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Laughing All the Way

Now in its sixth year, the Nantucket Comedy Festival takes off this week. Co-founder and Executive Director Kevin Flynn talks about where they've come from and where they are going.

I caught up with Kevin Flynn this week just after a successful opening night to the sixth annual Nantucket Comedy Festival. There are plenty of opportunities to hear some nationally headlining comics this week. Read our conversation, then head over to their website for tickets.

JG: This is the sixth festival. What has been the biggest surprise for you along the way?

KF: I think there are two things that have really surprised me. The first has just been the extremely high level of support I have felt from the Nantucket community all along the way, and second would the support I've gotten from the comics themselves. The festival has become a great weekend of comedy for a great cause, and when we started we were just hoping to do some workshops. It's really amazing where the level of talent and the community have taken us.

JG: The "Night of Funny Women" theme has been a constant to the festival since the beginning. Why is it so important for you to feature these talents in this format?

KF: Well, I am the product of a very strong mother and I have three sisters. For me this is kind of a natural. Originally, I was not convinced about having a specially themed night in the festival, but the first time we did it (the first year) it was really, really special. It set the tone for the whole festival. It was a very social event, very different and a lot of fun. I'm very proud when I look back at this. One of this year's comics was telling me the other day that she couldn't think of another festival that had something like this. It's a cool tradition.

JG: Tell me about "The Humor and Comedy of the Simpsons." What can everyone expect?

KF: I have been trying to get this show back for a couple of years. Mike Reiss, a great comedian, former head writer and executive producer of "The Simpsons", did a piece of this show a few years ago on the night we had a lot going on, but he brought the house down. Since then everyone has been asking when are you going to bring that show back? And I'm really excited that it is finally here again. We have Dick Cavett, who has been on "The Simpsons", and he is going to be interviewed before the show. The format is almost like stand-up and he shows these really funny clips and talks "inside baseball" about the show. This also ties in with our Stand Up and Learn educational programming, because all kids and teenagers know "The Simpsons" and they get to see this up close and personal.

JG: Is there some new programming this year that you are really excited about?

KF: We've added a couple of things and there are a lot of varying price points so everyone gets to do something. There is a Women and Coffee event on Saturday morning that is free, that will feature the Funny Women acts, as well as Judith Ivey and others. The Comedy Writers Room is something I am really excited about as well. Mike O'Malley ("Glee", "Justified", "Yes, Dear") is always a home run. He is a real pro and will moderate a discussion with Dick Cavett and Mike Reiss.

JG: Tell me about this year's talent. Who should comedy lovers be looking out for?

KF: Buddy Fitzpatrick. I really enjoy him. Sherry Davey; also, Keith Robinson who was on tour with Wanda Sykes. And for the first time we have Patty Ross. She's wanted to come out before, but this is the first year where things have aligned.

JG: Stand Up and Learn: After the festival is over, you and NCF will still have a presence on the island. Tell me about that.

KF: We started this as a weekend workshop for kids, but over the past six years it has turned into a series of events held throughout the year on Nantucket. I'll bring a headlining comic out to the island, spend a day teaching kids about writing and performing comedy, then we'll host something at night for the adults. This keeps the kids interested and writing throughout the year, but it gets them ready to perform at some point as well. And, of course, the goal in all this is to build self esteem and confidence in these kids.

Kevin Flynn will be hosting many of the events held through the culmination of this year's festival on Sunday evening. For more info or tickets, visit their website.