It’s hard to believe it’s been a full decade since the Charleston Comedy Festival was born. Back in the day, mostly locals performed at the fest, and one year we even had a “Ha-Ha Hut” complete with kegs of beer set up in Marion Square — party central, that was. Over the years, word got out about our city’s good weather, beaches, and binge-drinking proclivities, leading more and more acts to get involved. We’ve watched with pride as festival performers have gone on to succeed on TV and in movies (Aziz Ansari, Nick Kroll, T.J. Miller, Todd Barry, Casey Wilson) — and, of course, we take full credit for their fame. After all, we knew some of them when they were just starting out.
The tenth anniversary Comedy Fest starts out strong with a stand up show from Wyatt Cenac, a former writer for The Daily Show and King of the Hill, then maintains that momentum with choice local shows and a huge range of national acts. We’re particularly pumped for RISK! featuring Michael Ian Black, Late Night Live Show, Chicago sketch group Gentleman’s Falcon, stand up comic Chris Cotton, and Adsit and Eveleth.
And there are plenty of familiar faces this year, too, like the Reformed Whores and Skinny Bitch Jesus Meeting, two pants-pissingly funny acts that probably shouldn’t even be sharing a bill. Chicago’s singing Shock T’s are back too, as are stand up comics Kenny Z, Vic Henley, and Rory Scovel (who you might be seeing on an ABC sitcom soon enough). Then of course there are the uber-talented local comedians over at Theatre 99 who make it all happen — Neckprov, Little Miss Codependent, and the Stand Up Competition winners are a few of our faves.
Our anniversary gift to you is this handy pull-out guide to the Charleston Comedy Festival, featuring profiles on every act, a full schedule, maps, and more. Keep it with you so you don’t get lost like some kind of loser.
Just because Wyatt Cenac was a writer for The Daily Show doesn't mean he was responsible for any of the jokes made on South Carolina's behalf in the last few years. — Susan Cohen
Back in the early '90s, shortly before hitting the big time with the MTV sketch comedy show The State, Kevin Allison was so poor that he tried to sell himself as a prostitute — and failed. — Paul Bowers
Jet Eveleth is a self-proclaimed serial monogamist. She's done more than a handful of two-person improv and sketch shows, so many that she admits she's embarrassed to give us an official number — she thinks it might make her sound promiscuous. — Susan Cohen
They've shared hotel rooms, Huddle House pancakes, and poop jokes, so it only makes sense that the Reformed Whores and Skinny Bitch Jesus Meeting would share the stage at the 2013 Charleston Comedy Festival. — Erin Holaday Ziegler
It's very easy to tell Vic Henley and Rory Scovel apart. Yes, they don't look a thing alike. But the real difference appears as soon as they open their mouths. Henley has an Alabaman twang that would give any Southerner a run for his or her money. — Susan Cohen
Full disclosure: Not all of the performers in Beardmageddon have beards. In fact, only one of them, Jason Groce, has facial hair. — Kelly Smith
Goofy comedy is all well and good — where would we be without the Will Ferrells and T.J. Millers of the world? — but sometimes you need to cleanse your brain of all the potty jokes and lowbrow cracks with a healthy dose of smart humor. — Elizabeth Pandolfi
Brandy Sullivan and Jessica Mickey have been best friends for 10 years. They're both members of the all-girl super comedy troupe Mary Kay Has a Posse, but since the other group members live out of town, Brandy and Jessica decided to start their own show — mostly so they could hang out. — Emily Taylor
Charles Busch's The Divine Sister tells the story of a mother superior who decides to tear down her crumbly old convent and replace it with a shiny new one. Which is kind of the reverse image of the Village Rep Co.'s past year. — Dan Conover
These two Theatre 99 favorites represent both ends of the improv spectrum — the cerebral, long-form Moral Fixation paired with the ridiculously goofy Southern-fried humor of Neckprov. — Emily Taylor
La-Z-Boy murder, refrigerated placentas, and lady Canadians: that's just a sample of what you can expect from the three groups in this improv marathon. And there's no running involved. Now that's our kind of marathon. — Elizabeth Pandolfi
If you need some comic relief from those New Year's weight loss resolutions, Kenny Zimlinghaus will have you laughing the calories off with his specialty: fat jokes. — Katie Hurst
Improv is all about the element of surprise, and these two sure-to-sell-out shows have more curve balls than a little league game. That's because you never know who'll show up on stage. — Erica Jackson Curran
Attending The Late Show (the David Letterman version) can be a bit of a hassle. To get tickets, you must enter an online lottery. If your number is chosen, a representative calls you with a trivia question about the show. — Stratton Lawrence
Doppelgänger is a washed-up metal band that just can't seem to let go of their glory days. Comprised of lead singer Clive Neilsen (Lee Lewis) and guitarist Johnny Dregg (Jason Cooper), this atypical improv act resembles VH1's Storytellers, with the audience coming up with song titles from the band's "repertoire" for the pair to perform. — Brooks Brunson
Neil Bansil wasn't sure what to expect from the crowd when he brought the Most RACES Show On Earth! to the Comedy Fest in 2012. — Paul Bowers
The Prom For most people, you just get one shot at the prom. If you can't woo your crush or lose your V-card on this most magical of nights, you're pretty much screwed for life. — Erica Jackson Curran
The improv team Gentleman's Falcon likes to get the show started with all of the performers onstage at once. Someone in the audience provides a prompt, and the five actors cook up a scene. — Paul Bowers
Dusty Slay may very well be our stand up comedy scene's biggest promoter. This could be for self-serving reasons; after all, Slay's been performing here for about eight years, and he hosts two regular shows around town (the monthly Dusty Slay's Homegrown Stand-Up Showcase and a weekly open mic at Big Gun Burger Shop). — Susan Cohen
Chicago's Shock T's can't seem to stay away from Charleston, and for good reason. To explain the draw of our fair city, troupe member Sarah Shockey resorts to a Harry Potter analogy: "If I had to choose the moment to conjure up a patronus, I instantly go to the first night we performed in Charleston," she says. — Erica Jackson Curran
At comedy festivals, the big-name headliners tend to fill the seats and draw the crowds, but smart comedy fans realize it's also ground zero for the next wave of stand-up and improv superstars. — Andrea Warner