2023 ABOUT US...
It was September 1997, a simpler time, I was just finishing a 14 hour shift when the boss called me into her office. As I entered the room, I noticed two gentleman sitting off to the right, in a dark corner. I closed the door and proceeded to sit down in front of her desk. "WE HAVE A RAT!" she exclaimed. This was the first time the boss had ever spoken to me. The first four words, we have a rat.
I was by and large a hard loyal worker, came in early, left late, busted my ass to make a difference, co-workers seemed to like me, or at least they hid their disdain rather well. Nothing prepares you for the actual inner workings of society, the political hierarchy, the toxic positivity, having a boss with shortcomings. These thing get worked out, through life experience, in your own time.
But today, this day felt different, possibly a teachable moment. At this point, I mustered up a little courage and asked, "Who are the people sitting behind me?" "The cleaners" she replied, as the room became dreadfully silent. I gulp, thinking to myself, why am I here, what does any of this have to do with me? Apparently, someone left the back door open to the kitchen. She's holding a copy of the Health Department report, a giant red "F" stamped on the front. They went out for a smoke, propped the door open, and allowed a fat rat to wander in. Now I'm the one that gets to hear about what a terrible manager I am, I lack focus, drive, and a bunch of other stuff that I tuned out. Halfway through her diatribe, I stood up, took off my apron and left the restaurant. I was done.
As I walked out into the alley I spot the rat, the rat looked at me and said "You know why rats fall for rat traps, cause it's such a cheesy set up." (Did it just crack a joke, or have the edibles kicked in?) I jumped back and screamed "Did you just speak?". "I'm a standup comedian" the rat replied. "What's your name?" I asked. "RIZZO" he replied. We talked for hours, followed by days, we went on tour for the next two decades, working every Chuckle Hut in the country, until we came to a beautiful town called San Luis Obispo, it was perfect! We decided to drop anchor and make this place our home, and that is when the SLO Comedy Festival was created!
2022 ABOUT US...
The SLO Comedy Festival's goal is to assemble a group of people that tell jokes, to assemble another group of people that enjoy listening to jokes, and to assemble a bunch of different venues that love a group of people telling jokes to a group of people who enjoy listening to jokes. Hence a comedy festival.
For a decade, the SLO Comedy Festival has done just that, and other groups of people have noticed. This makes us very happy!
In March 2020, we had a new group of people trying to stop all other groups from gathering. This was not part of our plan. This did not make us very happy. Because of this group, the SLO Comedy Festival was forced to take a year off.
But now we're back and all groups of people agree, it is time to have a laugh! We are pleased to announce that SLO Comedy Festival 11 is in full swing, and that the group of people who tell jokes to the other group of people, who enjoy listening to jokes, are the most talented yet. And that once again, makes us very happy!
2020 ABOUT US...
An “About Us” page should have sizzle, it should be the most important part of the entire website! It should tell you that year 10 is going to be the most awesome year, that our comedians can slay better than any other festival in the history of comedy festivals, that the venues are, bar none, the greatest places to perform in all of the world, that you, the audience, are the backbone, providing more laughs per minute than has ever been registered on our high tech O-Silly-Scopes. Hype, that is what an “About Us” should be — period.
The mere fact that you are reading about this festival, is a testament to your tenacity, your intelligence, your style, and your love for the arts, coupled with a sophistication that cannot be matched. You know great comedy!
An “About Us” is supposed to instill a sense of confidence which, if you buy into what we’re selling, will finally fulfill your life, in a way that the birth of your child, the marriage to your soul mate, or that delicious taste of a Cinnabon couldn’t.
BUT, this “About Us” doesn’t have to because you already know that the SLO Comedy Festival is the greatest comedy festival on the planet. You helped us grow for 9 years. Let’s make year 10 unbelievable!
2019 ABOUT US...
A ferocious storm pushed out of the gulf of Alaska in February of 1967, a man, not much taller than that of Cadillac Sedan, clung to the side of the Amtrak California Surfliner, which was heading up the coast to San Luis Obispo, stopping just before the Vandenberg Air Force Base. Cold rain stung at his hands as he fiercely tried to hold on, then out of nowhere a woman screamed "take my hand", angling down the side of the train car she scooped him up. "Thank you" the man breathlessly replied "I thought for sure I was a goner."
But this is not where the story began, to understand that we need to backtrack five years. The man in question was a grifter, but not just any grifter, one of the best the world had ever known; he could have easily been a first rate spy for any country, but he loved the con. Prior to this date, a day when he found himself hanging off the side of a train, he had been working on a con to steal millions of dollars from the United States Space Program. Now, at that time, everyone was trying to cash in on large government contracts and he was not going be left out in the cold, which is why he devised a plan so outlandish, so cunning, so smooth that it was fool proof - or at least so he thought.
He started bartending in a small comedy club, just outside of Vandenberg, where the Air Force would regularly spend time away from the base. He would eavesdrop on space secrets, getting the skinny on any new developments. One night he heard two officers discussing a vast shipment of gold which was being sent to the base, it was to be used for electrical components on the new Apollo Missions, which were being secretly tested. The Surfliner was set to make an unscheduled sporadic pit stop at hidden locations near the base, these stops would be disguised as a breakdown.
