Norfolk Comedy Festival in Review

20140726_182214I got the privilege of performing as a headliner at the 2014 Norfolk Comedy Festival on Saturday July 26th of this year (2014). I was super happy to get to meet more of the Hampton Roads comedy scene in person. On the show with me was local area comics Joy Julian, John Gilbreath, Kristen Sivills, Neko White (NYC) and Wilmington comics Matt White, Cliff Cash, Colton DeMonte and Louis Bishop.

The Trip

It’s a pretty easy drive from Knoxville to the 9 City Metropolitan area that goes by Hampton Roads in Eastern Virginia.  From Knoxville all the way to Roanoke is pretty20140725_164812_Richtone(HDR) much varied versions of the same tiny mountain straddled countryside. The most challenging part of this drive for me, a stoner, is finding a safe place to pull over to smoke my weed while viewing some beautiful scenery.  Typically I do this in rest areas from a one-hitter only slightly removed from the rest of the cars as not to draw any attention to myself.  I found an amazing area known as Natural Bridge, Virginia just east of Roanoke which proved to be a great place for such activities along the riverside. All in all the trip was good aside from some crazy road rage prone Coastal Virginia drivers.  But hey, if I had to go through the awful traffic they do every day of their lives I would be a cockbag behind the wheel as well I suppose.


Norfolk is one of a tri-city collection of cities all surrounded by the same ‘outerbelt’ which changes route names depending on which part of it you are on.  Chesapeake is to the southernmost part of the outerbelt while in the center lie Norfolk and Portsmouth. Portsmouth is the butt of all the jokes. It’s the Alabama to Tennessee, the West Virginia to Ohio etc…  After looking at crime stats I found this to be a little unfair.  The two cities are pretty much the same, both pretty low-crime and about the same poverty rate. But hey, I have performed in both and even when in Portsmouth, they are the but of the jokes then too.


Norfolk Comedy Festival

2014_0802_Norfolk_FMRestaurantI performed at FM Restaurant, a pretty upscale spot in downtown Norfolk that had a great stage area in the primary room.  To the left and right of the main room were separate seating areas for diners. Both sides had an upstairs and downstairs, our green room being the upstairs portion to the left.  We had two shows, 7pm and 9:30pm to perform that evening.  When I arrived John Gilbreath was there getting things set up.  I had met him on my last visit to town when I performed at Brutti’s in Portsmouth back in January.  Great guy and a super host.  He ran the show and got me all set up.  Then a fellow named Chas Hartley came up and introduced himself.  He said he had seen me at Brutti’s and really liked my stuff.  Come to find out Chas was one of the owner’s of FM Restaurant.

The Norfolk Comedy Festival consisted of stand-up shows at FM Restaurant and Improv shows at Generic Theater all in Downtown Norfolk.  Smart because they weren’t trying to be too big, too spread out and over budget.  It was perfect. I listened to all the comics that went before me as I was closing out each show and really enjoyed a lot of what I heard. My set was about 20 minutes long as they line-up was pretty full up before I went on stage.  The crowd was with me but I was a little sluggish and forgot a couple of bits I really wanted to do but all in all a pretty ok set.  The crowd rotated out then in for the 9:30pm show and most of the second show the crowd sat on their hands a bit and didn’t react as well as the earlier crowd.  When I got up I made them all high-five me and talked to them a little to break the ice.  It worked, by the time I got the light I felt like I had been on stage 10 minutes when it was actually 25.  I closed decently strong and left stage with a feeling of positive vibes.  Out of all my sets in 2014, I felt the best about that one, even though it was a shorter set than most headline sets (that was all the time allotted since their were so many comics.
Overall, I had a great time at the festival and will recommend all the folks in the area go to check it out next year.  Big ups to Tim Loulies, Chas Hartley and John Gilbreath for including me on this great festival!

Written by:

Matt Ward is a comedian, comedy show producer and promoter, web designer, graphic designer, musician, father and occasional fisherman.

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