It's been four years since comedians Barbara Holliday and Dave Reinitz set out to do what some people called risky: open a comedy club in Burbank, just over the Hollywood hills.
"I've lived in Burbank since '96, myself. There's a big stigma about the valley, especially in the comedy community," she says. "We're the entertainment capital of the world. Why wouldn't we have a comedy club in the valley?"
Since opening night, Flappers Comedy Club has housed sold out shows and created a home base for many valley-dwelling entertainers who are eager for laughs. "Since we've opened we're proving everyone wrong. We get over 1,200 people a week through here and lots of big celebrity names. People are starting to take us seriously," Holliday says.
In the upcoming Burbank Comedy Festival, the first of its kind, Flappers hosts radio and stand-up personality Adam Carolla, who will record his podcast "The Adam Carolla Show" during a Aug. 19 performance. Gabriel Iglesias, known as Fluffy, stars in the recently released comedy concert film "The Fluffy Movie," and has a main stage set planned.
"When we put Fluffy's show on sale it sells out within two hours. He's a really friendly, supportive Latino comic who does a lot of voiceovers, too," she says.
Actor, producer Jeff Garlin and Wendy Liebman from "America's Got Talent" are other famous acts, along with other emerging artists who applied for a slot in the festival running Sunday, Aug. 17 to Saturday, Aug. 23.
"We want the general public to come and see all these great comedians that we handpicked," says Holliday, who hopes the festival will be similar as Montreal's Just for Laughs festival, with workshops in the mornings, industry panels in the afternoons, performances in the evenings followed by several after parties at watering holes Crystal View Lounge, Burbank Bar & Grill and Storybook Tavern.
There's a cruise ship showcase that invites talent scouts from Princess Cruises, Carnival, Holland America to meet up-and-coming entertainers for hire.
"You can come see the best of the best. These comedians will actually get cruise ship agents from [the showcase] and work for years and years. They don't have to take a cruise but they can see them before the cruise," Holliday says.
Unique performances run all week and patrons can purchase a week-long pass or just drop by the show to see all types of comedy, including "Fruit Cocktail," a gay and lesbian showcase starring Dana Eagle from "The Last Comic Standing." There is also a senior showcase.
"Tons of seniors want to be performers in our stand up. Marty Ross, he's in the "Senior Silly Showcase," and talks about senior issues," Holliday explains.
"There's an element of discovery, comedians to watch. We're saying, 'Take a look at this 10-year-old,'" Holliday says about the youngest member of the festival, Neil Aggerwhil, part of the "Misfits of Comedy" show at 7 p.m. on Aug. 18, hosted by Brad Williams.
"I talk about being born in the U.S., raised by traditional Indian parents and cultural differences about being an Indian person in the U.S.," says Neil, who writes his own jokes, performing each night at the family dinner table in Burbank.
He joins the festival with both his 15-year-old brother Vicktor and father, Raajeev, who he says inspired him to try jokes at a young age.
His first laugh from an audience was in a small competition, pegged against only his older brother, just after his father had performed a show at a club in Virginia.
"I told the same joke, in my language," says Neil, who took home $25.
"He was 4 at the time," adds his mom, Serykah.
What: Burbank Comedy Festival
When: Sunday, Aug. 17 to Saturday, Aug. 23
Where: Flappers Comedy Club, 102 E. Magnolia St., Burbank
Cost: Ticket prices vary based on show ($10-20). Purchase a pass by Aug. 1 and pay $399, includes tickets and access to all shows, classes and panels. General Admission Festival Pass will increase to $499 on Aug. 22 to 23. $599 for VIP all access pass.
More info: (818) 845-9721, For performance/class lineup, visitburbankcomedyfestival.com