The definitive guide to comedy festivals for 2016
Almost nine years ago now, the seeds of The Comic's Comic firmly planted themselves into my brain during a blizzard of snow and laughs in Aspen, Colo.
Back then, you had Aspen and Montreal. Those were the two places to see the entire comedy industry converge, merge and splurge. New talent rubbing shoulders with veteran theater-filling headliners, all attracting the attention of agents, managers and bookers. HBO handled the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival each February in a ritzy ski resort town in the Rocky Mountains, while Just For Laughs held court each July in the center of French-Canadian Montreal.
Outside of North America, you've had Edinburgh (with hundreds of one-person shows and performance artists at the Edinburgh Fringe each August) and Melbourne (Down Under through the late winter).
Those were the only dates you needed to circle on your comedy calendars.
Everywhere. Every weekend. A comedy festival for everyone.
In the past couple of years, the festival idea has spread so far and fast that multiple cities compete for the top talent. One spring weekend saw Austin, Grand Rapids and Toronto all hosting comedy fests; on another, Boston, Los Angeles, New York City, Orlando and Vienna. With another week left in 2015, already several cities and festivals have announced their lineups for 2016, while several others have a Jan. 1 deadline for comedians to submit application fees if you want to celebrate in Atlanta, Omaha or Denver.
Let's take a look at the current comedy festival and contest landscape and see what's shaking for 2016. They're arranged here by date. If your festival is missing from the list, please make a note of it in the comments so everyone else knows and I can amend the calendar accordingly.
UPDATED AS OF JUNE 28, 2016! SEVERAL DATE CHANGES IN THE FALL FESTIVAL LINEUP
- SF SKETCHFEST: The San Francisco Comedy Festival, Jan. 7-24, 2016. San Francisco. CALIFORNIA. Lineups announced, tickets and passes available now.
- The Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival: Billed as "The World's Largest Sketch Comedy Festival," with 165 groups, 186 shows over eight nights, Jan. 7-17, 2016. Chicago. ILLINOIS.
- Impractical Jokers Cruise: With Lisa Lampanelli, Dom Irrera, Michael Ian Black, Gilbert Gottfried, Steve Byrne, Owen Benjamin, Big Jay Oakerson, Chris Gethard, The Dan Band, Cipha Sounds, J.F. Harris, Mark Normand, The Tenderloins and MORE, Jan. 11-15, 2016. Miami. FLORIDA. to Cozumel. MEXICO.
- Altitude Comedy Festival: Celebrating 10th anniversary, Jan. 11-15, 2016. Mayrhofen. AUSTRIA.
- New Orleans Comedy and Arts Festival: Jan. 20-24, 2016. New Orleans. LOUISIANA.
- Charleston Comedy Festival: Jan. 20-23, 2016. Charleston. SOUTH CAROLINA.
- San Diego Comedy Festival: Third annual, with headliners, a comedy contest and an all-Spanish comedy show, hosted by the Comedy Palace, Jan. 25-31, 2016. San Diego. CALIFORNIA. Lineups announced and tickets available.
- RIOT LA: L.A.'s Alternative Comedy Festival, Jan. 29-31, 2016. Los Angeles. CALIFORNIA. Lineups announced, tickets and passes available now.
- Cracking Up The Capital: Jan. 31 through Feb. 6, 2016. Ottawa. ONTARIO. CANADA.
- #NCCAF: NC Comedy Arts Festival, Feb. 1-15, 2016. Carrboro. NORTH CAROLINA.
- Dave's Leicester Comedy Festival: Feb. 3-21. Leicester. ENGLAND.
- Adelaide Fringe: Feb. 12 through March 14, 2016. Adelaide. AUSTRALIA.
- Telluride Comedy Festival: President's Day Weekend each February since 1999, Feb. 11-14, 2016. Telluride. COLORADO. Tickets available, no lineup announced yet. Per the organizers: "A new twist on the old Comedy Festival....we will no longer announce our performers in advance, you will just have to buy your tickets, cross your fingers and hope for the best! Performers will be announced about a month in advance of the event - with each night guaranteeing a strong laugh! Tickets are on sale, via the "Tickets" tab above."
