Who exactly will be competing at the 3rd annual Joshua Tree Improv/Comedy Fest at the Hi-Desert Cultural Center?The best up and coming stand up comics, sketch comedy groups and improv groups from across the nation. That’s not just hyperbole.
The festival began accepting submissions last June, and received nearly 80 of them from all across the nation. A panel of judges then viewed the onslaught of video submissions, giving them a score and feedback. Judges included a former Education Director for the National Endowment for the Arts, a cross-section of improvisers and stand up comics, as well as people who just enjoy attending improv/comedy shows.
The acts with the top average scores were then invited to perform and compete on Saturday and Sunday as part of the festival. Audience members will be the final judges, however, by scoring each act to determine winners, which will be announced Sunday night. The overall winner is invited back for a paid engagement at the HI-Desert Cultural Center.
In fact, last year’s winner, stand up comic Sean Grant, delivers his act on Saturday night, opening for Rob Belushi (son of Jim Belushi and nephew of John Belushi), then hops on a red eye flight to perform in Florida.
But performers are not just flying out, some are flying in.
For example, Jepherson Guevera, of Fort Worth, Texas, is making the trip to Joshua Tree to compete. Guevera isa regular on stage at all three of the Hyena's Night Clubs in the Dallas /Fort Worth area and has opened for popular comedians like Dante, Ben Creed, and Billy D. Washington to name a few.
Many make the trek from Los Angeles. Jason Stuart is one who has an impressive resume. He is not only known as the gay Don Rickles, he has a major role in the historic bio pic Birth Of A Nation from filmmaker & star Nate Parker opposite Armie Hammer. He is the National Co-Chairman of the first ever SAG / AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild/American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) LGBT Committee.
Friday night features sketch comedy by Nick Luciano and Zach Fairless followed by stand up comedy by the Emmy award-winning writer for the Ellen DeGeneres show, Adam Yenser. Yenser has appeared on Conan and FOX Laughs, has written for The Oscars, and has been a freelance contributor to SNL’s Weekend Update. Adam mixes sharp observational humor with a uniquely conservative political perspective and was named Best New Comedian at Politicon 2015. He can be seen on Ellen in the recurring segment “Kevin the Cashier Played by Adam.”
The improv and sketch comedy categories include multi-award winning teams, who will also be competing for audience votes.
Tickets for the festival start at only $10.
For the full schedule of events, which also includes hands-on workshops with LA-based improvisers and comics, go to www.jtimprovfestival.org or call (760) 366-3777.
*The festival is produced by the Hi-Desert Cultural Center, a non-profit 501c3.
**Photo attached of The Cosmonauts (Phoenix, AZ)