The inaugural Atlantic City Comedy Festival killed it last summer with several of the best comedians in the country, and the two-day event is back at Boardwalk Hall Sept. 3-4.
ATLANTIC CITY — All of the country’s top stand-up comics work on keeping their routines new and fresh, but there’s generally a cache of material that stays in the act consistently because they know it will crack up audiences every time. It’s called going with what works and can be crosscut to other art forms besides stand-up.
The concept might also be related to the Atlantic City Comedy Festival, as the idea was spawned from proven winners like Spike Lee’s hit film The Original Kings of Comedy, Russell Simmons’ HBO series Def Comedy Jam, and the BET show ComicView — all of which went far in helping to bolster the careers of top African-American stand-up comedians.
The initial A.C. festival was similarly a hit, and returns for two nights, Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 3-4, at Boardwalk Hall. Five different African-American comics are scheduled to appear each night (to be more accurate, Gary Owen, one of Sunday’s acts, is white, but is nonetheless a past title holder of “Funniest Black Comedian in San Diego” and has a huge African-American fan base).
“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. “I’ve played a few [solo] shows in Atlantic City at places like the Borgata and House of Blues, but being part of the comedy festival is special. I mean, it’s like a family reunion. And the great thing about it is you have people coming from all over to watch the art of stand-up and enjoy the show. It’s a beautiful thing. You don’t have to twist my arm to come to Atlantic City, trust me. I’ve been going there since I was a little kid.”
Born in Trenton and now living in Miami, Sommore is a former winner of BET’s Richard Pryor Award for Comic of the Year.
“The clubs are where you hone your craft, work on new material and try out different things on the audience — things like that,” says Sommore. “They’re where you work toward getting to the big stage, like what we’re doing in Atlantic City.”
Bruce Bruce discovered his skill for cracking wise initially as a chef out of high school in his home town of Atlanta, and later as a potato chip salesman for Frito-Lay. Like Sommore, Owen, Mike Epps and TuRae, Bruce Bruce was a feature performer at the inaugural A.C. Comedy Fest.
“We’re like Rome when it was falling, but with Twitter.”
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.
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