- The Aspen Laff Festival: The Wheeler Opera House's continuation of hosting comedy in the wake of HBO pulling out after 2007. Aug. 18-20, 2016. Lineups announced, tickets available. Aspen. COLORADO.
- JFL NorthWest: Just For Laughs heads to Canada's West Coast, Feb. 18-27, 2016. Vancouver. BRITISH COLUMBIA. CANADA. Lineups announced, tickets and passes available.
- Come and Take It! Comedy Takeover: Feb. 19-21, 2016. Houston. TEXAS.
- JoCo Cruise: Feb. 21-28, 2016. JoCo Cruise 2017 is a whole cruise ship (Holland America's ms Westerdam) full of music, comedy, and general nerdery, departing from San Diego, CA for a 7-night adventure along the Sea of Cortez. CARIBBEAN.
- Brisbane Comedy Festival: Feb. 27 through March 23, 2016. Brisbane. AUSTRALIA. Lineups announced and tickets available.
- Traverse City Winter Comedy Arts Festival: Traverse City. MICHIGAN.
- Toronto SketchFest: The Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival, March 3-13, 2016. Toronto. ONTARIO. CANADA. Discounted passes available before Dec. 31.
- The Sixth SLO Comedy Festival: March 3-6, 2016. San Luis Obispo. CALIFORNIA. Submissions accepted.
- Green Gravel Comedy Festival: March 4-5, 2016. Mission: "Green Gravel is dedicated to curating premium comedy events in Iowa with an alt comedy fest at its core. Offering affordable, accessible shows and workshops in progressive comedy, GG aspires to celebrate Iowa comedy while bringing the world’s funniest ladies and gentlemen to the heartland." Iowa City. IOWA. Accepting submissions.
- LA Scripted Comedy Festival: March 9-12, 2016. Submission deadline: Feb. 5. Los Angeles. CALIFORNIA.
- Gilda's LaughFest: Launched in 2011 by Gilda's Club Grand Rapids, featuring stand-up, improv, film, authors, community showcases, March 10-20, 2016, Grand Rapids, MICHIGAN. Headliners announced, tickets available.
- SXSW: Interactive, Film and Music festivals, with comedy panels, screenings and live shows every day and night, March 11-20, 2016. Austin. TEXAS. Tickets available, keynote and featured speakers announced, comedy lineups not yet announced.
- Glasgow International Comedy Festival: March 10-27, 2016. Glasgow. SCOTLAND.
- High Mud Comedy Fest: March 11-12, 2016. North Adams. MASSACHUSETTS.
- Melbourne International Comedy Festival: Celebrating 30th anniversary in 2016! Founded by Barry Humphries and Peter Cook. March 23 through April 17, 2016. Melbourne. AUSTRALIA.
- Dallas Comedy Festival: "The 7th Annual Dallas Comedy Festival is a performance festival that celebrates improv, sketch, and stand up. DCF prides itself on showcasing some of the best local and national comedic talent, all in one week. It's four days of shows, workshops, panels, and parties." March 23-26, 2016. Dallas. TEXAS.
- Magners International Comedy Festival: Singapore, Boracay, Manila, Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi, Hong Kong. March 10-17, 2016. SINGAPORE, THE PHILIPPINES, VIETNAM, CHINA.
- The Paley Center for Media's PaleyFest, March 11-20, 2016, Hollywood. CALIFORNIA. Dates and TV series with full panels to be announced. Tickets on sale Jan. 12.
- West Virginia Comedy Festival: Debuted in 2015. Bridgeport. WEST VIRGINIA.
- Slingshot Festival: Music, art, tech, film, and a comedy night. March 31 through April 2, 2016. Athens. GEORGIA.
- Memphis Comedy Festival: Founded in 2011, "MCF hosts stand-up showcases, themed comedy shows, improv showcases, podcasts, informational seminars, comedy open-mics, and probably (definitely) a karaoke session." March 31 through April 3, 2016. Memphis. TENNESSEE. Submissions open.
- NYC Improv Festival: At The PIT. New York. NEW YORK.
- Philly Sketchfest: March 31 through April 3, 2016. Philadelphia. PENNSYLVANIA.
