Netflix Sets First Comedy Festival in Los Angeles This Spring

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Netflix has just added another layer to the platform’s domination in the field of stand up comedy.  The streaming giant has announced their first ever comedy festival, and as you can imagine they’ve had no difficulty locking up a murderers row of comedians to participate.   The festival was announced to the public, fully formed, just yesterday and will take place in Los Angeles beginning on April 27.  Titled the “Netflix is a Joke Festival” after Netflix’s stand up comedy identifier #NetflixIsaJoke, the lineup is loaded with many big names from Netflix’s comedy stable.

Headliners, in alphabetical order, go from A to S (Ali Wong to Sebastian Maniscalco) and along the way some unexpected names like David Letterman, Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda and Martin Lawrence,  in addition to the names you might expect to see listed on a festival marquis like Bill Burr, Dave Chappelle, Kevin Hart and Schitts Creek Live.

The festival will open with a Sebastian Maniscalco show at the Wiltern on Monday April 27th, and then continue all week with nine or ten venues operating every night , some of them with multiple shows per night.

Letterman will not only headline he’ll also host a new comedy based series, That’s My Time, at the Fonda Theater, which will be taped for later streaming.  That’s My Time sounds like it will borrow from the longstanding tradition of comedians performing on Late Night and then coming over to the couch for panel, with performances and interviews.  As described on the festival website: “Legendary late night host, David Letterman, is returning to stand up and inviting his favorite comics to perform and then join him for a one-of-a-kind interview. Lineup to be announced.”  Whether these will be up and comers, like we’ve seen in Bill Burr’s latest Comedy Central series, or a list of all time favorites isn’t clear, but the TBA label leads us to believe that a list of young unknowns will be revealed closer to the date of the fest.

In a section titled THE HALL on the announce poster, Netflix lists eight modern living legends: Dave Chappelle, Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg, Kevin Hart, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, Sarah Silverman and Wanda Sykes. The Hall refers to Netflix’s announced Hall of Fame which will have a physical home in Jamestown NY alongside the National Comedy Center. The listed comedians will perform on a show that will honor the Hall’s first class of comedy- Robin Williams, Richard Pryor, George Carlin and Joan Rivers, and will be a live taping for a special to be released on the platform.  That will take place at the Ace Hotel on closing night and from the looks of the lineup is the crowning jewel of the fest.

Below the topliners, down in the poster’s smaller print are names that will populate over 20 venues and 100 shows. In any other festival, they would be be the bold print names. They’re all comedy stars: Bert Kreischer and Tom Segura, Pete Davidson, Dave Attell, Jim Jefferies, Norm Macdonald, are just a few of those names.

One of the most exciting announcements comes at the tail end of the small print- The Degenerates Live will be a part of new festival, showing Netflix’s continuing commitment to backing up comedy that isn’t “safe.” Jim Jefferies will host the show which will feature favorites form both seasons. Christina P, Ms. Pat, Big Jay Oakerson, Yamaneika Saunders, and Robert Kelly. are on the lineup.  Also spotted- live versions of another Netflix popular series, bringing back the cast. Tiffany Haddish’s They Ready comedians will perform live (albeit without Haddish at the helm this time). Jamie Foxx, Amy Schumer, and the duo of Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda will host Netflix is a Joke showcase shows at the Palladium that will taped for Netflix in a series that feels similar to the Just for Laughs Galas that are such great successes every year in Montreal. There will be live podcast tapings (Two Bears One Cave should grab the most attention), tour stops for some big headlining tours like Netflix’s Bumping Mics with Dave Attell and Jeff Ross, and appearances by Middleditch & Schwartz, Jacqueline Novak and others.

Venues run throughout West Hollywood and focus on theaters of all sizes, although there are a few club dates as well.  They include The Hollywood Bowl, The Greek Theater, The Wiltern, The Hollywood Palladium, Avalon Hollywood, The Theater at the Ace Hotel, The Regent, The Fonda Theater, the Belasco, The Largo, The Palace Theater, The Orpheum, The Hollywood Improv, the Laugh Factory, Dynasty Typewriter and more. Notably absent from the lineup is Los Angeles’ famed Comedy Store.

Tickets are on sale now for the inaugural Netflix is a Joke festival, taking place April 27 through May 9. Go to netflixisajoke.com for more.

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