“Crapshoot,” the noun, means “risky and uncertain,” but Crapshoot Comedy Festival promises to be anything but a gamble. With its deep bench of both comedy veterans and exciting up-and-comers, it’s nearly impossible to choose just seven to highlight. I tried, but it might be a crapsh—you know what, never mind.
Flula Borg began his career as a traditional Bavarian Schuhplattler dancer before becoming an actor, singer, screenwriter, DJ, YouTube celebrity and comic—more or less in that order (he played the snide German a cappella group leader in Pitch Perfect 2). Watching Borg in action almost feels like seeing a Saturday Night Live character come to life, in a good way, whether he’s musing on the literal meaning of “party pooper,” or teaching Conan O’Brien how to call someone an “anus violin” in German.
Aparna Nancherla by her own admission is a textbook introvert. But she takes that wallflower stereotype and turns it into dry, hilarious comedy, focused on the lighter side of anxiety and depression (sample tweet: “Team Apathy for the whatever”) and, more recently, living in the age of President Trump. In addition to her debut album Just Putting It Out There, you can catch Nancherla on Crashing, Master of None and Inside Amy Schumer, or doling out advice for depressives on her comedic self-help podcast, Blue Woman Group.
Sam Jay has been compared to Patrice O’Neal for her stone-faced delivery and relaxed comic timing. As a queer woman of color, the Boston-bred Jay isn’t shy about addressing race and sexuality with candid, confessional warmth. She’s opened for Hannibal Buress and Dave Attell, but is poised to become a headliner herself. In 2015, she was named one of Comedy Central’s Comics To Watch, and she can be seen in the Viceland series Flophouse, about the lives of young comedians.
Bert Kreischer partied so much in college that he was the inspiration for Van Wilder; now, he performs his trademark brand of outrageous storytelling (drinking with the Russian mob, doing acid at Disneyland) to sold-out crowds across the country (usually not wearing a shirt). Kreischer is a regular guest on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast, and recently wrote a memoir called Life of the Party, Stories of a Perpetual Man-Child.
Josh Adam Meyers is the creator of The Goddamn Comedy Jam, a live show in which comics tell funny personal stories before bursting into a song of their choice backed by a live band. Meyers loves the idea of comics getting out of their comfort zones, which might explain why he’s so raw on stage, whether he’s discussing the panic of masturbation or dissecting animal mating rituals in his self-described “strip club voice.”
Brad Williams got his awkward big break in comedy when Carlos Mencia called him up onstage at a show (Mencia had been making midget jokes, and Williams has a form of dwarfism). But ever since, he’s been a mainstay at comedy clubs, on late night shows and on his podcast About Last Night with Adam Ray (they’ll do a live taping of it at Crapshoot). Williams’ small stature informs a lot of his material (his top-rated Showtime special is called Fun Size), but his self-deprecation is charming and his energy onstage explains why Robin Williams once called him “Prozac with a head.”
Michelle Buteau brings swagger to every set with her Jersey girl frankness and disarming delivery. Recognizable as “the crazy ex-girlfriend” on Key & Peele, or as a co-host of VH1’s Big Morning Buzz Live, Buteau tours the country performing at clubs, colleges and festivals in between TV appearances. Her first album is titled Shut Up!, but after seeing her act—full of fresh observational comedy punctuated by priceless facial expressions—you won’t want her to.