What: 10,000 Laughs Comedy Festival
When: Through Saturday
Where: Comedy Corner Underground, 1501 S. Washington Ave., Minneapolis, among other locations
Cost: Prices vary
Tim Harmston is ready and willing to mow down crowds in Saturday’s finale of The 10,000 Laughs Comedy Festival with his amiable brand of humor.
A comic who got into the game late, Harmston is a fitting figurehead for an event that gives audiences a chance to see comedians in all stages of development.
“I turned 30, went to an open mic and was hooked,” Harmston said. “Well, it was pretty bad, but at the end I got a pretty decent laugh — enough affirmation to offset the two minutes and 45 seconds of pure silence.”
Local comedians are abundant, and the second iteration of the festival seeks to highlight that glut of comedic talent through a variety of innovative forms.
“The thing that keeps me in Minneapolis is that it is one of the best scenes in the country hands down,” Harmston said. “The comics are way more supportive than some of the other towns I’ve been to.”
Friday night is the championship round of one such different type of comedy: Punchline Punchout. Punchout throws comics into teams and assigns them a subject the morning of the show. Over the course of the day, the comics must work together to put together a routine that will be that evening’s show.
The teams are arranged so that there is a balance of skills, with one headliner, two featured comics and two up-and-comers.
“I love it,” Harmston said. “I did the Punchline Punchout show when it first started. I think a lot of comics came away with material for themselves.”
Friday night jams as well as KOs with Laugh.Rock.Repeat, a showcase featuring musical comedy interspersed with stand-up.
“The Minneapolis scene is so ridiculously good — if you’re a comedy nerd you get to see the writing depth,” said the festival’s organizer, Bob Edwards. “Comics know Minneapolis. I want every person in the country to know Minneapolis.”
Then there is the Dirty Show, which is exactly what it sounds like — a time to make George Carlin proud. To give a bit of an idea of the depth of depravity that show might wander down, last year there was a routine about “rape bagels.”
“The First Amendment is entirely protective of comedy,” Edwards said. “People have to leave their reservations at the door and not be all scared that I made a dick joke.”