Producing a comedy festival is hard work. Producing one in three weeks is pure madness.
Don’t tell that to Dartanion London, though. The local comedian is once again producing “The Week of Fun”, one of the most ambitious comedy festivals ever attempted in Seattle, from January 20-26. After the success of the last several years, London has managed to book over twenty of the best young comedians in the Northwest to perform at six different venues across the city, from the Comedy Underground in Pioneer Square to the Capitol Club on Capitol Hill.
So how did this madcap festival of funnies come about? “In 2007, on a lark, we bid on an auction for the ‘Stranger Suggests’ section in The Stranger (the widely-read local alternative paper) and won,” said London. “Though this only gave us a few weeks to plan, organize and execute the entire thing, we felt we had to do this to take advantage of the intense nexus of talent existing here now.”
“Alternative comedy” (the daring and sometimes oddball brand of humor normally regulated to the late-night fringe scene) has suddenly become the hottest show in town, regularly selling out shows in places not normally known for comedy, like popular rock clubs Chop Suey and the Sunset Tavern. Now the time seemed right to bring the cult phenomenon to the masses and for the scene to make a definitive statement about what it was and what it had to offer.
“We wanted to create something that would highlight the level of talent and the independent spirit of the Seattle comedy scene,” said Hari Kondabolu, a nationally known comedian who co-produced the first festival in 2007. “Comedy is flourishing in Seattle, and it’s happening outside the major clubs and beneath the radar of the media outlets, so most people don’t know about it. We hope this festival will change that.”
The highlight of the week for many of the comedians will be the Jan 24th “Celebrity Open Mic”, featuring local artists and members of the media attempting stand-up at the venerable Comedy Underground in Pioneer Square.
“The Comedy Underground is a sacred place for Seattle comedians,” said Paul Merrill, a local comic appearing in the festival. “The managers of the club have been creating and supporting comedy in this town for over twenty years, so it’s an honor to have them involved.”
London was quick to point out that he didn’t produce “A Week of Fun” alone. The comedians themselves helped with all aspects of production, scheduling, and financing.
“That sense of camaraderie and group-support is a rare and exciting thing in comedy,” London remarked. “That’s what this festival is really all about.”
“The Week of Fun” comedy festival runs for seven nights, January 20-26, at six different venues across Seattle.
Founded by Dartanion London and Hari Kondabolu, produced by Dartanion London and Brett Hamil