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Keeping the laughs local


An Ithaca College alumnus is the force behind Ithaca comedy festival.


Comedy for a community

Thunderous laughter filled The Downstairs bar in the Ithaca Commons as the Finger Lakes Comedy Festival began its annual showcase of talent.

Alexis Cullen, an Ithaca resident and audience member in attendance on Sept. 29, said she quite enjoyed the opening show of the festival.

“My cheeks hurt from smiling,” Cullen said.

The festival is Christopher Miree’s passion project. Miree is owner and manager of 2 Funny Entertainment, a boutique talent agency, which serves as a vehicle for comedians to showcase their talent within the college market.

Miree performed comedy as a student at Ithaca College before he graduated in 2013. He said he felt there was a lack of opportunities in the city of Ithaca for comedians to perform that he wanted to help change. Miree started the festival to fulfill his goal of bringing more comedy to Ithaca and bringing comedians together.

2Funny Entertainment owner and manager Christopher Miree. (Photo by Evan Miller/Ithaca Week)

In its fifth year, Miree received over 70 submissions from comedians who wanted to be a part of this year’s festival, which took place in September at The Downstairs and the local Kitchen Theatre.

“It’s really important for me to use venues that are local,” Miree said. “We could go to a hotel and use a ballroom, but for me, it’s really important and authentic to use local businesses.”

Through the festival, Miree gives comedians a space to network and obtain work for the remainder of the year.

Although Miree now resides in California, he said that he continues to host the festival because he recognizes how important it is for the city of Ithaca and all of the comedians who perform every year, regardless of whether he is able to turn a profit.

“It’s an expensive festival to put on,” Miree said. “I don’t think I’ve ever made money doing the festival, but that doesn’t really matter to me. It’s really about the experience for the comedians and for those folks here in Ithaca or who are even coming to visit — being able to experience live comedy and having a great time while they do it.”

Comedy with a cause

Miree said that one of the main goals of the festival is to provide a platform for diverse voices. With the festival, he tries to include as many voices from different races, genders and sexualities throughout the United States and Canada as he can.

“There is just a different amount of people from all walks of life that come and do this festival,” said Miree. “The great thing about that is you get to see that in their art. Who they are and where they come from is expressed in their art, and we all get to enjoy and see that. I think that’s the beautiful part about it.”

Kenneth McLaurin is a comedian who has been a part of the festival since the beginning and appreciates the amount of diversity that is placed at its forefront.

Comedian Kenneth McLaurin performing his set at the Finger Lakes Comedy Festival. (Photo by Evan Miller/Ithaca Week)

“The more diverse experiences that you can have within comedy, I think is just better for everybody,” said McLaurin. “It increases everybody’s knowledge of the world and understanding of why the world is what it is. It lets us see something from a different perspective and broaden our horizons.”

Crowd of audience members enjoying the Finger Lakes Comedy Festival. (Photo by Evan Miller/Ithaca Week)

Cullen had discovered the festival through a web search on comedy in Ithaca. She said she appreciated the number of diverse voices included in the show.

“Life can be really hard, but if you can bring humor into it then laughing together bonds everyone together,” Cullen said. “So, you have a room full of people with diverse experiences and backgrounds and everything and if we’re all laughing then we’re all in it together.”

In the future, Miree would like to expand the festival to include workshops for comedians, improv and showings of comedic short films.

Upcoming comedy events in Tompkins County include the Roast of the City of Ithaca on Oct. 21, along with Comedy on the Riverside with Kenneth McLaurin and the Fourth Year Freshman on Nov. 10.

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