The South Beach Comedy Festival is back. Last night the festival kicked off it’s 10th year with the hilarious meta-play Earthquake by local theater collective Mad Cat & More. Now the stage is set for some serious stand-up comedy. (Also some Sirius stand-up comedy, SiriusXM is this year’s media partner and hosting their own showcase.) It is a rare treat to have so much funny concentrated on our beaches, so be sure to soak it in. The only wrinkles you’ll get are laugh lines. Here are five reason why you should work this festival into your weekend.
1. Huge Names – You don’t need to be a comedy nerd to know this year’s headliners. Patton Oswalt, Bill Burr, Hannibal Burress, and Dave Chappelle are four of the sharpest, most prolific comic minds of our age. Rounding out that lineup are rising stars Michael Yo, Mark Normand, Deon Cole, Esther Ku, and more, plus a ton of local acts. (Also Chappelle just added a third show on Sunday -hurry) Pick any show, you will laugh.
2. Streamlined – This is the 10th year of the festival and they have shed the extra venues to house all shows within The Fillmore Miami Beach and it’s backroom The Gleason Room Backstage. Although the Colony and Lincoln Theaters are pretty, it added confusion with people running back and forth between venues trying to catch shows on time. There was a free outdoor stage in the middle of Lincoln Road outdoor mall, which was hilarious not only because of the talent, but also because that talent had to tell those jokes to an endless stream of tourists, toddlers, and dogs wearing designer clothing. Fond memories, but perhaps it’s for the best.
3. Local Love – This year the festival is showcasing more local talent than ever. Our very own comedians are opening up for some of the biggest names in comedy. Lisa Corrao for Patton Oswalt, Forrest Shaw for Bill Burr, Orlando Leyba for Michael Yo and Dave Williamson for Mark Normand. Every night in the Gleason Room Backstage there are shows focusing on homegrown talent. Mad Cat & More and Comedy Records are recording a live album featuring Miami comedians at the festival. Local Wynwood Radio has put together a showcase. Not only that, every night after the last main show there will be a free local comedian showcase curated by local outlets Casa de Haha and Artistic Vibes, in the Red Star Lounge in The Fillmore lobby at 11:30 Thursday through Saturday.
4. FREE Shows – Yes you might have to pay someone $400 and your cousin’s purple jetski to score sold-out Chappelle tickets. If you can’t afford that don’t worry, almost half of the shows at the festival are free. The SiriusXM Showcase, South Beach Album Recording, and Wynwood Radio Spectacular are all free, as well as the nightly locals showcase after the main shows. You can buy one ticket and stay for three shows. Or just come for the freebies, broke people are welcome in comedy as many in comedy are broke people. Be sure to check door times for free shows as they are first come first serve.
5. Scene Support – The truth is that none of these comedians would be here if not for the festival. Miami is sadly not a “comedy town”, and South Beach is too busy dancing on molly to listen to a joke set-up. It’s not easy competing with the pleasures of tropical paradise when other cities use comedy shows as a way to escape blizzards. But there’s potential. Having great crowds convinces comedians to come back, and they really would love to come back.