Running from August 29th to September 3rd, the second annual Baltimore Comedy Festival promises to have Charm City in stitches as it stretches throughout the city in over 20 venues. The festival founder, comedian Ivan Martin, recently chatted with Baltimore OUTloud to discuss the upcoming event and what makes Baltimore the new stand-up comedy frontier.

“We have built upon last year’s brand of comedy, and we now have 100 comedians, 60 of whom are from outside the DMV-area and ten outside of the country, performing at this year’s festival,” Martin began. “It was shocking that there were that many people interested in coming to Baltimore for this festival this year.”

For Martin, a native of Jacksonville, Florida, Baltimore became his home in 2009 for two very important reasons. “Geographically, Baltimore is located at the best location because everything is close to three hours away in different directions. They call it ‘Charm City’ because no matter what’s going on, we smile, and we have a good time.” Martin added, “Artistically, I saw there was a need for inclusion. I saw some of the comedy scenes, and they were a bit cliquish. The comics really didn’t hang with each other. When I moved here in 2009, I had already had four years of comedy experience under my belt. I had already opened for Kevin Hart, and began to join other comics in the area. Once I started working with the Motor House, I had this idea that I should ‘wrap a belt’ around the comedy scene and bring everyone together.”

“The city of Baltimore offers hope to the next generation of comedians,” Martin says. “Baltimore is the next frontier for inclusiveness and is slated to become the new ‘Atlanta’ or ‘New York’ of the comedy scene. We have comedians doing ‘open mic’ nights [in Baltimore] because the audiences here are so diverse.”

With respect to the comedy scene in Washington, DC, Martin believes that there’s an undercurrent bringing the shift of comedy to Baltimore. “The wave [in DC] is gone. No disrespect, but their scene is already built. This is the first attention that has come to comedy in Baltimore in a very long time, and it’s bringing attention to our city.” Martin added the LGBTQ community, especially, is welcome and will find enjoyment in the festival. “We have the amazing Michael Furr, who is not only a talented comedian, but is also part of the LGBT community. He was a featured emcee for Baltimore Pride 2018. He stands out in the community for his comedic talent.”

Overall, Martin continued to emphasize the idea that Baltimore is the next frontier for comedy. “Our city is changing and it’s a beautiful thing. If we leave the arts behind, then that’s when we really lose. One of the ways that we can continue to hold onto the city is to hold onto the arts, and that’s our foothold. That’s why I’m very happy to see that the Baltimore Comedy Festival is a yearly thing that will hopefully continue to attract people to the city and show them so much that we have to offer.” Martin added, “In regard to the festival, audiences can expect a diverse amount of talent from all over the country, with a very bright sprinkle of the hottest talent we have in this city; all within one week. This is throughout some of the coolest venues in the Baltimore comedy scene.”

For more information on venues and performers, visit Baltimorecomedyfest.com.

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Frankie Kujawa
Frankie Kujawa
Since 2011, arts writer Frankie Kujawa has covered a wide scope of entertainment stories and celebrity interviews. From the late Carrie Fisher and LGBTQ icon George Takei to comedians Lily Tomlin and Kathy Griffin to performer Idina Menzel, Kujawa’s candid interview ability brings readers past the byline and into the heart of the story. His unbiased previews of Baltimore-Washington’s theatre scene have allowed readers an inside glimpse of today’s most popular local and national performances. A Baltimore-native, Kujawa is proud to call Charm City his home.