The 2023 Nantucket Comedy Festival is in full swing this week, and kicked off its opening night on Thursday with “Ladies of Laughter,” featuring four nationally headlining female comedians. Founded by comedian Kevin Flynn in 2007, the festival aims to bring the healing power of laughter to the island and supports Stand Up & Learn, a kids’ comedy program. This year marks the festival’s 17th year on the island.
The festival continues today at 7 p.m., with a big lineup for the Friday night “All Stars.” Flynn will be hosting, accompanied by Jack Gallegher– seen in many movies and shows including ABC’s Bringing Up Jack– Simon Fraser, Ken Rogerson, Jimmy Dunn– who plays the brother in the new Frasier show reboot– and Adam Ferrara. “There are lots of comedians on-island right now, so many of those guys will stop in to drop a set,” Flynn explains, bringing an “Etch-a-Sketch” feel to the performances as comics add their own spin to the stage.
The Stand Up & Learn Student Showcase will also occur today, at 5 p.m. at the White Heron Theatre. This event will feature performances by the kids of Stand Up & Learn, who have been working to “find their funny.” About 20 kids attended classes held by Flynn at the Nantucket Boys and Girls Club this week, with four of the students performing tonight. This is a free event, and all are welcome to attend.
The festival will conclude on Saturday, July 15th with the “Comedy Smackdown: Boston vs. New York.” As the main event of the festival, it will feature eight headlining comics, four from Boston and four from New York, battling it out for the funniest city cup, known as the “Man from Nantucket Cup.” The event will also be recorded for a potential PBS special that will “capture the magic of what happens in the comedy smackdown,” explains Flynn. The Comedy Smackdown is a playful tradition that headliners enjoy– and with Boston taking the cup last year, New York will be looking to even the scale.
The Comedy Festival is one of the only places in the world where this many headliners can be found in one place at one time, which adds to each performance. “That’s one of the things that’s pretty amazing about the festival– everyone you see is a headliner,” Flynn explains. “This year’s festival is a combination of old faces but mostly new, bringing new momentum to the stage.”