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2019 Blue Heaven Comedy Festival

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About the Show

The most exciting new voices in American comedy come to Philadelphia for two days of provocative performances, irreverent stand-up, a podcast recording, and more. Offering over six hours of laughs and cringes each night, and blurring the lines between comedy and performance, this is not your average comedy festival.

“Blue Heaven began with a question: how is comedy experienced through the lens of experimentalism? Or more plainly: who’s on the fringe of funny? We’ve done an embarrassing amount of research, volunteering, and even took a few comedy classes on our journey to find out,” said Artistic Producer Zach Blackwood. “In the end, we’ve identified broad and diverse stand-out voices that are as interested in auditing form, flexing expectation, and broadening perspectives as any other mainstage performer at FringeArts. Expect to see faces from Fringe’s past in concert with nationally-recognized humorists as they tease and interrogate stand-up, improv, sketch, and musical comedy.”

Artist Schedule

Friday, February 1

6PM: Food 4 Thot Podcast
7PM: Sarah Squirm
8:30PM:WET FOOD: Erin Markey Live with Emily Bate
9:30PM: Cole Escola: Quick! Pretend I’m Asleep!
10:30PM: BREAK
11PM: Ruby McCollister and Larry Owens

Saturday, February 2

5:30PM: Bechdel Test Fest Presents
6:30PM: Good Good Comedy Theatre
7:30PM: Whitmer Thomas: The Golden One
9:30PM: Jaboukie Young-White
10PM: Michelle Buteau
11:30PM: Champagne Jerry

About the Artists

Food 4 Thot
 is a podcast where a multiracial mix of queer writers talk about sex, relationships, race, identity, what we like to read, and who we like to read. It’s not about food—they just really like the pun. Hosts include Tommy “Teebs” Pico, Fran Tirado, Dennis Norris II, and Joe Osmondson.

Sarah Squirm
 is a Chicago based comedian who has become known for her unconventional, and popular show, Helltrap Nightmare. She was previously named one of Time Out Magazine’s five comics to watch for 2017.

Erin Markey
cordially invites you to the “fantastically weird and occasionally terrifying” (Time Out New York) world of Wet Food. Comprised of Markey’s signature story-driven stand-up and scored by homemade pop, Markey presents an intimate musical conversation between themself. They tackle all the current issues: the last dating hotline of the early aughts, a 2014 Kim Kardashian video game for mobile devices and the surprisingly delicious canned meat somehow marketed only to house cats? Philadelphia’s own Emily Bate helps the conversation along by singing and playing multiple instruments in Topshop flats (the shoes not the music concept). Come for the warm cabaret stools, stay for the.

Cole Escola
, a comedian, actor, and writer, has been named one of the 2014 OUT 100 and Time Out New York’s Top Ten Downtown Cabaret Performers. Most notably, Cole played ‘Matthew’ on Hulu’s Difficult People where he also served as a writer. He played ‘Chris” on Man Seeking Woman on FXX, and recurred on the Netflix series Girl Boss, Amazon’s Mozart In the Jungle and the Tru Tv series At Home with Amy Sedaris. Cole just finished writing on the upcoming Broadway Video series The Other Two for Comedy Central. He was also the co-creator, writer, and star of the lo-fi cult-hit TV show Jeffery & Cole Casserole. Other TV appearances include Nurse JackieLaw & Order, and Smash. He originated the role of Bridget Everett’s fetus in Rock Bottom for The Public Theater in a performance Variety referred to as “heroic.” His sketch comedy show, “The First Gay President,” sold out every performance and generated buzz and praise from the likes of PAPER Magazine and Lena Dunham. Due to overwhelming demand, his wildly popular solo show, “Help! I’m Stuck!” has extended its run at Joe’s Pub in NY each month, and previously made its way west for a sold-out run in Los Angeles.

