FringeArts' New Comedy Festival Features Michelle Buteau, Jaboukie Young-White, Cole Escola, And More!
FringeArts welcomes the most exciting new voices in American comedy to Philadelphia on February 1 & 2 for the inaugural Blue Heaven comedy festival. The festival name references "blue" comedy, or the bawdiest, most risqué material in a comedian's repertoire, and Blue Heaven celebrates precisely that with a diverse lineup that pairs cabaret performers alongside nationally-recognized comedians as they tease and interrogate stand-up, improv, sketch, and musical comedy.
Friday night kicks off in the FringeArts theater at 6pm with a live taping of the queer podcast Food 4 Thot, followed by the delightfully grotesque Sarah Squirm (Helltrap Nightmare), a new piece from alt-cabaret artist Erin Markey with Philly's own Emily Bate, character genius Cole Escola (Difficult People)'s new act Quick! Pretend I'm Asleep!, followed by a cabaret nightcap in La Peg.
Saturday evening starts at 5:30pm with sets curated by local comedy favorites Bechdel Test Fest and Good Good Comedy Theatre, followed by Whitmer Thomas' autobiographical storytelling piece The Golden One; Twitter favorite and Daily Show correspondent Jaboukie Young-White; and our headliner, the ever-hilarious comedian/host/actress Michelle Buteau (Late Night Whenever). Rapper/cabaret performer Champagne Jerry closes out the night in La Peg.
"Blue Heaven began with a question: how is comedy experienced through the lens of experimentalism? Or more plainly: who's on the fringe of funny? We've done an embarrassing amount of research, volunteering, and even took a few comedy classes on our journey to find out," said Artistic Producer Zach Blackwood. "In the end, we've identified broad and diverse stand-out voices that are as interested in auditing form, flexing expectation, and broadening perspectives as any other mainstage performer at FringeArts."
Born in New Jersey to Caribbean parents, comedian/host/actress Michelle Buteau brings her unique perspective and big personality to stage and screen. She hosts the popular podcast Late Night Whenever, appeared on Netflix's The Comedy Lineup, filmed a half hour special on Comedy Central, and is a regular guest on HBO's Two Dope Queens. She performs regularly around the country and is also known for playing 'The Crazy Girlfriend' on Comedy Central's Key & Peele and Adult Swim's The ERIC ANDRE Show. Michelle's dynamic presence brings an unapologetic frankness to every performance.
Jaboukie Young-White is an NYC-based comedian and filmmaker. He and his popular Instagram and Twitter accounts have been featured on The Fader, Clickhole, and Buzzfeed. Jaboukie was a finalist at NYC Devil Cup Stand Up Festival, a featured comedian at the FOX Night of Comedy, and was named one of Rolling Stone's 25 Under 25. He recently appeared in the Sony feature Rough Night, directed by Lucia Aniello and will be seen in the upcoming Netflix feature Set It Up, directed by Claire Scanlon. Jaboukie was recently staffed on the Franchesca Ramsey Pilot for Comedy Central, on Season 1 of American Vandal for Netflix, and is currently a staff writer for Big Mouth on Netflix. He was selected as a "Comic to Watch" at New York Comedy Festival 2017 and was one of Vulture/New York Magazine's "Comedians You Should and Will Know" 2017. Jaboukie made his late night debut on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to viral reception in 2017, and is currently a correspondent for The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.
Cole Escola: Quick! Pretend I'm Asleep!
A comedian, actor, and writer, Cole Escola has been named one of the 2014 OUT 100 and Time Out New York's Top Ten Downtown Cabaret Performers. Most notably, Cole played Matthew on Hulu's Difficult People, where he also served as a writer. He played Chris on Man Seeking Woman on FXX, and made recurring appearances on the Netflix series Girl Boss, Amazon's Mozart In the Jungle and the Tru Tv series At Home with Amy Sedaris. Escola just finished writing on the upcoming Broadway Video series The Other Two for Comedy Central. He was also the co-creator, writer, and star of the lo-fi cult-hit TV show Jeffery & Cole Casserole. Other TV appearances include Nurse Jackie, Law & Order, and Smash. He originated the role of Bridget Everett's fetus in Rock Bottom for The Public Theater in a performance Variety referred to as "heroic." His sketch comedy show The First Gay President sold out every performance and generated buzz and praise from the likes of PAPER Magazine and Lena Dunham. Due to overwhelming demand, his wildly popular solo show, "Help! I'm Stuck!" extended its run at Joe's Pub in NY, and enjoyed a sold-out run in Los Angeles.
