The Bentzen Ball Comedy Festival returns Oct. 1-5

Rosie O'Donnell, Tig Notaro ("Live," "Sarah Silverman Program"), Reggie Watts ("Comedy Bang! Bang!"), Jeff Garlin ("Curb Your Enthusiasm") and Michael Che ("The Daily Show")  are among the comedians lined up for the third installment of Brightest Young Things' homegrown comedy festival, the Bentzen Ball, which returns Oct. 1-5.

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 3, 2013 - Comedian Tig Notaro poses at her home on October 3, 2013, in Los Angeles, California. Notaro had the best-selling comedy album of 2012, after she got up during one of her club appearances and told the audience she had cancer. Now in remission, she's organizing a D.C. comedy festival, The Bentzen Ball. (Photo by Bret Hartman/For The Washington Post)
Comedian Tig Notaro is returning to Washington to curate the Bentzen Ball for its third go-round. (Photo by Bret Hartman for The Washington Post)

The festival -- which first took place in 2009 and then went on hiatus for four years, before re-emerging in 2013 with a focus on larger shows and bigger stars -- will again be curated by Notaro. The comic, who broke out nationally with the release of her album "Live," about her breast cancer diagnosis, taps an immense clique of famous comedian friends to fill the bill with everything that's current in comedy, from stand-up to podcasts and musical performances, to last year's strange-slash-wonderful dance performance hosted by Ira Glass of "This American Life."

Last year, Notaro aimed to create a Bentzen Ball that would have no repeat performers from the previous festival. This year, she's let herself off the hook, booking such acts as Watts, who performed in 2009, and Doug Benson, who made a few appearances at last year's fest.

Another change, said Brightest Young Things' Svetlana Legetic, is the addition of a couple of new venues, including the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage. A food-focused charity event, featuring Scott Drewno of the Source, is also new for 2014.

The full festival schedule has not been announced, but the opening night, Oct. 1 at U Street's Lincoln Theatre, will feature Notaro and Kyle Kinane, Garlin, Kate Berlant and Ben Kronberg ("Last Comic Standing"). The festival, Legetic said, will again put out an open call for local comedians to be considered for the festival (they will be selected by Notaro); last year some comedians complained that they were shut out, and created their own bit of counter programming. Legetic says 22 local comics ultimately made the bill and that the procedure for selection will go unchanged.  Tickets for the shows will top out at $30, with some free shows and several in the $18-$30 range.

Tickets and a full schedule will be available at www.bentzenball.com in coming weeks.

Lavanya Ramanathan is a professional eater/drinker/thinker for Weekend and the Going Out Guide. University of Texas. Northwestern University. Rap fan.
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