The most prestigious comedy event of Jersey City, the Sixth Borough Comedy Festival, returns this coming summer for the third successive year with a new name: Jersey City Comedy Festival. The event will showcase a diverse range of talent representative of the second most diverse city in the nation, according to wallethub.com.
“Not to rail against white men,” said Meredith Burns, executive director of Art House Productions, which organizes the festival, “but diversity in the festival is important.” Burns is a comedy festival veteran herself who has performed with the group The Executives at almost every sketch fest imaginable in the US and Canada. She noticed that festivals seemed to showcase mostly performers from one demographic and wanted to rectify that. So, the festival will include a “wide variety of ages and abilities,” Burns reported. “We wanted to make it representative of Jersey City,” she said.
The comedy festival has been around since 2013 in fits and starts. Originally produced by Art House and comedian and artist Craig Mahoney, the event was called “Jersey City Comedy Festival” and lasted two years.
In 2018, it was resurrected. This time around, though, the festival’s management would change.
Art House (now being run by Burns) tapped Jersey City comedian Rich Kiamco to curate the show. (Burns had been impressed with his long-running comedy show “The Laugh Tour.”) Then-Jersey City comedian Ari Miller was asked to co-produce, too.
But the festival also got a new name. Turns out the URL “JerseyCityComedyFestival.com” was already taken; so rather than use a different URL, Burns and company decided to rebrand.
“We had to get creative,” Burns explained. The name “Sixth Borough Comedy Festival” was a little tongue in cheek, and we liked the ring of ‘6BCF’.” So “Sixth Borough Comedy Festival” it would be.
This past year’s 6BCF, the second and most successful 6BCF, featured more than 140 comedians over the course of four nights. In addition to stand
up, sketch, storytelling, musical comedy, a podcast, and improv, it culminated in a roast of Mayor Steve Fulop.
“Getting roasted by Jersey City’s funniest residents was just as enjoyable as it sounds,” the mayor reported. “As much as I loved being subjected to jokes at my own expense during the last Comedy Festival, I’m happy to pass the baton to the next guest of honor,” the mayor said.
“As for suggestions of who should be next on the hot seat,” Fulop added, “I know of some people who could use a good laugh after [last Tuesday’s] Election Day.” Nonetheless the mayor did not give any names.
According to Burns, there were over 600 people in attendance throughout the 2019 festival, up 20% from the previous year. “It was interesting,” she said. “Gilbert Gottfried performed [in 2018], and while we certainly had great names this year, none of them had that nostalgic value,” Burns said while considering the increase of show goers.
“There were so many people there it was almost a fire hazard!” said Kiamco, referring to the “Friday Night Roast Battle” at the Newark Avenue club FM.
The 2020 Jersey City Comedy Festival is scheduled for June 10-13. It will feature stand-up, sketch, improv, musical comedy, maybe storytelling, and podcasts.
Comedians will have the chance to compete for prizes — and the festival may include panels and workshops (to suggest a topic for a panel or workshop, contact email@example.com.)
Finally, the group Character Assassination may headline the event with a theatrical roast.
Submissions for the Jersey City Comedy Festival are open through February 29, 2020.
In the meantime, be sure to check out the many budget-friendly underground comedy shows you could see right now in Jersey City.
For more information on the 2020 Jersey City Comedy Festival, visit 6thBoroughComedyFest.com.
Header: From left: Xavier Hernandez (co-producer of 6BCF 2019), Mayor Steve Fulop, Rich Kiamco (co-producer 6BCF and JCCF), Meredith Burns (Director of Art House, co-producer of 6BCF/JCCF). Photo by Miguel Aviles.