For the fifth year in a row, Tig Notaro’s Bentzen Ball Comedy Festival will return to D.C. for a long weekend of laughs Oct. 26-29.
For the first time, the festival will include a sitting U.S. senator among its headliners. Al Franken will take part in a conversation with “This American Life” host Ira Glass, a Bentzen Ball alum, on Oct. 29 at the Lincoln Theatre, says Brightest Young Things, the D.C. lifestyle website that produces the festival.
As is customary, “One Mississippi” star Notaro will headline one of the marquee events, an opening-night showcase at the Lincoln with some of her hand-picked friends ($35) and will likely show up elsewhere. Other highlights of the initial lineup include a live taping of Paul Scheer, June Diane-Raphael and Jason Mantzoukas’ popular bad-movies podcast, “How Did This Get Made?” (Oct. 27), and a night of stand-up with legendary comedian Dick Gregory and friends (Oct. 28), both of which are at the Lincoln. All four of these shows are part of a $116.66 Lincoln Pass that gets you into each show at the venue and includes a signed copy of Franken’s new book, “Giant of the Senate.” (On Friday at 10 a.m., you can purchase tickets to Notaro’s show — the other three go on sale individually next week.)
Brightest Young Things tapped National Geographic to host multiple Bentzen Ball events for the first time this year, including a taping of “You’re the Expert” on Oct. 27 ($25). The podcast, hosted by Nat Geo “Explorer” writer Chris Duffy, challenges three comedians to guess what a scientist studies. Nat Geo will also be the setting for Story District’s “Going Commando,” a storytelling show about roughing it and getting dirty, on Oct. 28 ($20). Tickets for both are available today.
Unlike last year’s loose theme of political and Halloween shows, the Bentzen Ball will have no set focus this year. “It has been a busy, crazy year for comedy,” Brightest Young Things founder Svetlana Legetic says. “This year, we decided that D.C. really needs an escape from what 2017 has been, and we decided to focus on simply quality comedy and unique shows you couldn’t typically see in D.C. otherwise.”
Read about past Bentzen Balls: