There is an interesting subculture among vacationers that seems to be growing more and more mainstream; traveling specifically to comedy venues. People will plan their entire holiday around their want of a chuckle. Some cities have more going for them in the way of comedy than others. Chicago, Boston, Portland, and London all have quite a comedy scene.
The Internet is packed with travel information about comedy specific destinations. These days, every vacation brochure published has a section for comedy. They will always have a few of the “can’t miss locations” of the famous clubs in that locale: “The Second City” in Chicago, “The Helium Comedy Club” in Portland, and “The Comedy Store” in either London or Los Angeles. But a few times a year, they will also have a whole section dedicated to the huge destination festivals: The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, The Montreal “Just For Laughs” Festival, and The Melbourne International Comedy Festival. These huge non-stop parties are generally a month long, so it’s rare that someone could just pack up and attend the whole thing.
At the big festivals, there are always the huge names that come out to do just a few shows to a standing room only theater. But just as crowd-pleasing are the comedians working on making names for themselves through the festivals. Often hundreds of comedians are performing daily so it would be impossible to not find a show (or four) every day that will leave you in stitches. The best parts of the festivals are the late night gigs. Often you will get several famous comedians who’d normally fill a theater with their solo show, all doing short performances at a tiny little venue, like a pub or bar.
At the Melbourne Festival a couple of months ago, The Hi-Fi, a bar that would seat perhaps one hundred fifty people, hosted Festival Club, one of those late night specials. One in particular, “The Cardigans” was amazing. That show was comprised mainly of Brits; among the famous comedians that performed that night were Mark Watson and Simon Amstell, both of whom nightly sold out theaters for their respective shows. But that night, the audience got to see them in a much more intimate setting. There was a lot more bantering between the performers and with the audience than in a normal comedy show. You also got to see six comedians at that single show for less than half the price of seeing just one of them at their own show.
Check out a vacation brochure next time you are planning a trip and add a couple of comedy clubs to your personal itinerary. Vacations are good for the soul, but adding laughter makes them even better. Or if you are feeling very adventurous, compile your travel information and tackle one of the big festivals. Like Lenny Bruce said, “The only honest art form is laughter, comedy”