Coney Island Comedy Festival to return for fifth year

Upa inSpace performing at the Coney Island Comedy Festival.
The Coney Island Comedy Festival is coming back for its fifth consecutive year later this month.
Photo courtesy of Irina Ginzburg

The popular Coney Island Comedy Festival is back and better than ever for its fifth year. The festival, which is held at the Red Doors and Coney Island Brewery, will stretch over three days with a jam-packed lineup of local and traveling comics.

Coney Island Comedy Festival founder Irina Ginzburg is a comedy veteran, having performed stand-up under the name Upa inSpace for almost 15 years. Ginzburg fell in love with the performance medium when she moved to Manhattan but discovered a need for comedy in Coney Island, where she grew up.

“I’m a refugee from the Soviet Union and I grew up here and eventually I moved to the city and kind of settled there,” Ginzburg told Brooklyn Paper. “I became a stand-up comedian, an artist, an actor. And there was a real need for what I do here because there wasn’t anything like that. There was no stand-up in Coney Island.”

Ginzburg started the in-person festival back in 2019 and introduced a competitive aspect to the event last year. Because of the success of the competition, this year two competitive aspects will be available; one overall stand up competition and a one-liner. Winners receive a free stand up slot at Stand Up NYC.

2022 Coney Island Brewery Stand Up winner Spencer Wright with Upa inSpace.
2022 Coney Island Brewery Stand Up winner Spencer Wright with Upa inSpace. Photo courtesy of Irina Ginzburg

“It was just a huge success and it was great for us because we could make the community participate,” said Ginzburg. “So it’s not these chosen people that get to be on stage, the community gets to participate in the show.”

Ginzburg is grateful that the festival has expanded in size and reach, but also feels that the event is a way to give back to the place that nurtured and supported her own love of performance.

“My festival is really about giving hope, like I grew up here and I really appreciate Coney Island,” Ginzburg said. “I know history of Coney Island and all the innovation that came from here, so I feel like I’m a part of it. I had a lot of gratitude this year because we understand we wouldn’t be able to exist if it wasn’t for the community and businesses supporting [us], like it would not be realistic.”

The Coney Island Comedy Festival will begin Sept. 21 at 8 p.m. and will continue until Sept. 23 at 7 p.m. To learn more about the Coney Island Comedy Festival and to reserve tickets, visit their website here.