Comedy festivals are everywhere: Brooklyn, Charleston, Milwaukee, and even Joshua Tree host some combo of laughs and drinks. So what makes Cincy Brew Ha-Ha stand out in the world of stand-up? In part, the friendly, relaxed vibe keeps veteran performers returning and pulls new acts onto the Sawyer Point stages. “Lots of comics won’t play outdoor festivals,” says Cincy Brew Ha-Ha’s booker Mike Kurtz, who is also the general manager at Go Bananas in Montgomery. Now in its 11th year, the festival has gained a reputation among standups as a fun and friendly place to perform. “It’s known as ‘comedy Christmas,’ ” says Kurtz.
Of course there’s also the beer: 30 booths of the best in local and regional brews like MadTree, Fifty West, and Blank Slate. But the prime factor in its popularity may come down to location. Positioned as we are in the middle of the country, Cincinnati turns out to be a great place to nourish a stand-up career. Josh Sneed, a longtime Cincy-based comic, cites proximity to clubs as a reason for the deep well of regional talent. “There’s two clubs here, Dayton has two, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Lexington, Columbus, Nashville, St. Louis, Chicago—Cincinnati is right in the middle of all of them,” says Sneed. “There’s no shortcut to getting better. More stages help people get better faster.”
August 24–26, cincybrewhaha.com