Join Us June 17-20, 2015!

Author Archive for: webmaster

Brian Regan to headline 2015 Great American Comedy Festival

March 24, 2015
March 24, 2015

One of the best and most respected comics performing today will be coming to Norfolk in June to headline the 2015 Great American Comedy Festival.

Brian Regan

Brian Regan

“Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock look up to him as a hero,” said Eddie Brill, the festival’s artistic director.

One of the ways Regan has made his mark has been by blazing a trail of laughter without the need to be shocking to get a laugh. One reviewer wrote, “What’s interesting is that most people won’t even realize this until the end of the show when they think, ‘Wait a minute. There isn’t one joke of his that I couldn’t tell my boss or my kids.’ ”

Paula Pflueger, festival chairwoman, said festival organizers are thrilled that Regan will be performing for a Norfolk audience. “People are going to love him,” she said.

This year’s festival is set for Wednesday, June 17, through Saturday, June 20, with a performance by Christian comedian Bob Stromberg preceding the actual festival on Sunday, June 14.

In its eighth year, the festival – which has been voted in the past as Nebraska’s top tourism event – continues its mission of paying tribute to the legacy of Johnny Carson, who grew up in Norfolk.

Brian Regan

Brian Regan

The Saturday finale also will feature the presentation of the annual Johnny Carson Comedy Legend award.

Growing up, Regan said his comedy influences were Johnny Carson, Steve Martin and the Smothers Brothers. Regan – whose older brother, Dennis, was part of the 2013 Great American Comedy Festival, finishing second in the professional stand-up competition – made his first appearance on “The Late Show with David Letterman” in 1995 and has performed on the show about 30 times.

He has released two critically acclaimed comedy DVDs and set a record for five sold-out shows at a performance hall in Salt Lake City, Utah, eclipsing the previous record of four straight sold-out shows by Jerry Seinfeld. He typically tours and performs in theaters in 80 cities each year.

He’s best known for turning mundane situations – like going to the eye doctor to get fitted for glasses, or trying to decide how many Fig Newtons to eat in one setting – into side-splitting stand-up material.

* * *

Want to learn more?

For more information about the 2015 festival, go to www.greatamericancomedyfestival.com. Tickets are expected to be available for purchase online as of Monday, April 6.

Norfolk’s comedy festival is ‘home of the good laugh’

March 24, 2015
March 24, 2015

Organizers of the Great American Comedy Festival in Norfolk, Neb., were looking for a new way to describe the annual event that pays tribute to the legacy of Norfolk native Johnny Carson.

They found it via a team of eight talented and creative advertising and public relations students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Journalism and Mass Communications.

Thanks to the students’ ideas, the festival now is now to be known as the “home of the good laugh.”

Festival organizers worked last year with Prof. Stacy James at UNL in having one of her senior-level classes work with the festival to develop an integrated marketing communications plan for the festival. They did research on other festivals, conducted a survey of festival attendees, created advertising ideas for print, radio and digital, studied social media possibilities and more.

The end result was a comprehensive package of marketing and public relations ideas and strategies for festival organizers to consider – including creating the theme of “The Good Laugh” that plays off Nebraska’s theme of “The Good Life.”

“We couldn’t be happier with what Stacy and the students came up,” said Lori Williams, the festival’s executive director. “We’ll be making extensive use of their ideas for the 2015 festival and in years to come.”

Iconic candy brand Chuckles adds a sweet touch to Festival

March 24, 2015
March 24, 2015

Chuckles named the official candy of the comedy festival created in honor of Johnny Carson.

You can’t have a comedy festival without comedians. Or laughter. Or funny material.

image-125494

Chuckles Candy

Organizers of the 2015 Great American Comedy Festival – which is based in Johnny Carson’s hometown of Norfolk, Neb. – say they think a comedy festival needs an official candy, too.

Especially when it has a name like Chuckles.

“We think it’s going to be great fun to pair up the Great American Comedy Festival with Chuckles candy,” said Kent Warneke, founder and past chairman of the festival. “It seems like a natural.”

