Comedians I Love: My Humble Recap of the Limestone Comedy Festival

I’ve been processing the three days of awesomeness that was the Limestone Comedy Festival, and I still can’t get over how incredible it was to have so many hilarious and brilliant comedians in our tiny town of Bloomington, Indiana. This was my first time at a comedy festival, and I’m sure it won’t be my last. I’ll break it down into my favorite moments.

Tig Notaro: The first time I saw Tig Notaro was when she opened for Sarah Silverman, and she was hilarious then. I remember the showering baby bit and, of course, “No moleste.” For this second show, I laughed so hard I cried. I love the absurd alternate realities she creates out of such small details in the ‘real’ world — creating an explanation for why her hair looks crazy when she wakes up (I won’t ruin the bit, but it has something to do with a horse). Her comedy takes small details or moments and magnifies them to absurdity, and she takes our metaphors and similes — our ways that try to describe the lived world — and creates a strange, literal world from them. Amazing.

Further reading/watching: Tig Notaro: You’ll Laugh, You’ll Cry

Maria Bamford: This was my second time seeing Maria Bamford as well, and I just adore her, especially after listening to The JV Club episode that she is a guest on. Some people aren’t into her “voices and characters thing,” but listen.

Okay, so I had this whole thing about Maria Bamford’s voices and characters being vehicles for satire, but you know what? If you don’t get it, you don’t get it. You won’t change your mind because of anything I write about her. She’s fucking brilliant and hilarious and an amazing human and she brought it to the Limestone Festival. End of story.

Further reading/watching: Stand-Up Comedy and Mental Illness: A Conversation with Maria Bamford

John Roy:  My dude said it best: “That was the tightest set I have ever seen. There weren’t as many people there as at other shows during the festival, but he performed as if the room were packed. He brought it.” Abso-fucking-lutely.

Further listening: The Official Site of the Comedian John Roy

Al Jackson: We went to the Friday night second show, and Al Jackson killed it. Here’s the thing about Al Jackson and John Roy — neither are afraid to bring race to the table, and that’s refreshing to hear, especially in Bloomington, a mostly-white town (I was one of maybe 3 or 4 ethnic people in the crowd that night). In fact, that was a thing that was so refreshing about the entire festival — that comics weren’t afraid to talk about race, and do it the right way and respectfully. During the taping of Pete Holmes’s You Made It Weird podcast, Pete wasn’t afraid to take the conversation to asking about ‘black’ crowds and Al wasn’t afraid to explain. It was a rare space where true dialogue about race happened. In my experience anyway. Maybe I’ve been living in the Midwest too long; that’s entirely a possibility.

Further listening/watching: Al Jackson at the South Beach Comedy Festival

And feel like you were there: listen to You Made it Weird, live from Bloomington.

I’m in that extra malleable, super clappy audience. The crowd was a little too applause-y for my sensibilities, but it was so much fun to be there. Totally worth skipping out on the last couple hours of my work day.

My other favorites:

  • Jackie Kashian! Agh, Jackie Kashian, how could I forget her? She seemed to be trying out new jokes on our crowd, and she crammed them full of literary references. My favorite reference: Allen Ginsberg. Oh man, how could I have forgotten that? She’s awesome. I’ve also just discovered her podcast, The Dork Forest.

  • Watching “Breaking Away” with Doug Benson, Jackie Kashian, Graham Elwood and Geoff Tate for The Benson Interruption. “Breaking Away” is a terrible movie, but it was fun to see bits of Bloomington as it lived in the ‘70s. And, of course, the comedians. I can’t emphasize enough how bad the movie is. So bad it “cycles” (see what I did there?) into Good and then dives repeatedly back into the Bad pool.

I’m terrible at conclusions. So I’ll end by saying, thanks, Limestone Comedy Festival. It was your first year and you rocked it like it was your 10th. I’ll see you next year.

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