Knoxville Comedy Festival


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2014 Scruffy City Comedy Festival Performers

Posted by on Sep 17, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Here you have the 2014 Scruffy City Comedy Festival Performers!

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Scruffy City Comedy Festival Headliners

Posted by on Sep 16, 2014 in Featured | 0 comments

We are excited to announce the headliners for the inaugural Scruffy City Comedy Festival that will be held the week of November 5th-8th, 2014.  We welcome Jarrod Harris (TBS, Comedy Central), Tim Northern (NBC) Bryan Cook (Nerdist Network) and the Reformed Whores (College Humor/Touring with Les Claypool’s Duo De Twang).  We have lot’s of great surprises in store that will make this comedy festival experience very different for both the audience and the comics that are participating.  Themed shows and a centralized festival venue area are the keys to what we believe will be one of the best independent performance arts festivals to ever hit the city of Knoxville.


Headliner_BryanCookBryan Cook

Bryan will be with us for two days hanging out, eating the local foods, hugging the local lady folk and performing multiple times in addition to curating his Nerdist Network Podcast Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction LIVE at our Scruffy City Comedy Festival!

Bryan Cook originally hails from the barren hellscape of rural Maine, and began his comedy career in Seattle, before relocating to Los Angeles where he wrote for Joan Rivers Fashion Police. Cook is the host and creator of Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction, presented every month at the esteemed Nerdmelt Theater in LA, as well as all over the US. In 2012, he was featured as an opening act on Kyle Kinane s Great Mistakes Tour, and has performed at the Bridgetown Comedy Fest, Riot LA, and Bumbershoot Festival. He also made a recent appearance at Cromfest, at the High Plains Comedy Festival and on the  the Oddball Comedy Tour.


Headliner_TimNorthernTim Northern

Tim has performed on Knox Comedy Live events multiple times over the last three years.  Each time winning news fans among comics and audience members alike.  He is one of the best pun-style joke writers working today.  We are pumped to have him!

Tim is a regular performer on the national comedy club circuit, having performed at the 2003 Montreal Just For Laughs Comedy Festival and appearing on CBS’s Star Search where he advanced to the finals. He also was featured this year on the reboot of Last Comic Standing (video). “I love that fact that he assumes his audience has a brain!” -Ben Stein. His enthusiasm for words and language results in what can aptly be described as humor for the thinking person, a unique combination of intellect and fun-filled observation. And yet, it’s mainstream humor that everyone understands. Simply put, Tim Northern is punster of the highest caliber.


Headliner_ReformedWhoresReformed Whores

If Tenacious D and Dolly Parton got drunk and had a baby it would be the musical comedy duo Reformed Whores! Southern bred, NYC based, Marie Cecile Anderson and Katy Frame have been lassoing hearts across the country with their sweet harmonies, raunchy wit and old-fashioned charm. Their debut album Ladies Don’t Spit includes tracks like Drunk Dial, Birth Control, and Girls Poop Too. For the past few years the Whores have been on tour opening for Primus frontman Les Claypool and his Duo de Twang. Since they straddle both music venues and comedy clubs, the girls have also performed at Zanies Comedy Club in Nashville, The Improv in Atlanta, Punch Line in SF, and Carolines on Broadway. You might have seen them on CBS’s The Doctors or hosting an episode of the Yahoo! web show Mansome, you just never know where the Whores will turn up next!


Headliner_JarrodHarrisJarrod Harris

Jarrod has made multiple trips to our Scruffy little city including his Organic Comedy Tour, and three others appearances. Audiences, comics, venue owners and everyone else that has had a chance to see Jarrod live falls in love and becomes a lifetime fan of his brazenly insane delivery.

Jarrod’s stand-up has been seen on TBS’s Lopez Tonight and Comedy Central’s Live at Gotham. Campus Activities Magazine named him as one of the Hot Comics of 2009 and Top Comics to Watch in 2010. In 2009 Jarrod Harris took fourth place at the San Francisco Comedy Competition and in 2010 was invited back for Detroit Comedy Festival’s “Best of Fest” as well as host of 2010/2011 Laughing Skull Festival.


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Submissions have ended for our 2014 Festival

Posted by on Sep 8, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Thanks to all who submitted to perform at the 2014 Scruffy City Comedy Festival.  We are hard at work reviewing the submissions and will be notifying you all of the results via email very soon!!

