Eddie Brill couldn’t be more pleased.
The 20 professional comedians who have accepted invitations to be part of this summer’s Great American Comedy Festival in Norfolk are talented, diverse and, most of all, funny, said Brill, who serves as the festival’s artistic director.
“We have an incredible mix of comics from all walks of life, and many of them have already starred on major TV shows and in film,” said Brill, a stand-up comic himself and former comic booker for David Letterman.
The “funny twenty” — as they collectively are known — will take to the stage of the Johnny Carson Theater on Thursday, June 16, and Friday, June 17, and perform six minute of material each in hopes of advancing to the gala finale of the festival on Saturday, June 18.
A panel of professional judges will have the task of selecting four comedians each night to make up the group of eight performers on Saturday.Brill said it should come as no surprise that the talent level of the comedians at the festival continues to increase. “The reputation of our festival is growing worldwide and, as a result, the quality of the comedians we bring into Norfolk to honor Johnny Carson gets stronger and stronger. You won’t want to miss one show this year.”
While the festival’s headliners bring name recognition and star power to the annual comedy event, it’s the 20 comedians who are the heart and soul of the festival, Brill said. That’s because the festival was created to pay tribute to the legacy of Johnny Carson, and Carson liked nothing more than to give comedians on the cusp of stardom a chance to perform on “The Tonight Show.” In its own way, the festival seeks to do the same thing by auditioning and inviting comedians to perform in Norfolk, he said.
Here are the 20 comedians who will be performing at the 2016 festival:
Comedian Rocky LaPorte will serve as the headliner for the Thursday and Friday performances. Tony V — who was a finalist in last year’s professional stand-up competition in Norfolk — will be the host for both evenings.