The Charleston Comedy Festival, organized by Theatre 99 and featuring four days of stand-up, improv, sketch and musical acts, is set for Jan. 15-18.
More than 25 shows are on tap at Theatre 99, Woolfe Street Playhouse, Threshold Rep Theatre, Forte Jazz Lounge, South of Broadway and The Commodore.
Some of it is clean, some of it is dirty, none of it is terribly refined. The festival includes favorites such as Reformed Whores and Mary Kaye Has a Posse, as well as notable group acts and showcases, improv scenarios (ghost stories, "Twilight Zone," Tennessee Williams) and headliners Beth Stelling, Pete Dominick and Francis Ellis.
A couple of old favorites are back, too, including Evan Berke, a College of Charleston grad and former director of comedy for the old Jail Break extravaganzas. Berke will be joined by Mario Tory and Deshawn Mason.
Since he left Charleston a decade ago, Berke has produced comedy shows in New York City, served as emcee for Pecha Kucha Brooklyn, developed web series, and worked for TMZ as a celebrity interviewer and on-air reporter.
"I interviewed people like Bryan Cranston, President Bill Clinton, Kevin Hart, Steven Tyler, and some of the most famous people on the planet," he wrote in an email. "I’m not going to lie, it was really fun getting calls from my family back in Georgia saying they just saw me on TV."
Last year, he moved to Los Angeles and focused on his stand-up career.
"As someone who started doing open mics as a freshman at CofC back in 2009, using my cousin’s fake ID for three years just so I’d be allowed into the bars around town to practice my jokes, this will be a very special full-circle moment," Berke wrote. "I just recently celebrated 10 years in comedy, and I feel like I’ve finally found my voice as a performer."
The festival is a big mix of local, regional and national acts, with, literally, something for everyone, including the little kiddies (“Clean Improv Comedy” at 6 p.m. Saturday), seasoned cynics (“Truth Is Presents: Oh, S***!” at 8 p.m. Friday) and the lascivious ("Dirty Game Night" at 11 p.m. Friday).