It may be a funny business, but comedy is no longer just for laughs. The popularity of hilarity is seen on screen, on line and in the tourism world. In fact, there are now dozens of festivals around the world dedicated solely to humor in all of its configurations. Laugh yourself silly at these funny comedy festivals:
Just for Laughs: Montreal
This summer extravaganza is the granddaddy (or grand-père) of all comedy festivals. Founded in the early 1980s as a mainly French-language affair, the world’s largest international comedy fest is now equal parts French and English. For three weeks every July, expect plenty of bon mots. More than 250 shows take place around Montreal’s Quartier des Spectacles, many of which are free. Legendary headliners have included Dave Chappelle,Louis C.K., Keven Hart, Amy Schumer and hundreds more.
Melbourne International Comedy Festival: Australia
The largest cultural fest in Australia is comedy central down under. This top banana of Southern Hemisphere laugh fests is nearing its third decade. Spanning nearly a month in length (March 29-April 23, 2017), the Melbourne festival fosters Australian humorists as well as international acts including Bridget Everett, Kyle Kinane, Jen Kirkman and many others.
Edinburgh Fringe Festival: Scotland
You don’t have to go very farce to see comedy at the Edinburgh Fringe Fest. The line-up includes a range of traditional and experimental comedy from both local and international acts. Non-traditional venues include a former veterinary school, several public parks and even moving vehicles. The Edinburgh Fringe, the largest arts festival in the world, takes place every August.
Chicago Improv Festival and the Chicago Comedy Exposition: Chicago, IL
In the United States, Chicago is well known as home to Second City, whose famous alumni include Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert and Bill Murray. Therefore, it’s only fitting that the Windy City entertains an improv festival every May featuring local, nationwide, international and headlining acts. There are also improv workshops open to the public. Meanwhile, it’s all about stand-up at the grassroots Comedy Exposition of Chicago, which runs in July with headliners like Andy Kindler and Todd Glass.
Also in the Midwest, the Limestone Comedy Festival rocks the college town of Bloomington, Indiana the first week of June. This small but mighty event draws in impressive headliners like Bobcat Goldthwait, Roy Wood, Jr. and Doug Benson. It happens the same time as Portland, Oregon’s Bridgetown Comedy Festival, which this year featured the likes of Eddie Pepitone, Baron Vaughn and Aparna Nancherla.
Wild West Comedy Festival: Nashville, TN
Take note of a relatively new comedy festival happening in a city better known for its music scene. The Wild West Comedy Festival runs in May and features megawatt names like Kathy Griffin and Trevor Noah along with alt stars like Maria Bamford and T.J. Miller. You might even catch a country music performer trying their hand at stand up from time to time.
Moontower Comedy Festival: Austin, TX
Austin continues to keep it weird with its comedy festivals. The Moontower Comedy& Oddity Fest in April hauls in numerous greats including Martin Short, David Cross, Maya Rudolph and Leslie Jones. The Out of Bounds Comedy Festival, held the week before Labor Day, sports improv, sketch and stand-up.