Is This Year’s Clusterfest a Total Clusterfuck?

Attendees of the hotly-anticipated comedy festival Clusterfest are complaining about three-hour lines, missed sets, weak drinks, and limited support for those with disabilities.

The line to see John Mulaney Saturday night. (Zack Ruskin)

You know you’ve messed up when people on Twitter start comparing your event to Fyre Fest. 

On Saturday, the third-annual Clusterfest drew thousands to San Francisco’s Civic Center in anticipation of sets by such celebrity comedians as John Mulaney and Leslie Jones, and musicians Girl Talk and Courtney Barnett. At $279.50 for a three-day general admission ticket or $689.50 for a VIP pass, the weekend doesn’t come cheap.

But instead of the world-class comedy experience that was marketed, attendees instead encountered three-hour lines, missed sets, and limited ADA access.

By Saturday night, dozens tweeted they’d begged the Box Office for refunds but had been denied. Others said they were going to file fraud alerts with their credit card companies. 

A tweet from Clusterfest posted at 7:30 p.m. Saturday night notified those in line that they may not be able to get in to see headline John Mulaney after hours of waiting drew furious responses. But inside the theater, people weren’t exactly comfortable, either. 

SF Weekly staff writer Ida Mojadad says the scene indoors before an Anthony Jeselnik set was pure chaos, with security demanding people give up seats they’d saved for friends who’d run to the bathroom. 

“Right after we got there around 5:30, security started cracking down and yelling at everyone that they can’t save any seats,” she says. “By the time Chelsea Peretti came on they were just letting people sit in between the rows.

“Last year they had the main stage outside, but the only stage outside is for music,” Mojadad added. “Why have a festival style but limited seating for headliners?”

The main issue, according to SF Weekly freelance writer Zack Ruskin, is that it appears Clustefest sold double the tickets of Bill Graham’s 8,500-seat capacity — which means some people may not get to see Saturday headliner John Mulaney at all. 

“The huge line waiting for first Mulaney show was denied entry, as everyone from previous Chelsea Peretti show just stayed in their seats,” Ruskin says. “Those folks have been in line for hours now.”

Ruskin agrees with Mojadad is that having the main stage indoors this year was a huge mistake. But also, it’s not exactly a case of life or death. “This will really be a case of most people wasting two hours,” he says. 

Nevertheless, people’s patience is running short, and that doesn’t bode well for future Clusterfest ticket sales.

If you bought a ticket to #Clusterfest you basically bought a lottery ticket FOR THE CHANCE to see comedy,” one person tweeted. “You stood in line to stand in another line to maybe be let into a show.”

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