Ruby McCollister
 is an actress and comedian based in New York City. She has performed on various stages including Moma Ps1, Moma, and the New Museum. Rubyalso contributes to and collaborates with the Chicago based comedy group, Helltrap Nightmare, performing standup and improv for their shows in Los Angeles. Additionally, Ruby is the creator of critically acclaimed web series Zhe Zhe. Currently in its second season, Zhe Zhe was featured in Paper Magazine and Dazed and Cultured Magazine. Most recently, Ruby appeared in HBO’s The Deuce and Comedy Central’s Idiotsitter and will also be featured in the upcoming independent horror/comedy film Uncle Peckerhead, set for release in 2019.

Larry Owens
 is a performer, writer, director, and comedian residing in New York City. He was a WGA-nominated staff writer on TruTV’s PAID OFF, where the winner of each show will receive full student loan debt relief. Larry recently completed his first feature film, TO DUST, opposite Matthew Broderick. Named one of TimeOut NY’s “comedians we’re obsessed with”, Larry studied drama and improvisation at the School at Steppenwolf. Larry is set to play the lead in the upcoming Off-Broadway play A STRANGE LOOP, written by Michael R. Jackson. The show will run from May-July at the Mainstage Theater in New York.

The Bechdel Test Fest is a comedy festival created in 2016 out of a frustration that stages in Philadelphia were still predominantly white, cis, straight and male. The festival celebrates the talented and hilarious women (both cis and trans) and non-­binary comedians who make up a significant part of the local comedy scene. Performance artist and clown Sarah Knittel, stand-­up comedian Tan Hoangmixed medium artist and epic dancer Rebekah Rickardsand musical improv duo Song In Her Ear will be part of the BTF segment at Blue Heaven.

Good Good Comedy Theatre
 is Philadelphia’s home for live, mercilessly unpredictable independent comedy. An intimate, BYOB black box theater located in Chinatown, Good Good houses up to four wildly different live comedy shows per night. This includes stand-­up, sketch, improv, storytelling and (especially) everything in between. For this special performance, Good Good presents a fast-paced sampler of the cool bullshit you can see at the venue on a nightly basis.

Whitmer Thomas
 has most recently appeared in The Good Place (NBC), The Walking Dead (AMC), GLOW (Netflix), You’re The Worst (FX), and voiced and created the ADHD animated series Stone Quackers on FXX (now available on Hulu). Up next Whit can be seen in Lynn Shelton’s film, Sword of Trust, opposite Marc Maron, Jillian Bell, and Michaela Watkins. The Golden One is a cohesive hour of Whit’s stand up, storytelling, and original music.

Jaboukie Young-White
 is an NYC-based comedian and filmmaker. He and his popular  Instagram and Twitter accounts have been featured on The Fader, Clickhole, and Buzzfeed. Jaboukie was a finalist at NYC Devil Cup Stand Up Festival, a featured comedian at the FOX Night of Comedy, and was named one of Rolling Stone’s 25 Under 25. He recently appeared in the Sony feature Rough Night, directed by Lucia Aniello and will be seen in the upcoming Netflix feature Set It Up, directed by Claire Scanlon. Jaboukie was recently staffed on the UnitFranchesca Ramsey Pilot for Comedy Central, on Season 1 of American Vandal for Netflix, and is currently a staff writer for Big Mouth on Netflix. He was selected as a “Comic to Watch” at New York Comedy Festival 2017 and will be one of Vulture/New York Magazine’s “Comedians You Should and Will Know” 2017. Jaboukie made his late night debut on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to viral reception in 2017, and is currently a correspondent for The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.

Born in New Jersey to Caribbean parents, comedian/host/actress Michelle Buteau brings her unique perspective and big personality to stage and screen. She was most recently the co-host of VH1’s Big Morning Buzz Live. Her other television credits include Enlisted on FOX, Comedy Central’s Key & Peele and @Midnight, and Best Week Ever. As a comedian, she has toured the country performing at colleges, clubs, and festivals. Michelle’s half hour special premiered on Comedy Central in September, and Comedy Central Records concurrently released her album, SHUT UP!, which is now available on iTunes. She also hosts a podcast, Late Night Whenever, featuring celebrity guests, stand up, and a house band.

