Laugh it up: the West Virginia Comedy Festival is coming to Buckhannon

BUCKHANNON – Lately, local residents have faced a number of trying events, including wind chills way below zero, cars that won’t start, school snow days and slick roads.

But take heart – there is something to smile about! The fifth annual West Virginia Comedy Festival is scheduled for March 29-30 at the Buckhannon Opera House in Buckhannon, and it’s sure to tickle your funny bone.

Event organizer and Fearless Fools member Jason Young said tickets for the event will go on sale soon and be available through Eventbrite.

“As soon as I get the Eventbrite set up, folks will be able to start purchasing the tickets. I am hoping that will be around February 5,” Young said.

A performance troupe operating under the umbrella of the Vintage Theatre Company, the Fearless Fools are the hosts of the West Virginia Comedy Festival.

“The West Virginia Comedy Festival was birthed by The Fearless Fools five years ago,” Young said. “This is the Mountain State’s only comedy festival, unfortunately. Five years ago, when the Fearless Fools were very young, we started looking around festivals and events. There are some in Columbus and some in Pittsburgh, but there wasn’t one in West Virginia.”

Young said the “Fools” were a “jump in the river and build as we go kind of organization.”

“So, we said okay, and we started a comedy festival,” he said. “The first two years we did it at the Bridgeport Country Club and it was a sellout. The next two years, we did it at Stonewall Resort and sold it out. This year, because C.J. (Rylands) has that really nice new facility, I said we need to have this year’s festival here and that is what we are doing.”

Young said the first time he went into the Buckhannon Opera House, he saw it as a comedy club simply because of the way it looks and the way it spoke to him.

“It is the perfect spot for comedy – it is very intimate, but it is a big facility,” he said. “We are going to be selling 200 tickets for the weekend.”

During the comedy festival, Young said there will be three types of comedy happening – stand-up comedians, humorous storytellers and improv-and-sketch comedy.

“Closer to the event, we will release the lineup of the performers,” Young said. “In February, we will begin introducing our comedians individually on Facebook and our website. We will let people know who will be performing on what night and at what time.”

The comedy festival will feature three shows each night – a 7, 8 and 9 p.m. show.

“But you just buy one ticket and can come to as much or as little as you want to,” Young said.

The comedy festival is still taking submissions, and Young said they will continue taking entries until the schedule is filled.

Young said the West Virginia Comedy Festival is appropriate for older youth – and some performances are even family-friendly.

“Usually when you get into comedy, it is not really kid-friendly, but we like to keep the festival at a PG-13 level,” he said, “but we can’t always guarantee that. We try very hard when we do our advertising and introduce our comedians individually, or when we introduce our comedy troops individually, we try to let people [which acts] are family-friendly and which are not. We try to book the comedy, so the more family-friendly acts are early in the evening, and it gets bluer as you go.”

According to Young, the Fearless Fools work year-round, traveling around the state of West Virginia doing improve comedy shows.

“We play Stonewall Resort and a series in our home venue in Clarksburg, this year called the VTC Cabaret Series,” he said. “Sometimes we teach improv classes. We have a program we call Improv ‘e’ u, which we offer to corporate organizations or people looking for trainings. We use improv as a way to teach people teamwork, team building, listening and cooperation.”

Young said The West Virginia Comedy Festival is never a disappointment.

“I think people will be very surprised at the level of funny that we have in West Virginia,” Young said.

Laura Meadows, executive director of the Upshur County Convention & Visitors Bureau, said The West Virginia Comedy Festival will be something residents of Upshur and surrounding counties and folks from all across the state and region can enjoy.

“We love these types of events because not only will it bring folks into Buckhannon, but it just spreads the awareness that Buckhannon is the type of town that is going to host these types of events,” Meadows said. “We are getting Buckhannon’s name out there.”

Meadows said she thinks The West Virginia Comedy Festival has a sizeable following and does a great job with their in-house promotion. She said people coming into Buckhannon for the comedy festival will be able to experience Buckhannon’s hospitality.

“People will be able to experience Buckhannon’s restaurants, perhaps stop over by Stone Tower Brews and get a drink after the shows or stay overnight if they have traveled a long way,” she said. “Buckhannon has a lot to offer. They can really make a weekend out of it. We are happy to host The comedy festival.”

Additional information about the West Virginia Comedy Festival is available on their website, which is www.vintagetheatre.wv.com and their Facebook page is Fearless Fools. The comedy festival Facebook page is The WV Comedy Festival, where tickets will be available through Eventbrite.