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Comedy thrives in Lehigh Valley

- Last modified: January 24, 2014 at 12:19 PM

When we think of entertainment, usually the first things that come to mind are live concerts, movies and maybe even a Broadway show.

But how often does the world of comedy come to mind … other than what you get through network television shows?

It might not seem like a thriving industry on a local level, but stand-up comedy in the Lehigh Valley is out of its booster chair and walking all over town.

On Feb. 1, the inaugural SteelStacks Improv Comedy Festival will be held at two venues at the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks in Bethlehem: the Fowler Blast Furnace Room and the Frank Banko Alehouse Cinema.

Scheduled from 2 p.m.-3 a.m., the festival will showcase a variety of short - and long-form improv groups during 13 hours of nonstop comedy.

The Upright Citizens Brigade Touring Company, the hilarious, nationally acclaimed improv company featuring some of today's funniest actors and writers, will headline the festival.

The festival also will showcase talented and hilarious improv groups from throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, with performance spots filled through a jury process.

There will also be six long-form comedy workshops being taught the following day, Feb. 2.

Founded by Matt Besser, Amy Poehler, Ian Roberts and Matt Walsh, the Upright Citizens Brigade is widely recognized as one of the best improv, sketch and standup troupes in the country, with its members going on to perform and write for the network television programs Saturday Night Live, The Office, 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation and several other comedy shows and movies.

Besides Poehler, among the troupe's notable alumni are Anziz Ansari, Rob Corddry, Donald Glover, Ed Helms, Kate McKinnon, Bobby Moynihan, Aubrey Plaza, Rob Riggle and Horatio Sanz.

UCB has been named "Hot Farm Team" by Rolling Stone magazine and "Best Comedy Club" by AOL, while UCB Theatre in New York has won Time Out's Best Comedy Theater Award.

Tickets are $24 in advance and $29 the day of the show.

For more information, visit www.artsquest.org/comedy.

The festival schedule:

Fowler Blast Furnace Room

2-2:15 p.m.: Young Actors Under Stress (Lehigh Valley Charter School for the Arts)

2:15-2:30: Soviet Purgatory (Albright College)

2:30 -2:45: The Hobo Army (Lehigh University)

2:45-3: Sad Jazz (New York)

3-3:15: PEPES (New York)

3:15-3:30: Lunch Break Tantra (New York)

3:30-4: Press Play (Washington D.C.)

4-4:15: 4AM in Thailand (Lehigh Valley)

4:15-4:45: Mayor Karen (Philadelphia – Philly Improv Theater)

4:45-5:15: Big Bang (Boston)

5:1- 5:45: Johnny Velvet and the Moonbeams (New York)

5:4- 6: Toned & Lean (New York)

6-6:30: Population: Six (Baltimore – Baltimore Improv Group)

6:30-7: Curtains (New York)

7-7:30: King Bee (Washington D.C. – Washington Improv Theater)

7:30-8: Detroit (New York – Upright Citizens Brigade)

8-8:30: Davenger (Philadelphia – Philly Improv Theater)

8:30-9: The US National Improv Team (New York)

9-9:30: Mandudebro (Lehigh Valley)

9:30-11: Upright Citizens Brigade Touring Company

11-11:30: Matt& (Philadelphia)

11:30 p.m.-midnight: Warren (New York)

Midnight-12:30 a.m.: Apollo (New York – Upright Citizens Brigade)

12:30-1: ____ POLICE (New York)

1-1:15: Wicked City (New York)

1:15-1:45: Hotel Nowhere (Pittsburgh – Steel City Improv Theater)

1:45-2: Flighty Ducks (Lehigh Valley)

2-3: Terry Withers' "Short Form is the Only Art Form" (Festival After Party)

Frank Banko Alehouse Cinema

11-11:30 p.m.: The Associated Mess (Lehigh Valley)

11:30-11:45: Yo, Gloria! (Pittsburgh – Steel City Improv Theater)

11:45 p.m.-12:15 a.m.: The Oxymorons (Harrisburg)

12:15-12:30: Midseason Replacement (Pittsburgh)

12:30-1: North Coast (New York)

1-1:30: Interrobang?! (Philadelphia)

1:30-2: The Associated Mess (Lehigh Valley)

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