A Star Maker is Born
The first and surely not the last Peachtree Comedy Festival kicked off its inaugural on June 18th. This latest installment to Atlanta, Georgia, culture ran a full 5 days filled with seminars, panel discussions and driven by a comedy competition that attracted comedians from all over the country. Top comedy talent also performed as hosts and headliners each night.
Conceived and founded by comedienne, Luelue Korrell, this event featured 42 competitors at a different venue each evening. The Redlight Café began the fun with host Cassius Creflo and co-headliners Cocoa Brown and Sweet Baby Kita. 22 competing comedians were whittled down to 10. The next night Kat’s Café played host to the 20 comedians. The MC was Dwayne Jackson and headlined by Yours Truly, D’Militant. We cut the field of 20 down to another 10.
The Quarter Finals, consisting of the remaining 20 comedians took place at the Highland Inn Ballroom. Joel Byar hosted and Marvin Hunter headlined. 10 of the competitions best emerged and prepared for the Semi-Finals. During that Friday, June 21st afternoon, Lamont Ferrell held a comprehensive seminar on sitcom writing at the Punchline and Rodney Perry taught an eye-opening course on Improv. That night at the Relapse Theater, Perry headlined the competition. When it was over 6 comedians (there was a score tie) had been chosen to advance to the Finals.
Saturday, June 22nd was a full day of festivities. There were panel discussions covering podcasts, the business of comedy, the gatekeepers of comedy and social media. This all took place at Decatur’s Porter Sanford III Performing Arts and Community Center. Kenney Johnson hosted the Finals that night, which was co-headlined by the outrageous Barbara Carlyle and the legendary Sylvia Traymore.
However, the true focus was on the finalists: J Lew, James R. Hustle, Big Mo Dixon, Maxi Witrak, Tyrone Burston and Tommy Stracke (who no-showed). As a judge all 5 nights, the scoring had been no easy task. The other permanent judge, Barbara Carlyle agreed (rotating judges included Lamont Ferrell, Rodney Perry and Steve Brown). However, this night the winner was clear cut. Every contestant did a fine job and that scoring was tight, but Big Mo Dixon delivered a sizzling hot set from first word to last. It was a textbook competition performance – short, crisp bits, captivating stage presence, tags, callbacks and a set that built to an unforeseen and hilarious climax. The audience devoured it. Big Mo took home the first place trophy with no objection from anybody who saw it. The first runner up was Tyrone Burston and third place went to James R. Hustle.
Congratulations to all the participants this year for making this opening of a new comedy institution an unforgettable experience.
*For a complete list of participants go to peachtreecomedyfestival.com
By Darryl “D’Militant” Littleton