Chuckles is produced by the Ferrara Candy Co., of Oakbrook Terrace, Ill. First arriving on the sweet scene in 1921, Chuckles has been making kids (and more than a few parents!) happy for nearly a century. With five flavors in each pack, Chuckles puts a smile on the face of a wide range of tried-and-true fans with its multi-flavored sugar-coated jelly rectangles.

“We are thrilled to be participating as the official candy for the Great American Comedy Festival,” said Dawn Sykora, marketing director of Iconic Brands for Ferrara Candy Co. “We can’t think of a better fit for the Chuckles brand and are honored to help celebrate comedy and this long-loved brand together in honor of the legendary Johnny Carson.”

Warneke approached Ferrara this past fall about being a new part of the Great American Comedy Festival in 2015. It is set for Wednesday, June 17, through Saturday, June 20, in Norfolk, primarily at the Johnny Carson Theatre.

The festival annually features 20 up-and-coming professional comedians who compete for the festival’s top prize. The Johnny Carson Comedy Legend award is also annually presented.

New comedy Showcase shows set for February

December 14, 2014
December 14, 2014

The Comedy Showcase is set for Thursday, Feb 5 in West Point at the West Point Community Theatre and Saturday, Feb 7 in Norfolk  at Divots Conference Center.

Show time is 7:30 pm for both shows.  Tickets are $20 + fee.

Tickets go on sale the week of December 15.

Check back for more information and to purchase tickets.

 

 

 

Christian comedy performance in Norfolk canceled

September 10, 2014
September 10, 2014

Due to unforeseen circumstances, the Christian comedy performance by Bob Stromberg that was planned for Sunday, Sept. 14, in Norfolk has been canceled.

Stromberg had been scheduled to perform at the Norfolk Junior High theater this weekend as part of a joint performance sponsored by the Great American Comedy Festival and the Norfolk Ministerial Association.

All those who had purchased tickets in advance will receive a refund.

Steinberg honored with Legend award; Los Angeles wins stand-up competition

June 16, 2014
June 16, 2014

The seventh annual Great American Comedy Festival’s final performance Saturday night began as it should — with a video tribute to Johnny Carson.

After all, the festival was created to pay tribute to the legacy of Carson, who grew up in Norfolk and went on to host NBC’s “The Tonight Show” for 30 years.

That’s why the rainbow-colored lights created stripes on the Johnny Carson Theatre’s normally red curtain — just like the multi-colored curtain on “The Tonight Show” when Carson hosted it. Several large photographs of Carson lined the stage, and the set of the show was re-created on the theater stage.

Memories of Carson were a frequent theme throughout the 2½ hour performance that attracted a crowd of more than 1,000 despite the evening’s threatening weather.

David Steinberg, for example, entertained the audience with stories of his association with Carson.

“My career, to me, was the ‘Tonight Show with Johnny Carson,’ ” Steinberg said. “Once you made Johnny laugh, it was everything.”

But the recipient of this year’s Johnny Carson Comedy Legend award made more than Carson laugh in his career — entertaining audiences as a stand-up comedian, writer, actor and, more recently, an acclaimed director and producer.

He made 140 appearances on “The Tonight Show,” which is second only to Bob Hope, and also was the youngest person to serve as a guest host on the show.

When he came on the stage and again as he exited it, he was honored with a standing ovation. In between, he was interviewed by Eddie Brill, the festival’s artistic director. Steinberg’s award was presented by Dirk Petersen, general manager of Nucor Steel, the festival’s presenting sponsor.

Brian KileyAnother highlight of the evening was the finals of the festival’s stand-up competition. Eight comedians advanced from shows earlier in the week to compete for the top prize that was won by Brian Kiley of Las Angeles, who is a writer for the Conan O’Brien late-night show.

“I’m just blown away that I won because this was such an impressive group of comedians,” Kiley said.

While on stage, Kiley’s routine involved jokes about his baldness, his wife and the pool boy for a pool he doesn’t have.

