This Columbus Day weekend, brave the bridge like a true Islander and head to Newport for the second annual Rogue Island Comedy Festival. Spanning four days Oct. 6-9 and spread across three venues. There will be dozens of veteran comics descending upon the island colony to throw down some hilarity and hoopla for a festival “dedicated to nothing but laughter.”
The founder Doug Key, who styles himself as a “total Rhode Island history nerd” has infused the theme and name of the festival with inspiration from our state’s infancy. Key gave some insight on the meaning of the title, “Rogue Island was a derogatory name given by Massachusetts Bay Colony after they banished Roger Williams and other ‘dissidents’ for believing in separation of church and state… Rogue Island, it’s where all the rejects went… I’m embracing the slur.” He went on to say, “There’s a double meaning… comedians are always travelling by themselves so you could say that comics go rogue.”
Doug Key recently went rogue himself, leaving his home state about two and a half years ago to pursue stand-up comedy in the gritty and “over-diluted” market of New York City. “Oh yeah! I didn’t just leave Rhode Island, I left Newport! And that’s more of a feat than leaving the state,” he said.
Key started The Wasted Talent Show, rounding up seasoned comics to perform in front of packed and plastered crowds in our small community. The name was originally a joke for the comedians, many of whom already had impressive credits in their resumes and might have otherwise lamented that such a small and unseen venue was a waste of their talent. However, it found a following with the locals, who were drawn to the original brand of BYOB events. “This town has a lot of charisma, a lot of character, and they like their booze… There’s so many funny people in this town who aren’t comedians, so many characters walking down the street. I felt there needed to be a form of art, if you will, dedicated to it.”
The comedy world comes with a lot of politics, etiquette and territory. Anyone who has dipped their toes into the industry could tell you how rivalries can become a barrier to the burgeoning scene. Gracious to his team, and humbled by the support from local sponsors who help make the event happen, the humorous history buff admirably said, “we are founding it” when speaking of the festival, the first in the Ocean State.
The festival kicks off Thursday Oct. 6 and runs through Sunday Oct 9, providing a chance for locals to congregate, cackle and support local comedy. Showtimes are at 7 p.m., 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. and will take place at Brick Alley Pub, Studio 3, and the birthplace of the Wasted Talent Show, Firehouse Theatre. For more information, or to purchase tickets beforehand, visit the festival’s website at www.rogueislandcomedyfest.com.