Festa Comedy, the monthly Japantown comedy showcase, will celebrate its one year anniversary with two shows on December 13. The first, “Just for Yolks,” a rare marriage of brunch and stand-up, will take place at Doc’s Lab, while the evening presentation will occur at the event’s home base of Festa Wine & Cocktail Lounge.
The idea for a comedy show at Festa began when co-founder David Roth visited the space for birthday karaoke parties. He saw the potential for the room and joined-up with comic Krista Fatka to form the production company Destiny’s Mom, an inside reference to Fatka’s insistence that she was Roth’s mother in a previous life. Together they have curated seven shows in the past year, with many more on the horizon.
Roth, a comic himself, discovered his passion for comedy when he was passed over for a promotion at his day job in advertising. His boss told him that they knew he could be funny, but could he write ads that were elegant, smart, and emotional? “I realized that I don’t actually want to do any of those things,” he says. “I just love comedy. So I quit.” Following his passions, Roth has worked with comedic luminaries like Bob Odenkirk, Larry Charles, and Jim Gaffigan, as well as writing two commercials that aired during the Super Bowl.
Where Festa differs from other local comedy offerings is their frequent import of Los Angeles talent. The first comic to headline the show was Roth’s friend Ramin Nazer, who had recently performed on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Another friend, Joe Stanfa, designed a poster to be sold at the shows. It’s a point of pride for Roth that Festa has paid every performer to take the stage, providing compensation in excess of $2500 to California comics still cutting their teeth on the comedy scene.
Fatka’s path to comedy was through the circus, where she worked as a dancer, trapeze artist, and acrobat before moving to the West Bank in Israel, where she taught those skills to Palestinian children. A fall down some stairs fully unrelated to the circus life forced Fatka to focus more on humor. She has performed twice at the annual San Francisco Sketchfest, and participated in the San Francisco International Comedy Competition.
While Roth concedes that many shows are populated by friends and family – “too many people I know” – all of Festa’s shows to date have sold out the 45 person space, a goal they expect to replicate with their anniversary shows. Those shows will feature an impressive array of talent, including Eric Dadourian, Natasha Muse, Iris Benson, and more, with Roth and Fatka pulling double-duty as both performers and hosts.
Finding the featured performers is no easy task. Roth saw past headliner Chris Thayer open for Pete Holmes in Chicago before inviting him to perform. Some performers will recommend friends or colleagues to Roth and Fatka as well. Even trolling Youtube for talent isn’t out of the question. Local performers are always a part of the proceedings as well, usually discovered by Roth or Fatka at showcases and open mics around the Bay Area.
As far as the future goes, Roth and Fatka see the anniversary shows as their first expansion. If the brunch show at Doc’s is a success, they’d love to continue with that format and venue in addition to their evenings at Festa. There are on-going conversations with other locations as well. Roth is “out-of-my-mind” excited for headliner Ashley Barnhill, whose credits include Comedy Central’s Drunk History and performances at Funny or Die’s Oddball Comedy Festival and the Just for Laughs Festival. Barnhill will perform at the March 6th installment of Festa Comedy. Big names are certainly on Roth’s mind as plans for Festa’s growth continues.
“My goal is to surprise the comedy community and get a big name or two up at Festa,” he says, recalling the story of George Kane, a comic/producer who recently brought national headliner Kyle Kinane to Santa Cruz’s very intimate Crepe Place. “What an amazing feat, just one guy sharing his love of comedy with his community. That was inspiring. As a producer, I want to pull off a stunt like that.”
Festa Comedy hosts two shows on December 13. Tickets for the Doc’s Lab “Just for Yolks” brunch lab show can be purchased at http://www.docslabsf.com/event/1018101. For more info on Festa Comedy, visit https://www.facebook.com/FestaComedyNight.