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June 11, 2013

House of Burgess: Limestone Comedy Festival journal

Bloomington was alive with laughter over the weekend.

Bloomington — As I sat in the Buskirk-Chumley Theater on Thursday waiting for the opening show of the inaugural Limestone Comedy Festival, I reflected on my various connections to Bloomington. I was born less than a mile away in Bloomington Hospital. A few blocks in the opposite direction was the site of my higher education, Indiana University. And the last time I was in that particular building, my wife, Ash, and I were married on that very stage. I feel a certain ownership of this place. I sensed that same sort of possession in many of the audience members and 40-plus performers who took part in Indiana’s first and only comedy festival.

“Honestly, I’ve never been big on civic pride or anything like that, but I’m so proud of Bloomington this week,” said Tom Brady, whose Friday opening performance for headliner Maria Bamford proved him to be one of the best local comedians I saw during the three-day celebration. “The crowds have been so fun and warm.”

Headliner Doug Benson both performed stand-up and recorded two of his podcasts at the LCF, including a movie interruption of Hoosier classic “Breaking Away,” with featured performers Graham Elwood, Jackie Kashian and Geoff Tate.

“[It was] one of the best ones I’ve ever done,” said Benson. “I got a little choked up at the end when it said on the screen: ‘Filmed entirely on location in Bloomington, Indiana.’”

Well, same here, Doug.

Local artists, including Brady, could be seen all week around downtown, earning the title of working comedians. During our Saturday interview, he gripped a coffee cup as he sat behind the merchandise table in the BCT lobby.

“There’s like probably 10 local comics who just want to help out,” he said. “They tried to space it out to where if you’re on a show, you don’t have to work too close to it, but like today I did a show and I also worked the door. ... We all want to pitch in as much as we can and make it easy for the guys who put it together.”

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