The inaugural Antelope Valley Comedy Festival kicks off the Lancaster Performing Arts Center’s 2019-20 season with three days of comedy, beginning Sept. 6, through Sept. 8.
The festival will attract dozens of the top comics from around the country, highlighted by a $10,000 comedy competition, as well as headliner and Last Comic Standing winner Felipe Esparza.
Producer Barry Neal, a comic who will also serve as a host for the festival, produced a similar festival in Laughlin, Nev., for several years.
“I thought, since my company’s producing this, why don’t we turn Lancaster, for a weekend, into a comedy haven,” he said. “We’re calling it the Coachella of Comedy.”
Nearly 70 comics are expected to come to Lancaster for the festival. Forty comics will compete in the $10,000 AV Comedy Tournament.
“The audience gets to help decide the winner,” Neal said.
Industry judges representing top agencies will judge comics on material, delivery and audience response.
“Come Friday and then all weekend, you’ll follow whichever acts that you really like,” Neal said.
Audiences will also see the Wild Women of Comedy Show and the New Faces Comedy Show, featuring up-and-coming comedians who will be the future headliners. Each show, including the comedy competition, costs $10.
“What I really want people to know is that if they buy a ticket to Felipe on Saturday night, they get to see all other shows for free,” Neal said.
That’s an $80 savings.
There will be four quarter-finals with 10 comics each. The top three comics from each quarter-final move to the semi-finals.
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.
Esparza will perform at 8 p.m., Sept. 7. A limited number of tickets are available for the show. Orchestra seats cost $59 each. Balcony seats cost $54 each.
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.
In the quarter-finals, each comic gets seven minutes for their material. The 12 comics in the semi-finals get six minutes each. The final six comics each get 10 minutes to wow the judges and audience members.
The comics cannot repeat any material. They will essentially have to prepare 23 minutes of material to get through all three rounds, Neal said.
“There’s a little bit of strategy of when you want to use your killer bit. That just makes it a lot of fun,” he said.
Audience members might recognize some comedians from the NBC show “Bring The Funny.”
If people are interested in comedy, and they have a wristband, they can attend a free business seminar on Sept. 7, and an industry Q & A on Sept. 8.
“You’re welcome to spend the weekend here,” Neal said. “Get away from the heat.”
For details visit www.lpac.org, call 661-723-5950, visit the LPAC box office at 750 West Lancaster Blvd.