Now in its second year, the Oddball Comedy and Curiosity Festival is proving that comedy can thrive outside the friendly confines of a dimly lit nightclub or theater.
The festival, a sort of Lollapalooza of comedy, takes place Friday, Sept. 5, at the White River Amphitheatre in Auburn and features headliners Louis C.K., Aziz Ansari, Sarah Silverman, Whitney Cummings, Hannibal Buress, Chris Hardwick, Demetri Martin and Jeff Ross, with second-stage sets by Brody Stevens and as yet to be named local talent.
Top talent like that has been drawing crowds of more than 10,000 and White River’s capacity is 20,000. It might seem counterproductive for comedy to work in that atmosphere, but when asked New-York based comedian Hannibal Buress didn’t seem fazed.
“It hasn’t really been trouble at all. I’ve changed my timing a little bit and you kind of have to let punch lines sit a little longer so it hits the whole crowd, but it hasn’t been that tough,” Buress said over the phone recently.
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Comedian Ron Funches, who is also on the tour but will not be performing at the White River Amphitheatre date, says the festival works because of the crowd it attracts.
“Because the festival is completely comedy-based it just works out well; people are there to see stand-up,” Funches said. “It’s not like mixed festivals because there you’re dealing with Metallica in your ear while you’re trying to tell a joke.”
Seattle comedy fans should recognize Buress, who has history here.
“I’ve been to Seattle a bunch of times; it’s been good. I worked a lot in Kirkland at Laughs Comedy club, I’ve played UW and Sasquatch. Seattle’s a fun city with sharp crowds,” Buress said.
Buress is a confident and accomplished performer. He’s done stand-up on the “Late Show with David Letterman” and “Conan,” is currently appearing on “Broad City” on Comedy Central and is a regular on “The Eric André Show” on the Cartoon Network.
On stage Buress makes fun of the hipsters in his neighborhood.
“There’s a lot of dudes in my neighborhood that have handlebar mustaches, which is cool if you want to have a handlebar mustache, but don’t try and have a conversation with me like you don’t have a handlebar mustache and try to talk about regular stuff like music and politics. Nah dude, if you’ve got a handlebar mustache all I want to hear you talk about is Slinkies and kazoos and that’s it.”
Buress also worked as a writer on “Saturday Night Live,” a job he quit to work on “30 Rock,” which he later quit to focus on stand-up.
“I just wanted to do stand-up more than I wanted to be a writer, Buress said. “I did those (shows) because I felt like they would help me learn those aspects of show business.”
Having his own show was the ultimate goal, and Buress was close to achieving that when Comedy Central was interested in his pilot, “Unemployable.” As of now, that’s not in the works, but Buress doesn’t seem bothered.
“I think it’s dead, but who knows? It’s the television business. I’m fine, there’s always other projects and other ideas to be worked,” Buress said.
What’s it like having the biggest names in comedy all hanging out backstage? Chill, according to Buress.
“Everybody is older,” he explained. “People aren’t really getting crazy. We hang out, have a couple drinks and watch the set. Nobody’s riding around on a unicycle or dumping buckets of water on each other.”
Jeff Albertson: 206-464-2304 or firstname.lastname@example.org