Over the last several years, downtown Tulsa has established itself as a central outlet for the local arts scene.
Festivals like Mayfest and Center of the Universe provide an opportunity for artists and musicians to show their talents, now a new one hopes to shine the spotlight on another group, the comedians.
Organizers of the Blue Whale Comedy Festival said they wanted to bring comedy to Tulsa and expand the booming performing arts scene, according to local comedian and festival volunteer, Andrew Deacon.
“They noticed that downtown is a happening place when it comes to live music and performance art, and one thing they wanted to see come to Tulsa was more standup comedy,” he said.
The idea for the festival came to fruition last year when several big-name comedians took the stage at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center.
This year big names are on the bill - names like Comedy Central veterans Michael Ian Black, Natasha Leggero and Nikki Glaser - but Deacon said the four-day festival will also feature local-area comics.
“The next step was to get more performance artists and feature more local and regional comics,” Deacon said. “That's the great thing about Blue Whale, is that we've got a bunch of really talented, professional comics that are coming in, and we're able to pair a lot of local comics with them.”
He said almost 100 local and regional comics submitted tapes to be a part of the festival, and now the top 35 will have the opportunity to perform with the veteran comics.
“These people that are performing all the time in Tulsa, and are doing a lot of shows in the local areas, now they're getting to perform with people they see on Comedy Central,” Deacon said.
Another evolutionary step for Blue Whale is to not only represent local comics, but business too. This year, instead of comics performing on one stage, they will be scatted around the Blue Dome District at several venues.
“We had a lot of people that wanted to get involved after last year, so rather than have one really big place we wanted to, kinda, distribute it a little more evenly,” Deacon said.
Organizers said Tulsa has always been supportive of the arts in all its forms, and Blue Whale looks forward to growing the festival and the city's appreciation of all things funny.
“That's the cool thing is that all of these comics that we're bringing to Tulsa are really amazing in their own right; there's not a weak performance artist in the group,” said Deacon.
The festival is June 18 through June 21 and goes beyond just standup shows; there will also be workshops, a podcast recording and even a roast of City Councilor Blake Ewing.
For more information about the lineup, times and prices, you can visit the Blue Whale Comedy Festival's website.