- JASHFESHT Comedy & Music Festival: April 2-3, 2016. Palm Springs. CALIFORNIA. Led by JASH YouTube Channel partners Michael Cera, Sarah Silverman, Reggie Watts and Tim & Eric.
- Winnipeg Comedy Festival: April 4-10, 2016. Winnipeg. MANITOBA. CANADA.
- Mission Creek Festival: April 5-10, 2016. Iowa City. IOWA.
- South Beach Comedy Festival: Celebrating its 11th year, April 6-10, 2016. Miami. FLORIDA.
- Bird City Comedy Festival: "In its very first year, the Bird City Comedy Festival will take place in Downtown Phoenix from April 8-10, 2016. Featuring stand up comedians, improvisers, sketch comedy and more, Bird City will showcase the very best in alternative comedy around Phoenix, Arizona, the U.S., and the rest of North America." April 8-10, 2016. Phoenix. ARIZONA. Submissions open.
- 202 Comedy Festival: April 13-16, 2016. Featuring past, present and future of D.C.'s comedy scene, including returning headliners Seaton Smith, Aparna Nancherla and Jermaine Fowler. Washington. DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.
- Akumal Comedy Festival: Heading into fifth year, presented by Stand-Up Records. Tulum, Playa Del Carmen and Akumal. QUINTANA ROO. MEXICO.
- Moontower Comedy Festival: Fifth annual celebration with A-list national headliners and local showcases within downtown Austin. April 20-23, 2016. Austin. TEXAS.
- Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival, Dates TBD (2014 in May, 2015 in April) Boston/Cambridge. MASSACHUSETTS.
- Perth Comedy Festival: April 22 through May 15, 2016. Perth. AUSTRALIA.
- Halifax Comedy Festival: April 27-30, 2016. Halifax. NOVA SCOTIA. CANADA.
- SheDot: Toronto's Festival of Funny Women. April 28 through May 1, 2016. Toronto. ONTARIO. CANADA.
- Women in Comedy Festival, TAKING 2016 OFF, RETURNING IN 2017 Boston/Cambridge/Somerville. MASSACHUSETTS.
- Paname Comedy Festival: Paris. FRANCE.
- NZ International Comedy Festival: Auckland and Wellington. NEW ZEALAND.
- Funniest Person in Austin Contest: Now in its 31st year, Cap City Comedy Club hosts multiple-week stand-up competition through April with finals in May. Austin. TEXAS.
- Charm City Comedy Festival, May 4-8, 2016. Baltimore. MARYLAND. Since 2014.
- Tomatoes! Tomatoes! Stand-up from May 11-14, 2016. Hämeenlinna. FINLAND.
- Laughter Comedy Fest: The Los Angeles Comedy Festival, May 12-22, 2016. Los Angeles. CALFORNIA.
- Nashville StandUp's Broken Record Comedy Show: Breaking their own Guinness Book of World Records mark for "Longest Stand-Up Show - Multiple Comedians," May 15-23, 2016. Nashville. TENNESSEE.
- Cape Fear Comedy Festival. May 18-21, 2016. Wilmington. NORTH CAROLINA. Submissions accepted now through Jan. 31.
- Maui Comedy Festival:
May 19-22, 2016. POSTPONED Maui. HAWAII.
- Wild West Comedy Festival, May 16-22, 2016. Nashville. TENNESSEE. Initial lineup and tickets available today (JEFF FOXWORTHY, TREVOR NOAH, JAY & SILENT BOB GET OLD, RUSSELL PETERS, MARIA BAMFORD, JOE ROGAN, MICHAEL CARBONARO LIVE, AND THE FIGHTER & THE KID LIVE.)
- Crom Comedy Festival: Fourth year in existence. This year in three different cities over three weekends. May 20-21, 2016, in Atlanta, GEORGIA; May 27-29, 2016, in Omaha, NEBRASKA; and June 3-4, 2016, in Denver, COLORADO. Submission deadline is Jan. 1.
- NYC PodFest: Since 2013. May 20-22, 2016. New York. NEW YORK. Submissions open now.
- Vulture Festival: May 21-22, 2016. New partners for 2016 include Caroline's on Broadway and the Earwolf podcast network. New York. NEW YORK.
