Idaho Laugh Festival sells out shows, impresses out-of-state comedians

Screen shot 2014-01-13 at 2.13.36 PMTwo days. More than 70 comedians. Sixteen shows. Five Boise venues.

By being so ambitious, was the inaugural Idaho Laugh Festival setting itself up for a cry-fest afterward?

Nobody really knew what to expect from the event, which stormed into Boise on Friday and Saturday. The brainchild of local improv comic Megan Bryant, it seemed, well, borderline nuts.

“I thought there was a very good chance this could suck and not go well at all,” admits Liquid Laughs owner Jeremy Aevermann.

But with the dust settled, the verdict is in: “The festival was freakin’ awesome,” Aevermann says. “Megan Bryant did a great job.”

All you have to do is scan comedians’ Twitter feeds to understand how entertainers felt about Idaho Laugh Festival.

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Seven of the festival’s 16 shows sold out, Bryant says, including headliner Dennis Regan‘s performance at the Egyptian Theatre. All but two of the rest were more than half full. More than 200 people attended the family-friendly matinee improv show at the Egyptian. Even the workshops were well-attended, Bryant says.

“I am completely blown away with the responses from the community,” Bryant says. “(It’s) so humbling and so satisfying to know that my countless late nights worrying and scheming paid off.

“And,” Bryant adds,” although I didn’t make enough money to roll around in it, I am in the black!”

Downtown Boise club Reef did two gigs Friday and one Saturday, averaging about 150 tickets sold, says booker Henry Rennar, who describes attendance there as “decent.” For a debut comedy festival, it was hard not to feel positive about the vibe in the air.

“A lot of young hungry comics,” Rennar says. “Some good, and some really good. … It was a great first-year event. It had a lot of different comic stylings. Stoked to be a part of it.”

Bryant is already planning a second Idaho Laugh Festival for 2015 — probably to be held in January again.

Although some of the venues might change, Liquid Laughs definitely will be one of the returning sites.

“Hands down, we’re doing it again next year,” Aevermann says. “I don’t see why we won’t do this every year. I just think it was really good for comedy in Boise. I think if we can pull that off every year, and the ‘Boise’s Funniest Person’ we do in the summer, I think we can really make comedy a big thing in this town.”

Adds Bryant: “You better believe I have a perma-smile right about now.”

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Michael Deeds is the Idaho Statesman’s entertainment columnist and Scene magazine editor. His column runs Fridays and Sundays. He appears on the 6 p.m. broadcast of "Today's 6 News" on Thursdays and hosts a music show, "The Other Studio," from 9-10 p.m. Sundays on 94.9 FM The River.

Posted in Words & Deeds