In the eyes of The Coalition Theater, being second is always best.
In the eyes of The Coalition Theater, being second is always best. Well at least, that’s the idea behind the local improv comedy theater’s inaugural 2nd Best Comedy Fest.
The three-day festival kicks off June 18 and will showcase improv and sketch comedy acts from New York, New Orleans, Chicago, Pittsburg, Chapel Hill, Norfolk and Greenville and Charleston, South Carolina.
It’s also a celebration of The Coalition’s sixth birthday. The last two years the theater has been putting on all sorts of crazy acts at 8 W. Broad St. every night of the week, but The Coalition has been performing and teaching around Richmond since 2009. The theater now has about 50 regular performers.
Every year the comedy theater does something special to celebrate, but this year, Managing Director Matt Newman said it was time to take it to the next level in honor of the theater’s birthday.
“This year we were trying to think about how we could really heighten that weekend even more and the idea of a festival had sort of been floating around among people especially since we have ourselves been to so many festivals,” he said.
Bringing different acts from all over the country for Richmond to see was exactly what the theater had in mind.
“We have been to festivals up and down the East Coast and out west and Canada and we wanted to bring acts that you wouldn’t normally see from other cities into the venue and get the audience in Richmond exposed to some of the folks we have met at the festivals,” Newman said.
Among the acts performing at the festival are Clutch improv comedy from Charleston, SC, DSI TourCo from Chapel Hill, Homage from Greenville, Nolen & Nolen from Pittsburg, The Pushers from Norfolk and New York-based hip hop improv group North Coast will headline the festival.
“Everyone that is performing is the first person that we thought of when we were thinking of putting our lineup together,” Newman said.
Newman came up with the idea along with Artistic Director Katie Holcomb and Communications Director David Pijor. Their group Middle Management will also perform at 2nd Best.
Chris Trew from New Orleans is also on the bill. For those that remember, Trew is behind the Air Sex Championships, a traveling air sex show that has come to Strange Matter a few times in the past.
Newman said each night there will be a combination of sketch and improv acts and each performer or group is bringing a little bit of something different to the festival.
“Nolen and Nolen are an actually married couple that do an improvised dinner table format as a different also married couple,” he said.
Headliner North Coast will bring their original “hip-hopera” to the stage.
“In the middle of scenes or as an entire scene they will imprivse a 30 minute piece and during that they will break out into song and by song I mean raps,” he said. “Its really insane.”
Mike Spara, a comedian from New Orleans will come to perform his silent one-man sketch show.
“It’s hilarious he doesn’t say anything the entire time,” Newman added.
During the day on Saturday, the festival will also hold workshops with the out of town acts that people can sign up for and learn improv and other forms of comedy from seasoned performers. The workshops will cover improvised format, sketch, silence, hip hop comedy and creating characters.
“We’ll have six workshops total,” Newman said.
As for the name, Newman said it has a few meanings.
“Something self-depreciating is always funny, it was sort of thrown out as a suggestion in one of the meetings we were having and we kind of kept coming back to it,” he said. “And a lot of number two jokes-poop humor, so there’s that angle too.”
The 2nd Best Comedy Fest runs from June 18-20. Tickets are $10 per night you can see the full schedule and grab yours here.