Mem­phis Com­edy Fest rolls in

Four-day event draws per­form­ers from far and wide

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - GO EAT DINING REVIEWS, BEST BETS & MORE - By John Bei­fuss

“Dy­ing is easy. Com­edy is hard.”

Usu­ally at­trib­uted to Shake­spearean ac­tor Ed­mund Kean on his death bed, that show busi­ness apho­rism ac­knowl­edges that mak­ing peo­ple laugh is not as easy as fall­ing off a log. (Ex­cept when it is; see “prat­fall,” noun.)

Mem­phis standup comic Ka­t­rina Cole­man knows all about the hard work of com­edy. As if mas­ter­ing her cho­sen dis­ci­pline wasn’t dif­fi­cult enough, she’s also herd­ing close to 60 co­me­di­ans into mul­ti­ple venues this week­end for the fifth an­nual Mem­phis Com­edy Festival, a four-day “cel­e­bra­tion of the comedic arts” that may be the city’s most un­sung ma­jor per­for­mance event.

Grow­ing from a “one-off” com­edy show­case held at Theatreworks in Over­ton Square, the festival finds room for standup per­for­mances, “themed shows,” short films, work­shops, ex­per­i­men­tal com­edy, im­prov rou­tines, “open mic” shows, com­edy karaoke and more, at­tract­ing com­edy cre­ators from New Or­leans, New York, Chicago, Seat­tle, Canada and else­where.

Events in­clude such promis­ing ti­tles as “Ar­gu­ment and Griev­ances,” “The Black Nerd Power Com­edy Hour” and the 11 a.m. Sun­day “Han­gover Mic 2: Elec­tric Booga­loo.” The head­liner is New York­based Phoebe Robin­son, who has ap­peared on “Late Night with Seth Mey­ers” and “The Nightly Show with Larry Wil­more.” The spon­sors in­clude Jack Pir­tle’s Chicken and Wiseacre Brew­ing (a com­bi­na­tion New york-based Phoebe robin­son is the head­liner for the Mem­phis Com­edy festival.

that some­how seems com­i­cal it­self). “We’re of­fi­cially a non­profit,” Cole­man said, which makes sense be­cause “co­me­di­ans have been not mak­ing prof­its for years.”

Wry self-dis­par­age­ment aside, Cole­man said the festival has be­come well-known enough to at­tract in­quiries from all over the coun­try. Many tour­ing co­me­di­ans now make a point of com­ing through Mem­phis dur­ing festival week­end.

“We’re re­ally try­ing to es­tab­lish


March 31-april 3, theatreworks and mul­ti­ple venues. tick­ets range from $90 for a festival pass to $7 for some in­di­vid­ual per­for­mances. visit www.mem­phis­com­e­dyfes­ti­val. com. Mem­phis as a com­edy city,” said Cole­man, 31. “There’s a re­ally strong com­edy scene here that’s grow­ing and grow­ing.”

She said reg­u­lar com­edy show­cases at such places as the P&H Cafe and The Brass Door can be “ab­so­lutely packed. We used to get very ex­cited about 15 peo­ple pay­ing to get in to a show. Now, we end up turn­ing peo­ple away.”

Cole­man said she was “al­ways run­ning off at the mouth” as a child, but com­edy nev­er­the­less is a se­ri­ous means of self-ex­pres­sion for her, as well as a nat­u­ral in­cli­na­tion.

“I pre­fer standup, per­son­ally,” she said. “I pre­fer it be­cause it’s a very, very per­sonal art. There’s noth­ing else on stage with me. The suc­cess and fail­ure of each per­for­mance lies en­tirely with me. I wrote it, I de­liver it, I’m re­spon­si­ble.

“So when you watch a live comic, they’re not only talk­ing to you, they’re also liv­ing in that same mo­ment as you, and they’re also creat­ing in that mo­ment. It’s very in­ti­mate, and very per­sonal.”

Courtesy of shadow Pro stu­dio

Lo­cal comic Ka­t­rina Cole­man is the or­ga­nizer of the fifth an­nual Mem­phis Com­edy festival, which runs through sun­day.

Courtesy of Mem­phis Com­edy festival

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