After years of planning, scheming and befriending a few guys on the base, the drop was finally scheduled to happen. He purchased his ticket bound for the SLO Coast, and set the wheels in motion, he took his seat on the second to the last car, near the back of the coach, one seat away from the cargo car. As darkness set in he made his move, sliding into the cargo car undetected, he found the massive crate filled with gold components. He grabbed one box of gold connectors, worth millions of dollars, planning to do the old switch-a-roo by replacing them with fool's gold. As he made his way back to his carriage, he slipped between the train cars and found himself suddenly holding on, to the railing of the exterior, for dear life. It was then that the woman swooped down to save him, but this was no lucky encounter, the woman knew the man, she was a waitress at the comedy club. She had watched him plan this caper for the last 5 years, she may have even known it better than he, and so as she swooped down to save him, she switched his box with her very own fool's gold, the man, well he was none the wiser. She melted down the gold and sold it and, using the money she opened up her own comedy club, right in downtown San Luis Obispo. That woman was my great aunt Gilda Radner, and she left that comedy club to our family, which we later sold to create, what is now, the SLO Comedy Festival.
2018 ABOUT US...
Our story begins in the summer of 1933, off the coast of Southern California, on a beautiful quaint island. My great grandfather, a plutocrat in his own right, arranged a lunch meeting at the Catalina Casino with chewing gum mogul William Wrigley Jr. and award winning architect Simeon Charles Levi. The men were discussing new ways to increase chewing gum profits, in a very stagnant market on the central coast of California; more specifically, San Luis Obispo! The people there had a strange aversion to chewing gum. Wrigley saw this gap in the market and wanted to find a way to monetize his product. He thought perhaps a grand structure on the newly constructed California State Route 1 would raise chewing gum awareness, more importantly, get chewing gum on the proverbial map. Wrigley and Levi went back and forth for hours, at times becoming quite heated over the type of building materials to be used, it's size and overall appearance.
At the close of lunch, Wrigley suggested that they head over to the Pebbly Beach Quarry. They all agreed and moseyed over to look at one of the finest selection of slabs ever assembled in the history of our planet. After comparing rock samples, for the grand structure on the newly constructed California State Route 1. Levi realized that a pebble became lodged in his shoe, he stopped next to a wall near the crewman's time clock, put his hand on the wall to remove his shoe, but quickly pulled away after feeling something sticky make contact with his hand. He noticed a little piece of Wrigley's Spearmint Gum had been discarded by a quarry worker on the middle of the wall. The architect was struck by a vision, it was not a grand structure on the newly constructed California State Route 1 they needed, but an alley made of bubble gum. Historians now agree that if it was not for that pivotal moment, bubble gum would have been banned in the city of San Luis Obispo, and Bubblegum Alley would not exist.
Thanks to the efforts of Wrigley and Levi, gum sales in the city have grown into a multimillion dollar business. Men, women, and children of all ages enjoy this simple product to this day. In addition Levi might not have ever visited SLO, or built the Fremont Theater. My great grandfather might not have left me a huge, and I mean huge inheritance, with one caveat, it must be used to set up a comedy festival in San Luis Obispo!
You would not be reading this story today had all those events not actually happened. I'd like to thank my great grandfather J. Paul Getty for helping create the SLO Comedy Festival.
2017 ABOUT US...
It was circa 2010 and tensions in the 3rd world were running high. Rebel Rousers Entertainment were on a quest to find the happiest city in the world, to host a comedy festival. We had been traveling for the better half of a decade, in and out of 1000's of towns from Kilcock, Ireland to Phukit, Thailand. While in Tunisia we stopped at a local eatery to grab a bite, when we noticed a little boy riding a donkey with two giant saddle bags, holding what appeared to be the lost and coveted treasure of comedy festivals, "The Golden Greek Theater Masks." We jumped up, threw money on the table, and ran towards the boy. But, before we could get to the street, a wave of Arab Spring protesters had blocked our path, and the boy quickly vanished. While fleeing he dropped one of the masks, the golden tragedy mask. We spent several days in Tunis searching for him, then one day we received a mysterious phone call telling us to board the next ferry to Palma, Majorca. Before I could ask the name of the caller, the phone went dead.
We arrived in Palma just shy of one day later. The city was bustling with an electric energy. We found a small hostel near the city center, next to the Basilica of St Francesc. As we are getting ready for bed with 16 other people on vacation from Sweden, I notice that a note had been placed in my bag instructing us to be at the Basilica at 12 noon on the dot. The next day we get up, grab a coffee from the hostel common area, and head over to our meeting point. Flowing with excitement we enter the church, and immediately notice an old wooden crate that looked like it was pried open and quickly discarded. On the lid was an etched figure of Junipero Serra. Inside we see two impressions where the masks should be. On the bottom of the crate was a stamp, "Made in Veracruz Mexico". The next thing we knew we are on a flight to Mexico.
Two days later we arrived in Veracruz, our emotions were running high, and our heads full of unanswered questions. Will we ever find the boy with the mask? Can there really be one great city for comedy? Why did I just drink that giant glass of tap water? Days turn into weeks, and we had all but given up. Until one sunny afternoon sitting at a small cafe looking at the Gulf of Mexico we observed a man telling jokes, sitting on a donkey, next to a statue of Junipero Serra. This was no ordinary donkey show, as we were heading over to the Mexican Comedian we spotted a placard at the base of the statue that read "Your journey will end on the El Camino Real", THAT'S IT! So to the King's Highway we go, California.
Landing in San Diego just a short time later we started our trip up the El Camino Real. After a few days of searching we stopped in the beautiful town of San Luis Obispo and saw Jenny McCarthy doing an interview for Oprah about America's Happiest City. To our surprise she was interviewing the little boy from Tunis and he was holding the coveted golden comedy mask. We quickly interrupted the interview and gave the little boy the golden tragedy mask so that the two could be united once again. A few months later the SLO Comedy Festival was born. Some say if you take a tour of the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa during the first weekend of March, late in the evening you can see a vision of Junipero Serra holding the coveted comedy/tragedy masks riding a donkey... true story.