It was misting on Thursday night; inside the 9:30 Club, a sold-out crowd took shelter with a few beers and Tig Notaro on the first night of the Bentzen Ball Comedy Festival.
There are nearly a dozen comedy shows and parties this weekend, and we say with some certainty that all of them are better than staying home with a DVD, your cat and some Thai food. Here's what you should get tickets for:
Bentzen Ball Friday Stand-Up Showcase
Doug Benson wowed the 9:30 Club on Thursday with his silly observations about cinema performed, as he noted, for the first time in the District. (Usually, you'll find Benson doing stand-up at Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse.) If you missed it, there's a second chance to see Benson perform as part of the Friday showcase at the Sphinx Club. He's joined by musical duo Garfunkel & Oates, Moshe Kasher, Brooke Van Poppelen, Professor Blastoff's Aaron Burrell and others.
Friday at 10 p.m. at the Sphinx Club, 1315 K St. NW. $20. $25 at the door. Get tickets here.
Bentzen Ball Saturday Stand-Up showcase at the Lincoln Theatre, with Nick Kroll, Sara Schaefer, Moshe Kasher, Seaton Smith and Martha Kelly
More than one star of the small screen will be on this bill. Nick Kroll has appeared on the viral Funny or Die Web series "The Ed Hardy Boyz" and on the television shows "The League" and "Parks and Recreation," and now he's starring in his own vehicle, the Comedy Central sketch series "Kroll Show." But also look out for Sara Schaefer, who makes spectacles look cool in her MTV talk show, "Nikki & Sara Live," and Seaton Smith, a former D.C. comic who just had a turn in an NBC pilot.
Saturday at 6 p.m. at the Lincoln Theatre, 1215 U St. NW. $20. Get tickets here.
Bentzen Ball Music Revue at the Lincoln Theatre, with Nancy & Beth, Garfunkel & Oates and the Lampshades
Curator Tig Notaro has a soft spot in her heart for this showcase, which spotlights a burgeoning community of comedy jingle writers and musical pranksters. Megan Mullally of television's "Will & Grace" will perform as Nancy & Beth, her harmony-loving duo with multi-instrumentalist Stephanie Hunt. (Nick Offerman, better known as Ron Swanson on "Parks and Recreation," joined the bill as a late add.) Another rising act you'll want to catch is Garfunkel & Oates. The duo, with a catalogue that includes such gems as "Pregnant Woman Are Smug" and "Weed Card," just announced that their TV series has been picked up by IFC.
Bentzen Ball happy hour show at the Howard Theatre
For a taste of the local scene (and the festival's most wallet-friendly show) head to the Howard Theatre to see such favorites as Jamel Johnson, Sara Armour, Natalie McGill and Stavros Halkias. Backup: Saturday's 6 p.m. showcase at the Lincoln, which features two busy local comics, Adam Friedland and Haywood Turnipseed Jr., on the long bill.
Saturday at 5 p.m. at the Howard Theatre, 620 T St. NW. $5 or free with ticket from a festival show.
Closing Ceremonies with Ira Glass
The "This American Life" personality will host a night of mesmerizing storytelling, much like you might hear on his popular radio program. Spicing things up will be a few under-wraps guests and the Monica Bill Barnes dance company, which will perform between tales.
Sunday at 7 p.m. at the Lincoln Theatre, 1215 U St. NW. $30. Get tickets here.