By Dave Fountinelle | email@example.com
About five years ago, comedians Mike Wooten, Isaiah Washington, and Dave Apkarian became friends while hitting the local open mic circuit.
“When you see other comics more often than you see your family, it’s pretty hard not to become friends,” Wooten jokes.
Back when the three comics were first starting out, Fresno’s comedy scene was still in its infancy, with only one regular open mic event in the city. Today, there is a comedy show or open mic every day of the week, with two or more events taking place on the weekends. Wooten gives credit for this accomplishment to the hard work of the close-knit local comic community.
“Everyone knows each other, and we all try to support and help one another grow,” he says.
Still, despite its considerable growth, Fresno’s comedy scene struggles to make a name for itself and step out of the shadow of the massive Los Angeles and San Francisco scenes.
“When we talk to people, so many of them aren’t even aware that there’s comedy in Fresno,” Wooten says. “We’re actively trying to change that.”
`Wooten, Washington, and Apkarian formed the group Fresno Comedy Scene to help support and promote local comics and comedy events to accomplish that goal. This month, Fresno Comedy Scene will host its debut comedy event, The Fresno Comedy Rumble – Fresno’s first-ever comedy festival and competition.
The Fresno Comedy Rumble will consist of about a dozen shows from Friday, July 21st, to Sunday, July 23rd, taking place all over the Tower District and Downtown Fresno areas. The “main event” for each night features a tournament of sixteen comics competing head-to-head at three of the best comedy venues in Fresno. Friday’s main event will take place at Full Circle Brewing, Saturday’s will be at The Labyrinth Art Collective, and the tournament will conclude Sunday at Strummer’s. The audience will vote for their favorite comedian, who will move on to the next round – the winners will receive a cash prize. Each night will end with live music from some of Fresno’s biggest musical acts, including Fashawn, Iwanaga, Sci-Fi Caper, DJ Atreyu, and more. Wooten promises it will be a packed weekend of comedy, music, food, and drinks.
“We hand-picked the three main event venues based on how well they treat the local comic community, and the level of support they show us,” Wooten explains. “We definitely encourage everyone to come out and check out the local talent. We have some real up-and-comers mixed in with some veterans. It’s going to be a great time.”
While The Fresno Comedy Rumble is currently the main focus for Fresno Comedy Scene, Wooten also teased some upcoming events the group is working on.
“On August 4th at Full Circle Brewing, we have Steve Furey headlining. He’s a regular at The World Famous Comedy Store in LA and just finished up a tour with Bert Kreischer. On August 10th at The Labyrinth Art Collective, we have Dustin Nickerson headlining. He just finished a sold out show at the Saroyan Theater back in May opening for Taylor Tomlinson.” Tickets for The Fresno Comedy Rumble are $20 per night. A free poster is included with the purchase of tickets for all three nights. Tickets are available at www.fresnocomedyscene.com/tickets
To stay up to date with all of the artists and events that Fresno Comedy Scene is promoting, follow them on facebook at facebook.com/fresnocomedyscene, or on Instagram @FresnoComedyScene. For information about The Fresno Comedy Rumble, follow @FresnoComedyRumble.