The Costs of Getting Into a Comedy Festival

Let’s face it, performing at comedy festivals is pretty expensive until you are getting booked in a paid spot to perform at them. It is becoming increasingly important for cost consciousness when deciding which comedy festivals to apply to.  Here are numbers to think about when it comes to applying to perform at a comedy festival.

The Costs of Getting Into a Comedy Festival

1.)  Submission fee-  This is actually the least of your costs.  From $10-$80 comedy festivals more often than not have a submission fee.  Even if you submitted to EVERY comedy festival you see that is taking submissions over the course of a calendar year, the cost of submitting pales in comparison to the biggest cost of all.

2.) Travel-  Travel will fuck your budget up every time.  Are you applying to a comedy festival that is on the other end of the country?  Are you going to have to fly?

  • Flying-  Flights from some cities to other cities are unreal expensive.  Before you submit to a comedy festival, if you know you are going to have to fly, go ahead and do a little research into the cost of the tickets.  Quite often you will find you START at paying $250 to fly just about anywhere.  You have to add the cost of renting a car potentially as well, so just tack on another $100-$150 for that and any gas you would use while there. In the end, doing a comedy festival on the other side of the country could cost you $500 or way way more.
  • Driving- Some festivals are somewhat centrally located.  If you can drive there in 8 hours or less you may want to consider this option.  The costs of driving this much varies dramatically, but even if you had a car that got 40 mpg and the average cost of gas was $3.15 (which it is rarely), you would still spend about $100 to get to the festival an back.  What is WAY worse than that is that you are spending 16 hours in a car.  That means you are taking a day off work or off gigs not making any money.  Consider this opportunity cost when it comes to deciding whether to drive or fly.  The BIGGEST benefit of driving is the ability to carpool.

3.)  Food and Drinks and Weed/etc-  Yeah, I mentioned weed, because to some comics it is right up there with buying drinks. Either way you have to be honest with yourself about the money you are going to be spending to survive when you are at the comedy festival.  If you were at a festival for four days you are going to just begin to feed yourself and have a good time on about $100. That doesn’t include weed though… Sorry stoners.

4.) Lodging-  If you are resourceful and ok with it, you can typically find a comedian to crash with.  If you can’t and you have to get a room by yourself, look at spending about $150-$450 on a hotel room depending on the city.  Does the festival offer lodging?  A few do, not many, but a few do.

In summary, are you ready to spend close to $1000 to go to a comedy festival?  If you are picking one across the country or in an area where the cost of living is high, be prepared to.  Does that mean you shouldn’t submit to some festivals?  Perhaps.  Great festivals are happening all over the country now so in the end there is a good chance you are not applying to one that is pretty awesome and way closer to you.

-Matt Ward


Scruffy City Comedy Festival Confirmed Venues

Pilot LightWe have two venues confirmed for the first annual Scruffy City Comedy Festival.  First of all, we got Jason Boardman and the Pilot Light on board.  Jason has been a big supporter of the underground comedy scene far before Matt Ward or Knox Comedy Live were bringing comedians to stages in Downtown Knoxville.  The Pilot Light seats about 50 with standing room for about 60.  The venue has been the home of our Character Roast series.

We will be having shows on Friday November 7th and Saturday November 8th at The Pilot Light.

The Pilot Light is located in the Old City neighborhood of NE Downtown Knoxville, about 6 blocks from Market Square.


scruffycityhallOur primary venue where our biggest shows will be is Scruffy City Hall.  Scruffy City Hall is a nearly 200 seat music venue that works perfectly for stand-up.  The venue is located in the Market Square district of Downtown Knoxville. Scruffy City Hall is another venture from Scott and Bernadette West, also big supporters of comedy in Downtown Knoxville and renegade scene builders in the Market Square district.

The two venues we have secured are less than a half mile from one another, or just under a ten minute walk.  We really want to make all of our venues walking distance from one another for our 2014 festival!

Festival Date/Venues Announced!

The Scruffy City Comedy Festival is coming to Knoxville, Tennessee for three days, November 6th, 7th and 8th, 2014.  We are excited to have five venues on board for the inaugural event including the Star of Knoxville Riverboat, Theatre KnoxvilleThe Pilot Light, The Well and Scruffy City Hall.

The festival is the brainchild of comedian and promoter Matt Ward.  Ward also is the co-founder and co-producer of the Cape Fear Comedy Festival in Wilmington, North Carolina.

The Scruffy City Comedy Festival gets it’s name from the nickname from a story that appeared in the Wall Street Journal in the 1980’s inspired by the news that Knoxville would host the 1982 World’s Fair.  The article was written by Susan Harrigan and it was titled ‘What if you gave a World’s Fair and nobody came?’  The now infamous line from the article stated Knoxville was ‘a scruffy little city on the Tennessee River.’  The writer doubted that the event could work.  It did.  Because of passionate people and a unique vision, it did.  That is why we are the Scruffy City Comedy Festival.  Our collective of comedians that volunteers to organize, run and promote this festival believes we can throw a comedy festival where people can come from all over the country to be funny, become friends, have a great time and put people in the seats.

Submissions: Submissions for the 2014 Scruffy City Comedy Festival will begin in May or June.  As soon as the information is released it will go out to our subscribers of this blog first.  So please take a moment to sign up so you become the first to know the details!