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11 Hours Left to Submit to 1st Scruffy City Comedy Festival

Posted by on Sep 7, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

wpid-img_65594890493078.jpegToday is the last day to submit to the 2014 Scruffy City Comedy Festival.  For more information, go here>>

Don’t feel like clicking quite yet?  Here is some info about the festival.

Scruffy City Comedy Festival

  • First year Comedy Festival in Knoxville, TN
  • Produced by Matt Ward (Cape Fear Comedy Festival/Knox Comedy Live)
  • 30-40 comedians will be accepted to perform
  • Acceptance Announcement will happen at or before September 15th
  • Festival performers will get more than just stand-up performance opportunities
  • $20 submission fee covers one year membership to
  • Comedians will be given a discount link for lodging or given couches/beds/floors to crash on by local comics.
  • Festival week is November 4th-8th, main festival occurring on Friday and Saturday November 7th and 8th, 2014.
  • All shows are walking distance from one another

Ok, enough of all this, Submit Now>>

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One week left to submit to the Scruffy City Comedy Festival

Posted by on Sep 1, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

September 7th at midnite is the cut-off time for submissions to the Scruffy City Comedy Festival.  We have determined we are taking at least 30 performers from other cities in addition to 10 locals.  The Scruffy City Comedy Festival was born from the growth of the comedy scene in Knoxville, Tennessee and we are truly proud of the talent we have in our city.

Stage Time

Our festival is going to present multiple times on Friday and Saturday nights to get on stage.  There will also be opportunities to take part in our themed shows as part of that stage time with shows including our Comedy Roasts and the Underwear Show. At the Scruffy City Comedy Festival, it’s about growing as comics and having the most fun our audiences can handle.

All you need is a bio and performance video to submit.

Submit now!



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The No-Bullshit Comedy Promotion Commandments

Posted by on Aug 25, 2014 in Comedy Business | 2 comments

Note from Matt Ward:  I recently spoke with JT Habersaat after seeing a tour he had booked in which he was on the road for over 30 straight shows without a day off.  I was more than impressed with not only the booking prowess, but the routing involved.  I asked him to write something about his do’s and don’ts for promoting a comedy tour.  Here you go, enjoy!

By JT Habersaat

When it comes to promotion, the majority of comedians I’ve crossed paths with generally rank somewhere below classic rock cover band and slightly above regional bake sale. Rarely do they take a second to consider the minimal promotional building blocks of a decent independent show, which at times just makes me scratch my head and at others, if I’m directly involved in said performance, has me employing a hammer to do the scratching.  So here are a few basic ‘musts’ for any comic looking to set up an independent one-nighter and not find themselves weeping in the corner as the bartender scowls.

  1. Thou Shalt Make Posters. As in, yourself. Never, ever, ever rely on a venue to create or ‘handle’ posters for your show. They won’t do it, or they will but the finished product will look like your aunt made it in a comic sans font and a ‘zany’ cartoon character holding a banana and a mic, or the details such as time / date / price will be disaster-level wrong, or your own goddamn name will be misspelled. Seriously, make a poster. Learn to use InDesign and the basics of Photoshop. Or find a friend / comic / fuck buddy that knows it, and have them do it. Make ‘em look good…you know, like an event. Bad comedy posters are the stuff of Facebook legend. Include credits if people do not know who you are (not made up credits either, you laugh grifter). Most importantly, print the posters and if at all possible HANG THEM YOURSELF. Often you are forced to mail posters for road shows, but send them to the venue as a LAST RESORT. Mail them to a comic on the show, or a pal you have in town, or the promoter, and have them go physically put them up. Venue staff deal with shows every night and are not paid to be your street team. And posters matter.
  2. Thou Shalt Do Promo Waaaaaaay In Advance. Like, months in advance. I always crack up when I talk to comics that casually mention “I’m gonna line up some road dates for September” and it’s the end of July. Um, no you are not. Or you are and they are going to be terrible gigs. If you are serious about road comedy, you should be booking yourself at a minimum of three months out. 4-5 months is better. Venues worth playing book this far out, so believe it. Part of the ‘ugh’ factor of being a comic is living your life 6 months in advance. Sad but true. Personally, I enjoy having the ducks in a row and knowing what’s on the horizon.  But like anything else, it takes work. Mail your posters (you know, the ones you made yourself) about 4 weeks out from the show. Too early and they will lose impact. Too late and…well, too late. 4 weeks gives enough time for them to hang on the walls and act as a reminder to locals, but not fade and just become part of the scenery. Same goes for press – deadlines for content are usually at least two weeks ahead of time, so sending your info and saying ‘how about a story?’ the week before your show = fail.
  3. Thou Shalt Make A Press Kit. A good, basic press kit. Learn how to write a press release. You only really need one skeleton for this, so employ an English major buddy to do it if you have a tough time with writing stuff like that. Once you have the press release skeleton, you can fill in the when / where / what’s for literally years, as long as you update the dates. DO NOT send one of those monstrous folders with a heavy-ass cd and an epic stapled tome of hype. It will crash to the nearest trash bin before you can exhale your dreams. I used to get hundreds of those in the mail every week when I worked in radio. Trust me. Garbage bin. You want a one page release, complete with all the details: date of show, time of show, all ages? Adv tickets? Support comics, venue ADDRESS and most importantly, at the bottom, YOUR CONTACT INFO. Website / Facebook / cell phone / email. Send it 4 weeks before your show. Follow up after a week. Sometimes this will require you TO MAKE A PHONE CALL. Horrifying I know, and a true test of how much you want to lose coverage in the weekly events listing to Johnny Hotrod’s 3rd Annual Dipshit Classic Car Jamboree. Because the editors know Johnny, and it’s an easy thing to cover, and reporters have it tough enough. Include a high-resolution (300 DPI!) press photo on CDR. And ideally a poster (you know, the one you made) of the event for eye-catching purposes. If you have an MP3 dropcard of your material that is great. Again, avoid sending CDs. They are heavy and require insane effort on the part of the journalist, like opening them.
  4. Thou Shalt Not Rely On Locals. Locals are great to have on shows. You should have locals on shows. But never, ever, ever (ever) rely on locals to bring the crowd, or even be a solid comic. Make sure YOU have your shit together, and you should be working with a feature you know and trust at a minimum. But the responsibility ultimately falls on your shoulders, “Mr. / Mrs.  Out-of-town comic ballsy enough to book a gig”, and NOT on the super excited but green local. If a local does a great job, and puts asses in seats, throw them some $. Even if it’s just $10, it will matter. And even if a local is terrible and a hack supreme, try not to be a dick about it. Just log it in your brain and don’t work with them again. That’s it. Move on. Next city, next show. Skip the drama.
  5. Thou Shalt Keep Up On Social Media. Make your own Facebook events for EVERY SHOW. Make sure all of the details are correct and that the event image is YOUR poster. Then hit up the venue / promoter / opening comic and make them an admin of the page and kick them in the ass to invite people. You NEED them to invite people, since those are the locals that go to shows. But if you are relying on the venue to create the event and then invite YOU to be admin, you are lost at sea and surrounded by hammerheads. Be a control freak, because ultimately – most people are lazy, they do not have a stake in whether the show does well or eats shit, they are just going to work and do not owe you anything. Get locals to retweet your blasts close to the day of the gig. If you have a killer website (and you should) push the mailing list and USE IT. Not every week, because that shit is mad annoying and you will get a one-way express pass to their spam folder. But send out tour announcements when you have something legit to hype.

Ultimately, having a crowd to perform to almost matters more than even the strength of your material;  cue the sound of one hand clapping while a tree falls in the forest and all that hippie jargon. So be your own best advocate and fan – it’s the only real way to build new ones. Now go tour.

JT Habersaat headlines the Altercation Punk Comedy Tour and . His new album ‘Hostile Corporate Takeover’ is available now on Stand Up! Records, and you can see all of his national fall dates now at

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Depression in Comedy (originally posted August 2013 on

Posted by on Aug 16, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

This blog is a repost from comedian Mike Cody originally posted on in August of 2013. If you know someone (comedian or otherwise) suffering from depression, help them get real help.  Professional assistance for depression is out there and often is free.

It has happened to me. I came off stage and didn’t want to shake anyone’s hand.  I was sure of only one thing, I hated what I just did on stage and was embarrassed by it.  Some comics and audience members sought me out to give me praise, but no matter what they had to say, I was sure they were simply being polite because they didn’t want it to be awkward.  On the way home I listened to nothing. No music, just the road. I stared ahead and thought about hopeless things like “This is why you don’t get bigger gigs..”  and “You are terrible, how can you quit without it affecting the young comics that enjoy what you do.  After this specific show where later I learned I didn’t do nearly as poorly as I had envisioned that I did, I decided it was time to address the feelings of depression related to comedy performance.  I had submissions from many comics, but the one that I want to share with you came from New York comic Mike Cody.  It hit the nail on the head. Here it is.

