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Ten Comedy Festivals You Don’t Want to Miss


Almost every night of the year, someone, somewhere in America, is on a stage being funny. Or at least trying. Which is to say, comedy is everywhere, all the time.

Johnny Carson's hometown is home to a comedy festival
Johnny Carson's hometown is home to a comedy festival

But sometimes it’s concentrated. Sometimes dozens of comedians appear for a weekend or a week in one happy place to do stand-up, sketches and improv theater. They compete. They hold panel discussions. We chuckle, chortle, guffaw and grin. This is a comedy festival. Comedy festivals take place in cities all over America and it’s hard to find a month of the year without one. Here are some of the best.

Boston Comedy Festival
Boston, MA
This ten year old festival highlights the best in new talent and attracts talent scouts.

Bridgetown Comedy Festival
Portland, OR
This fairly new festival brings together comedians from all over the Pacific Northwest, highlighting the best in local talent.

Great American Comedy Festival
Norfolk, Nebraska
This week long comedy festival was developed as a tribute to Johnny Carson, who grew up in Norfolk and left many legacies there.

The Iowa Comedy Festival
Des Moines, IA
“The Iowa Comedy Festival is the Hawkeye State’s inaugural celebration of stand-up comedy.” You have to give a little love to the newbie.

New York Comedy Festival
New York, NY
The Huffington Post explains the attraction in, Top Twelve Reasons to Attend the New York Comedy Festival.

North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival
Chapel Hill, NC
“The NC Comedy Arts Festival is the largest comedy festival in the Southern U.S. featuring improv and standup comedy .”

SF Sketchfest
San Francisco, CA
“SF Sketchfest, The San Francisco Comedy Festival, was founded in 2001 and has grown rapidly into a nationally recognized comedy festival that mixes national headliners, local favorites and the best up-and-coming groups from throughout North America and the world.”

Seattle International Comedy Competition
Seattle, WA
“The Seattle International Comedy Competition is an annual, multi-week, judged, stand-up comedy contest. Over thirty comedians, out of hundreds who apply, perform in shows held in comedy clubs, bars, restaurants, casinos and theaters in and around the Seattle and the Pacific Northwest throughout the month of November.”

Chicago, IL
“The only Comedy Festival in the World that gives the second chance to overlooked performers…” Held in the Chemically Imbalanced Theater and includes The Last Snob Standing Contest.

Women in Comedy Festival
Boston, MA
“The ImprovBoston Women in Comedy Festival celebrates Boston comedy and the women who create it, support it, and perform it. Bringing together women and men from all walks of comedy: improv, sketch, film, stand up, storytelling and humor writing, the festival gives Boston comedy audiences a chance to see both local and nationally known comedians.”