Why are Anthony Anderson, Yvonne Orji, and Nicole Byer going to D.C. in October? Because They’re Funny.
The comedy festival, taking place the weekend of Oct. 6-8 at The Wharf on the capital’s southwest waterfront, is a new event from Nice Crowd, which has produced the American Black Film Festival for more than two decades and changed its name from ABFF Ventures in June. BTF, which is presented in partnership with Events DC, the official convention and sports authority for the District (with General Motors and Laff Mobb also coming on board as sponsors), will showcase both established and emerging BIPOC comedy talent.
The centerpiece of the festival will be the 2023 Breakout Comedian of the Year finals on Oct. 6, hosted by BTF ambassador Anderson. Just six comics will be selected out of more than 300 submissions from around the world to perform at BTF and compete for $20,000 and a chance to be signed by Innovative Artists.
“With the help of our friend Anthony Anderson, we will showcase the diversity that exists in the world of comedy, bringing six talented artists to D.C. for a chance to be launched to stardom,” Nice Crowd founder and CEO Jeff Friday and president Nicole Friday said in a joint statement. “Because They’re Funny provides emerging acts with the chance to share the stage with some of the biggest names in comedy, many of whom started their careers right here in Washington, D.C.”
Saturday will see women including Byer, Ego Nwodim, Aida Rodriguez, and Luenell take the stage for the Hey Ladies Fierce Female Comedy Show, while the final day of the festival will spotlight its host city with the D.C. premiere of Parrish Smith’s documentary The Mecca of Comedy, all about the history of the local Black comedy scene, followed by Orji hosting a slate of her fellow area natives (including Donnell Rawlings, Red Grant, Pierre, Joe Clair, and Tony Woods) for an evening aptly titled the DMV Black Comedy Homecoming Show.
The main BTF events will be held at The Anthem auditorium, with additional programming (panels, podcasts, screenings, workshops, networking mixers, open mics) spread across The Wharf at venues including Union Stage and Pearl Street Warehouse.