^
Keep Dallas Observer Free
4
| Comedy |

The Plano Comedy Festival Will Go Virtual Instead of Dark

Comedian Kasaun Wilson performs a set at Hub Streat during the 2019 Plano Comedy Festival.EXPAND
Comedian Kasaun Wilson performs a set at Hub Streat during the 2019 Plano Comedy Festival.
Arnulfo Diaz

2020 has to be one of the worst years for live comedy. The coronavirus is, among other things, preventing live audiences from feeding a comedian's innate need to be the center of attention.

Some annual showcases, such as the Dallas and Fort Worth Comedy Festivals, had to postpone or outright cancel their plans, while some venues like the Dallas Comedy House closed their doors for good.

The Plano Comedy Festival has no such plans. The festival will still roll out four days of shows Oct. 1-4, except the entire festival is going online.

The virtual gathering will offer comedians and improv and sketch troupes. Some of this year's headliners include comedians such as Conan — writer Laurie Kilmartin; Steve Hofstetter; Karith Foster; Kurt Braunholer; Mary E. Kennedy, who plays New Fiona on Showtime's Shameless; and YouTube star Roxxy Haze. This year's festival will be among the first to feature workshops for comedians to craft and hone their material and performances.

"The Fort Worth Comedy Festival was the same week of the outbreak, and the Dallas Comedy Festival was within two weeks," says comedian Wes Corwin, who founded and built the Plano comedy festival in 2018. "It's a shame to see comedy festivals having to shut down."

Corwin says he and his team started to notice a rise in digital presence for comedians as the pandemic forced people indoors, so they decided the festival should follow the trend.

"Cameo started getting real big and people started getting things like birthday messages from Elijah Wood," Corwin says. "We thought how much would it cost for someone to get someone to talk for a certain period of time."

Corwin also credits Hofstetter's Nowhere Comedy Club concept, which lets comedians perform to massive crowds in a digital environment, with inspiring them to push forward with their own festival.

"We had seen Steve Hofstetter at the Nowhere Comedy Club and thought this is interesting," Corwin says. "So in about early June was when we started talking about what a virtual festival would look like."

Festival staff have run some test open-mic shows using the Zoom teleconferencing app, and Corwin says he's "very pleased to report that comedy on Zoom is funny."

"Thankfully, we had a lot of foresight," he says. "It's a lucky thing that it's an annual event rather than a club, so we have so much time to plan."

I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Dallas and help keep the future of Dallas Observer free.

Corwin says the Zoom platform can audiences closer to the action without disturbing the performer.

"One thing that sold me on Zoom is the idea that every single person watching a Zoom show is like watching a live show in the front row," he says. "You can see their expressions and things you'd miss if you were sitting in the back. You can get the entire A-list front row experience for every single person."

Corwin says he's confident the festival will go off without a hitch, but then again, it's 2020.

"It's one of those things when you plan out a festival," he says. "We've done it for two years and you worry something horrible might go wrong and it doesn't. So maybe I'm due." 

Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.

 

Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.