The definitive guide to comedy festivals for 2016

PLEASE GO TO MY NEWLY CREATED COMEDY FESTIVALS FOR A MORE TIMELESS LISTING OF ALL OF THE CURRENT FESTS

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.

But now?

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

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JANUARY

  • 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.

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FEBRUARY

  • 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.

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  • 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.

MARCH

  • 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.

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  • 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.

APRIL

  • JASHFESHT Comedy & Music FestivalApril 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.

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MAY

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  • 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 FestivalFourth 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.

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Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

View all posts by Sean L. McCarthy →

15 thoughts on “The definitive guide to comedy festivals for 2016

  1. Some festivals may last 8 days but ours is the only one with 24-hour non stop comedy for 8+ days. We’re going to top our own GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title of “Longest Stand-Up Comedy Show – Multiple Comedians” by five minutes. NashvilleStandUp.com’s #BrokenRecordShow vol. 2 – May 15-23, 2016 at The East Room in Nashville, Tennessee. Tickets are on sale NOW at Early Bird prices and we are currently accepting submissions from comics: http://nashvillestandup.com/brokenrecord/

  2. Hey there! There is a comedy festival that just started this past October in Newport, Rhode Island. The first festival in RI history titled the Rogue Island Comedy festival. It was 8 shows and 40+ comedians. It was an invite only festival where EVERY comic was paid for their time. This festival is set to ba annual every Columbus Day weekend. Check out rogueislandcomedyfest.com for more details. Thanks!

  3. Great list Sean. Here’s a new one by the folks who put on The Maui Comedy Festival.

    The Crapshoot Comedy Festival – May 18-20, 2017 – Downtown Las Vegas

    The Crapshoot Comedy Festival is designed to be the premier Las Vegas comedy festival featuring nationally recognized standup comedians, as well as popular podcasts, screenings and much more. It is a unique blending of comedy and community packed within the historic East Fremont district of downtown Las Vegas.

    May 18-20, 2017
    Multi-venue
    25+ nationally recognized comedians
    10,000 tickets
    Intimate & authentic
    Exceptional regional media & press support
    Historically rich
    Downtown Las Vegas walking festival
    Lineup announcement and tickets go on sale – January 27th, 2017

    Crapshoot is produced by the same team that created the legendary 2014 Maui Comedy Festival and 2015 Maui Comedy Festival Summer Series of Comedy in the Summer. The Maui Comedy Festival was a four-day, multi-venue 6000 ticket comedy showcase in the historic town of Lahaina which played host to more than 30 of today’s funniest and smartest comics, including Craig Robinson, Reggie Watts, Tig Notaro and Aisha Tyler. The Maui Comedy Festival was one of the largest destination comedy festivals in the US with an aggregate media footprint of 15 million impressions and trended for the duration of the festival in the Twitter Top 10 for Hawaii.

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