Joe Zimmerman of New York City, who tied for third with Mark Pitta of San Francisco, said he was excited to see Kiley win.

“It was a great show and a lot of fun,” Zimmerman said. “I felt good about my routine when I left the stage.”

Michael Somerville of New York City finished second.

Earlier Saturday, the festival hosted the finals of an amateur stand-up competition, which was won by Kris Covi, an attorney from Omaha.

The evening show was topped off by a final stand-up performance from Jim Breuer, who first came to fame as a member of the cast of “Saturday Night Live.”

Breuer said he enjoyed being part of the festival and that it was a great way to honor Carson.

“I watch Johnny Carson reruns almost every night with my parents,” he said. “This festival was awesome, and I would love to come back if they ask me to.”

Robot not coming

June 12, 2014
June 12, 2014
“Sartran” may be a $6 million robot, but that evidently doesn’t mean it’s indestructible.
The comicbot that was scheduled to be part of the children’s festival Saturday in downtown Norfolk will not be making its two scheduled appearances.
Ron Davis, the owner of the robot, had sent the robot in for repairs and upgrades earlier this spring, with the assurance that it would be completed in time for Saturday’s Norfolk appearance. But earlier this week, he found out that the work that needed to be done was more extensive than originally thought, making it impossible for him to keep the Norfolk commitment.
The children’s festival, however, is still a go for Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., with a variety of activities planned for children ages 11 and under.

Dana Carvey to pay tribute to Carson in video

June 9, 2014
June 9, 2014

CARVEY, Dana 05

Longtime comedian and movie actor Dana Carvey will be featured in a video filmed especially for the Norfolk festival in which he pays tribute to the late Johnny Carson.

Carvey — who was a longtime cast member of “Saturday Night Live” and starred in, among others, the “Wayne’s World” movies — was also known for his impersonation of Carson. It was created out of his fondness for the longtime host of “The Tonight Show.”

The video was produced by Mark Pitta, one of the 20 comedians who will be participating in this week’s comedy festival, presented by Nucor Steel.

The Thursday and Friday performances also will feature host Phil Palisoul and headliner Caroline Rhea, along with 10 of the comedians competing in the festival’s professional stand-up competition.

Twenty festival comedians participate in NBC’s “Last Comic Standing”

May 28, 2014
May 28, 2014
If Norfolk and area residents turn in to episodes of NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” this spring and find themselves thinking, “I’ve seen a lot of these comedians before” — it’s because they have.
The eighth season of “Last Comic Standing” kicks off Thursday night at 8 p.m., featuring 100 stand-up comedians who were handpicked for invitations to participate in the show.
Of those 100, 20 of them have either appeared in Norfolk at the Great American Comedy Festival in past years or will be part of this year’s festival next month.
This year’s festival, which is presented by Nucor, is set for Wednesday, June 11, through Saturday, June 14. Twenty stand-up comedians will participate in the festival’s two preliminary competition shows on Thursday, June 12, and Friday, June 13, with eight advancing to Saturday’s finals.
Of the 20 scheduled to be in Norfolk, six are part of the “Last Comic Standing” lineup this season — Alingon Mitra, Adrienne Iapalucci, Adam Newman, Tracey Ashley, Michael Somerville and Joe Zimmerman.
Those part of “Last Comic Standing” that have previously appeared in Norfolk for the comedy festival are:
2008 festival: Erin Jackson and Shane Mauss,
2009 festival: Mike Vechhione, Tim Harmston, Andy Woodhull, Mike Palascak and Keith Alberstedt.
2010 festival: Tommy Ryman and Aparna Narcherla.
2011 festival: Carmen Lynch
2012 festival: Andrew Sleighter, Dave Waite and Pete Lee
2013 festival: Joe Macchi.

2014 Festival T-shirts on Sale

May 12, 2014
May 12, 2014

Norfolk-Comedy-Festival-T-ShirtFestival t-shirts are on sale for $15 per shirt at the theatre during the festival or at the following locations:

  • Elkhorn Valley Museum
  • KEXL
  • Dayco
  • Insurance Associates