Edmonton Festival Scene Welcomes New Kid on the Block

Our privileged city, world famous for its festival line-up, is getting ready to premiere a new comedy fest this fall

BY EMIL TIEDEMANN

EDMONTON is no stranger to virgin festivals trying to get their piece of our city's viral festival community, one that remains active all year long. Every year it seems new events are popping up to celebrate and promote some art form, whether it be music, film, theatre, literary work, or even ice sculpting.

Edmonton Comedy Festival organizer Andrew Grose
But there's always been something lacking on the local festival scene (despite the little-known Improvaganza Fest in June), a theme familiar in world class events around the world, yet practically foreign to our own. That is, until now.

Homegrown(ish) comics will take center stage at what has been christened the inaugural ATB Financial Edmonton Comedy Festival, set to make us actually lol from October 19-22, at various locations in the downtown, including the Stanley A. Milner Library, the Citadel Theatre, and the parkade of the Edmonton City Centre Mall.

"You know, one of the things about Edmonton that I just love is that we have a mayor who loves comedy," said Andrew Grose (pictured above), the ECF organizer and co-host of 630 CHED Afternoon News. "The original idea for a festival came from city hall, and we've just run with it."

"I think we really need to take a look at how we raise the level of our profile in the country," Mayor Stephen Mandel commented late last year. "I think arts is one way to do that. Sports teams are another, architectural design is another one.... We need to look at what we can do to raise our game."

At around the same time, Mandel organized a team of area comedians who would raise $100,000 to help make this concept a reality. But he refused to identify who was on this so-called team.

Grose, also an Edmonton-based comic who's performed at Montreal's Just For Laughs Festival eight times, has promised that the event's priority will be in showcasing local comics, though it will also welcome national and international talent, in standup & sketch comedy, improv, and even musicians.

"This is a really active place for comedy, and I don't think Edmontonians have any idea that that's true," Grose said. "Maybe the lack of a festival is what's caused people not to realize it, but among comedians--and I mean all comedians: standup, improv, sketch--everyone knows that Edmonton just has this wealth of talent."

ATB Financial, the ECC's named sponsor, has offered up enough cash to fund this 4-day event for the next three years, at least. More information regarding tickets, performers and venues will be made available in the next couple of weeks.

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