Building block: Diverse comedy fest grows in second year

Building block: Diverse comedy fest grows in second year
Fest with the best: Comedian Coree Spencer, founder of the Cinderblock Comedy Festival, says that this year’s event will be bigger an dbetter than ever.
Joe Karg

The new show on the block is back!

A comedy festival dedicated to promoting minority voices will return bigger and better than ever next week. The second Cinderblock Comedy Festival, happening Sept. 7–10, has added more comics, more venues, and a whole new neighborhood to its lineup, said its founder.

“We are so much bigger than last year and not only are we doing in it in Williamsburg again, we also have Bushwick in our path,” said Coree Spencer.

About 130 comedians will join the four-day affair, up from 60 last year, with performances at 19 different venues. Actress and comedian Janeane Garofalo will headline the festival, and will also join a showcase of older women in comedy, which Spencer said is one of the fest’s most anticipated shows.

“We have a lot of big headliners and a great lineup,” she said. “We also have a show called ‘Women of a Certain Age,’ and it’s about women over 40 and their under-representation in comedy — and that’s going to be an insane show.”

The festival, which famously charges straight white men more to apply than it does women or minority comics, got a lot of opposition when it debuted the policy last year. But many naysayers changed their minds when Cinder Block announced its diverse lineup up comedians, said Spencer.

“It’s so much more quieter this year. We hit a nerve and I feel like people were still in denial that this was something that we needed, and a lot of people who weren’t on our side started coming around to it,” she said. “This festival is for everybody, and once people see my lineup there’s no debating that.”

Providing a space for under-represented comedians is important, but for the audience, the festival is mostly just a chance to kick back and relax from a stressful world, said Spencer.

“I just want to give people a mini-vacation so they can come and hang with friends and watch good comedy,” said Spencer. “We even have free shows and a open mic night because I want people to see and feel comedy, and forget all the crap that’s going on even for an hour.”

Cinder Block Comedy Festival at various locations in Williamsburg and Bushwick, www.cinderblockcomedyfestival.com. Sept. 7–10. Tickets prices vary from free to $15.

Janeane from the ’block: Actress and comedian Janeane Garofalo will headline the Cinderblock Comedy Festival, with stand-up performances on Sept. 9 and 10.
Steven DeWall

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