Poundstone, Cavett serve as hosts of 2012 festival shows04-23-2012 09:07 pm
It’s been five years since the idea of having Norfolk host a comedy festival to pay tribute to the legacy of Johnny Carson first became reality.
“It’s amazing how far the festival has come,” said Lori Williams, the festival’s executive director. “And we’re so excited about what’s planned for this year.”
The 2012 Viaero Great American Comedy Festival is set for Wednesday, June 13, through Sunday, June 17.
Serving as the host for the Saturday, June 16, show that serves as the finals of the festival’s stand-up competition will be Paula Poundstone.
“Paula Poundstone is one of my favorite comedians. I’ve known her since the late 1970s. I learned so much from working with her. She works the crowd better than any comic I have ever seen,” said Eddie Brill, the festival’s executive producer and warm-up comic for “The Late Show with David Letterman.”
Poundstone is known for spontaneity and intelligent humor, making her an ideal panelist for National Public Radio’s weekly news quiz show called “Wait Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me” show. She was the first woman to win an ACE Award for Best Stand-up Comedy performance, and was the first woman to be invited to perform at the distinguished White House Correspondents dinner.
She has starred in solo special on HBO and Bravo and made frequent television appearances with David Letterman, Jay Leno, Craig Ferguson and Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion.”
A lecturer and author who lives in Santa Monica, Calif., Poundstone has been described as “a refreshing anti-celebrity: warm, gracious, genuine. If you like intelligent, philosophical comedy, you’ll love Paula Poundstone.”
Making a return visit to the comedy festival will be Nebraska native Dick Cavett, who was was the recipient of the festival’s inaugural Johnny Carson Comedy Legend Award in 2008.
Brill said Cavett told him he enjoyed so much his first time at the festival that he wanted to come back. This year, he’ll serve as the host for the festival’s family show on Sunday, June 17, which will feature have its focus on comedy/magic.
Both Cavett and Johnny Carson became enamored with magic when they were young, and so it was a natural to make this year’s family show have a focus on magic, Brill said.
“Dick Cavett still stands today as one of the greatest interviewers of any generation,” Brill said.
Much like in years past, the festival will begin with the finals of its amateur competition on Wednesday, June 13, with the show hosted by Sam Adams of Denver. Audience members will vote on who they think is the top comedian.
On Thursday, June 14, and Friday, June 15, the 20 professional comedians who auditioned for Brill before being invited to the festival will take to the stage at the Johnny Carson Theatre, with 10 performing each night. The top four — as selected by a panel of comedy club representatives from Florida, California and Illinois — will advance to the finals on Saturday, June 16.
Also on Thursday and Friday of the festival will be the late-night shows at Divots where the professional comedians will perform different sets intended for adult audiences.
The family comedy/magic show will wrap up the festival on Sunday afternoon, June 17.
More information about the rest of the festival lineup, including this year’s recipient of the Johnny Carson Comedy Legend Award will be released in the near future, Williams said.
“All of us helping to plan this year’s festival are excited that it’s drawing closer,” she said. “It’s had to imagine that the festival is already in its fifth year.”
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Want to learn more?
For more information, or to buy tickets online, people can go to www.greatamericancomedyfestival.com.