The Limestone Comedy Festival is a three day event held in Bloomington, Indiana with five venues hosting shows in a three block radius. Some of the best acts and podcasts in the country stopped by June 4-6, and we were there. Janeane Garofalo, Aparna Nancherla, Kyle Kinane, Doug Benson and Michael Che are just some of the acts we saw perform in an atmosphere that felt more like a cool hang as opposed to attending a festival with names. It all kicked off this past Thursday.
Thursday June 4 – Janeane Garofalo
A packed house, you could feel the energy and anticipation build every minute before the lights went down. After the opening festival introductions with Limestone founders Jared Thompson (Comedy Attic owner) and Mat Alano-Martin (comic), Linda Stogner (funniest person in Texas) and local funniest person in Bloomington David Britton gave strong performances. You could tell midway through Dave’s absurdist set that the audience was open to ride anything.
Janeane comes out to massive recorded-special like applause with a stolen carton of Buskirk-Chumley TP in hand throwing it out to the audience like drum sticks. She started off quick and kept a fast paced spiel over the wonderfulness of bead stores, the horribleness of Mike Pence, and the dullness of the Walking Dead. I’ve heard she’s so full of content and the gift of gab that sometimes she unknowingly goes over time unaware of how long she’s been up. And she virtually said the same thing on stage. However, maybe in a subconscious attempt to remedy this, she thought she saw the light at just nearly 30 minutes in, wrapping up ten minutes later. Luckily someone backstage told her immediately, and she was able to jump back out and finish before anyone had left their seats. It was an oddly perfect encore to finish the opening show of the festival.
Thursday June 4 – Aparna Nancherla and Dave Waite
Across the street from the Comedy Attic the JWAC hosted two rooms on Friday night. I started on the downstairs one which ended up being beneficial. It was a tiny black box theater, with less than 20 in the audience. It would be the lightest show I would be at all weekend. It was a great contrast from the Buskirk-Chumley, being able to experience both ends of the comedy spectrum back to back. The show started late in hopes of more stragglers, so after spot on set by Ben Bizuneh (LA, originally started in Bloomington), I popped upstairs to see Aparna Nancherla assuming I’d be out in time to catch Dave Waite. The upstairs room was much bigger studio type room with curtain backdrops and a much fuller crowd. Aparna had an amazing set with YouTube classics and some bits I’d never seen. She couldn’t have been a different pacing than Janeane but the audience stayed right on the treadmill. After the show wrapped up I flew back down stairs a few minutes into Dave Waite’s set, which turned out to be the equivalent of one of the best basement shows you’ve ever been to in your life.
Friday June 5 – Doug Loves Movies with Josh Sneed, Dana Gould, Geoff Tate, and Angelo Pizzo (writer of Hoosiers and Rudy)
A typical Doug Loves Movies. I’m sure you can get more out of listening to the podcast. Some of the main highlights include the guys throwing a box of donuts out into the audience, talking some Rudy, and listing Christian Bale flicks. What I learned: Aaron Eckhart told Angelo that Oliver Stone was going through some of his worst coke abuse during the filming of Any Given Sunday, Dana Gould wrote on Blades of Glory, and Jon Favreau was seen as a nuisance asking too many questions on the set of Rudy.
Friday June 5 – Kyle Kinane with Doug Benson
Doug did his Doug thing after some solid sets by Ryan Beck and Alex Kumin, the crowd particularly digging Alex. Then Kyle Kinane took the stage. Bloomington has been fortunate in getting Kyle to swing by often so I have seen him every year since Whiskey Icarus. It’s been an interesting transition. However some people haven’t seen him since Whiskey Icarus, and when he walked out beer belly and beardless you could feel the residual surprise. He addressed it immediately, explaining he’s found a good place in life, but he’s suspicious of being happy (“you’ve got the right to pursue happiness, it’s not just given to you.”). He went on discussing things like the hypocrisy of condemning processed foods (“you know what I learned in an open market in China? That manta rays are stackable.”) and the absurdity that spiders are feared yet crabs are coveted. It was an absolutely stunning performance, the best I’ve seen him to do to this point.
Friday June 5 – The Back Door: Tom Brady – The Bishop: Esther Povitsky
Down an alley and around the corner from the Buskirk-Chumley I went to see Tom Brady at The Backdoor, a great little low ceilinged gay bar that seated 50 maybe. A DC area comic Jamel Johnson had an eye opening performance, but not as eye opening as his karaoke performance later that night. I would later discover he’s in a musical comedy group as well (Romane and Lettuce). Local boy Tom Brady ended the night with a great set. He started doing standup at the Comedy Attic as one of the genesis performers, and it was great to see return as a headliner. His comedy’s like horseradish to sinuses. Don’t sleep on Tom Brady, he’ll be riding Nikki Glaser’s coat tails to the top.
After the show ended I went over to the Bishop, the bar literally beneath The Comedy Attic for the post-show karaoke party. I was pleased to discover the Little Esther show had not wrapped so I was able to catch the last few minutes. Unable to get a real feel for the show, you could still tell she was able to take the crowd with her that night.