Like most sequels, this year’s East Texas Comedy Festival is going bigger. More nights, bigger names and, organizers hope, more and bigger laughs.
Over the course of tonight and Saturday at Liberty Hall in downtown Tyler, the festival will feature a wealth of stand-up comedians both local and from out of town. Tyler Morning Telegraph Social Media Coordinator Brandon Davidson will take the stage once again, as will Tyson Faifer, last year’s winner of the “East Texas’ Funniest Comic” title. Daryl Felsberg, who regularly performs in East Texas, and who has opened for the likes of George Carlin, will also have a slot.
“We’ve got Linda Stogner, who owns Back Door Comedy. We’ve got David Jessup, who performs regularly at the Addison Improv, Back Door and Hyena’s. Clint ‘Paco’ Werth was voted Best Comic in 2012 by the Dallas Observer,” Jamey Whitley, event organizer, said. “So we’ve got some really strong talent from our stand-up comics in our Stand-Up Showcase.”
Whitley said the large, positive response seen at last year’s event notably and visibly empowered them to make this year’s event even bigger.
“One thing that was great about last year was that it put us on the radar for bigger comedians. The comedians last year would go back to Dallas and say, ‘You gotta go back to this theater in Tyler, it’s incredible,’” he said. “So the talent pool this year is crazy. I think we’re going to have one of the best events with some of the most talented comics from the Southern portion of the United States.”
Tonight performances by Faifer, as well as nine other stand-up comics, each competing for this year’s “Funniest Comic” title, will be featured. Following their acts, will be performances by Tyler-based improv group Card 53.
Saturday’s portion of the festival will include a performance from the previous night’s title winner, as well as Davidson, Vinny “The Mullet” and Felsberg. Dallas-based improv troupe Fourth Wall Comedy also will perform.
Whitley, who also performs with Card 53, said the comedy scene in Tyler has evolved significantly, even just in the last year.
“I think last year’s festival put more awareness out that there is live comedy happening in Tyler. And each show that we’ve done since then just gets bigger and bigger,” he said.
Events such as the East Texas Comedy Festival are important, Whitley said, as it empowers the local scene to expand, both in terms of comedy and other entertainment as well.
“It creates more opportunity,” he said. “It allows us to have more shows regularly, but it also pushes us to become better and better. We’re bringing people who have been doing it (for a while). We have to keep on our toes and make sure we’re putting on a good show.”
Additionally, workshops will also be taught on Saturday, June 14th by Fourth Wall Comedy’s Chad Cline and Jason Folks for anyone wanting to pursue comedy or just wanting to get out of their comfort zone. Improv techniques will be taught at 9 a.m., “Building Characters” at 2 p.m. Cost is $35 for one class or $50 for both.
The East Texas Comedy Festival begins at 8 p.m. each night. Tickets are $20 per night or $30 for both nights via online purchase. Tickets at the door are $25 per night or $40 for both nights. Suggested for adult audiences only. For more information, visit www.libertytyler.com .