Get ready, Worcester – Comedy Fest Worcester descends upon the Palladium on Saturday, March 15 at 8:00 p.m., and it stands to be the biggest thing in stand up comedy Worcester has seen in, well, forever.
Featuring comedic heavyweights such as Nick DiPaolo, Lenny Clarke, Steve Sweeney and more, the festival will no doubt put the city of Worcester on the national comedy map after spending far too long in the shadow of the Boston comedy scene. Organized by Stand Up For Laughs, a central Massachusetts entertainment company specializing in affordably-priced comedy shows at venues in and around Worcester, Comedy Fest Worcester is an exciting step forward for the local company. Co-founder Larry Smith recently took the time to chat about the festival with the Boston Comedy Scene Examiner.
“When my business partner (Justin Smith, no relation) and I started Stand Up For Laughs in 2011, our goal was to mix a variety of smaller venue shows with a few large scale theater shows every year. Before jumping right into bigger shows and bigger venues we wanted to establish ourselves as an organization that put on great comedy shows using established comics, finding the best local up and comers, and trying to ad something or someone to each show to make it a little different than every other comedy show in the area. We booked killer line ups, but what people loved was when we would add an act that they know, but maybe not from a stand up comedy background,” Smith recalls. “Our first show like this, we were able to work with Kevin Barbare from, at the time WAAF, now WXLO, as he hosted a show for us headlined by Paul Nardizzi. Then I was able to convince/beg Dave Andelman from Phantom Gourmet to host a show for us. Both Dave and Kevin, for never having done stand up before, killed. And we continued this model working with others such as Steve Donovan from WXLO and Adam Webster from 100FM The Pike, while having great local headliners.
We had a very successful 2012. We were able to bring Lenny Clarke in for a show in May and November in 2013. Those shows were hugely successful. Both sold out over a week in advance. We have now built towards this goal of booking bigger name acts in a theater such as the Palladium where Comedy Fest will be held on Saturday. We wanted to start an annual event in Worcester, or central Mass specifically. There aren't many large scale shows like this in Worcester. For a show of this magnitude its usually Boston or New York. We really wanted to prove that central Mass would get behind its own event and it appears they are.”
Many might be wondering why a comedy festival in Worcester is taking place on one night only, as most festivals occur over a span of a few days – but, according to Smith, this year's festival is a litmus test of sorts.
“We decided for year one to only do one night. The main reason for that is, since there aren't many shows like this in Worcester, we wanted to basically prove this type of show would work, that central Mass would support a show in their back yard,” Smith cites. The reason for naming the event 'Comedy Fest Worcester' is we plan to continue the event annually, expanding to 2 nights, inviting other local businesses to participate in the festivities - even have all day, indoor and out door activities. For year one, we wanted to make sure central Mass would embrace a large scale comedy event.”
Comedy Fest Worcester aims to bring attention to the growing comedy scene Worcester boasts, making Worcester a destination for both audiences and nationally-touring comedians.
“Stand up in Worcester is getting stronger every year - in the shows Stand Up for Laughs produces at Halligan's or the Palladium, but also in the other clubs in Worcester like Frank's Comedy Safari at Viva Bene or StageTime Comedy Club at Canal Restaurant and Bar. I think there is enough interest in comedy in Worcester to have three or four successful smaller rooms and have national acts playing in Worcester as well,” Smith tells the BCSE. “Some of the talent from Worcester is great also - Orlando Baxter and Ryan Staples are two of my favorite comics and both are from Worcester. Denis Leary is from Worcester. I think more and more national acts will start seeing Worcester on the map when putting tours together. In addition to Comedy Fest on Saturday, we've already booked Gilbert Gottfried and Dave Coulier later in the year.”
Tickets are going fast for Comedy Fest Worcester, and if you haven't purchased yours yet, what are you waiting for? Prices range from $30-$45 and are available online. Don't miss what is sure to be an exceptional night of comedic entertainment and a future annual staple of Worcester! The full lineup includes Nick DiPaolo, Lenny Clarke, Steve Sweeney, Dave Russo, Frank Foley, Kevin Barbare, and Jon Fisch. The Worcester Palladium is located at 261 Main Street in Worcester, Massachusetts. For more information, visit Stand Up for Laughs online.