by Alex Keith
The Charleston Comedy Festival is not only a place to see great comics from across the country perform; it's also a place to see many of them before they make it to the big time. Numerous past CCF performers are the real deal these days, making their way from the small stages of Charleston’s local haunts to appearances on late night talk shows, TV series, and blockbuster hits.
Appearing as a stand-up act at the inaugural festival in 2006, S.C. native Aziz Ansari has since been featured in films Funny People, 30 Minutes or Less, and I Love You, Man, and you can catch him weekly on NBC’s Parks and Recreation as the sarcastic and underachieving Tom Haverford.
A member of comedy troupe Hot Sauce, which appeared in Charleston in 2009, Ben Schwartz made the transition to film in 2010’s The Other Guys. While writing for SNL, Adult Swim’s Robot Chicken, and the Late Show with David Letterman, Schwartz finds the time to star on Showtime’s House of Lies and stop in for cameos on Parks and Recreation. Fellow Hot Sauce member Adam Pally has gone from improv to television, playing Max on ABC’s Happy Endings.
Speaking of Happy Endings, fellow cast member Casey Wilson, who plays Penny, appeared in 2005 and 2006 as part of Rode Hard and Put Away Wet. Her Rode Hard partner June Raphael has appeared in everything from Flight of the Conchords to Bride Wars, which, by the way, both of them helped to write the screenplay for.
Bobby Moynihan has performed several times with the Buffoons, and now he can be found on SNL making cameos on ABC’s Happy Endings. He's also been featured in the films When in Rome and The Invention of Lying. Still can’t picture him? He’s that curly-haired guy in the hilarious viral video “Bro Rape: A Newsline Investigative Report.” Fellow Buffoon Charlie Sanders has been on The Office, Community, Cedar Rapids, and more.
Also of recent web fame, The Harvard Sailing Team, members of Ivy League Sketch comedy, appeared at the festival back in 2008. Viral videos like “Boys Will Be Girls” have given us an absurd, if not horrifyingly accurate, look into girl talk.
Amy Schumer, appearing in 2007 with troupe Skinny White Comics, has since garnered roles on Adult Swim’s Delocated as well as HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm alongside comic genius Larry David.
Performing with Baby Wants Candy, I Eat Pandas, and SHAMELESS!, Eliza Skinner has appeared in TBS’ comedy Are We There Yet? as well as Showtime’s PopTudors.
With multiple past performers appearing on shows such as Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Last Comic Standing, The Sarah Silverman Project, and The Ellen DeGeneres Show, your favorite comedian at this year’s festival could very well become your favorite TV actor. Get in some serious laughs and be able to say you saw them first at this year’s Charleston Comedy Festival.