So, you’re going to a comedy festival! Congratulations!
It’s so exciting for a new comic to be accepted into a comedy festival! You’re going to travel, meet other comics, do shows, and have fun!
Who am I to tell you this stuff? I’ve done festivals like Sketchfest, Altercation, Bridgetown, LAFF, WICW in Boston, All Jane in Portland, Palm Springs Comedy Festival, Santa Cruz Comedy Festival, Big Pine Comedy Festival, NW Women’s Comedy Festival, Funny Women Festival, Chico Comedy Festival, and best of all, the Antelope Valley Comedy Festival.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: Should I drive or fly?
A: If the festival is within a day’s drive of your home, many comics will drive their own car because this affords the opportunity to bring all the weed they need. You can also save some scratch by sleeping in it!
Q: How many times can I expect to perform?
A: In some festivals, you’ll get 3 shows! These are great festivals! Sometimes, you’ll pay to fly yourself across the country to do one show in a small room for twenty people. These are “Festivals Virginia Jones doesn’t give a shit about returning to”
Q: What will I get in my swag bag?
A: Your festival swag bag is a Shroedinger’s box of mysteries. It could contain valuable merchandise and secret information! What it is likely to contain is coupons and small items the sponsors didn’t want, as well as the booker’s 2010 CD and a map to find the afterparty.
If you get a t-shirt, that’s pretty good!
The one thing ALL swag bags will contain is a laminate. The laminate will have your name on it and it is your key to parties, your shows, and any other shows that aren’t too popular.
If your comedy festival doesn’t have a laminate, it’s not a real festival, and it might be a human trafficking ring. Go home.
Q: Will I meet famous people?
A: No. Famous comics don’t go to the afterparties, so you’ll be likeliest to meet comedy celebrities if they happen to be on a show with you, and are not going up too far ahead or after their slot. Don’t worry, you can still add “Opened for (famous comic)” to your bio right away!
Q: Will the festival bookers be super funny people who can help me in the industry?
A: In most cases, the people you are sending your thirty bucks and tape to, the people you are throwing yourself open to for judgement, are no funnier or more successful than you are. They’re just the people who got it together to throw a festival. Your thirty bucks bought them a couple days of burritos and weed.
Q: Will I get DISCOVERED at a festival?
A: There are a couple festivals that can be really good for your career! They are in Montreal and Edinburgh! Most other festivals will really just expose you to local comedy fans and other festival comics.
Q: If I’m not going to mix with the headliners, the bookers are just some dudes who live here, and I won’t get discovered, what am I doing the festival for?
A: Good question! There are three great reasons to go to festivals.
At the start of your comedy career, being one of the 85 top applicants to the Pig’s Snout, Arkansas Crawdad Bake and Comedy Festival is a flex! Let everyone know. All the time.
Especially if you are from a small scene, these festivals are an opportunity to do some big shows in front of people you don’t know! If you do well, it can feel really good, and if you don’t, it will be educational!
The Other Comics
Seeing the acts of comics from other places is really good for your development. Watching only the acts of the comics in your scene can limit your growth. Maybe you’ll learn that your scene really is the funniest there is! Maybe not! But connecting and networking with comics at or near your own level will give you opportunities to perform in their towns, and visit their scenes! This is, in my opinion, the most important thing about a festival. You’ll run into many of these people again and again through your life, and you can have a laugh and remember, years later, how excited you were to get the t-shirts with the little pig snout and crawdad on it.