What’s The Virtual Deal With Comedy Festivals in Summer 2020?

We’re not enjoying comedy festivals in the summer of 2020 like we used to. Obviously.

But can we still enjoy them at all? That’s the burning question that three different organizations across America are trying to solve this weekend, while one venue in Pennsylvania is attempting to re-create that special festival feeling outdoors.

Let’s review!

In Burbank, Calif., at Flappers they’ve renamed the annual Burbank Comedy Festival this year as the Burbank Covedy Festival. It began on Sunday and runs through next Saatruday, Aug. 22, with shows and panels on Zoom.

That’s also the case for the virtual Jersey City Comedy Festival in New Jersey, which started Wednesday and runs through tomorrow night, all on Zoom.

The National Comedy Center, meanwhile, plans a slate of conversations and more, starting tonight and extending through the end of August, with suggested donations of $10.

This weekend’s festival schedule
Friday August 14:

  • 8pm ET – Jay Leno: Hosted by Stephen J. Morrison (Part 1)– Legendary comedian Jay Leno discusses his extensive career in stand-up, writing and late-night television in a conversation with Stephen J. Morrison, Executive Producer of Exhibit Media for the National Comedy Center.
  • 9pm ET – Roy Wood Jr. – Hosted by Wayne Federman – Roy Wood Jr. speaks about his multifaceted comedy career, including his experiences as a correspondent on The Daily Show, in a conversation hosted by comedian Wayne Federman for the National Comedy Center.
  • 10pm ET – Margaret Cho – Hosted by Judy Gold – Margaret Cho candidly discusses her craft and comedy’s vital role in issues of social justice and equality with comedian Judy Gold in this National Comedy Center Conversation.

Saturday, August 15:

  • 8pm ET – Jay Leno: Hosted by Stephen J. Morrison (Part 2)
  • 9pm ET – Sam Jay: Hosted by Harrison Greenbaum – Sam Jay, stand-up comedian and Emmy-nominated writer for “Saturday Night Live,” discusses her creative process and new Netflix special, “3 In The Morning,” with comedian Harrison Greenbaum in a National Comedy Center Conversation.

Sunday, August 16:

  • 8pm ET – Mad Magazine: Hosted by Harrison Greenbaum – Legendary creative team members from Mad Magazine, including John Ficarra (former Editor-in-Chief), Joe Raiola (former Senior editor) and Sam Viviano (former Art Director) join in a National Comedy Center conversation with comedian Harrison Greenbaum to talk about the impact of comics, comedy for print, and the transition to becoming a digital humor magazine.

And then there’s SoulJoel’s. A new comedy club that opened in Royersford, Penn., an hour northwest of Philadelphia, decided to build an outdoor amphitheater this spring in the wake of COVID-19, and has been staging an outdoor comedy fest, which began July 31 and ends this Sunday. This weekend’s headliners: Chuck Nice, Keith Robinson, and Dave Attell. Then again, SoulJoel’s will continue to host headliners on future weekends, too.

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.

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