WET FOOD: Erin Markey Live with Emily Bate
Erin Markey is a writer, comedian, and singer whose "fantastically weird and occasionally terrifying" (Time Out New York) work combines elements of cabaret and performance art. She returns to FringeArts with a brand new show featuring Philadelphia-based singer, composer, and harmony fanatic Emily Bate. WET FOOD is an intimate musical conversation comprised of Markey's signature story-driven stand-up and scored by homemade pop. They tackle all the current issues: the last dating hotline of the early aughts, a 2014 Kim Kardashian video game for mobile devices and the surprisingly delicious canned meat somehow marketed only to house cats?
Sarah Squirm is a Chicago based comedian who has become known for her unconventional, and popular show, Helltrap Nightmare. She was named one of Time Out Magazine's five comics to watch for 2017 and was included in Vulture/New York Magazine's list of "38 Comedians You Should and Will Know" 2018.
Whitmer Thomas: The Golden One
Whitmer Thomas has most recently appeared in The Good Place (NBC), The Walking Dead (AMC), GLOW (Netflix), You're The Worst (FX), and voiced and created the ADHD animated series Stone Quackers on FXX (now available on Hulu). Up next Whit can be seen in Lynn Shelton's film, Sword of Trust, opposite Marc Maron, Jillian Bell, and Michaela Watkins. The Golden One is a cohesive hour of Whit's stand up, storytelling, and original music.
Food 4 Thot Podcast
A multiracial mix of queer writers (Tommy "Teebs" Pico, Fran Tirado, Joe Osmondson, and Dennis Norris) talk about sex, relationships, race, identity, what they like to read, and who they like to read. It's not about food-they just really like the pun. They will record a new episode of Food 4 Thot live at Blue Heaven.
The greatest rapper ever to emerge from the Piney Woods of East Texas, musician Champagne Jerry (a.k.a. Neal Medlyn) is one of "New York City's Top Ten Downtown Cabaret Performers" (Time Out). With perfect flow, outrageous lyrics, and impeccable comic timing, Champagne Jerry delivers a stage show that is at once shocking, smart, and very, very funny. A prolific performer at music venues, art galleries, and comedy clubs, he has appeared at BAM, New York Live Arts, The Kitchen, Union Pool, Pianos, and Walmart parking lots around the country. He has appeared internationally in Vienna, Austria, and London; and as a musical guest on The Chris Gethard Show on Fusion TV. His longtime performing home is Joe's Pub in New York, where he hosts a semi-regular show called Champagne Jerry's Clubhouse.
Bechdel Test Fest
The Bechdel Test Fest is a comedy festival created in 2016 out of a frustration that stages in Philadelphia were still predominantly white, cis, straight and male. The festival celebrates the talented and hilarious women (both cis and trans) and non-binary comedians who make up a significant part of the local comedy scene. Their set will feature performance artist and clown Sarah Knittel, stand-up comedian Tan Hoang, multi-disciplinary artist and epic dancer Rebekah Rickards, and musical improv duo Song In Her Ear.
Good Good Comedy Theatre
Good Good Comedy Theatre is Philadelphia's home for live, mercilessly unpredictable independent comedy. An intimate, BYOB black box theater located in Chinatown, Good Good houses up to four wildly different live comedy shows per night. This includes stand-up, sketch, improv, storytelling and (especially) everything in between.
Blue Heaven takes place in the FringeArts theater and La Peg restaurant at 140 N. Columbus Blvd.
Tickets cost $50 for a day pass ($55 at the door) and $85 for a weekend pass.