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Comics, improvisers and sketch artists to feature in Kansas City’s first Black Comedy Festival

Black Comedy Festival KC will take place from April 25-28.
Hilari Holt
Black Comedy Festival KC will take place from April 25-28.

The first ever Black Comedy Festival KC will take place from April 25-28, mainly in Kansas City’s historic 18th & Vine district. Festival organizers say it’s the first festival to highlight black comics in the region, as well as the first to feature several different forms of comedy.

Over 40 different comedians will perform in 10 different shows at this weekend’s inaugural Black Comedy Festival KC. The event is scheduled to take place from Thursday, April 25, to Sunday, April 28.

Organizer Hilari Holt told KCUR’s Up To Date, that shows will feature Black comics performing several different styles of comedy ,including stand-up, improv and sketch performances.

Holt is an improv comedian and native Kansas Citian. She said BFCKC originally started as her effort to revive a discontinued improv festival, and evolved into creating an experience centered on Black creatives.

“I wanted there to be more people of color, especially Black folks, in improv,” said Holt. “(I also wanted) it to move more eastward so we don’t have to go out of our way to go into spaces where you just feel like you’re (trying) to fit in rather than feeling comfortable.”

Nine out of the 10 festival shows will take place in Kansas City’s historic 18th & Vine District.

Holt said the festival is the first event of its kind to highlight Black comedians in the Kansas City region, a fact that makes festival headliner Janell Banks extremely proud to be a part of it.

Banks lives in Kansas City, Missouri, and has been performing stand-up in the area for years. She said that while the comedy scene in KC is bigger than most people think, it can be difficult for Black performers to stand out.

“I’ll give our (local comedy clubs) credit. They do give us great spots to showcase our talent,” said Banks. “But when it comes to bigger showcases… it is hard to see or hear Black voices unless a Black producer is coming in to make a show.”

In addition to its several shows, the event will also offer workshops taught by festival headliners. The classes will teach attendees more about performing different styles of comedy and how they can be used in day-to-day life.

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