A + EA + E Features


Excitement cometh. LaughFest is back, featuring comics Craig Hoelzer, Caleb Synan, Chris Patton & Nikki Glaser: some newcomers, some relatively oldcomers, but all noteworthy folks. Things might get nasty; each comic has dirtiness in his/her arsenal, and internal, filthy conflicts certainly exist.

Hoelzer, who is new to “the game,†as he says, thinks “there is just something cathartic about laughing at something painful or shocking.†He uses cancer as a pristine example:

“Think of cancer as a big, mean bully in your school… Everyone always sidesteps a bully or tries to appease him because they’re afraid. But the best way to disarm a bully is to show him you’re not afraid. So, one day after class you kick the bully in his nuts so hard that he pukes blood and everyone laughs. The bully is now powerless. Until he kills you, because God has a plan for everyone. But at least you’re not afraid of him anymore, and you can laugh at him.â€

Local comedian Synan, who says his stand-up “started as sort of a mutual dare between [him] and one of [his] friends,†thinks that dirtiness and cleanliness aren’t as far apart as one might assume.

“I think all truly funny stuff is kind of offensive,†he says. “There’s at least a small group of people who will get offended at any joke… If you’re a good enough comedian, anything can be funny… [However], clean humor has almost infinite value. As long as it’s funny.â€

On her “You Had to Be There” podcast, LaughFest headliner Nikki Glaser recently discussed the added pressure some female comics feel to go blue. However, Glaser goes against the grain in this regard.

“I never felt pressure to be nasty,†she says. “If anything, I feel pressure not to be, because it’s so prevalent now. I just write the way I write. I don’t try to write any which way. In the very beginning of my career I think I veered towards shock humor, because it was better to get groans than silence, but now I just write what I think is funny, and oftentimes, that means talking about poop.â€

Poop: not very shocking, but still a bit nasty. Glaser is mindful of audiences’ sensitivities and says she “would talk about anything if it was funnier than it was hurtful.†Good policy.

“I could be wrong, and most likely I am,†Glaser continues, “but I’m pretty sure that laughter is a biological defense mechanism for when you’re caught off guard or surprised… referencing a dead baby is the ultimate diversion from what a normal human should be talking about, so it’s shocking and therefore laughter-inducing.â€

Flagpole was also privy to some exclusive breaking news: Glaser has an upcoming late-night MTV talk-show pilot, co-hosted by her podcast friend/co-host Sara Schaefer. Exciting stuff.

Chris Patton, the event’s organizer, could not be reached for comment. However, this year’s show promises to be saturated with laughter, with comics from all over the professional spectrum on the bill.

So be offended. Be very offended.