Richmond comedy fans will get a second helping of laughs at the 2nd Best Comedy Fest this weekend.
After a very successful first act, the 2nd Best Comedy Fest is once again bringing a variety of improv and sketch comedy acts from all across the country to Richmond.
Beginning Thursday, June 16th and lasting through the weekend, organizers have planned a “bigger and funnier” event than ever, according to executive director Matt Newman.
“This year we’re basically triple the size that we were last year,” said Newman, who is also a performer with the Coalition Theatre. “We’ll have about thirty plus improv teams coming in from all over. Kind of the sheer scale of it is the biggest change from last year. There will be so much going on over the course of the weekend.”
These thirty plus improv groups hail from New York, Chicago, Washington D.C., Boston, New Orleans, Philadelphia and many other cities. They’d otherwise be missed by most Richmond residents, who now have the opportunity to see them this weekend. Specific acts include Kathryn and Sarah from Philadelphia and NYC’s Future Wives.
While last year’s Fest was limited to one venue, this year’s attendees will be traversing between the Coalition Theater, The Basement and Gallery 5, depending on which acts they want to see. Even those who are unfamiliar with improvisational comedy are encouraged to go and experience the diverse range of performances. After all, it’s not every day that comedy groups and performers from all across the country gather in RVA for a weekend.
“I would say if someone doesn’t know what improv is at all, this would be a great weekend to find out what it’s all about,” said Newman. “Because all of the acts that are coming do things a little differently.”
It’s worth noting just how diverse the acts are going to be. One will be performing a hip-hop opera or “hip-hopera,” sure to appeal to local hip-hop heads, while another will transition between all of their scenes with dance moves done as a group. Others will tell funny stories, a simple and accessible form of comedy that people new to the Fest will appreciate.
There will even be two workshops offered over the weekend, hosted by Chris Trew (Air Sex Championships, The New Movement, New Orleans) and Rachel Klein (Improv Boston). And on the final night of the festival, an All-Star Show will be hosted at Gallery 5, featuring an assemblage of members from a range of improv groups who, for one time and one time only, perform onstage together.
Adding to the variety is the fact that, from city to city, the flavor of comedy differs among these groups.
“There’s a really wide range of what an event can look like,” Newman said. “It kind of varies from city to city… Being able to bring that into Richmond and see, not just from our own community what’s going on, but in all of these different cities… there’s all these kind of really vibrant pockets.”
The 2nd Best Comedy Fest is also aiming to be better organized this year, having learned from their first attempt at how to handle complicated logistics issues like hotel sponsorship, after-party events, and things that don’t just involve going onstage and making people laugh.
And even though it’s spread out over three venues, they’ve been selected because of their close proximity to each other, making the walk a lot easier.
“One of the big things for us was to keep the festival very centralized in and around the Art District and Jackson Ward,” said Newman. “That’s where we’ve been performing since we’ve started, and so keeping the festival in and around here, and also walkable to all of the places, was really important.”
Don’t get laughed at for missing this event – the sheer amount of improv acts that will be performing ensure that asses will be laughed right off.
“It’s gonna be a lot of fun,” said Newman. “This is the kind of thing that a few years ago, when we were talking about the kinds of things we wanted to see downtown, some kind of festival like this is something we would’ve loved to be able to go and see. It’s gonna be three nights of just fun, funny shows, that you can get into for a decent price. It’ll be a really good time.”