As the moving trucks crowded the streets of Boston this Labor Day weekend and the college students flock to the city en masse, to say it’s a stressful time of year would be an enormous understatement. Instead of mourning the end of one more summer, celebrate the return of fall in New England with a stacked week of comedy as the Boston Comedy Arts Festival takes over Boston’s nightlife.
Beginning on Tuesday, September 4, the Boston Comedy Arts Festival covers three stages at ImprovBoston and features improv, sketch, and stand-up acts. Founded in 2008 by Will Luera, the team behind the festival has evolved and each year the size and scope of the festival has increased. Past festivals have featured acts from Los Angeles, Chicago, Mexico City, Amsterdam, New York, Toronto, Austin, Minneapolis, Seattle, and more.
“ImprovBoston’s Artistic Director, Will Luera, put together the first Boston Improv Festival in 2009. There were some attempts at this before, but our tiny theater in Inman Square couldn’t handle it. ImprovBoston moved into its current location in Central Square in 2008 and we finally had the space to host a proper festival,” cites Brendan Mulhern, one of the festival’s co-founders. “Since then, under the direction of current Producer, Jeremiah Jordan, the festival has grown every year, with more shows, and bigger names coming to our theater: in 2009 and 2010, we used CCTV’s studio space as a third venue; last year, we were able to use the YMCA’s Durrel Theater for our headlining acts, and got stand-up comedian Todd Barry to open our festival with two sold out shows in our Main Theater. This year, we’ve booked the Brattle Theater in Harvard Square as our third venue where our biggest shows will take place, and the Cambridge Footlights – the famed sketch troupe where the likes of John Cleese, Hugh Laurie, Emma Thompson, and Sacha Baron Cohen have honed their skills – will open our festival on Tuesday with two shows in our Main Theater. Also, this year we changed the name to the Boston Comedy Arts Festival. Though we were called the Boston Improv Festival, ImprovBoston has always embraced all forms of comedy and theater performance, from improv, sketch and stand-up, to storytelling, musicals and experimental formats. We wanted our festival to represent that.”
This year’s festival highlights also include the famed storytelling show, RISK! with MTV’s The State alum Kevin Allison. RISK! a live show and podcast “where people tell true stories they never thought they’d dare to share in public” hosted by Kevin Allison, of the legendary TV sketch comedy troupe The State. The award-winning live show happens monthly in New York and Los Angeles and has featured people like Janeane Garofalo, Lisa Lampanelli, Kevin Nealon, Margaret Cho, Marc Maron, Sarah Silverman, Lili Taylor, Rachel Dratch, Andy Borowitz and more, dropping the act and showing a side of themselves we’ve never seen before. The weekly podcast gets hundreds of thousands of downloads each month. Slate.com called it “jaw-dropping, hysterically funny, and just plain touching.”
“We’re definitely excited about RISK!, Friday at 8pm at the Brattle Theater. Kevin Allison, from the sketch troupe The State, hosts a live show and podcast of different actors and comedians telling true stories they probably never thought they would share publicly. For BCAF, the lineup includes Allison, Jonathan Katz, Kelly MacFarland, and Steve Sweeney,” Mulhern states. “We’re also looking forward to Two Man Movie, Saturday at 8pm at the Brattle Theater. Neil Casey and Anthony Atamanuik, of NYC’s famed improv team Death By Roo Roo, will completely improvise an original movie. And not just the script and the characters, but everything you’d need to make a film, including the camera angles and scene settings. It’s a really fun and captivating show.”
The Boston Comedy Arts Festival has quickly gained a reputation for bringing in the best and brightest comedy and improv acts to the Hub – and you’re sure to walk away with a definite favorite festival act.
“One highlight from last year’s festival that I was around for and is burned into my skull was the sketch troupe MURDERFIST,” Mulhern reflects. “I described them in my BCAF blog entry as every out-of-left-field or irreverent sketch you’ve ever seen by Monty Python, Kids in the Hall, or Mr. Show blended together in a mosh pit. They are loud and weird, but they are also so polished. They’re amazing to watch, and I hope I get to see them again this year when they headline the Brattle Theater on Saturday at 10:00 p.m. Other BCAF regulars we’re always happy to see include Junior Varisty, 10£ Ally, Adrift, Trike, and North Coast, plus some new teams we’re excited to welcome like Bear Cats, Lady Roulette, Onassis, and The Feeko Brothers.”
For the Festival’s full schedule, visit http://bostoncomedyarts.com/schedule. Tickets are going fast for this amazing week of live comedy in Boston!