Comedy Central wants to move stand-up comedy out of the clubs and into the realm occupied by massive outdoor events like Bonnaroo or Lollapalooza.
The Viacom-owned cable network plans to launch the “Colossal Clusterfest,” a three-day event that will feature comedy showcases, music, podcast recordings and collaborations by the artists attending, all held at San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza and Bill Graham Civic Auditorium from Friday, June 2 to Sunday June 4. Comedy Central plans to air a 90-minute live special from teh event on June 4.
Jerry Seinfeld, Kevin Hart and Bill Burr will headline the event, which will also feature Sarah Silverman, Ice Cube, Hannibal Buress, Tig Notaro, Pete Davidson, Fred Armisen, Natasha Leggero, Tegan and Sara, Chromeo, Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer from the Comedy Central series “Broad City,” Bob Odenkirk, Vince Staples, Chris Hardwick, Reggie Watts, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Princess featuring Maya Rudolph and Gretchen Lieberum.
“We have been looking at the festival space,” noted Kent Alterman, Comedy Central’s president. “It’s a great opportunity to connect fans with top talent.”
The network has long pursued non-traditional ways to generate attention for its on-air stars. Comedy Central has produced comedy tours and even comedy albums for the comics who populate its programming schedule. Viacom’s new CEO, Bob Bakish, has also articulated a strategy that aims to make the company’s portfolio of TV brands more relevant to the young audiences they attract. Comedy Central faces a unique challenge: It caters a great deal to young viewers, who are more prone to watch their favorite video programming in new ways that are not as easily monetized as linear TV. But the network has moved aggressively to weave its content into new areas, such as pairing its long-running “Daily Show” with Snapchat as well as Amazon’s Alexa. A comedy festival gives fans something to attend in person or talk about back home.
The network said it will work with Superfly, the company behind big music festivals like Bonaroo and Outside Lands. Comedy Central will be an equity partner in the venture, Alterman said, and expects to create a “communal experience” in which musicians might collaborate with comedians, and artists might make appearances in several different ways over the course of the three-day period.
“Clusterfest” will also feature on-the-ground experiences based on popular comedy shows “Seinfeld,” South Park” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” In the “Philadelphia” attraction, for instance, attendees can visit Paddy’s Pub, the home ground of the series’ characters, and snack on themed food items. A “Seinfeld” attraction will feature a full-scale re-creation of the show’s famous apartment and an array of classic foods from “Monk’s Cafe” and “The Soup Nazi.”
Comedy Central will hold its annual “Comics to Watch” showcase during the event, featuring young comedians selected by the network in an effort to identify the best new stand-up comedians from across the country.The TV special will be hosted by Chris Hardwick, host of the network’s “@midnight,” and feature a team of on-the-ground correspondents, taped performances, collaborations, highlights, interviews and behind-the-scenes segments, as well as live wrap – from the last day. Additional information and details on the special will be announced.
A portion of all festival ticket sales will be donated to San Francisco-based charitable organizations. to help further their missions and make a difference in the San Francisco community. Tickets go on sale March 2.