The wait is over, comedy fans! The Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival returns to Union Hall and the Bell House for four nights this week and, in keeping with years past, the lineup looks pretty spectacular. Mirman, a longtime Brooklyn resident and seasoned comic, runs a weekly comedy show, Pretty Good Friends, at Union Hall and has appeared on TV’s Delocated, Bob’s Burgers, and Flight of the Conchords. His own standup draws upon a wide variety of sources, from standard things like videos of spoof reality shows to the truly weird (and hilarious). I’ve seen Mirman read the comments section of his middle school report card, Facebook ads that he buys and targets to hyperspecific groups (“Stop Feeling Sad–Are your problems stupid? Click here to agree!,” targeted toward 18 and 19-year-olds living in Brooklyn who listen to Wilco and Belle & Sebastian, for example), and an open letter he wrote to Time Warner (“I bet if Ayn Rand was still alive, she’d write a fun to read, but poorly argued book about how appalling and inefficient your company is”).
This quirky, often absurdist, comedic sensibility also informs Mirman’s namesake comedy festival, which melds straight standup sets from bona fide celebrities and emerging acts with offbeat events like caviar eating contests and live recordings of StarTalk Live! with Hayden Planetarium director Neil deGrasse Tyson. This year, there are eight events scheduled for Thursday through Sunday and tickets, which must be purchased individually, range in price from $10 to $20. As of now, the opening night show and two others are sold out, but there is still plenty of availability for Sunday night’s Invite Them Up, a reincarnation of the great weekly comedy show hosted by Mirman and Bobby Tisdale at the East Village’s Rififi during the mid to late 2000s. The same event last year had Mirman, Michael Showalter, Hannibal Buress, Jared Logan, Marc Maron, and Andrew Bird (surprise!) all performing on one stage for $20, and this year’s lineup is bound to be just as remarkable. Other shows that sound like sure bets are This is the Night These Comics Get Discovered and Become Stars! and The Eugene Mirman International Film Festival Hour. Whatever event you choose, I guarantee that you’ll leave wanting to make the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival your own annual tradition.