Jun 06, 2018
The festival catered to a broad base of comedy fans.
SAN FRANCISCO — A few moments into her 30-minute set during last weekend’s Clusterfest, after the beat from DJ Khaled’s “Top Off” died down, Tiffany Haddish scanned the crowd and cheered, “This feels like a really f—ed up Jehovah’s Witnesses concert.”
The offhand line managed to summarize the ethos of the weekend, as a chance for comedy enthusiasts to gather en masse. Fans who usually chase laughs through screens and headphones or maybe even clubs could instead see stand-up and sketch comedy as part of an energized community. They could experience their favorite shows as sitcom tropes brought to life through carnival-inspired games.
”From a fan standpoint, being able to get up close to talent and to shows you love, and really being able to interact with them in a different way, in an immersive way, is such an important touchpoint,” says Steve Raizes, senior vice president of live, experiential, audio and podcasting at Viacom. “And not just for the Comedy Central brand … I think that’s just part of the culture right now.”
Headliners included comedians Trevor Noah, John Mulaney, Amy Schumer, Nick Kroll, Michael Che, Jim Jefferies, and Jon Stewart (in his first West Coast performance in 15 years) along with musical acts The Lonely Island (in their first concert ever), Third Eye Blind, Wu-Tang Clan, Salt-N-Pepa, and T-Pain.
“What it really represents is the year-long effort on behalf of Comedy Central and our talent department, scouring the country for the absolute best, freshest voices in comedy,” said Jonas Larsen, Comedy Central’s executive vice president of talent and development, West Coast.
On the festival grounds, a South Park corner included a Kick the Baby game, Member Berries skee ball, and Cupid Me Couples archery. A banana stand doled out $4 custom dipped frozen bananas alongside The Bluth Company stair car in honor of Netflix’s Arrested Development. Paddy’s Pub from FXX’s It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia was recreated again this year, as was The Donald J. Trump Twitter Library which had first been staged in June 2017 in New York City. And, a Double Dare Mtn DEW®-themed obstacle course included slime as well as its original host Mark Summers, in advance of the show’s reboot this summer on Nickelodeon.
The diversity of the programming and entertainment brands was deliberate, in order to attract a broader group of fans. Co-produced with Superfly and Another Planet Entertainment—the companies behind the Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival—the idea was to create IP activations, live reads, and programming that aren’t available elsewhere. And since smartphones had to be turned off during the closed sets, many of the festival’s moments could be appreciated only by those in attendance.