Thomas Crone previews the upcoming event, "Last Laugh Comedy Stage" at LouFest
Earlier today, a project months in the making became public, as We Are Live’s announced a two-day slate of standup comedy at 2018’s LouFest. Found on the Last Laugh Stage inside a tented beverage zone helmed by the St. Louis Brewers Guild, the lineup will include a total of 13 comics. They’ll perform over both days of the festival, which takes place in Forest Park on Saturday, September 8 and Sunday, September 9.
With a lineup curated by Chris Denman of We Are Live and supported by the St. Louis-based apparel company By Jack, the addition of comedy to the LouFest lineup was something that Denman had pondered since working the festival with Travis Terrell last year, while in the employ of the classic STL soda brand, Vess. Moving from that promotional role to a presenter’s role was a natural transition for Denman. Though with a festival this large, it did take some time.
“Basically,” Denman recalls, “Travis and I worked there last year and the interaction with people was so positive. Everything worked well and it seemed like an effectively-run event. As other music festivals had added comedy, I wondered why LouFest hadn’t yet, so I reached out to Mike Van Hee, one of the owners of LouFest, and we’ve been talking about for about six months. We started by working on logistics, which allowed me to assess the talent pool and my budget. And now we’re able to announce it. It’s been pretty crazy.”
Two handfuls of local performers will augment three national acts (the full list is below). Denman believes the trio of national acts are “up-and-coming stars, one pilot away from breaking out.”
In a preview of the event published by the Riverfront Times just this morning, Daniel Hill wrote that “The Last Laugh Stage will feature ten local comedians and three national headliners — Matt Rife, Mia Jackson and Taylor Tomlinson — over the course of two days. Each comes with some serious credits to their name: Rife is an LA-based standup and cast member on MTV's Wild 'N Out; Jackson was a semi-finalist on NBC's Last Comic Standing who has also appeared on Comedy Central's Inside Amy Schumer; and Tomlinson is a co-host of the Self-Helpless Podcast with a Netflix special set to air this summer.”
As with any launch of a new event, there’s a lot that’ll be learned during the first run. Denman’s already prepared to examine how this year’s reaction plays out, with an eye on adding to the fun next year.
“The hope is that people enjoy it and that it’s a positive add-on,” Denman says. “Whether or not you like the lineup, it’s going to bring 60,000 people together. People enjoy it and it’s a big economic win for St. Louis. Nothing’s going to derail that. We just wanna get people a little more excited about it. We’ve worked really hard in assessing talent and making something that’s a fit. If the crowd responds in the way we think they will, we’ll be able to bring bigger names and presentation next year. We’ve just gotta play the Pied Piper role for now.”
Though there’re always possible changes to a lineup, the current version of performers looks like this:
Saturday, September 8:
Sunday, September 9:
Between now and the first day of LouFest, check back to this space for short features on a number of the STL-based performers.