Comedy Festival Returns to Prove Pittsburgh is Funny

The Pittsburgh Comedy Festival is back for a second year, with more than 30 acts over three days of stand-up, improv and workshops.

Organizers promise this year’s festival will be bigger and better, with even more shows packed into the three-day schedule from August 27 to 29. Most of the events will be held at the Henry Heymann Theatre in the University of Pittsburgh’s Stephen Foster Memorial.

Festival marketing director Anna C. Reilly said the festival earned plenty of positive feedback in its inaugural year for its fun, upbeat vibe. “This year should be just the same—we’re planning a festival that’s stacked with talent worthy of stages in Chicago or New York, but in an intimate, comfortable setting staffed by folks who are sincerely excited to share comedy with their community.”

The week has also been officially named Comedy Week by the City of Pittsburgh, and Reilly said everyone was invited to join the celebrations by sharing the day-to-day hilarity of Pittsburgh on social media, with the hashtag #PGHIsFunny. “Maybe that means taking an Instagram photo of an uncommonly upscale parking chair, or sharing your uncle Dante’s favorite knock-knock joke on Facebook. Pittsburgh’s a funny place, and we want to be loud and proud about it!”

Comic Todd Glass, host of The Todd Glass Show podcast, is one of this year's festival headliners.

Comic Todd Glass, host of The Todd Glass Show podcast, is one of this year’s festival headliners.

Headliners include Todd Glass, a California-based comic originally from Philadelphia, and the host of “The Todd Glass Show” podcast. Glass has been in stand-up for more than 30 years, and is known for his appearances on the late-night shows, NBC’s “Last Comic Standing,” and as a former host of the podcast “Comedy and Everything Else.”

Sharing top billing is Bombardo, an all-women improv troupe featuring Aubrey Plaza of “Parks and Recreation.” The New York-based group all trained at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, and are known for their Friday-night showcase at Gotham City Improv.

New-York based improv troupe Bombardo, featuring Aubrey Plaza (second from right).

New-York based improv troupe Bombardo, featuring Aubrey Plaza (second from right).

Reilly said they were proud to feature headliners who broke the stereotype that comedy was the domain of “straight white dudes.”

“Comedy is being done very actively and very beautifully by all types of people, so it’s important to us to represent that as much as we can. We’re really proud to have Todd Glass and Bombardo, not just because they’re incredible to watch onstage, but also because they’re a gay stand-up headliner and an improv team of women.”

The Kids Comedy Cabaret on Saturday afternoon will feature family friendly entertainment, including performers Uke & Tuba, Penny Arcade, and Vince Charming.

Comedy fans can also participate in workshops on improv, sketch-writing, and take part in Talking Funny, a Q&A with comics about their work.

The festival’s final show, #PghIsFunny, showcases an all-star lineup of local comedy talent, coming together for what Reilly calls a “giant improv bonanza.” Opening act John Dick Winters won his spot in the final night line-up by winning the audience vote at an amateur stand-up competition last month.

The festival is run by Comedy Arts Pittsburgh, an organization which aims to raise the profile of comedy in the city, and raise Pittsburgh’s profile nationally.

Passes can be purchased for each day of the festival, or for the whole event.

Pittsburgh Comedy Festival
August 27-29
Henry Heymann Theatre, 4301 Forbes Avenue, Oakland
For passes and full listings, see the festival website.

Photographs courtesy Pittsburgh Comedy Festival

Heather McCracken is a Pittsburgh-based freelance writer who generally thinks #PGHIsHilarious