Stand-up News
April 18, 2022


April 18, 2022

Mike Binder

Comedy takes over Music City

Today, April 18th the Nashville Comedy Festival returns and it’s a fantastic line-up. Produced by Outback Presents, one, if not the biggest promoters of comedy in the country now, in a city that’s aflame with growth in every area let alone stand-up, this has slowly over the years become one of the greatest comedy towns in America.

There are several world-class comics that already live in Nashville, quite a few from here, and more than a few are moving here. Theo Vonn has a place here, Nate Bargatze of course, Kid Rock, (a new comedian just starting out) and it’s home to a slew of homegrown talent taking off right now. It’s also home to one of the best comedy clubs in America, Zanies, which sad to say, wasn’t around when I was doing stand-up. (Although I used to love playing the Chicago Zanies.)

The only place I ever worked here was the Vanderbilt campus, but this was in the late eighties and early nineties when colleges were great gigs to get. The smartest audiences you could cobble together, as opposed to now when I think a lot of comics would rather have dental work done than play colleges today. This was a time when any subject matter was fair game, and Vanderbilt was a primo place to perform. I was there a few times, once with Howie Mandel and Steven Wright as part of a Budweiser College Comedy Tour, and once opening for Kenny Loggins.

Comics I talk to today go on and on about the crowds in Nashville. They love to play Zanies, and the Ryman, which used to be the Grand Ole Opry from 1943 to 1974 and is just a flat-out iconic room. Newer comics like Theo Vonn, and Taylor Tomlinson work it partially just to rub ass with the Ghosts of Minnie Pearl and Junior Samples.

It makes sense that Nashville would be a crazy great comedy town. It’s so artist-friendly to begin with, and the denizens here love to laugh and have fun, in fact they’re famous for it. I’ve spent a lot of time here in the last eight or so years. I truly love the people and I have a lot of friends here. Also, any place with this many venues has to be a natural fit for a comedy festival.

There’s a load of competition these days for the comedy town throne. Hell, there’s New York, Edinburgh, I know that Netflix is going all out on in L.A. on the ‘Netflix is a Joke’ fest, which will be huge, Montreal’s Just For Laughs is baked deep into the top DNA of Stand-up, and of course, there’s Portland. That’s a fun town these days. The streets are always on fire. (Sorry. Saw the joke, had to sling it.).

Austin has rebranded, and Rogan-Hinchcliff-Segoura-sized itself into an unstoppable comedy nation, there’s also Melbourne and London, but I can’t help think Nashville could easily grow into one of the most important comedy festivals in the world in a few short years.

Especially with lineups like Bill Burr, Ari Shaffir, Bert Kreisher, Taylor Tomlinson, Joshua Black, Josh Wolf, Eddie B. Janeane Garafalo, Eleanor Kerrigan, Nikki Glasser, Steve Byrne, Joe Gato and so many more.

Hell, I’m here to see Shane Gillis alone. Damn!

I mean look at this stud. Tell me that’s not comedy’s future??

The Nashville Comedy Festival.