The town was Hartford. The date was Aug. 29, 2013. It was the first annual Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Festival. The crowd had anxiously waited for comedy legend Dave Chappelle to take the stage. The festival’s tour was Chappelle’s first big gig since he quit show business in 2005.
Chappelle’s performance in Hartford did not go well. He spent most of his contractually mandated time smoking and telling random stories. Furthermore, he lectured the audience and insulted Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Festival ticket holders. After 25 minutes he abruptly left the stage. Those that were still there booed.
Don’t expect something like that to happen at every Oddball Comedy & Curiosity show or even once during every tour, but with the talent the event attracts anything is possible. Like Steve Martin said, “Comedy isn’t pretty.”
The Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Festival is an annual comedy festival presented by Live Nation and the Web site Funny or Die. The Oddball is more like a rock festival than a comedy festival. There are multiple stages that host hours and hours of great stand-up from both nationally known and up-and-coming comics.
Funny people that have appeared on the festival’s main stage include Louis C.K., Flight of the Conchords, Sarah Silverman, Amy Schumer, Jim Gaffigan, Al Madrigal, Kristen Schaal, Demetri Martin, and Dave Attell.
In addition to the comics, the festival also features wandering street performers. In the first two incarnations of the festival that role fell to “The Cut Throat Freak Show.” Attendees are also presented with a bevy of food and beverage vendors.
One interesting aspect of the festival is their no phone/no photo policy. Organizers ask all attendees to leave their cameras at home and their cellphones in their pockets. Apparently, if your phone is out, and a big time comic is on the stage, you’ll be asked to leave.
The Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Festival debuted in 2013. Its inaugural tour included 15 stops. In 2014, the Oddball Festival visited 21 cities.
2014 Oddball Comedy Tour Roster