It’s been about two weeks since the inaugural three-day Janelle James Comedy Festival made its debut and we’re still buzzing. In case you missed it, we’re here to give you the run down.
The three-day long festival showcased performances by some of the biggest names in both up-and-coming and household-name comedy and included the likes of: Black Thought, Petey Deabreu, Liza Treyger, Michelle Buteau, Sydnee Washington, Marie Faustin, David Cross, Judah Friedlander, Matteo Lane, Mia Jackson, Eugene Mirman, Catherine Cohen, Nore Davis, Kate Willett, Kenice Mobely, Yamaneika Saunders, Amy Schumer, and, of course, Janelle James herself. If you skimmed over all those names then hear this – if you weren’t there for even just one day, you missed a helluva show.
In signature Janelle James fashion, she began day one of the festival with an air of confident nonchalance. James downplayed the Herculean effort it took to produce the show (contrary to popular belief, she does not have “a team”) and welcomed the audience with a blend of formal and casual tones. By day three of the festival, she flaunted a lighthearted and even-more-comfortable attitude, and radiated the relief that comes along with accomplishing a first-of-its-kind comedy festival.
But what really made the Janelle James comedy Festival so much different than other comedy festivals? First: she is a black woman with her own festival. Period. Sincerely simmer on that folks – in a male-dominated world (comedy and otherwise), Janelle James produced her own damn comedy festival... and it was amazing. Second, James showcased a line-up with comedians who resemble her own comedic style: causal, relatable, quick-witted, unquestionably funny yet not boastful. Third, she largely relied on word-of-mouth to sell out her shows. By contrast to other comedy festivals that spend globs of money advertise their presence, James believed that her name and the names of the comedians featured in her festival would drive ticket sales to produce sold out shows – and that’s exactly what happened.
Yes, we know this might be a little preemptive, but you absolutely need to set a reminder for next December to keep your eyes peeled for the second annual Janelle James Comedy Festival at The Bell House. Most importantly: don’t let yourself miss another second Janelle James or the people that back her up. Visit her website and follow her on Twitter for updates on her latest and greatest.