Comedy Fest benefits Family, Polaris Project


This year’s Woodstock Comedy Festival (WCF), September 23-25, features Saturday Night Live alumnus Gilbert Gottfried doing a stand-up show and one of our top female comedians, Susie Essman of Curb Your Enthusiasm, hosting four up-and-coming funnywomen. Films, panels, and parties will be also be offered, while 12 local stores will join together on Saturday for “Our Economy is a Joke,” inviting customers to pay for certain items with a joke.

This year’s festival is the fourth in a series of annual benefits for Family of Woodstock and the Polaris Project against human trafficking, using humor to raise money for serious problems.

Laughingstock opens the festival on Friday, September 23, at 8 p.m., as Essman introduces stand-up by Karen Bergreen, Kendra Cunningham, Jaye McBride, and Liz Miele, plus Katie Hannigan, the winner of the 2016 WCF New Faces of Comedy standup contest. The show will be at the Bearsville Theater, 291 Tinker Street, with tickets ranging from $20 to $60. A VIP party will follow, 10 p.m. at the Cucina Barn. Party tickets are by invitation or $20 at the door.


Saturday’s events begin with a panel discussion, “Era of the Comedy Podcast,” at 1 p.m., at the Woodstock Artists Association and Museum (WAAM), 28 Tinker Street. Eddie Brill will moderate, as producers and comics from podcasts explain the whys and hows of this hot new field. Tickets are $10. Also at WAAM, at 2:30 p.m., festival headliner Gilbert Gottfried will join comedians from Adult Swim and Last Podcast on the Left to discuss censorship and the question “How Offensive is Too Offensive?”, from Lenny Bruce to the present. Admission is $20.

Gottfried will deliver comedy in his brash, headlong style at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Bearsville Theater, hosted by Eddie Brill, who used to warm up the audience for the David Letterman Show. Tickets are $20 to $60. At 9:30 p.m., stick around at the Bearsville Theater as The Simpsons writer Mike Reiss, a four-time EMMY winner, reveals 25-plus years of behind-the-scenes stories and scandals in “Secrets of the Simpsons.” Tickets are $25. The after-party starts at 11 p.m. at the Commune Saloon in the Bearsville Complex, by invitation or $20 at the door.

On Sunday, the WCF film program presents the documentary Can We Take a Joke?, directed by Ted Balaker, at the Mescal Hornbeck Woodstock Community Center, 56 Rock City Road. The film addresses “instant outrage and its impact on free speech” and features Gilbert Gottfried, Penn Jillette, Lisa Lampanelli, Jim Norton and others.  Tickets are $10 at the door and include a short film on censorship, In The Name of Comedy by Brett Eidman, beginning at 3 p.m.

Schedules and tickets are available at