For four days in July, the country’s top comedians visit Nantucket Island, bringing a boatload of laughs to the six-year-old Nantucket Comedy Festival.
This year’s festival, directed by festival founder and comedian Kevin Flynn, delivers celebrity wit and fun, peeks behind the scenes with award-winning creators of comedy, and inspiring how-to sessions for young people. Most events are being held downtown Nantucket at Nantucket Dreamland Film & Performance Center.
Nantucket Comedy Festival kicks off on Wednesday, July 17, with performances by middle school and high school students who have participated in the Comedy Festival’s educational program “Stand Up & Learn.” Nantucket Comedy Festival created and produces this remarkable program to teach youth the joys of creativity, collaboration, and self-confidence. Stand Up & Learn workshops to teach kids how to write and perform comedy have been held in several schools around New England and New York, and have been included in programs for youth with learning disabilities.
Thursday night, July 18, sees the return of Nantucket Comedy Festival’s “Women’s Night,” with comic and TV and film actor Patty Ross; top New York comic Sherry Davey; and TV’s Last Comic Standing“ audience favorite” Jane Condon. Expect plenty of laughs for women and men, in what often takes a turn toward the personal and raunchy.
Friday begins with free coffee and comedy in one of the Comedy Festival’s new morning sessions, “Women, Coffee, and Comedy.” From 10 to 11:30am in the Dreamland Studio Theatre, Judith Ivey and women comics from Thursday’s show will meet to chat and discuss their profession.
On Friday night, July 19, Audiences will go behind the scenes with creators of TV’s longest running sitcom-cartoon The Simpsons, joined by venerable TV talk show host and New York Times columnist Dick Cavett. “The Humor & Comedy of The Simpsons,” also features Mike Reiss, producer and co-writer of the comedy series and writer of My Life in Ruins and Ice Age 3. Fellow Emmy-winning Simpsons producer and writer Donick Cary joins Reiss and other guests. Following the discussion, festival patrons will be treated to a performance of Brooklyn-based rock band The Skins with special guest Adrian Grenier. Star of the recent HBO series Entourage, Grenier is an entrepreneur as well as an actor, and he has recently started what he calls a “music incubator… a collective of bands” called the Wreckroom.
Boston-born comedian and actor Mike O’Malley, best known for his TV roles on Yes, Dear and as Kurt’s dad on Glee, with host the “Comedy Writers Room” on Saturday morning, where Dick Cavett, Mike Reiss, Donick Cary as they discuss what it’s like to write comedy.
Nantucket Comedy Festival’s hilarious “Comedy Smackdown: NYC vs. Boston” takes center ring on Saturday night, July 20, with ESPN’s longest-serving commentator Bob Ley officiating. The New York team includes comedy club favorite Buddy Fitzpatrick, familiar cable TV news show commentator Pete Dominick, comic Keith Robinson from Def Comedy, Late Night with Conan O’Brien and many other TV shows, and club comedian Greg Rogell, also of Comedy Central and other TV appearances.
The Boston team brings together top Boston comic Jack Flynn, who serves as co-captain with Boston’s “Godfather of Comedy,” Don Gavin. The two are joined by Patty Ross and Eddie Brill, Stand Up & Learn guest instructor and creator of Emerson College’s comedy writing department.
The festival ends Saturday night with a wrap-up party at Nantucket Hotel, with tickets available to the public to benefit Stand Up & Learn. Tickets for individual festival events range from $10 to $200 depending on level of seating. A $1,200 Patron Pass includes access with premium seating to all events and includes invitations to private parties with the festival comics and other patrons. For festival information and to purchase passes or individual event tickets, visit www.nantucketcomedyfestival.org.