When Bob Edwards started the 10,000 Laughs Comedy Festival back in 2011, it consisted of three shows held at the Comedy Corner Underground. This week, the festival will host 12 shows across six different venues, with upwards of 2,000 people expected to attend.
"We've nearly tripled our attendance in just three years, which says a lot about how healthy our comedy scene is here in Minneapolis," Edwards says. "Originally, I started this because it seemed strange to me that a town with such amazing comics, venues, and fans didn't have its own festival. People have really embraced it and made it into something special."
The festival, which kicks off tonight with the Monday Night Comedy Show at Club Underground, features more than just traditional standup comedy (although there is some of that, too). It has everything from sketch comedy, video, music, theater, and improv, with over 50 comedians getting in on the action.
Some of the highlights of this year's event include three nights of Punchline Punchout, a staple of the Comedy Corner Underground lineup where two teams of comics go head-to-head writing material based on a single word; the 10,000 Shorts contest featuring the funniest short videos from all over the Twin Cities; The Turkeys, a five-man comedy posse featuring some of the local scene's best comics doing standup and sketch comedy; and the Comedy and Magical Music Show, which will close out the festival with national-touring headliner Mike Brody and music from Mark Mallman (sorry, magical comedy fans, there's no actual magic or awful magician-comics at this show).
Gabe Noah, one-fifth of the Turkeys, says his crew has been at work creating new material special for this event.
"We're performing on Friday night and we've got some really great stuff planned," says Noah. "Our director Matt [Olson] is in town shooting new sketches for this show, which is going to be cool because we're going to be able to have more of a storyline running throughout the evening. Typically our shows are more like a showcase where we do standup, then a character, then show our sketches. We've got Cy Amundson as our special guest headliner, so he'll hold down the standup portion, and that's going to allow us to focus more on the theme of the evening."
In terms of the future of the event, Edwards isn't looking to grow the festival in size, but does have plans for expanding the talent pool.
"Right now we've got the best comedians from the area and all over the Midwest," he says. "Next year I'd like to try and see if we can bring in more national headliners. I want this festival to be something where people from New York or L.A. are coming to find the best talent in comedy."
Tickets are available for all 12 shows separately, ranging from $5-$12 per show. All-access passes will be available at tonight's Monday Night Comedy Show for $41.95. To see the complete lineup and purchase tickets visit 10000laughs.com
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