The laughs will have to wait another year.
The Great American Comedy Festival, which had been scheduled for June 18-20 at Johnny Carson Theatre in Norfolk, has been postponed until June 2021 because of uncertainties over the COVID-19 pandemic.
The scheduled headliners for this year’s festival both have agreed to come to Norfolk next year. Actor, writer and producer David Koechner is scheduled to headline the 2021 comedy showcase, and six-time Emmy Award-winner Wayne Brady will take the stage as the 2021 gala headliner.
The postponement includes the family comedy magic show, the comedy showcase, the late-night adults-only show at Divots and the concluding festival gala.
Executive director Lisa Wattier said the comedy festival’s board of directors made its decision recently in a unanimous vote.
“While no one knows for sure how long this pandemic will last, some in the public health industry believe it could last for several months,” Wattier said. “Because of that, we had to take a very serious, long look at continuing our festival planning and fundraising.”
Beyond that, the uncertainty on several fronts played a role in the decision.
“We feel it would be irresponsible to put our audiences at risk of becoming ill because they attended one of our festival shows,” she said. “It is irresponsible for us to proceed with fundraising, spending those sponsor donations and then end up having to cancel the festival at the very last minute.
“It is also possible the booked comedians may be unable to get here.”
Wattier said all sponsorship money donated to date could either be returned or put toward the 2021 festival.
“It really is disappointing to have to take this action,” said Austen Hagood, president of the Great American Comedy Festival board of directors. “But we, like countless other organizations planning large events across the country, have to be responsible and put public health and safety first.”
“Because there are just too many uncertainties about where this virus will be in June, we reluctantly have to take this action,” he said.
Nucor Steel Nebraska, Nucor Cold Finish Nebraska, Nucor Detailing Center and Vulcraft Nebraska have been the presenting sponsors of the festival for several years.
The annual festival opened in 2008 to honor the legacy of Norfolk’s favorite son, Johnny Carson, who was host of NBC’s “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” for more than 25 years.
(NORFOLK, Neb.) – The 13th Annual Great American Comedy Festival will welcome well- known, multi-talented entertainers as headliners for the Friday Showcase and Saturday Gala at the Johnny Carson Theatre.
Actor, writer and producer David Koechner headlines the Friday, June 19th, Comedy Showcase and six-time Emmy Award-winner Wayne Brady will take the stage as the Saturday Gala headliner on Saturday, June 20th.
The family Comedy Magic Show kicks off the festival Thursday, June 18th, at the Johnny Carson Theatre. All shows at the theatre are at 7 p.m. There is also an Adults-Only Late Night Show at Divots on Friday, June 19th, at 10:30.
The 13th Annual Great American Comedy Festival is presented by Nucor Steel Nebraska, Nucor Cold Finish Nebraska, Nucor Detailing Center, and Vulcraft Nebraska.
David Koechner can currently be seen as Beau on the ABC hit comedy,“Bless This Mess,” which is set in Nebraska. He is also well known for his roles as Todd Packer on “The Office” and Champ Kind from “Anchorman” and “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.” He recently starred in Legendary’s “Krampus” and Roadside Attraction’s “Priceless.”
Other TV credits include Showtime's "Twin Peaks," Comedy Central’s “Another Period,” ABC’s “The Goldbergs,” and IFC's "Stan vs Evil." He also voices recurring characters on FOX’s “American Dad” and Netflix’s “F is for Family”and “All Hail King Julien.”
An alumnus of Chicago’s Second City Theater, Koechner got his first break as a cast member on “Saturday Night Live” and has since appeared in more than 170 films and television shows. Notable film credits include “Waiting,” “Out Cold,” “Talladega Nights,” “Get Smart,” and the dark, twisted, film festival award-winning thriller, "Cheap Thrills."
When not filming, Koechner performs live stand-up comedy across the country and creates original content videos for his YouTube channel, “Full On Koechner.” He also co-hosts Big Slick Celebrity Weekend, an annual charity event benefitting Children’s Mercy Hospital of Kansas City.
Wayne Brady, also a Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter, can currently be seen as the host of CBS’ "Let's Make A Deal.” His work as a regular on the improvisational comedy television series, "Whose Line Is It Anyway?", both the original ABC and the current CW version, has been described as “off-the-cuff brilliance.”
Brady recently appeared as a series regular on the Emmy award-winning CBS daytime drama, “The Bold and the Beautiful.” He has been nominated for a Daytime Emmy for his work on the show. He returned to his theatrical roots with a successful Broadway debut as Bill Flynn in "Chicago," and received rave reviews starring as Lola in the Tony® Award-winning production of "Kinky Boots."
His Broadway path continued with a three-month run starring as Aaron Burr in the Pulitzer Prize and Tony® Award-winning production of "Hamilton" in Chicago.
Brady’s debut studio album, “A Long Time Coming,” earned him a Grammy nomination. He has also lent his vocal talents to both Disney's animated series "Sofia the First" and Nickelodeon's "Loud House."
His television credits include “Colony,” "30 Rock," "Everybody Loves Chris," "Dirt," "How I Met Your Mother," and "Don't Forget the Lyrics,” among others.
“Once again, we are extremely pleased with our headliners for the Friday and Saturday Great American Comedy Festival shows,” said Lisa Wattier, executive director. “These multi-talented entertainers will continue our tradition of securing A-list entertainers to lead five other comedians in presenting outstanding comedy shows rarely, if ever, found in communities the size of Norfolk.”
The annual festival opened in 2008 to honor the legacy of Norfolk’s favorite son, Johnny Carson, who was host of NBC’s “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” for over 25 years.
The Great American Comedy Festival is also made possible with the support of the Nebraska Arts Council and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment and the Norfolk Area Visitors Bureau.
For tickets and information, visit www.greatamericancomedyfestival.com
Officials with the Great American Comedy Festival in Norfolk announced Thursday that the 2020 festival has again been awarded a grant of $6,990 by the Nebraska Arts Council. The grant will support the 13th annual Great American Comedy Festival June 18-20.
“The Great American Comedy Festival contributes a great deal to the advancement of the arts in Norfolk,” said Suzanne Wise, Nebraska Arts Council executive director. “We commend the work being done by organizations such as the Great American Comedy Festival because the arts are important to the education and quality of life for all Nebraskans.”
The 2020 festival will kick off Thursday, June 18, at 7 p.m. with the family Comedy Magic Show at the Johnny Carson Theatre. Friday’s Comedy Showcase at 7 p.m. at the Johnny Carson Theatre will be followed by the adults-only Late Night Show at 10:30 p.m. at Divots.
The festival gala concludes the 2020 event Saturday, June 20, at 7 p.m. at the theater. “We again extend our sincere thanks to the Nebraska Arts Council for their generous grant,” said Lisa Wattier, executive director. “Generosity such as this assures the continuation of the Great American Comedy Festival.”
For more information about the festival, contact Wattier at 402-992-1538.
The annual festival opened in 2008 to honor Norfolk’s favorite son, Johnny Carson, who was host of NBC’s “Late Night Show Starring Johnny Carson” for more than 25 years. The festival is presented by Nucor Steel Nebraska, Nucor Cold Finish Nebraska, Vulcraft Nebraska and Nucor Detailing Center.
The Nebraska Arts Council (NAC), a state agency, provides numerous grants, services and special initiatives that help sustain and promote the arts throughout Nebraska. NAC is supported by the Nebraska Cultural Endowment, Nebraska Legislature and National Endowment for the Arts. To learn more, visit artscouncil.nebraska.gov