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Archive for month: April, 2014

2014 Great American Comedy Festival lineup set

April 28, 2014
April 28, 2014

With the announcement of David Steinberg as this year’s recipient of the Johnny Carson Comedy Legend award, the lineup of entertainers for the 2014 Great American Comedy Festival is now set.

“We’re so pleased to be able to bring to Norfolk and assemble this group of extremely funny, talented people,” said Lori Williams, the festival’s executive director. “You won’t want to miss it.”

Here’s a quick look at some of what’s planned at the festival set for Wednesday, June 11, through Saturday, June 14:

— Wednesday, June 11 at 7:30 p.m.: Comedy magic show for all ages featuring Dana Daniels, Joel Ward and John Cassidy.

— Thursday, June 12, and Friday, June 13, at 7:30 p.m.: Comedian Caroline Rhea — of television’s “Biggest Loser” and Sabrina: The Teenage Witch” — will headline the two preliminary stand-up competition performances. Phil Palisoul, the winner of last year’s competition, will host.

— Saturday, June 14, at 7:30 p.m.: Festival gala featuring Jim Breuer — a “Saturday Night Live” former cast member — as host and headliner. The finals of the stand-up competition will take place and Steinberg will be presented the comedy legend award.

“But there’s also the late-night shows Thursday and Friday at Divots, a free children’s festival Saturday in downtown Norfolk and our amateur competition finals at 1 p.m. Saturday at J’s Steakhouse,” Williams said.

David Steinberg to receive 2014 Johnny Carson Comedy Legend award

April 28, 2014
April 28, 2014

david_appears_on_the_tonight_show_with_johnny_carsonThe New York Times has called David Steinberg “a comic institution.”

This summer in Norfolk, Neb., the comedian, author, actor and director will be described in another way: comedy legend.

Steinberg will be this year’s recipient of the Johnny Carson Comedy Legend award at the 2014 Great American Comedy Festival presented by Nucor Steel.

Eddie Brill, the festival’s artistic director, said, “I’m over the moon to have David Steinberg as this year’s legend. I’ve been trying to get him to our festival for years and because of his incredibly busy schedule, he wasn’t able to come until this year.”

Brill said he has worked with Steinberg in the past.

“It turns out that not only is David an amazing talent, but also a down-to-earth and incredible soul,” Brill said.

Steinberg and his wife, Robyn, will be on hand to receive the award at the Saturday, June 14, festival performance at the Johnny Carson Theatre. His name will be added to a list of previous legend award recipients that include, among others, Dick Cavett, and Stephen Wright.

His connection to Johnny Carson, who grew up in Norfolk, is strong.  After his first appearance on the “The Tonight Show,” he became one of Carson’s most popular guests and guest hosts, with 140 appearances — second only to Bob Hope. Steinberg was the youngest person ever to guest host “The Tonight Show.”

“The Great American Comedy Festival was created to pay tribute to Johnny’s legacy. So to have someone like David Steinberg — who Johnny thought so much of — as part of our festival is so fitting,” said Paula Pflueger, vice chairwoman of the festival.

Steinberg is in his third season of hosting the popular “Inside Comedy,” which he also Executive Produces with Steve Carell for Showtime. Among the comedians interviewed by Steinberg on “Inside Comedy” are Jerry Seinfeld, Don Rickles, Ellen DeGeneres, Robin Williams, Chris Rock, Sarah Silverman and Larry David.

He is a legendary comedian who began entertaining audiences in the late 1960s at Second City and then New York City’s Bitter End and whom the New York Times referred to as a “. . . cross between Woody Allen and Lenny Bruce.” His controversial sermons were responsible for throwing the Smothers Brothers off the air. He has three comedy albums all nominated for Grammys.

Steinberg is also now regarded as one of the best and most creative directors working in television. He has earned several Emmy Awards and nominations for directing episodes of “Friends,” “Seinfeld,” “Mad About You,” “Newhart” and “Designing Women,” which he also executive produced. More recently, Steinberg has been directing the hit series “Curb Your Enthusiasm”.

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Want to learn more?

For more information on the comedy festival or to purchase tickets, go to or at Insurance Associates, 1900 W. Pasewalk Ave., in Norfolk.

For more on David Steinberg, go to or follow him on Twitter – @david_steinberg

New features planned for 2014 Great American Comedy Festival

April 2, 2014
April 2, 2014

‘Johnny Under the Stars,’ 8-foot robot, live recording and more

The comedians, headliners and magicians scheduled to be part of this summer’s Great American Comedy Festival in June aren’t the only thing that’s new about the 2014 event.

“We’re always looking for ways to make the festival even more fun and appealing,” said Lori Williams, the festival’s executive director.

Here’s a quick look at some of the new features for 2014:

— This year’s free children’s festival in downtown Norfolk on Saturday, June 14, will feature two performances by an 8-foot-tall “Comicbot.” Named Sartron, the robot tells jokes, plays music and entertains audiences of all ages. Children will also be able to have their photographs taken with Sartron.

— “Johnny Under the Stars” will take place for the first time at 10 p.m. in Norfolk’s Central Park after the Wednesday, June 11, comedy-magic show. Organized by the Norfolk Arts Center, the free outdoor showing of Johnny Carson highlights is designed to be a way for those attending to better appreciate the comedic talent of Carson.

— A live recording of many of the comedians participating in the 2014 festival will take place during the evening performances at the Johnny Carson Theatre. Stand Up! Records — a Minneapolis-based record label owned by Nebraska native Dan Schlissel — will be on hand to record performances and turn them the comedy performances into a CD and digital downloads. Stand Up! Records has worked with some of the biggest names in comedy, including Lewis Black.

— “Carson Connections” is a new transportable, educational display that shares information about Johnny Carson’s years growing up in Norfolk, his early career and his remarkable philanthropic endeavors. The display will be unveiled for the first time during this summer’s festival.

— An expanded set of magic classes will again be organized by the festival on Wednesday, June 11, and will feature appearances by some of the magicians scheduled to appear that evening at the Johnny Carson Theatre.

— Eddie Brill, the festival’s artistic director, is hoping to lead a workshop for adults on the topic of making effective use of humor in public-speaking situations. The date and time of that session are still to be finalized.

— Following the Saturday, June 14, gala performance at the Johnny Carson Theatre to wrap up this year’s festival, those in attendance will be invited to attend a nearby outdoor party. Several of the festival’s comedians will be on hand.

— The finals of the festival’s amateur stand-up competition will be at a new place and time this year — 1 p.m. at J’s Steakhouse in downtown Norfolk.

— The festival will not be sponsoring a performance by a Christian comedian as part of the summer festival, but plans are in the works to organize a Christian comedy show this fall in Norfolk.

“As you can tell, there’s a lot new taking place in 2014 with the comedy festival,” Williams said.