5th Annual Cleveland Comedy Festival Takes Over PlayhouseSquare, 11/14-21

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The Cleveland Comedy Festival is back for its 5th year and is ready to entertain and delight audiences at PlayhouseSquare November 14 – 21 with more shows and more laughs than ever before. This year's festival is jam packed with 16 different shows over 8 full days and more than 60+ hilarious comedians from Northeast Ohio and all over the U.S. Tickets are $10 - $20, and are available now at The PlayhouseSquare ticket office, by calling 216-241-6000 or online at playhousesquare.org.

Highlights in this year's festival include:

· 16 different shows at the home of the Cleveland Comedy Festival – PlayhouseSquare! Our partnership that began in 2011 is expanded to include more shows than ever at Kennedy's Theatre and 14th Street Theatre as well as simultaneous shows on the same nights.

· A higher stakes stand-up comedy contest featuring 36 top comedians from Cleveland, Chicago, New York, California, Canada and Florida. Prelim shows with 12 comics each will take place Wednesday 11/14 – Friday 11/16. Contest finals with the top 9 comics will take place on Saturday, 11/17. Audience voting and a panel of celebrity judges will each determine the winners. Total purse is now more than $2,000!

· Stay up for some Late Night Laughs at Kennedy's Theatre 11/14 – 11/16 starting at 10:00 p.m. each night and catch some great after-hours comedy from many of the hilarious Festival contestants. Tickets are just $5 or admission is free when you show your ticket to any Cleveland Comedy Festival show.

· Cleveland's best sketch comedy group Last Call Cleveland headlines on Thursday 11/15 at 14th Street Theatre. Led by comedic provocateur Mike Polk Jr., Last Call Cleveland has won awards at sketch festivals in Toronto and Chicago and prides itself on its uniquely "Clevelandy" humor.

· Veteran NYC comedian and podcaster Tom Simmons will headline two shows on Friday, November 16 at 14th Street Theatre. Winner of the 2009 San Francisco Comedy Competition and two-time finalist at the Boston Comedy Festival, Tom Simmons has appeared in the Montreal Just For Laughs Festival, Comedy Central, Bob & Tom Radio show and is known for his provocative Sunday morning #PewTweets.

· A new LGBT theme comedy benefit show "Out Loud Laughs" with lesbian and gay comedians from Chicago and Cleveland will take place on Saturday, November 17th at Kennedy's Theatre. $5 of every ticket sold will go to the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland. This show is also sponsored by Skylight Financial Group, a leader in financial planning and LGBT-friendly business.

· The city we know and love to make fun of will take its lumps on Saturday, November 17th at The Roast of Cleveland at the 14th Street Theatre. Comedians Mike Polk Jr., Ryan Dalton, Jeff Blanchard, and Joe Howard will be joined by Plain Dealer "Minister of Culture", Michael Heaton and WCPN 90.3 and Plain Dealer columnist Mike McIntyre as they joke on each other and the city of Cleveland. $5 of every ticket sold for this event will benefit the Cleveland Foodbank.

· A class of 11 aspiring young comedians will make their stand-up comedy debuts at the Class Clown Graduation Show on Sunday, November 18th at 14th Street Theatre. These 11–17 year old comedy students are taking a comedy class and receiving instruction from festival comedians and will show what they've learned in front of friends and family.

· Cleveland's own Tammy Pescatelli concludes the 2012 Cleveland Comedy Festival on Wednesday, November 21 (Thanksgiving Eve) at the 14th Street Theatre. Best known for NBC's Last Comic Standing and her own reality TV show on Wetv called "A Stand Up Mother" which she produced, wrote and starred in, Tammy is a seriously funny comedian. Tammy grew up in the Cleveland area and honed her comedy act right here. We're very excited to welcome her home to close out the 2012 festival with a bang.

"The first four years of the festival were successful beyond expectations," said Joe Hannum, co-founder, who is – by day – a direct marketing strategist with Wyse Advertising and – by night – a local stand-up comic. "But this year we've really outdone ourselves. We're really excited about the partnerships we've established with multiple venues, independent producers, Comedy Clubs and the comedians themselves."

"This year we added more shows and events for fans and comics, "said Hannum. "The comedy contest and the workshops are bringing in comedians to Cleveland from Chicago, Columbus, Cincinnati and even Florida. And the shows will be even better with national headliners sharing the stage with our great local comics. We want to make the Cleveland Comedy Festival a destination event and another reason for Clevelanders to come downtown. I mean, it's Cleveland… how could it not be funny?"

For details about shows and performers and to purchase tickets, visit www.playhousesquare.org.

PlayhouseSquare is a not-for-profit performing arts center whose mission is presenting and producing a wide variety of quality performing arts, advancing arts education and creating a destination that is a superior location for entertainment, business and residential living, thereby strengthening the economic vitality of the region.