Comedy Clusterfest!

30 Jun

This was the inaugural year of Comedy Clusterfest, a 3 (well, 2.5) day, partially-outdoor comedy festival in San Francisco. The headliners were Kevin Hart (Friday), Bill Burr (Saturday), and Jerry Seinfeld (Sunday), as well as other well-known comedians like Hannibal Buress, Sarah Silveman, Fred Armisen, T.J. Miller and Pete Davidson.

James and I got early bird tickets for $200 each – expensive, but pretty good value given how many shows we saw. We saw all the headliners, discovered a lot of new comedians, got some swag, and overall had a great time.

There was an outdoors South Park exhibit you could take photos in:
IMG_20170602_173546

And a real life Paddy’s Pub (where you could order Milk Steak and Rum Ham):
IMG_20170602_173914The only thing we didn’t get to see was the Seinfeld replica apartment, which looked really cool but had lines of 1.5-2 hours.

We mainly stuck to the Bill Graham auditorium, which had back to back comedy sets all weekend and was the best place to camp out if you wanted to enjoy yourself without having to wait in line all day. Here are the seats we got on Friday.
IMG_20170602_174950People had cottoned onto the Bill Graham strategy by the second day, so our seats were not quite as awesome (though still pretty good – front row mezzanine). The auditorium was packed all Saturday and Sunday – standing room only for Tig Notaro and Hannibal Buress.
IMG_20170603_150923We also discovered the Papa Johns Mystery Box game, where you chose a door to win random prizes, the best ones being $5-10 vouchers you could spend on food and drinks at the festival.
IMG_20170603_184931There was a guy inside manually dropping prizes in the compartments. When it was my turn he dangled a souvenir Clusterfest tote bag in front of me, then dropped two $5 vouchers instead.

Papa Johns Box Guy: There you go! That’s a better prize isn’t it?
Me: Actually, I would take the bag …
Papa Johns Box Guy: Oh. Well you can have the bag as well then.

=D

Between us, James and I got $25 or $30 in vouchers, so that was really cool. =) We gave one to Patrick (who only got $5, so James felt obliged to share the wealth) and spent the rest on a coffee for James and booze the next day.

The evening headliners were all outside at the Colossal Stage, which was a bit of a problem because it was super cold every night – pretty much all the comedians complained about it.

The second night for Bill Burr, our group split up with some of us standing further away and James, Patrick and I braving the crush nearer the stage. It was a pretty stressful experience getting jostled around and we were debating whether to head back to our friends when one of the event organisers started randomly picking people from the crowd to sit in the chairs up front.
IMG_20170603_230239The three of us could not stop grinning afterwards. =D OMG it was such a better view and experience in the seats.

We were pretty lucky overall that weekend, and got good seats for all the shows we were interested in. Including second row centre seats for the packed Bill Burr and Jerry Seinfeld Q&A on Sunday (the highlight of the festival for me). Which also ended up being second row centre seats for the Hannibal Buress set that made James double over and tear up from laughing so hard. And second row centre seats for watching Pete Davidson absolutely bomb when he repeated a set he’d done the previous day.

Sorry it’s super blurry, but right after James took the photo they started clamping down hard on photos so we didn’t get a chance to re-take it.
IMG_20170604_142153(Margarita courtesy of Papa John’s)

We also got coveted seats for the Seinfeld evening show at the Colossal Stage, but that one was a huge mess. The organisers fucked up and wouldn’t let in the people who had lined up because they weren’t clearing out the people who were already there for the previous act (which was protocol every other night and the festival’s official policy). Instead they let in a bunch of randoms who lied and said that they already had seats. I know they lied because people at festivals always lie, and also because after 50 people blew by us, James went up and they let him go through (and the organiser was like “yeah I remember you”). =/

So James and I ended up getting seats for Seinfeld, but it was bittersweet because our friends didn’t get in. =( Seinfeld was really funny – it was really impressive seeing him live, especially after hearing him talk about the craft of comedy at the Q&A earlier that day.

There are definitely some kinks to iron out, but we had a blast at the festival. If they do it next year with a similarly stacked lineup I would totally go again. I would also bring a much thicker jacket or a blanket for the evening show because brrr.

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