Luckily for D.C., Notaro hasn’t taken her eye off the Bentzen Ball. Today, Brightest Young Things, which organizes the event, will announce this year’s festival, set to run Oct. 1-4.
The festival will open at the Lincoln Theatre with a live reunion of Comedy Central’s late-’90s cartoon, “Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist.” The ahead-of-its-time, crudely drawn sitcom starred Jonathan Katz as a therapist whose patients included comedians and actors (often playing themselves). Laura Silverman (who voiced his receptionist) and Janeane Garofalo will appear alongside Katz and Notaro, with TBA special guests.
“We feel like in many ways ‘Dr. Katz’ is the godfather of the kind of comedy that is the Bentzen Ball,” says BYT founder Svetlana Legetic, adding that this is the only “Katz” reunion scheduled for the East Coast. (Tickets are $35 and go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday via Ticketfly.)
BYT is also, for the first time, releasing a limited amount of four-day Bentzen Ball passes, good for entry into the Lincoln on all four nights. (The $100 pass goes on sale at 9 a.m. today through Eventbite.)
For now, the “Dr. Katz” reunion is the only show being announced, but Legetic says Notaro will do stand-up at least one of the other three Lincoln shows. (She will also likely drop in, unannounced, at the smaller shows, as she has in the past.)
“There will be some [comedians] coming back but a lot of the shows are special, one-of-a-kind shows,” Legetic says. “It will allow us to have more improv talents and hosts to [show] the breadth of the comedy offerings — as opposed to just the straightforward stand-up format.”
The Washington area gets plenty of big-name touring comics throughout the year, but the Bentzen Ball — now in its fourth year — is the highlight of D.C.’s comedy calendar.
You can revisit past festival lineups to get a sense of who might perform this year, but it’s always a solid mix of established names and up-and-coming comics, improvisers and musicians, most of whom are friends with Notaro. Despite her busy schedule, she’s actively involved in the planning, curating the lineup herself (even down to the local comics who appear at almost every show).
“We are 100 percent, multiple times a week in [contact] with Tig,” Legetic says. “She’s involved in every decision. It will forever be Tig’s festival.”
Read about past Bentzen Ball festivals: