50 Straight Hours of Comedy Right Here in Minnesota for Die Laughing 2: Laugh Harder
A truly unique event is happening this weekend here in the Twin Cities. It is a marathon—spanning 50 solid hours—of live comedy, put on by local group Fearless Comedy Productions, and featuring some of the best, freshest, and funniest performers in the Minnesota comedy scene. This is only the second year that Fearless Comedy Productions has held their annual fundraiser, so don't fret if you haven't heard of it before now! I had a chance to speak with Jena Young, one of the event's organizers, about Die Laughing 2: Laugh Harder. Hal Bichel (TCG): What is Die Laughing and who is involved? Jena Young: Die Laughing is a 50 hour comedy marathon produced by Fearless Comedy Productions, but it really involves a lot more people than just the production team. With over 70 acts, Die Laughing has an estimated 150 to 200 performers on the stage throughout the weekend, performing various styles of comedy—improv, stand up, storytelling, podcasts, music, variety, experimental . . . no form of comedy is excluded. These people perform with no pauses and no time off to sleep, right through the wee hours of the mornings. We start at 7:00 p.m. on Friday and go all the way through until 10:00 p.m. on Sunday. We also have fans who volunteer their time to make sure that the event happens—from stage technicians to people running the box office, to donations from local artists, and a busy stream of audience members, sometimes it feels like everyone's involved! TCG: Can you explain a bit about Fearless Comedy Productions? Jena: Fearless Comedy Productions was founded to create a supportive environment for "risky" comedy. We feel that the best comedy comes from people putting themselves out there and pushing the boundaries of both performer and audience. We have a mission to support comedy in the Twin Cities. Part of that is internal—promoting our shows, starting new productions. And some of that is external. Die Laughing is not just a long fundraiser; it's also a place for people of various comedy styles to get together and talk shop. We have some established comedians performing, but we also include a lot of new people. We feel it's important to promote comedians at every stage of their development. TCG: Why does Fearless Comedy Productions need a fundraiser? Jena: We do a lot of things year-round, and that all costs money. Ticket sales can help supplement expenses, but we tend to keep costs low to make our comedy more accessible to more people. In order to provide that, we need more money upfront, and that's where Die Laughing comes in. Some of the things we produce include a season of full-length shows, ongoing monthly and quarterly productions, our Fearless room party at CONvergence, and even the Die Laughing comedy marathon itself! And then there's administrative costs. We do an awful lot of promotion—why do a show if no one comes out to see it? We also believe in paying our writers, actors, and directors whenever possible. Lastly, Fearless Comedy Productions also provides funds for others. We have an internal grant program to assist members in producing their own shows, in addition to the Fearless Fringe sponsorship program available to Fringe Producer hopefuls who don't have the ability to pay the production fees upfront. TCG: How is this year's event different from last year's? Jena: We've learned a lot from last year that we'll be applying to the event. We'll have a green area for performers to get ready or store their things. We've invested money and resources into our live streaming, and we are confident that the stream will be up for the run of the event. And this year, we'll have a coffee station for performers and volunteers. Though we enjoyed our stay at the Hilton last year, we're excited to be producing the event this year at the DoubleTree in Bloomington. This venue has provided us a larger room, which means more space for audience and a bigger stage for performing! It's also well-known to much of our fan base as the home of several local conventions, which should make finding the event even easier! And of course we have some new faces in the mix. Though we're happy to have a large number of performers returning, we're also excited to have some new performances in this year's event, such as The Insufferable Spitefulness of Beaver, Happy Accident, and Ari Hoptman. TCG: Is there anything else you'd like our readers to know? Jena: Since this is a fundraiser, it's important to mention some of the other fundraising events we have over the weekend. Our silent auction will feature a variety of items from local producers and artists, including tickets to shows, guest spots on podcasts, board games, art, a gorgeous Stained Glass Flower from Kitsune Art Glass, and the chance to name a minor character in a Kelly McCullough story. We also have several matching grants and challenges occurring throughout the event. People can donate money to see Fearless members do silly and stupid things. These challenges run the gauntlet from body waxing to hot sauce shots. During certain hours, generous sponsors like CONvergence and Vilification Tennis will match donations up to a certain dollar amount. Right now, the Fearless Comedy Productions board has a matching grant for every dollar donated before the even starts, up to $500. If you would like to donate, watch the live stream, or check out a list of scheduled acts, go to www.dielaughingmarathon.com. (Don't forget to join the Facebook event, too!) Date: March 6–8th, 2015 (50 straight hours) Cost: Pay what you can! (Suggested donation at the door is $20, but "we aren't going to turn anyone away!") Location: DoubleTree by Hilton 7800 Normandale Blvd, Bloomington, Minnesota 55439 Can't make it out to the show? Watch the live stream free on the Die Laughing website!
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