Now in its ninth year, 10,000 Laughs Festival has gone from a small-but-mighty group of local favorites telling jokes at Comedy Corner Underground (the first year had approximately 15 comedians), to more than 60 of the country’s best comics performing more than 20 shows over the course of the next three days. In total, organizers are expecting around 4,000 people to check out this weekend’s festivities.
In addition to having a massively stacked lineup that includes marquee names like Aparna Nancherla, Doug Benson, and Brian Posehn, the charm of the 10,000 Laughs Festival is that there are a ton of fun, unique shows sprinkled throughout the weekend alongside the more traditional showcases.
Opening night alone will include five shows spread across four venues and two states, including Doug Benson and Friends at Acme (this is Acme’s first year as a festival partner), and Carmen Lagala just across the border at the Plus in Eau Claire.
While there isn’t a bad show all weekend, there are a few that might fly under-the-radar that you’re going to want to check out.
Hotdish at Comedy Corner Underground (Thursday, 10:15 p.m.)
One show during opening night of the fest will feature two of the best young comedians in the Twin Cities, Moe Yaqub and Caroline Skoog, performing alongside a mix of names that are likely to be headliners at festivals in the near future. Usama Sidiquee is a regular fixture at New York’s Comedy Cellar as well as the prestigious Just For Laughs Festival’s New Faces showcases. Zach Peterson is one of the nicest and funniest performers around, with a sense of humor and style that is perfect for fans of everyone from Mary Mack to Tom Papa. Capping off the night is headliner Geoff Tate, who is a regular partner in crime of another Thursday night headliner, Doug Benson, as part of Doug Loves Movies and Getting Doug with High. This show is the perfect blend of styles.
The Dirty Show at Comedy Corner Underground (Friday, 10:30 p.m.)
The longest-running feature of the festival is also the most crude, vulgar, and offensive. This year’s Dirty Show is a country-wide smut showdown that includes two of L.A.’s fastest-rising comics, Aaron Naylor and Paige Weldon, plus David Perdue from Atlanta, Blaire Postman from Washington D.C., and headliner Samantha Ruddy, who has been seen on Full Frontal with Samantha Bee and Late Night with Stephen Colbert. Hometown hero Courtney Baka is also on the bill, showing the East and West coasters that we also know how be extra-vile in the Midwest. You’ll be able to see what is really offensive across the country, and you won’t even have to watch any of the 24 hour news networks.
The Funny 20 at VFW Uptown (Saturday, 4:30 p.m.)
The only daytime show of 10,000 Laughs might also be the best. The Funny 20 is like comedy March Madness, with 20 comedians squaring off in a single-elimination tournament where they are pitted against one another, armed only with minute-long jokes. There will be an officially sanctioned referee who will undoubtedly take his or her job seriously, so expect plenty of controversy. And with a lineup that includes Chicago’s Gena Gephart (arguably the most can’t-miss comic of the entire festival), Tanner Oliver, one of the funniest comedians in Michigan, and local favs Joey Hamburger, Casey Flesch, and Grant Winkels, expect more than a few upsets and Cinderella stories as they crown the undisputed champion of afternoon comedy.