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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.

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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.

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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.

Cory Kahaney returns to Norfolk as opening act

March 10, 2014
March 10, 2014

December 12, 2013

Great American Comedy FestivalCory Kahaney can’t help but crack a joke.

When asked about her upcoming gig as the opening act for Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood’s two-man improv show, she said she was so excited that she Googled them.

Her sense of humor is fitting for what she loves to do — comedy.

Kahaney will bring her stand-up routine to Norfolk on Saturday, Dec. 14, when she warms up the audience for “An Evening with Colin and Brad” at the Divots DeVent Center.

“Ordinarily I’d say (the audience could expect) juggling fire, but TSA makes it so complicated to bring my torches,” Kahaney said. “So I’d say mainly lots of laughs to get the energy going and setting the tone for a stellar evening of comedy.”

Since overcoming stage fright at the age of 29, Kahaney made it to the season one finale of NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” and also has appeared on “The Late Show with David Letterman” and “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.”

At the 2013 Great American Comedy Festival in Norfolk, she was one of the finalists featured in the stand-up competition.

“It was such a fun festival,” Kahaney said. “Norfolk really rocks.”

The thought of returning to Johnny Carson’s childhood town to perform has had an impact on Kahaney.

“Well, it’s bittersweet because I am the generation of comics who grew up watching Carson, but by the time I was ready to even try out for the show, he was long gone from television,” she said. “So you have enormous respect, certainly, but you also feel sad that that ship sailed without you.”

 

Omaha comic first to advance to Amateur Finals in June

March 10, 2014
March 10, 2014

Monday, January 20, 2014

Kris Covi, an attorney from Omaha, was voted the winner of the Great American Comedy Festival’s preliminary amateur stand-up competition Saturday night here.

About 150 people were in attendance at the Majestic Theater to be entertained by 10 amateur comedians hoping to advance to the finals of the amateur competition in Norfolk when the comedy festival takes place in June. The finals are set for Saturday, June 14.

Covi topped the field of comedians at the performance hosted by Michael Issac of Chicago, one of the professional finalists at last year’s comedy festival in Norfolk. Issac recently appeared in an episode of “Chicago Fire.”

The next preliminary amateur competition is set for Saturday, Feb. 22, at Divots in Norfolk, where Eddie Brill, warm-up comic for David Letterman, will host.

The final one will be part of O’Neill’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration in March.

Large crowd watches Phoenix comic advance to Amateur Finals in June

March 10, 2014
March 10, 2014

Monday, February 24, 2014

Tom Sims of Phoenix proved to be the audience favorite Saturday night when the Great American Comedy Festival hosted a preliminary amateur competition at Divots in Norfolk.

Close to 250 people were in attendance when nine aspiring stand-up comics competed for the audience’s support at the show hosted by Eddie Brill, the festival’s artistic director from New York City.

Sims will now advance to the finals of the amateur competition set for Saturday, June 14, in Norfolk. He will compete against winners of earlier shows in Omaha and Wayne, along with separate competitions taking place in Denver and Chicago.

The next amateur competition is set for Saturday, March 22, in O’Neill as part of that community’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities.

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