Portland transplant Kristine Levine won a slot for Tucson among headliners at the Bird City Comedy Festival in Phoenix April 6 through 9. Four other stand-up comics and two improv teams round out the cast of current and former Tucsonans selected for the weekend of comedy that’s attracting performers and fans from all over the U.S.
Sixty-plus stand-up comics, nine improv teams, six storytellers and three sketch-comedy teams, perform among eight central-Phoenix venues. Advance tickets and a complete schedule are at birdcitycomedyfestival.com.
Even comics not picked for the fest have a shot. They can sign up online for each night’s “Little Bird Showcase.” One comedian from each showcase wins a festival-show spot.
Levine says, “Everyone in Arizona has welcomed me with open arms and I feel blessed and lucky to be here and included in the fun. As with all festivals, I'm looking forward to the after-parties the most!”
Among the returning prodigals are Amanda Hurley and Ryan Malco, now performing standup in New York City, and Brooke Hartnett who now works in the Chicago improv scene. Hartnett says, “I'm super excited to play with both (Tucson improv teams) Kitten Spit and The Riveters again. The festival is a great excuse to play with people I'm already comfortable with.”
Hurley looks forward to seeing old friends from the Tucson comedy scene. She says, “I miss having a tight group of comics and getting to see their faces every night. In New York, there are so many comics and so many possible paths to take that there isn't really a strong sense of community.”
One long-time Tucson comedian and promoter will make the festival his farewell. Alex Kack says, “This will very likely be my last show (in Phoenix) before I head off to the east coast in June. It'll be a great goodbye to the whole thing. “
Malco, though, could be speaking for every comic at the festival: “I'm still pretty depressed and filled with self- loathing, but going to Bird City makes it the best version of that.”
Below are comments all the Fest’s Tucson comics shared with The Weekly
I'm super excited to play with both Kitten Spit and The Riveters again, especially since I've moved away. Being in the festival is a great excuse to play with people who I'm already comfortable with! Kitten Spit in particular is one of my favorite teams I've ever been a part of. Because it's just Clare and me doing a monoscene (one long improvised scene with no edits). It's really different from anything else I've done. We really have to be patient with each other and the audience. It's easy to forget, in that format, that just because the audience isn't laughing every second, it doesn't mean they aren't entertained.
I miss you, Tucson! Please send Mexican food.
I got to do the festival last year and it was a such a fun experience. Genevieve (Rice) runs a great festival, and she makes a special effort to help performers. I'm looking forward to seeing some familiar faces and meeting new ones! I'm also super excited for the Storrs Objection. Shout out to Matt (Storrs) and Hattie (Hayes) for being straight up killers and very nice people.
I don't know Kristine very well (just added her on Facebook—hope she says yes! Oh god, what if she doesn't say yes?) but she seems fantastic and incredibly funny and I'm always going to root for a woman in a mostly male comedy scene.
Matt is hilarious and I think his material is fun and unique. Also, I am pretty sure he is actually a very timid gecko that a witch turned into a real boy or possibly not a real boy at all but in fact a meerkat suffering from an intense Taco Bell addiction.
My dear sweet Kack is a very clever comic and an amazing producer which is incredibly hard to find. And, despite his slovenly appearance and the general sense that his family has worked the night shift at Quick Trip for a thousand generations, he's a really great guy.
In general, it's just good for Phoenix and Tucson comics to know each other. It opens up the door for more collaboration and the possibility of more stage time and better produced shows for everyone.
I’m looking forward to not bombing as badly as I did last year. Honestly, though just the whole thing, It's easy to get jaded doing comedy in the same scene over and over again, seeing talent from other places is incredibly refreshing it pushes you to analyze what you've been doing and to do it better. Plus, Phoenix is my home town and this will very likely be my last show there before I head off to the east coast in June. It'll be a great good bye to the whole thing.
The most exciting thing for me, this is a new festival for me in a new comedy family. Everyone in Arizona has welcomed me with open arms and I feel blessed and lucky to be here and included in the fun. As with all festivals, I'm looking forward to the after-parties the most!
Nervous? Yes and no. Not nervous really for the shows but every comedian I've ever met is in one stage or another of a social anxiety disorder so seeing new faces, remembering names, that's the stuff nightmares are made out of for me. But those after-parties make it all better!
It feels great (to be selected for the festival. I mean I'm still pretty depressed and filled with self-loathing, but going to Bird City makes it the best version of that.
The most important part of this festival for me is meeting other comics from across the country. Obviously performing is amazing but so is getting to see all the other comics.
I'm very excited to be part of the festival. There is nothing better than improvising with your favorite people! I would have to say the best part about being able to do improv with Kitten Spit is being able to look at Brooke's face for 20-30 minutes straight and also force a lot of physical contact when it isn't really warranted. Other than that, since Brooke and I have such a strong friendship, doing a monoscene allows us to explore different facets of that relationship in creating characters that come from the more hidden and nuanced parts of ourselves. It is unlike any other improv I do and pushes me to be vulnerable with and trust Brooke so that we can "find the funny" and make the scene interesting.
There are some amazing comedians I am excited to meet and get to see preform, as well as getting to see some friends. I would hope for a positive impact (representing Tucson), but who knows? I might go rogue and make everyone hate me. I guess I just have to feel it out.
Please come to Bird City Comedy Festival! It’s not a far drive and the comedy will totally be worth it, I know, because ya boy will be slinging them jokes.