The Home Depot Fantasy
by Mike Cody

Sometimes club sets just don’t click. That’s nothing to be ashamed of. My favorite thing to do after a horrible set is run back to the green room and pretend I know which of the 17 different remote controls turns on the TV. Or, if the green room doesn’t have a TV, I stare intently at the menu. No one knows I’m thinking about how much I temporarily hate comedy. They just assume I’m having a hard time choosing between Chicken Finger Nachos and The Dumpster Burger. 

The reason why I head for the hills in those situations is because I hate saying goodbye to audiences as they leave a show they didn’t enjoy. Few experiences are more stressful than saying “Thank you for coming” to strangers, especially when I really mean “Please don’t hate comedy because of me.” The only thing that bothers me more than feeling apologetic after a bad set is when I have a great set and people walk past me anyway. 

I’m no egomaniac. When I kill, I know that nobody owes me anything other than the laughs they already gave me. I’m happy when people smile at me after the show. I’m even happier when someone shakes my hand and says, “Good stuff.” But when I nail it… I mean, REALLY nail it… And 198 out of 200 people walk past without so much as acknowledging my existence… That’s when the shame cycle begins. “I made them laugh. But they didn’t like me. Why didn’t they like me? Did I smile too much? Sometimes I look effeminate when I smile. I wish I had cheekbones. Maybe I wasn’t mean enough? Were they hoping for a meaner show? I don’t want to be mean. Being mean isn’t funny. “Maybe they liked me but didn’t remember me. That’s even worse. Am I forgettable? How could they forget about me? I made them laugh really hard. The headliner had a great set but that doesn’t mean they should have forgotten about me by now. It hasn’t even been an hour. “Is it my look? Should I dress differently? Grow my beard back? I can’t do that. Too many people have beards now. Did they hate my shirt? No, if they hated my shirt they would remember my shirt and by extension remember me. I never liked these glasses. I need new ones. The only reason I got these stupid frames was because they were affordable. That’s no good. Audiences can smell affordability. “Was I too locked in? Robotic? I wanted them to have a good time. It’s inexcusable when people go up there and just jerk around for half an hour. I want to earn my money. I think I did. They liked it. But they didn’t love it or else they would have talked to me. Maybe they did love it but they’re shy.

“Why do I keep doing this to myself? I know what triggers my sadness and yet I keep putting myself in situations like this. Do I belong on the stage? Do I belong anywhere? “Why didn’t they care about me as much as I cared about them?” After shows like that, I fantasize about changing my name, growing a mustache, and moving to North Dakota. I’ll get a job sweeping the floors at Home Depot and never, ever make anyone laugh again. “Hey, Fancy Joe,” my co-worker Larry will say to me at the end of our shift at The Deep. “They’re having a comedy show at the VFW tonight. You wanna go?” “You go on without me,” I reply. “I don’t care much for jokes.” “You’re an odd one, Fancy Joe.” Just to clarify: This is an actual fantasy that I have at least once a month. 

The best solution I’ve found for countering comedic experiences that leave me questioning my own self worth is to spend time with people who love me unconditionally. Usually that means my family or my closest non-comedian friends. I never tell them about my feelings of inadequacy, or my worries that even though certain people think I’m very funny, I’ll never be able to do the sort of things I want to do with my career. In fact, I try not to mention comedy at all. Comedy can be both exhilarating and torturous, occasionally during the same show. No matter how successful or unsuccessful they are, the comedians I feel truly sorry for are the ones who say the only people they enjoy hanging out with are other comedians. I love being part of the “brotherhood” but my non-comedian friends are the ones who make me feel human. When I’m low, I reach out to people who don’t care about whether or not my look is marketable. I turn to the friends who thought I was funny before anyone else did. Their laughter is the dragon I’ve been chasing all along. I’m lucky to share my life with people who would never walk past me. They’re the ones who give me the strength to carry on. If that doesn’t work for you, might I suggest an imaginary career at Home Depot? The benefits aren’t great but their aprons are pretty snazzy!

Mike Cody is a comedian of 9 years from Cincinnati now living in New York City. His debut CD on Rooftop Comedy Records “I Don’t Want To Take a Nap” can be purchased HERE>>.  Follow him on twitter @mikecomedy

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