2019 Comedy Festival

It's almost show time for the 12th annual Great American Comedy Festival.

The traditional Comedy Magic Show kicks off the festival Thursday, June 13. It will be followed by the Comedy Showcase on Friday and concludes Saturday, June 15, with the Festival Gala. Shows are at 7 p.m. at the Johnny Carson Theatre.

The festival — which is presented by Nucor Steel Nebraska, Nucor Cold Finish Nebraska, Nucor Detailing Center and Vulcraft Nebraska — is designed to honor the legacy of Norfolk's favorite son, Johnny Carson, host of NBC's "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" for 30 years.

The festival also includes The Cable ONE Late Night Show Friday at 10:30 at Divots.

The Comedy Magic Show will feature The Optical Delusions starring Ben Seidman, Marcus Monroe and a surprise guest. Ben Seidman was part of last year's festival and Marcus Monroe appeared at the festival in 2017.

Friday's Comedy Showcase will feature Dave Coulier, who played Uncle Joey on TV’s “Full House”, as headliner and Brian Kiley as host.

Coulier's “Full House” aired for 192 episodes from 1987-1995 and is now seen on Nick at Nite. He subsequently hosted “America's Funniest People” on ABC for four seasons. He now co-stars in “Fuller House,” which began on Netflix in 2016.

Kiley was the winner of the 2014 Great American Comedy Festival when it had a competition format. Other stand-up comedians scheduled to perform Friday are Kelsey Cook, Rob Haze, Max Silvestri, and Moses Storm.

Saturday's Gala features the multi-talented Paul Reiser as headliner and Pete Lee as host.

Reiser has been voted one of the Comedy Club's Top 100 Comedians of all time. Co-creator and co-star of NBC's “Mad About You.”

Lee won the 2012 Great American Comedy Festival competition. He was the first stand-up comedian to get a standing ovation on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”

Other comics scheduled to appear Saturday night are Dino Archie, Dina Hashem, Chris Newberg, and Karen Rontowski. Rontowski competed in the 2011 festival.

Austen Hagood, president of the festival’s board of directors, said he is especially excited about Dave Coulier and Paul Reiser two festival shows.

"These two present family-friendly content using Federal Communications Commission (FCC) guidelines. Their attitude toward comedic content should make for two outstanding shows Johnny Carson would be proud of," he said.

Another highlight of the Saturday Gala will include the presentation of the Johnny Carson Comedy Legend Award to Reiser. The award honors individuals for their contributions to the world of comedy over the course of decades. It has been described as a tangible way to pay tribute to the impact Norfolk's favorite son had on comedy.

The festival is also made possible with the support of the Nebraska Arts Council and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment.

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Want to learn more?

For tickets and information, visit www.greatamericancomedyfestival.com. Tickets will also be available at the door.

In other news

If imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery, then Dave Coulier gave Johnny Carson highest accolades in his headlining act Friday night, performing some impersonations of the late-night television luminary.

A grand jury will be convened next week in Madison County to investigate the circumstances surrounding the June 9 death of Cory Dittman of Norfolk.