memory of the nearby Whispering Bench (also known as the Whispering Wall) at the Smith Memorial Arch in Fairmount Park brought tears to the eyes of many, including his wife, Olson.

McElhenney said his dad took him to the Whispering Wall when he was 9 and his parents were going through a divorce. His dad sat at one end and he at the other, and from a great distance he could hear his father’s whisper.

“He said, ‘I love you, and I always will, and so will your mom. You belong here and you belong with us and you belong with both of us,’” McElhenney recalled. “And I thought it was magic, I truly thought it was magic … I felt this profound love and acceptance that I was in the right place with the right people and that’s how I feel right now.”

Songs and cannons

Day led the crowd in several sing-a-longs, from the Eagles fight song to “Rock, Flag and Eagle,” but an encore performance of “Dayman” by Olson, McElhenney, Howerton, and Day blew fans away.

Coming out singing in leather trench coats and armed with T-shirt cannon guns, the gang proved that they’re still “masters of karate and friendship for everyone” and reinforced that it’s always sunny in Philadelphia, not because of the weather, but because of the people.

Go Birds.