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Inaugural Brooklyn Comedy Festival Honors Borough's Growing Scene

By Eliza Fawcett | August 6, 2013 8:10am
 The Brooklyn Comedy Festival runs August 19 - 24.
The Brooklyn Comedy Festival runs August 19 - 24.
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Brooklyn Comedy Festival/Facebook

WILLIAMSBURG — Get ready to laugh, Brooklyn — the inaugural Brooklyn Comedy Festival will be held at locations across Williamsburg from August 19 through 24. 

The event was founded by Chris Nester, a New York writer and comedian who was trained at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theater and who has worked with the Peoples Improv Theater, College Humor, Funny or Die and the Magnet Theater, among other organizations.

He is hosting the festival along with Julian Kiani, who runs a show at Arlene’s Grocery.

Nester, a Brooklynite for the past three years, was inspired to create the festival after watching the comedy scene in Brooklyn flourish and grow.

Comedy in Brooklyn has a “creative, supportive, and risky nature,” he said. The Brooklyn Comedy Festival embraces the “boundary-pushing.”

Not only do many comics come to Brooklyn expressly to try out new material, but many move there permanently, he said.

“Guys trying to make it in comedy can’t afford to live in the city anymore,” Nester said, referring to Manhattan. “Socioeconomic factors affect the geography of where art happens.”

Calling Brooklyn a “big melting pot of comedy,” he said one can find everything from sketch to stand-up happening every night all over the borough which, in the absence of big comedy clubs, tends to draw comics to coffee houses and local venues.

That means it’s “very alternative” but “fun and vibrant, Nester said.

And Brooklyn comics must be doing something right because he says the fan base keeps growing.

The Brooklyn Comedy Festival is already displaying an impressive lineup. According to the Greenpoint Gazette, confirmed performances include Chris Gethard, Jermaine Fowler, Murderfist, Bobby Henline, Joe Kashnow and writers from "Saturday Night Live" and "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon."

The full lineup will be available when the festival’s website rolls out later this week. The performances will “span all spectrums,” Nester said.

“We want everyone to be a part of it.”

Performances will be held at locations across North Brooklyn, including Spike Hill, Brooklyn Brewery, Muchmore’s, Brick Theater, the Flat, the Gutter and Over the Eight.  The majority of the events are free.

The festival is being sponsored by Jameson Irish Whiskey, Adult Swim, Tito’s Handmade Vodka and Brooklyn Brewery, among other organizations. 

“I want people to come out, have a good time,” said Nester, “and get excited for next year.”

For more information, check out the Brooklyn Comedy Festival on Facebook.