The Netflix influence on comedy culture is doubtless, and it’s not only about the money they lavish on big names. It’s about the opportunities presented to mid-level names that are getting a chance to grow their audiences with specials that might not have happened without Netflix’s presence in that space. And now, the streaming giant is looking to impact another sector with a Hollywood based festival that is poised to bring a blend of big names and up and comers into the spotlight while also blending in music, discussions around vital topics connected to comedy and more from April 27 to May 3 with the Netflix Is A Joke Fest.
Chappelle is hosting a show at the Hollywood Bowl filled with comedy and music, Letterman is hosting a stand-up showcase/interview at The Fonda, Hannah Gadsby is participating in an LGBTQ+ celebration, and there are other shows and performances coming from Ali Wong. Amy Schumer, Martin Lawrence, Jenny Slate, Ronny Chieng, Mike Birbiglia, Michelle Wolf, Kevin Hart, and (because I grow tired of typing) many more people that Netflix has ensnared in their money-for-comedy scheme. All told, the shows will span 20 venues with tickets available Friday, March 6 (and some presales going on Tuesday, March 3).
Afraid of flying and trapped on the other side of the country or weary of leaving the house? Have no fear, the festival is also going to be a boon to comedy fans who can’t make it out to LA with eleven shows eventually making their way onto Netflix, which is a very Netflix way of adding to the mystique of a comedy festival that competitors can’t quite match.
One of those made-for-streaming shows is a special honoring comedy legends Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Joan Rivers, and Robin Williams as the inaugural class for The Hall, a comedy Hall Of Fame that will be located at The National Comedy Center in Jamestown, New York. To be sure, there are other boundary breakers and masters that probably could have gone in with the first batch (Lenny Bruce immediately springs to mind), but there’s something to be said for spreading this out and allowing each luminary their own full moment in the sun without feeling crowded out. It’s also impossible to deny the impact of Pryor, Carlin, Rivers, and Williams, ranging from freedom of speech to representation in comedy (and late night) to pushing cultural boundaries and using comedy as a tool for good.
For more info on the festival and the getting of tickets, check out their site.