Brooklyn Comedy Festival is back to deliver the best local jesters to Kings County for a fifth year. The weeklong fest brings shows to venues across the borough from Union Pool in Williamsburg to Union Hall in Gowanus.
The event was dreamed up by Chris Nester (“Point Break Live!”) and comedian Julian Kiani one night at “Comedy at the Grocery,” Kiani’s monthly standup showcase at Arlene’s Grocery on the Lower East Side.
“We noticed five years ago this shift from Manhattan to Brooklyn in the comedy scene,” Nester explained. “Brooklyn had so many spaces available to put on shows. It seemed like the future of comedy was in Brooklyn.”
Nester, Kiani and producer Ashleigh Walker officially founded the fest shortly after.
Since the inaugural fest in 2013, the comedy scene in Brooklyn has grown to take on a life of its own.
Venues like The Bell House frequently host big-name touring standups, and shows like Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson’s “2 Dope Queens” has gained national attention. The fest hopes to bring attention to other local acts and spots on the cusp of becoming the-next-big-thing.
“We like to partner with shows that are already super interesting that have a weekly or monthly show that’s happening to try to highlight,” Nester said. The occasion includes special editions of popular ongoing shows including “Sasheer Zamata Party Time,” “The Fancy Show” and “Night Train with Wyatt Cenac.”
Don’t worry if stand-up isn’t your favorite way to get your laughs — the fest also includes plenty of other kinds of comedy. The lineup has sketch shows, improv teams, short films, a singalong, and, for the first time, a drag show headlined by “RuPaul’s Drag Race” winner Bob the Drag Queen.
While each show boasts a stellar lineup of comics and performers, it is important to the founders to keep this event a local affair.
“We want our shows to feel true to the Brooklyn scene,” Nester said. “We’re not super worried about getting the huge names — Kevin Hart and Jerry Seinfeld are great, but they are already getting plenty of attention.”
Still, you’ll likely recognize some faces from “The Daily Show,” “Saturday Night Live” and other late-night sketch shows.
IF YOU GO: Brooklyn Comedy Festival runs Aug. 21–27. For the full lineup, venue information and ticket information visit bkcomedyfestival.com.