Comedian and actor Felipe Esparza will headline the inaugural Antelope Valley Comedy Festival at 8 p.m., Sept. 7, at the Lancaster Performing Arts Center.
The three-day festival runs from Sept. 6-8.
Nearly 70 comics are expected to come to Lancaster for the festival. Forty comics will compete in the $10,000 AV Comedy Tournament.
“If you buy a ticket for my show you get to see all the other shows. That’s a good deal, man. I love a deal like that,” Esparza said in a telephone interview.
He will perform on the main stage. A limited number of $54 balcony seats for his show were available as of Sept. 4.
Esparza won NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” in 2010.
“I was doing stand-up comedy I don’t know how long before I was on ‘Last Comic Standing,’” he said. “It really pushed me to the top. I got to be on television every week for eight weeks, so that really helped me put my face out there.”
Esparza grew up listening to radio personality Dr. Demento’s show, which featured funny music and comedy.
“That was great to have that growing up,” he said.
Esparza wasn’t nervous the first time he tried stand-up because he wanted to do it.
“But once I got up there I realized how hard it was because I had to talk to the audience,” he said. “I didn’t make that audience-to-performer connection in the beginning, and that’s something you learn eventually as you keep doing it.”
After his success on “Last Comic Standing,” Esparza produced his first hour-long stand‐up comedy special, “They’re Not Gonna Laugh at You,” with his wife and producing partner, Lesa.
The 2012 special in on Netflix.
He has also made several TV appearances, including recurring roles on NBC’s “Superstore” and seasons three and four of “The Eric Andre Show.”
He will also appear on the upcoming Netflix drama series “Gentefied.”
“I try to keep myself busy everyday with something to do,” Esparza said.
He and Lesa care for their rescue pitbulls and rabbits.
They are currently producing two specials for Netflix — one in English and one in Spanish.
“Working on a Spanish show and an English show at the same time is kind of difficult,” Esparza said. “I already know the English one but the Spanish one has been a challenge.”
He was born in Mexico and performs shows in English and Spanish.
“I see the same fans that come see me do an English show, but what I notice in the audience is my fans bring their parents and their grandparents,” Esparza said. “So I’m doing a show now for their whole family, not just the children.”
He also hosts a popular weekly podcast on the All Things Comedy Network called “What’s Up Fool?” that focuses on interesting stories from just about anybody.
The AV Comedy Festival will also feature the Wild Women of Comedy Show and the New Faces Comedy Show, featuring up-and-coming comedians who will be future headliners.
Each show, including the comedy competition, costs $10.
The $10,000 AV Comedy Tournament will feature four quarter-finals with 10 comics, each.
The top three comics from each quarter-final will move to the semi-finals.
The audience will help pick the winner.
Round one of the $10,000, AV Comedy Tournament is scheduled for 7 p.m., Sept. 6. Round two is scheduled for 9 p.m., Sept. 6.
The Wild Women of Comedy Show is scheduled for 2 p.m., Sept. 7.
Round three of the AV Comedy Tournament is scheduled for 5 p.m., Sept. 7.
The AV Comedy Tournament picks up at 2 p.m., Sept. 8, with Round four of the $10,000 comedy competition.
The New Faces Comedy Show is scheduled for 4 p.m., Sept. 8.
The semi-finals of the $10,000 AV Comedy Tournament featuring the final 12 comics is scheduled for 6 p.m., Sept. 8.
Six comics will advance to the tournament finals, scheduled for 8 p.m., Sept. 8.
For details visit www.lpac.org, call 661-723-5950, or visit the LPAC box office at 750 West Lancaster Blvd.