First-time comedy show brings comedy and music entertainment to the valley this weekend

By MARGAUX MASSEY, staff reporter

When someone is asked how they got involved with their current line of work, one answer that is never expected is: “It started with a dare.”

“I was like, really? And [my friends] said I dare you,” Ralph Porter said. “The next thing you know, I did it.”

Ralph Porter is one of the headliners for the upcoming Wenatchee Comedy Festival, which takes place this Saturday during the first weekend of the Apple Blossom Festival in Wenatchee.

According to Alex Haley, director of the comedy festival, it’s going to be a celebration of Pacific Northwest talents in the performing arts.   Both of the headlining comedians, Ralph Porter and Jay “Big Irish” Hollingsworth, are from Seattle.

“They are hands down my favorite comics from Seattle,” Haley said.

Haley mostly promotes comedy shows in Wenatchee, but on a much smaller scale.  The idea for this comedy festival came out of a few performers Haley promoted. He felt they were so much better than the rest, and they deserved a bigger show.

“We had a comic that came through that deserved a bigger stage than what we could offer,” said Pete Lolos, a co-promoter of the event.

Haley hopes the event brings more people to Wenatchee. The event is being held during the Apple Blossom Festival because people are already coming out, and will be interested in the comedy festival as well.

“To put it into an existing or larger festival is only going to help us in our first year,” Haley said.

Other performers include an improv group called Upfront Theater from Bellingham, and the Northwest Comedy Competition, which features 12 comedians from Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

The festival features not only comedy, but two bands as well.  The local Ellensburg band Blackburn will be playing, along with Under the Covers, a band from Tacoma.

“I haven’t seen many comedy festivals in general,” Haley said.  “Usually they are music festivals with comedy as opposed to comedy festivals with music.”

The festival is being held at the Performing Arts Center in Wenatchee.  The Center has a large theater and an attached courtyard that is bigger than the theater itself.

The theater seats 600 people and is the biggest theater-style venue in town.  Haley said they chose a theater setting and the Performing Arts Center for a reason.

“There is a big difference when you go to a theater, sit down in one of the traditional red theater chairs and face the stage to watch a comedy show, a performance,” Haley said.  He wanted the more traditional show feel to the festival.

There will be a beer garden, wine bar, games and food in the courtyard outside of the Performing Arts Center for added entertainment.

“We are taking advantage of all the ground, not just the theater,” Haley said.

Tickets to the show will get you full access to the entire festival, but the comedy shows are first come, first serve seating inside the theater.  Those who don’t get into the comedy show can enjoy activities in the courtyard and performances by the two bands.

Haley hopes to get 700 to 1000 people coming throughout the day.

“We are welcoming anyone who wants to be involved with it, but we are trying to capture a different demographic than events normally try to capture within this time,” Haley said.

The comedy show is intended for an 18 and over crowd, specifically those who aren’t interested in an event geared toward families.

“I’m hoping that it’s gonna be a lot of people, lot of fun, lot of laughter,” headliner Ralph Porter said.

The festival will take place April 27.