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Laughing Locally

South Florida comics embrace the chance to help with the production of this weekend's Laughing Spree Fest comedy festival in Boca Raton.

by Chuck king
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BOCA RATON -This weekend’s Laughing Spree Fest stages won’t be packed with Palm Beach County talent.

Behind the scenes, however, will be flush with local talent helping with the show.

“I think it’s going to be great for the South Florida comedy scene,” said comic and producer Stephanie Wood, who will be helping in the ticket office. “To be a part of it in any capacity is a great opportunity.”

Nearly 20 comics will perform on the main stage at Laughing Spree, which begins Friday at 7 p.m. and runs through 11 p.m. Saturday at Sunset Cove Amphitheater, located west of Boca Raton.

In setting the festival’s talent lineup, Laughing Spree Fest producers made a concerted effort to bring to the stage comics who aren’t frequent performers locally.

Producers Warren Scott and Minda Long booked top national comics Bryan Callen, Jim Norton and Andrew Schulz to headline the weekend’s three shows. They worried that many local comedy fans might not want to pay for tickets for a show that included comics they could see around town for free.

While that didn’t sit well with some local comics – call it confidence or arrogance, most comics believe they are good enough to perform on any show, anywhere – others jumped at the chance to be involved with what many consider the top comedy event of the year.

“I just want our scene to benefit from this,” said comic Steve Lamm, who is helping with transportation. “I think having a festival is great for our scene.”

Chef and local comic Freddy Finnerty will prepare the food served to the comics backstage.

Comics Robb Kalert, Kevin Javier, Lalo Rodriguez and Sheena Reagan are also among the locals working this weekend’s festival.

Dan Caso will be there, too, but his biggest contribution occurred weeks ago when he produced promotional radio spots for the festival.

“If it could help legitimize South Florida comedy on a national scale, that would be cool,” Caso said.

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Dozens of other comics are expected to support the festival by purchasing tickets and attending.

Like many comics on the South Florida scene, Caso is impressed by what Long and Scott have assembled.

“To get those kinds of names together, just to build a festival completely by yourself and do it right, it’s a lot of work,” Caso said.

While there aren’t many local comics performing during the festival, there will be a local taste.

Scott and Minda will both do sets on Saturday’s evening show that also includes Freddy Stebbins, Vince Taylor, Bret Ernst, Jeff Dye and Norton.

The duo’s significant others, highly regarded locals Jackie Sanchez and Dan Long, perform as part of the night show, along with Mark Gagnon, Orlando Leyba and Leah Lemarr and Schulz.

“It’s crazy to me to be a part of this, just because I feel like I’ve come a long way from just kind of doing bar shows,” Long said. “This just kind of feels like the biggest show I’ve done so far. It’s exciting to me to work with guys this big.”

Esther Ku, Cam Bertrand, Sean Grant, Yamaneika and Callen are scheduled for Friday night.

Individual ticket prices for Friday’s show begin at $60, with VIP packages running $115. The combo ticket for both of Saturday’s shows runs $99. Tickets to see only the festival’s final show headlined by Schulz are $69.99. Daily parking passes begin at $20. Tickets can be purchased on the Laughing Spree Fest’s website.

Show producers to make comedy fans who fear large crowds because of the COVID-19 pandemic more comfortable at the show.

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