- Southwest FunnyFest: Alburquerque. NEW MEXICO.
- Green Mountain Comedy Festival: Burlington. VERMONT.
- Sasquatch!: Memorial Day Weekend music and comedy festival. At the Gorge in George. WASHINGTON. Separate comedy tent at music festival. Early passes available now. Lineups announced in 2016.
- NY Funny Songs Fest: New York. NEW YORK.
- truTV, The Onion & The A.V. Club Present The 3rd Annual 26th Annual Comedy Festival: June 1-5, 2016. Chicago. ILLINOIS.
- Bridgetown Comedy Festival: Since 2008. June 1-5, 2016. Portland. OREGON.
- Limestone Comedy Festival: June 2-4, 2016. Bloomington. INDIANA.
- FunnyFest Calgary Comedy Festival: 16th annual celebration, June 2-12, 2016. Calgary. ALBERTA. CANADA.
- The Sky Cat Laughs Comedy Festival Kilkenny: June 2-6, 2016. Kilkenny. IRELAND.
- Laughing Skull Comedy Festival: Celebrating its 7th year as a national stand-up contest, June 7-11, 2016. Atlanta. GEORGIA. Submission deadline: March 1.
- Bonnaroo, June 9-12, 2016. Manchester. TENNESSEE. Lineups TBA. Separate comedy tent at music festival.
- Southwest LaughFest: Comedy competition "Southwest Funniest" and more. El Paso. TEXAS.
- The Chicago Women's Funny Festival: Now in year five. June 13-19, 2016. Chicago. ILLINOIS.
- Crosstown Comedy Festival: June 13-19, 2016. New York. NEW YORK. A "7-day competition" for "undiscovered comedians" to be seen by industry.
- Great American Comedy Festival: Celebrating comedy in the hometown of Johnny Carson, June 15-18, 2016. Norfolk. NEBRASKA.
- Skankfest NYC: Legion of Skanks Presents The Anti Comedy Festival. Skankfest will feature a wide variety of stand up comedians, podcasts, sketch, and musical acts that don’t play it safe! The comedy scene has become PC and Skankfest will be a safe-space for entertainers to push the limits and challenge the status quo. June 18-19. Long Island City. NEW YORK.
- Snubfest: June 22-26, 2016. Featuring comedians rejected by other comedy festivals. Chicago. ILLINOIS.
- Del Close Marathon (DCM): Improv comedy marathon hosted by the Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB) founders and featuring groups from around the world, around the clock in multiple NYC venues. Now in its 18th year. June 24-26, 2016. New York. NEW YORK.
- Hudson Valley Comedy Festival: June 30 - July 3, 2016. Kingston and Saugerties. NEW YORK.
- Just For Laughs: The biggest comedy festival. Now in its 34th year. First half is dominated by Francophone acts. Final week features ComedyPro conference, panels, speakers, podcasts and all of the English-speaking acts. July 13-31, 2016. Montreal. QUEBEC. CANADA.
- Nantucket Comedy Festival: July 13-16, 2016. Nantucket Island. MASSACHUSETTS. Passes available now.
- Ladies of Laughter: July 13-Aug. 20, 2016. Contest in various NEW YORK locations.
- Pemberton Music Festival: July 14-17, 2016. Music festival with comedy tent. Held third weekend in July. Pemberton. BRITISH COLUMBIA. CANADA.
- Berlin International Comedy Festival: English and German stand-up. July 15-18, 2016. Berlin. GERMANY.
- The Comedy Exposition: July 21-24, 2016. Stand-up. Held the second weekend of July. Chicago. ILLINOIS.
- Vodafone Comedy Festival: July 28-31, 2016. Dublin. IRELAND.
- Philly's Phunniest: Annual stand-up competition hosted by Helium in Philadelphia, with several weeks of contests through July. Finals July 24. Philadelphia. PENNSYLVANIA.
- Magners Greenwich Comedy Festival: July 26-31, 2016. Greenwich. ENGLAND.
- Hampton Beach Comedy Festival: Hampton Beach. NEW HAMPSHIRE.
- Big-Little Comedy Fest: July 28-31, 2016. Cleveland. OHIO.
