This Friday brings the start of the annual Boston Comedy Festival, and this year’s edition features some not-to-be-missed performances before the fest ultimately pits comic against comic for an ultimate stand-up contest.
One can’t imagine a better way to honor the start of this annual comedic tradition than with Charlestown’s own “undisputed king of Boston comedy” Steve Sweeney, who on Friday at the Rockwell in Somerville performs his brand new, one-man show “Townie”.
A staple in the Boston comedy scene, Sweeney began his career at the famed Ding Ho Comedy Club, performing with comedic heavyweights Lenny Clarke, Denis Leary, Jay Leno and more. Comedians don’t get more Boston than Sweeney, but despite his famous accent, Sweeney is a master of dialects and character voices. He’s been featured on The Late Show with David Letterman, Evening at the Improv, Comics Come Home and Comedy Central. Sweeney was the first of many Boston comedy superstars to break into television, with the sitcom Park Street Under — one of the few original series produced by a local ABC affiliate (WCVB-TV). Sweeney’s “Townie: A One Man Show” begins at 7 p.m., but the fun doesn’t end once Sweeney has left the stage.
Following Sweeney’s performance in Davis Square is another comedy favorite, Juston McKinney, who performs at 9:30 p.m. McKinney, a New Hampshire native, gave up his career as a deputy Sheriff to move to New York and pursue his love of stand-up. Since then, he’s worked his way into the weekend line-up at coveted venues such as Comic Strip Live, Stand-Up New York, Dangerfield’s, Gotham, and more. Noted as “destined for stardom” by the New York Times, McKinney has appeared on Comedy Central Presents, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien. His one-hour special, Juston McKinney: A Middle-Class Hole, aired on Comedy Central to rave reviews. He’s also been featured in The King of Queens, 100 Centre Street, and has appeared in movies such as The Zoo Keeper and Here Comes the Boom.
In a show of Somerville solidarity, Boston Comedy Festival also reaches the stage of Once Ballroom, where Eugene Mirman of Bob’s Burgers performs on November 17, and where two rounds of the stand-up contest semi-finals will take place. The festival wraps up with the contest finals taking place on November 19 at the Somerville Theatre.
Elsewhere around Boston Comedy Festival, Cheers and Pixar star John Ratzenberger will be awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award, and Patty Ross will be crowned Comedian of The Year. Barry Crimmins, The Daily Show’s Ronny Chieng, Comedy Central’s Kyle Kinane, Emo Philips, and others are also taking part, so keep it locked to bostoncomedyfestival.com for ticket info, news, schedules, and updates.