Short, Klein to Headline Special Anniversary Comedy Festival
NORFOLK – The Great American Comedy Festival is going all out for its 10th anniversary.
Festival organizers announced Thursday that the headline performer for their Saturday gala event will be none other than comedy legend Martin Short. In addition, previous comedy festival performer and legendary stand-up Robert Klein will be back to receive the Johnny Carson Comedy Legend award.
The festival, which honors the legacy of Norfolk-native Johnny Carson, will run from June 14th through the 17th. Tickets are expected to go on sale soon.
Here’s the full lineup of events:
— Wednesday, June 14, an opening night tribute to Johnny Carson
Planned is a special showing of the 1982 NBC primetime television special “Johnny Goes Home,” along with airing of a new documentary featuring Norfolk and area residents who were part of the production of that TV special.
In addition, there will be a special sneak peek of the new “There’s …. Johnny!” comedy-drama currently being filmed for the Seeso streaming comedy network. The show will premiere this fall on Seeso, but festival attendees will get the first look at the show being co-created by actor Paul Reiser and David Steven Simon. It tells the fictional story of a young man from Valentine who makes his way to Los Angeles and lands a job with “The Tonight Show” during the early 1970s.
Those Wednesday evening activities will be free and open to the public. Also planned is a reception for festival sponsors.
— Thursday, June 15, the annual comedy-magic show for the entire family.
Traditionally taking place on Wednesday night, the comedy-magic show moves to Thursday this year and again will feature top performers as selected by Richard Barrett, manager of the Comedy and Magic Club in Hermosa Beach, Calif.
Scheduled to take the stage at the Johnny Carson Theatre are magicians/illusionists Kalin and Jinger, Marcus Monroe and Jeff and Tessa Evason.
— Friday, June 16, the “best of the fest” performance.
This show will be headlined by Wendy Liebman, who performed at the 2012 comedy festival. The performance will feature eight of the nine individuals who won the professional stand-up competition at the festival in past years.
Scheduled to perform at the Johnny Carson Theatre are David “Deacon” Gray, who won the inaugural festival competition in 2008; Kermet Apio, the 2009 winner; Ryan Hamilton, the 2011 winner; Pete Lee, the 2012 winner; Phil Palisoul, the 2013 winner; Brian Kiley, the 2014 winner; Brad Wenzel, the 2015 winner, and last year’s winner, Marc Normand.
— Saturday, June 17, writers panel and festival gala.
A free event planned for Saturday afternoon is a panel discussion featuring writers connected to “The Tonight Show” that will be moderated by Nebraska native and entertainer Dick Cavett, who was a writer for the show himself.
The panel discussion will feature Mike Reiss, Andrew Nicholls and Darrell Vickers, all of whom were on the writing staff of “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson,” as well as David Steven Simon, co-creator of the “There’s …. Johnny!” television show currently in production.
The highlight of the festival will be Saturday evening’s gala featuring Martin Short as headliner and the presentation of the Johnny Carson Comedy Legend award to Robert Klein.
But also appearing will be these past festival performers: Larry Miller, the 2010 festival headliner; Caroline Rhea, a 2014 headliner; Jake Johannsen, a 2012 headliner; Tommy Johnagin, a 2011 headliner; and Mike E. Winfield, also a 2011 headliner.