- Ventura Comedy Festival: Aug. 1-7, 2016. Ventura. CALIFORNIA.
- Lucille Ball Comedy Festival: Aug. 4-7, 2016. Jamestown. NEW YORK.
- Milwaukee Comedy Festival: Aug. 4-7, 2016. Milwaukee. WISCONSIN.
- Outside Lands: Comedy in The Barbary, Aug. 5-7, 2016. San Francisco. CALIFORNIA.
- Edinburgh Festival Fringe: Aug. 5-29, 2016. Edinburgh. SCOTLAND.
- Laugh Your Asheville Off: Aug. 9-13, 2016. Celebrating its 10th year. Asheville. NORTH CAROLINA.
- Desi Comedy Fest: Aug. 11-21, 2016. Largest South Asian comedy festival in America. San Francisco and the Bay Area. CALIFORNIA.
- Chicago Nerd Comedy Festival: Aug. 11-14, 2016. Chicago. ILLINOIS.
- Burbank Comedy Festival: Aug. 14-20, 2016. Burbank. CALIFORNIA.
- The Highlarious Comedy Festival: Aug. 18-21, 2016. Seattle. WASHINGTON.
- Maine Comedy Festival: Aug. 19-21, 2016. Bethel. MAINE.
- High Plains Comedy Festival: Aug. 25-27, 2016. Denver. COLORADO.
- Arch City Comedy Festival: Aug. 25-27, 2016. Columbus. OHIO.
- Cincy Brew Ha-Ha: Aug. 25-27, 2016. Cincinnati. OHIO.
- Oddblock Comedy Fest: Aug. 25-28, 2016. Winnipeg. MANITOBA. CANADA.
- Accidental Comedy Fest: Aug. 26-28, 2016. Cleveland. OHIO.
- Brooklyn Comedy Festival: Aug. 22-28, 2016. Brooklyn. NEW YORK.
- Pittsburgh Comedy Festival: Aug. 25-28, 2016. Pittsburgh. PENNSYLVANIA.
- Out of Bounds Comedy Festival: Over Labor Day Weekend, Aug. 30 through Sept. 5, 2016. Austin. TEXAS.
- Busan International Comedy Festival: Aug. 28-31, 2016. Busan. SOUTH KOREA.
- Chicago Musical Improv Festival: Aug. 25-28, 2016. Chicago. ILLINOIS.
- Bumbershoot: Labor Day Weekend arts and music festival at Seattle Center, with comedy events, too, Sept. 2-4, 2016. Seattle. WASHINGTON.
- Just For Laughs Sydney: Sept. 6-11, 2016. JFL goes Down Under. Sydney. AUSTRALIA.
- Boston Comedy Arts Festival: Sept. 7-11, 2016. Boston/Cambridge. MASSACHUSETTS.
- Blue Whale Comedy Festival: Sept. 8-11, 2016. Tulsa. OKLAHOMA.
- Sacramento Comedy Festival: Sept. 9-11, 2016. Sacramento. CALIFORNIA.
- San Francisco Comedy Competition: Now in its 41st year. Two weeks of preliminary action, followed by a week of semifinals, week of finals, across Northern California. CALIFORNIA.
- Norfolk Comedy Festival: Norfolk. VIRGINIA.
- Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival: Sept. 15-18, 2016. Brooklyn. NEW YORK.
- Cinder Block Comedy Festival: Sept. 15-18, 2016. Brooklyn. NEW YORK.
- The World Series of Comedy: Sept. 19-24, 2016. Las Vegas. NEVADA.
- Big Pine Comedy Festival: Sept. 22-24, 2016. Flagstaff. ARIZONA.
- LA PodFest: Sept. 23-25, 2016. The L.A. podcast festival. Los Angeles. CALIFORNIA.
- JFL42: Sept. 22-Oct. 1, 2016. With 42 big-name comedy shows over 10 nights. Toronto. ONTARIO. CANADA.
- Woodstock Comedy Festival: Sept. 23-25, 2016. Woodstock. NEW YORK.
- Cabo Comedy Festival: Sept. 21-25, 2016. Shows in English and Spanish, plus a competition, panels and awards. Cabo San Lucas. BAJA CALIFORNIA SUR. MEXICO.
