To foster a healthy creative community, it's vital to support local talent and bring in national/international as well. Treefort Music Fest is a perfect example of how successful using the local+national formula can be, and it's a model employed by a lot of other excellent Boise-based events. The newest addition to the family of multi-day, multi-venue, multi-act festivals is the 208 Comedy Fest, which will take place Sept. 7-9.
Founded by partners and local comics Emma Arnold and Dylan Haas, the fest will bring more than 50 local and touring comedians to the stages at Liquid Laughs, The Egyptian, Boise Contemporary Theater, Spacebar and The Olympic. It's an ambitious undertaking—especially for an inaugural event—but one Arnold is well-suited for. For the past three years, she has been touring extensively, performing in festivals and clubs around the country. She has performed in a number of cities with robust comedy scenes, and her goal with 208 Comedy Fest is to turn Boise into one of them.
"Last year I played 52 cities; the year before that, 76. I go to a lot of places," Arnold said. "The best comedy town in America, in my opinion, is Eau Claire, Wisconsin (pop. 70,000). They have a monthly comedy show. It's always a crowd of 300-ish or more. You can't get a monthly show in Boise to do that. They've created this really loving, warm, supportive atmosphere. Big names come through there because it's a fun place to do comedy."
Big names will be coming to Boise, too. The schedule of performers at 208 Comedy includes Emmy award-winning comic Dana Gould; Doug Benson, with a live taping of his "Doug Loves Movies" podcast; Arnold, a self-proclaimed "warrior woman for female comics;" New York-based Janelle James; California-based Marcella Arguello and Boise-based Sophie Hughes, Jen Adams, Alisha Donahue and many more, all culled from around 150 submissions.
When asked how Boise could become a comedy town, Arnold's answer was simple.
"By doing what we're doing," she said."You bring in talent, you start small and you continue to grow."