Stand-up comic Mat Alano-Martin. Photo by Tall + Small Photography


So a comedian and a comedy club owner walk into a bar….

That may sound like the opening of a bad joke, but a comedy festival planned and co-directed by local comic Mat Alano-Martin and Jared Thompson, co-owner of The Comedy Attic, is no jest. The Limestone Comedy Festival, set to debut June 6-8, will be the first of its kind in Bloomington and, the founders hope, one of the best comedy festivals anywhere.

“Lots of festivals have so much happening at the same time that people are forced to make hard choices about which shows they want to see, which can get really stressful,” says Alano-Martin, who has toured with comedy superstar Ralphie May and other big-name comics. “We wanted to create a festival featuring lots of great comics but also one that’s a great experience for everyone involved, comics and fans alike.”

Housed at downtown venues including the Buskirk-Chumley Theater, The Comedy Attic, The Bishop bar, Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center, and The Back Door, the festival will feature between 40 and 50 comics and also live recordings of several comedy podcasts such as Comedy Film Nerds, Dining With Doug and Karen, The Dork Forest, and The Unbelievable Podcast. Some of the top comics scheduled to appear include Maria Bamford, Doug Benson, and Tig Notaro.

For Alano-Martin and Thompson, the emergence of Bloomington as a destination for many top comics meant the time was right for a local festival. “Through The Attic, we’ve built up a very sophisticated audience that the smartest comedians really appreciate,” says Thompson. “Bloomington has become a place where you can see comics you otherwise wouldn’t be able to see outside of New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles. It’s that reputation that’s made the festival possible.”

Alano-Martin hopes that The Limestone Comedy Festival will be an annual event, the “Lotus Festival of comedy,” he says. “Personally, I’m excited not only by how many great comedians we’re bringing to town but also by how instantly the festival has been accepted and embraced by local businesses,” Alano-Martin says. “It’s a great opportunity for the local comedy scene and also for the local economy.”