You probably clicked this link because you like comedy. Or maybe, like me, you love comedy—so much that you’ve actually dated comedians. Perhaps one of the comedians you dated could have moonlighted as a Chaz Bono impersonator; another you broke up with because you were terrified you’d have to meet Carrot Top one day. Wait, or was that just me?
Or maybe you clicked this link looking to expand your cultural horizons since Comedy Central’s Clusterfest is upon us, bringing three days of stand-up, storytelling, music and food to San Francisco’s Civic Center and Bill Graham Civic Auditorium June 21–23. Along with Issa Rae, Patton Oswalt, Amy Poehler, SNL’s Leslie Jones and Broad City’s Ilana Glazer (plus a recreation of Jerry Seinfeld’s apartment), headliners include John Mulaney (who stole my allegiance with his “What’s New PussyCat” bit long ago) and Chelsea Peretti (the Bay Area’s “Pippa Middleton” of comedy—kinda royalty, but not). 2 Broke Girls creator Whitney Cummings will also be in attendance, as well as Cummings’ old roast master, Jeff Ross, who is set to host a roast battle where two up-and-coming comedians spar for affirmation.
If you’re one of the diehard comedy fans who sold their souls, cars or kidneys for a three-day pass, you’re going to want to see more than the big stars. Here are our six rising comedians not to miss at Clusterfest (warning: some of the embedded clips contain mature language):
June 21 and 22
If you haven’t heard of Quinta Brunson yet, chances are you will soon. Listed in Forbes’ “30 under 30,” Brunson plays herself against the world in her BuzzFeed video series, Quinta Vs. Everything. She got her start on Instagram playing the easily impressed “Girl Who’s Never Been on a Nice Date.” (Fire tagline: “He got money!”) Brunson’s stand-up routines cover it all: her beef with little kids who mistake her as one of their own, as well as hot takes on Harriet Tubman’s personal life. Brunson mixes intelligence with hilarity better than your most engaging philosophical bar debate.
June 22 and 23
This self proclaimed “alt-comedian with a perfect body and gorgeous face” has social numbers climbing faster than the mileage on the car I park in San Francisco. Cohen’s style of comedy mixes cabaret vocals, open letters to celebrities she’s never met (hello, Owen Wilson and Avril Lavigne) and parodies of pseudo-feminist yogurt commercials. In her videos, she tests the limits of her characters. In one, for example, she suggests, in a 1940s fancy woman accent, that everyone lay down the law and quit performing acts of fellatio for husbands, garbage men and even bosses. Cohen’s humor is absurd, and displays comedic traits similar to Amy Sedaris and Martin Short.
June 21 and 22
Punkie Johnson exudes confidence with a blunt and brash comedic style. Riffing on her own masculinity, monogamy or that one time she tried heterosexual sex, Johnson is anything but demure. She’s also a regular at the legendary Comedy Store in West Hollywood. If you’re not familiar, here she is hitting it out of the park as the gestating partner of a dysfunctional straight couple in her episode of executive producer Sarah Silverman’s Facebook Watch show Please Understand Me.
June 21 and 22
Rosebud Baker airs out the dumpster fires of her personal disasters in her stand-up. If it’s too dark to talk about in good taste, Baker takes it to the stage—even her experience with an abusive relationship. Her humor may well be an acquired taste, a balm for those of us also warming ourselves with our own dumpster fires. Undeniably, her gravitas and well-delivered timing make her stand out.
A San Francisco resident, former cult member and self-proclaimed nymphomaniac, Alyssa Westerlund claims that her “number” is well over 200. Whether that is accurate or an all-too-excellent ploy to catch more partners is up for debate. But what’s not is that Westerlund doesn’t shy away from her exhibitionism. If you’ve had the chance to catch her around town, you know her energy is magnetic and her transparency is repeatedly shocking.
Live Read of Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion with Trixie Mattel, Katya and Peaches Christ
This event is sure to be raunchy, hysterical and unfortunately void of Allan Cummings and his impressive helicopter parking lot landing. Co-curated by SF Sketchfest, this read-through features drag stars Trixie Mattel and Katya, as well as San Francisco’s own Peaches Christ, who will be playing the part of Janeane Garofalo’s character, Heather Mooney, to which I say:
Comedy Central's Clusterfest takes place June 21–23 at San Francisco's Civic Center and Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. Details here.