Entertainment Features

Garden City Comedy Festival Returns

Garden City Comedy Festival Returns

By David DeRocco                             dave@gobeweekly.com  https://twitter.com/?lang=en 

If there’s one festival that Niagara entertainment lovers should be happy to hear is back in action it’s the Garden City Comedy Festival, and it’s easy to see why: the world needs a good laugh.

June 1st through 4th, the festival launched by local comedian David Green returns to full live-and-in-person events at a number of downtown St. Catharines venues. After two years of COVID-driven virtual events, Green is happy to be once again offering comedy fans a complete version of the festival rather than last year’s abridged version.

“It’s the seventh years as an organization doing continuing shows, but this will be the fourth annual big festival,” said Green, who will also be taking the stage as host of the festival kick-off June 1st at Mahtay Café. “At the start of COVID I started doing the weekly Zoom events. Then as restrictions started loosening, we started doing outdoor patio shows, and eventually moved inside doing sold out shows. Then the universe decided we were having too much fun.”

Unless something entirely unexpected happens, the 2022 version of the Garden City Comedy Festival should be one of the best ones yet.  Niagara favourite Jeff Leeson headlines the kick-off,  with the newly established Niagara Comedy All Stars event replacing the annual search for Niagara’s funniest amateur comic. Night three will see headliner Brenda Lennie and host Brie Watson featured as part of a fundraiser for Women’s Place, while the gala finale includes headliner Mike Wilmot along with Ernie Vicente, Zabrina Douglas, Fiona O’Brien and host Joe Pillitteri.

Given the scrutiny the comedy world has been under from the hyper-sensitive minions of the cancel-culture brigade, is this year’s festival organization being approached with caution? Not according to Green, who suggests it’s business as usual.

“I don’t worry about the sensitivity but instead I focus more on the positivity of how the comedy industry is booming right now,” said Green. “There are way more events and way more people attending comedy events and shows in Niagara then in the past decade. It’s nice to see that not only is my festival growing, but all the other comedians are part of a rising tide raising all ships.”

Green has recently witnessed an in-person example of people responding negatively to a comedy routine, but as a professional comic he’s not worried about such isolated incidents.

“Last week I was at a show and I’m not sure what the comedian said but it caused someone to walk out, but it’s just jokes. You don’t have to get up and slap somebody. You don’t even have to listen. Just get up and leave if you don’t want to be there. For the one person who got offended there were 100 people who laughed and enjoyed their night. You can’t please everybody.”

Another new element to the Garden City Comedy Festival is the Badunk A Funk street party planned outside the Niagara Artists Centre on Friday June 3rd. As always, tickets to the festival are selling fast. To get the full lineup and to purchase tickets, visit gardencitycomedyfestival.com.  


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