Organizers of the first Atlantic City Comedy Festival hope it will become an annual event in the resort. Mike Epps and D.L. Hughley are among the comics on tap.
In the spirit of shows like the Kings of Comedy and the Def Comedy Jam, organizers of the Atlantic City Comedy Festival are hoping to start a tradition with an annual event that brings some of the top African-American comedians together for a superstar conclave of cutting-edge humor this Friday and Saturday (Sept. 3-4) at Boardwalk Hall. The event is sponsored by Trump Plaza.
The A.C. Comedy Festival is getting off to an impressive start with Friday’s lineup of Mike Epps, EarthQuake, George Willborn, Don “DC” Curry and Mario Tory. Saturday’s lineup features top comics Sommore, Bruce Bruce, D.L. Hughley, Gary Owen and TuRae.
Atlantic City has been taking some shots lately from the governor on down the line and the fact that the Atlantic City Comedy Festival organizers feel the town is a good place to bring a two-day annual event is an encouraging sign.
Sarah Cornelius, marketing and promotions director at North American Entertainment, the show’s promoters, explains why Atlantic City is an attractive market. “We produce a lot of touring events, frequently in the Philadelphia market and we occasionally do events in Atlantic City as well,” she tells Atlantic City Weekly. “This area is pretty strong for us. Beyond that, we’re really strong in D.C., Baltimore and New York City. Those major markets have customers that are used to coming into Atlantic City. Something that we are shooting for is to make this a destination festival from those markets. We’ll see what we get in the first year.”
It is a bold move to have two nights in Atlantic City’s largest venue, which will be set up for approximately 7,000 to 8,000 audience members. Cornelius agrees, “Every time you do a show it’s a risk — if it wasn’t everyone would do shows,” she says. “We did a three-day comedy festival in New Orleans over Memorial Day weekend. Three days seemed to be too much. We had some of the same talent there. When we looked at Atlantic City, we had initially been thinking about three days and cut it to two. Do we plan to have the place sold out the first year? No, but I think this is a good location for us and we will have a good number of people [attending]. We will have room to grow.”
• Mike Epps (see interview below)
• Earthquake (Nathaniel Martin Stroman) — was in the United States Air Force for 11 years before turning to comedy. He had a supporting role as Uncle Mike on Everybody Hates Chris, had a role in the film Clerks II and did a One Night Stand episode for HBO.
• George Willborn — A radio personality known as The Stress Reliever, he is the co-host of the nationally syndicated Michael Baisden Show, writes material for actress/comedian Monique and has appeared on Def Comedy Jam and Showtime at the Apollo.
• Don D.C. Curry — Besides touring across the country, Curry earned acclaim as Uncle Elroy Jones in the movies Next Friday and Friday After Next (co-starring with Ice Cube and Mike Epps). He got his start on BET’s Comic View and later hosted the show.
• Mario Tory — Up-and-coming comedian Tory recently won the national Big Easy Comedy Competition and has performed at numerous clubs in the Atlanta area.
• Sommore — “Queen of Comedy” Sommore will hold her own as the only lady on the bill. The Trenton, N.J. native received the Richard Pryor Award as “Comic of the Year,” appeared on the Queens of Comedy Tour with Monique, and has released the DVD The Queen Stands Alone.
• Bruce Bruce — Bruce has appeared on HBO’s Def Comedy Jam; Showtime at the Apollo and hosted BET’s 10th Anniversary Comic View and Coming to the Stage. He also starred in a Comedy Central Presents special and released the DVD Bruce Bruce Live.
• D.L. Hughley — Hughley starred in his TV series The Hughleys on ABC, and was one of The Original Kings of Comedy in the film by Spike Lee. His fourth comedy special on HBO titled Unapologetic is available on DVD. He headlined this past June at the Borgata.
• Gary Owen — Owen plays Zach the barber on Tyler Perry’s TV series House of Payne. He is also a regular on radio’s Tom Joyner Morning Show. He won the “Funniest Black Comedian in San Diego” contest, and is the only white man to have ever hosted BET’s Comic View.
• TuRae — Pronounced too–ray, this native Philadelphian began his comedy career at Temple University and has gone on to comedy stages and campuses across the country.
He recently went to England to represent his country and won the World Cup Comedy Clash at London’s Hackney Empire Theatre.
Funnyman Mike Epps
Comedian and actor Mike Epps is well known for his stand-up and his numerous film roles, including Next Friday, Friday After Next, The Honeymooners, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, his hilarious bit role as “Black Doug” in The Hangover, and the newly released hit Lottery Ticket. His most recent DVD is Mike Epps: Under Rated ... Never Faded & X-Rated (2009).
In a recent chat with Atlantic City Weekly, Epps explains that early in his career he used to get bused down to Atlantic City to play at a club (he can’t remember the name). “I’d work for $50 or $75. I’ve been to jail down there and everything,” he adds with a laugh. He enjoys doing a group show. “I get to do about 45 minutes onstage. I don’t get to see [my fellow comics] and work with them all the time, so it is like a reunion and a party when we get together.”
Epps is one of the stars of the film Lottery Ticket. “We made that movie for 17 million and it [opened] with 11.1 million. The studio will make their money back, and maybe make more movies [with an African-American] cast. I’m rooting for all the black movies.” Epps got his start in films thanks in large part to Ice Cube, who is also in Lottery Ticket. “I’ve got my love for Cube. We stay in touch and when projects come up we get together. Craig and Day-Day are always hookin’ up is some kinda way.”
Mike Epps, from his DVD UNDER RATED, NEVER FADED AND X-RATED (adult content):
Atlantic City Comedy Festival
Where: Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City
When: Friday, Sept. 3 & Saturday, Sept. 4, 8pm
How Much: $45, $59 & $85
Put into meteorological terms, the summer showroom forecast would probably read something like this: "Mostly funny throughout the three-month period, with occasional breaks for music in between. "
“We’re like Rome when it was falling, but with Twitter.”
“Last year was great, and from what I’m hearing the numbers we’re doing now are even better this year,” says Sommore, a New Jersey native who will open the festival Saturday (8pm) followed by Bruce Bruce, Arnez J, Tony Rock and Damon Williams.
ust after noon on Friday, it was reported that all Atlantic City casinos will shut down Friday, Aug. 26, due to Hurricane Irene and the mandatory evacuations.