- Harlem Comedy Festival: Sept. 24-30, 2016. Harlem. NEW YORK.
- Hoboken Comedy Festival: Sept. 26-Oct. 2, 2016. Hoboken. NEW JERSEY.
- The YYComedy Festival: Sept. 26-Oct. 1, 2016. Calgary. ALBERTA. CANADA.
- Red Clay Comedy Festival: Sept. 29-Oct. 1, 2016. Atlanta. GEORGIA.
- New York Arab-American Comedy Festival: Sept. 29-Oct. 1, 2016. New York. NEW YORK.
- Beast Village Comedy Festival: Sept. 29-Oct. 1, 2016. Submissions open through July 31. Des Moines. IOWA.
- Altercation Comedy Festival: Sept. 28-30, 2016. Austin. TEXAS.
- Edmonton Comedy Festival: Oct. 5-8, 2016. Edmonton. ALBERTA. CANADA.
- Rogue Island Comedy Festival: Oct. 6-9, 2016. Launched in 2015. Columbus Day Weekend. Newport. RHODE ISLAND.
- Hell Yes Fest! Oct. 7-16, 2016. New Orleans. LOUISIANA.
- Crossroads Comedy Festival: Oct. 7-9, 2016. Indianapolis. INDIANA.
- Big Sky Comedy Festival: Oct. 12-15, 2016. Stand-up competition hosted by Lukas Seely and Auggie Smith and judged by industry from Los Angeles and New York City. Billings. MONTANA.
- Atlantic City Comedy Festival: Atlantic City. NEW JERSEY.
- Festival Supreme: Full day of musical comedy, hosted by Tenacious D. Los Angeles. CALIFORNIA.
- All Jane Comedy Festival: Oct. 12-16, 2016. Portland. OREGON.
- Madison Comedy Festival: Madison. WISCONSIN.
- The 10,000 Laughs Comedy Festival: Minneapolis. MINNESOTA.
- Bentzen Ball: Oct. 27-30, 2016. Curated by Tig Notaro. Washington. DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.
- Now Hear This Podcast Festival: Oct. 28-30, 2016. Presented by Midroll Media. Featuring Marc Maron, Scott Aukerman, Lauren Lapkus, Paul Scheer, and more TBA. Anaheim. CALIFORNIA.
- NYC SketchFest: New York. NEW YORK.
- Trill Comedy Festival: Houston. TEXAS.
- Orlando Indie Comedy Fest: Orlando. FLORIDA.
- She-Devil Comedy Festival: Stand-up contest for women only. New York. NEW YORK.
- Cologne Comedy Festival: Oct. 20-Nov. 5, 2016. Cologne. GERMANY.
- New York Comedy Festival: Nov. 1-6, 2016. National headliners and showcases and panels across Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. NEW YORK.
- Fun Fun Fun Fest: Music, with comedy. First weekend of November. Austin. TEXAS.
- Scruffy City Comedy Festival: Nov. 4-6, 2016. Knoxville. TENNESSEE.
- Tucson Comedy Arts Festival: Nov. 9-12, 2016. Featuring improv, stand up, hip hop and storytelling. Bringing the best comedy acts from coast-to-coast to the Old Pueblo. Tucson, ARIZONA.
- Seattle International Comedy Competition: Now in its 37th year. Two weeks of preliminary stand-up contests, week of semifinals, week of finals, throughout Western Washington. Seattle. WASHINGTON.
- Boston Comedy Festival: National headliners, plus a stand-up contest. Boston/Cambridge/Somerville. MASSACHUSETTS.
- Cleveland Comedy Festival: Cleveland. OHIO.
- Houston Whatever Fest: Houston. TEXAS.
- Solocom: Nov. 18-20, 2016. One-person shows. New York. NEW YORK.
- LaughingStock: The Chicago Comedy Music Festival. Chicago. ILLINOIS.
- 1001 Laughs Dearborn Comedy Festival: Dearborn. MICHIGAN.
- New South Comedy Festival: Greenville. SOUTH CAROLINA.
- Montreaux Comedy: Nov. 30 through Dec. 5, 2016. Montreaux. SWITZERLAND.