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SLO Comedy Festival is set for this weekend and will feature comics from around the country.

Brenna Swanston
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The fourth annual SLO Comedy Festival will have San Luis Obispo buckled over in laughter this weekend, bringing in 48 comics from around the country to perform at the four-day event.

Festival director Mark Fry has worked with the SLO Comedy Festival since its inception.

Fry and his fellow festival directors live in Los Angeles, but chose to hold the festival in San Luis Obispo because the town is so much fun, Fry said.

“Everybody who comes here is like, ‘Oh my gosh, this town is awesome,’” he said. “It makes you want to bring a good show to the town. We show the town the comics, but also, the comics want to see the town.”

San Luis Obispo has turned out enjoyable audiences for the festival in past years, Fry said.

“It’s so awesome,” he said. “It’s like shooting fish in a barrel. There are such great crowds, and people are coming just to have a great time.”

Comic Jessica Michelle Singleton will perform at the SLO Comedy Festival this year for the second time.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Singleton said. “It’s one of my favorite festivals. Every show we did last year was super packed, and everyone was really supportive and excited for the comedy. I really just like the people of the town.”

Singleton enjoyed the camaraderie among the festival’s talented group of comics, she said.

“The energy of the comedians and the group — it’s like going to comedy summer camp,” she said.

The festival runs Thursday through Sunday, with various locations at 10 venues around San Luis Obispo. Each venue fills to the brim for festival events, raking in anywhere from 50 people at the Steynberg Gallery to 800 at Fremont Theater.

Fry said the festival’s attendance has grown every year, in part because it accommodates all types of  comedy tastes.

“If you like clean comedy, or if you like middle of the road — not so clean, but not crazy dirty — and if you like dirty, we have a show that can tickle your funny bone,” Fry said.

Creekside Brewery hosts a series of festival events on both Friday and Saturday nights. The first event of the evening is “SLOcase” at 6 p.m. on both nights, which permits all ages to enjoy clean comedy. The second, at 7:45 p.m., is “The Quipsters,” for ages 18 and over. Finally, “Only the Nasty Survive” starts at 10 p.m. and is reserved for ages 21 and up.

The festival offers specials for college students. Both “SLOcase” and “Battle of the Sexes,” which runs at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday at Marston’s Bar and Grill, will sell tickets for $5 with a student ID.

“It is a college town,” Fry said. “The students run the town. We were here one time when school was out of session, and it was literally like a ghost town.”

The festival mostly consists of stand-up comedy, with the exception of musical duo T&A as well as Kris Rubio, who performs comedic music using a looper.

“In years to come, we’d like to branch out to podcasts, to sketch, improvisation,” Fry said. “The sky is the limit, and the festival can only get bigger.”

The festival is held “European style,” meaning it is a showcase of comics rather than a contest between them.

“It makes it so much better,” Fry said. “All the shows are showcase style, so it’ll be eight comics, including a host, and they’ll be doing eight minutes each. So you’ll have a comic who’s been doing it five years in with a comic who’s been doing it 25 years.”

The festival is selective; 48 comics are chosen from a pool of more than 400 applicants.

Comic Charlene Mae applied for the SLO Comedy Festival twice in the past before getting accepted this year.

Mae mostly looks forward to working with other attending comics, she said.

“The backdrop is really beautiful, but to work with all this talent and all these headliners is going to be really fun,” Mae said.

The festivities kick off at 7:15 p.m. on Thursday at Tap It Brewing Co. with “Tap the Funny,” for ages 21 and up. Events will run throughout the weekend until the all-ages 7:30 p.m. Sunday show at Fremont Theater, entitled “Best of the Fest,” when the top six audience-voted comics will perform.

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