The greatest rapper ever to emerge from the Piney Woods of East Texas, musician Champagne Jerry (a.k.a. Neal Medlyn) is one of “New York City’s Top Ten Downtown Cabaret Performers” (Time Out). With perfect flow, outrageous lyrics, and impeccable comic timing, Champagne Jerry delivers a stage show that is at once shocking, smart, and very, very funny. Champagne Jerry has released two albums: For Real, You Guys (2014) and The Champagne Room (2016). His songs are both boastful (“I’m sorry I couldn’t come into work today. I was busy at my other job—being the fucking best”) and resigned (“Your dreams can come true! Well, probably one of your dreams. Maybe two”). Champagne Jerry tells us he smokes rocks (“actual rocks, because I’m insane”), is attracted to business women (because they wear Ann Taylor), and frequently sings the song “My Year,” an almost-convincing anthem that declares all the misery of the prior year to be in the past. No surprise, he’s a Mets fan. WNYC’s All Things Considered says: “Medlyn deals in theatrical miracles. He transforms the stuff of our celebrity-obsessed, media-saturated world into impossibly beautiful, absurdist happenings….He’s amazing.”

Nerd Out

Who’s Who in Blue Heaven Blog Post

by Kat Sullivan, Communications Intern Fall 2018

Blue Heaven, a FringeArts comedy festival, will showcase some of the most provocative voices in American comedy for one weekend of gut-aching hilarity. Our full lineup is live and now is the perfect time to plan which shows you just have to see (warning: it might be all of them)… Read up on who’s who:

Michelle Buteau

Michelle Buteau, comedian, host, and actress headlining Blue Heaven, is bringing her unique perspective and big personality to stage and screen. She was most recently the co-host of VH1’s Big Morning Buzz Live. Her other television credits include Enlisted on FOX, Comedy Central’s Key & Peele and @Midnight, and Best Week Ever.

Read the full blog post here


Presented by

Following the final acts in the theater, head up to the La Peg mezzanine to make your own Don Julio tequila cocktail! Complimentary Don Julio Tequila, mixers, and garnishes will be provided.

Coming Up at FringeArts

Scratch Night
Mon, Feb 4 at 7pm

Philly’s most talented artists perform new material from shows they are working on in this fast-paced sampling of contemporary theater, dance, performance art, and everything in between. Scratch Night is hosted and curated by a different artist each month, and features four to six short performances by local companies and artists, offering an inside look at the future of performance.

This month’s Scratch Night, hosted by Eugene Lew, will feature works in progress by Shani Aviram, Maria Murphy, James Sprang, Clint Takeda, Will Owen, and Taji Nahl.

Get Pegged feat. The Illustrious Blacks
Fri, Feb 15 at 10pm

Like a poison cookie—tempting and treacherous, pleasing and perilous—Get Pegged Cabaret lures you inside a reimagined La Peg, then jumps you with unrestrained intimacy and live music and performance. Each night features uncensored and stimulating entertainment from the sexy, satirical, daring, delightful, queer, and most dangerous performers on the cabaret scene, a one night stand between a local Philadelphia artist and another performer from around the world.

Acclaimed duo The Illustrious Blacks headline this month’s Get Pegged for an performance that will be outta this world.

High Pressure Fire Service
March 1-June 22

This Spring, FringeArts presents six new works—five world premieres and one expanded remount—from some of Philadelphia’s leading performers in a new series titled High Pressure Fire Service. Addressing issues of representation, gender, accessibility, reproductive justice, and more through devised theater, comedy, and participatory play, these new productions embody the vast range and exceptional talent of Philadelphia’s rich performing arts community.

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