The former little festival that could proves it’s here to stay– and invites the rest of the world to watch
The fifth annual New York Underground Comedy Festival is almost underway, taking place this year from Sept. 27 to Oct. 8th. And, according festival organizers, it’ll be the first ever global comedy festival.
While obviously the majority of the over 200 shows will take place in New York City for the first time there will also be shows in China — at the only comedy club in Asia, Take Out Comedy — South Africa, Ireland and Australia– featuring Melbourne comic Lou Pardi. “I think the best tagline would be ‘the earth will unite under one synchronis voice of laugher,’” says festival Publicity Manager Ryan McCormick of Rising Sun Public Relations.
Highlights of the festival will be uploaded directly to New Media Comedy, a broadband network company with 34 million subscribers that calls itself the ‘premiere destination for global comedic content.’ And in addition to the media buzz from the local networks, national morning shows and VH1, two international news crews will cover the festival.
And while 200 shows does seem like a lot, that’s actually half the number of shows compared to the 2005 festival. With former festival producer George Sarris’ exit this year and the global factor, planning has become that much more extensive.
And the process for comedians to be considered for a show has also grown more difficult with a record number of comics submitting demo reels. This year, expect to see top headliners such as Dave Attell, Vanessa Hollingshead, Eddie Brill, and comic/NYUCF director, Jim Mendrinos.
Branded shows such as Letterman Auditions, Pajama Party, and the 2nd Annual Funniest Reporter Contest help maintain the festival’s unique local flavor. Shows like Comedy Fights Cancer will take place at private venues such as Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, for patients and families of patients.
But the majority of the shows will take place at well-known city venues like Gotham Comedy Club, Comix and Broadway Comedy Club. The Comic Strip Live has also been added to the list of the fest’s venues.
McCormick says that after four years, there’s been a change in public perception too. “Many wondered if the NYUCF was simply going to be a flash in the pan festival just running on hype,” he says. “But I think the industry now knows that the NYUCF is on the fast track to emerge in reality as the blissful dream of George Sarris and Jim Mendrinos’ original vision — ‘A dominant, respected comedy festival’ that helps hundreds of comedians, and a festival that New Yorkers can truly call their own.”
Well, this year the Australians, Chinese, Irish and South Africans may have some claim as well.