This year's LouFest experience will, at the very least, be good for a laugh.
That's not meant to be a dig. Quite the contrary, in fact, as in addition to a lineup
that includes legendary rocker Robert Plant, beloved indie-rock act Modest Mouse and virtuoso blues guitarist Gary Clark Jr., LouFest is introducing an entirely new form of entertainment to this year's festivities: a comedy stage.
The Last Laugh Stage will feature ten local comedians and three national headliners — Matt Rife, Mia Jackson and Taylor Tomlinson — over the course of two days. Each comes with some serious credits to their name: Rife is an LA-based standup and cast member on MTV's Wild 'N Out
; Jackson was a semi-finalist on NBC's Last Comic Standing
who has also appeared on Comedy Central's Inside Amy Schumer
; and Tomlinson is a co-host of the Self-Helpless Podcast
with a Netflix special set to air this summer.
The inclusion of comedy in this year's lineup comes through a partnership between LouFest, local comedy-centric entertainment and media company We Are Live! and St. Louis-based apparel company By Jack.
We Are Live! co-founder Chris Denman, 34 also hosts the related St. Louis Live!
alongside Travis Terrell on WGNU (920 AM) from 7 to 10 a.m. on Monday mornings. He says he initially reached out to LouFest organizers in March to see about adding comedy to the festival. Denman says his first LouFest experience came in 2016, and he was immediately impressed with the expansive operation.
"It was just fun! Everybody got along, there wasn't anything stupid happening as far as behavior — people just enjoyed themselves," he says. "They have a great vendor area; they got all kinds of food. So to add to the experience, I just feel like comedy is such a uniting thing. It's just one more way for people to enjoy themselves.
"I don't know that there's a ton of ways to add to LouFest at this point," he admits. "They've done a good job of maxing that out, you know?"
LouFest's founders were receptive to the idea.
“We are always trying to come up with ways to move the festival forward in regards to programming,” says Mike Van Hee, managing partner of Listen Live Entertainment, which puts the fest on every year. “The comedy scene in St. Louis has taken off over the past few years, and we are excited to have them join our lineup and show our audience all the great comedic talent St. Louis has to offer.”
Apropos for "Lou"Fest, the local comics on the agenda serve as a veritable who's-who of St. Louis' comedy scene: Stephon Hightower, Angela Smith, Chris Cyr, Duke Taylor, Nathan Orton, Emily Hickner, Bobby Jaycox, Kenny Kinds, Tina Dybal and Rafe Williams will all perform. We Are Live! was able to use its deep ties in the local community to secure the city's finest talent, Denman explains.
If all goes well, Denman says, he hopes to include even more comedic offerings for next year's festival.
"We'd love to expand it next year. And if we think that it's a success I think LouFest is open to that discussion too," he says. "So we have a lot of potential tied up in this. That's why we wanted to really blow it out with a great group of comics, and then also with the headlining talent too."
Above all, he simply hopes that a comedy stage will add to the overall LouFest experience.
"My main thing is I hope people think it's cool," he says. "I'm so into comedy and I'm such a big fan... It's one of those things where I'm just like, 'I
think this is a great idea. I hope other people also feel that way.'"
Comedy on the Last Laugh Stage will kick off at 2 p.m. each day. See below for daily lineups.
Saturday, September 8:
Sunday, September 9: