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2nd Best Comedy Fest Guide

30+ Acts / 2 Venues  / June 7th – 9th, 2018

Your complete guide to this year’s festivities

For the fourth year in a row, the Coalition Theater (formerly Richmond Comedy Coalition) is bringing the area’s largest comedy festival, 2nd Best Comedy Fest, back to historic Jackson Ward. The laughs are coming to two venues this year, as more than 30 acts from around the country descend upon Richmond.

The festival is the brainchild of the staff and players at the Coalition Theater, a small improv theater in the Downtown Arts District that opened its doors almost exactly five years ago after a successful crowdfunding campaign. The group first formed in 2009. Executive Director Matt Newman says the concept began as a birthday party show to be held to coincide with that date, and later morphed into a full-fledged festival.

The 2nd Best Fest is also a homecoming of sorts for performers who started at the venue and went on to bigger cities or performance spaces over the years, which Newman says really makes it all worthwhile. Many have returned or will this year to perform.

The venues

The festival will encompass two venues–of course the Coalition Theater at 8. W. Broad Street; and Gallery 5 at 200. W. Marshall Street. Both are within a stone’s throw of each other, which will allow the festival to be highly concentrated and show off the historic nature of Jackson Ward. “We want to show off and showcase Jackson Ward and the city at large, keeping everything local and walkable,” Newman said. Each night, after parties will be held at nearby restaurants and bars, continuing the party into the night. View more details here.

Coalition Theater

8 W. Broad Street

Richmond’s home for comedy shows, classes and other fun stuff. Live Comedy, Dead Serious.

Gallery 5

200 W. Marshall Street

Gallery, museum, venue, community space, and more! Open in Jackson Ward since 2005.

Venue map and where to eat, drink, and hang out

The three venues are pretty darn close to one another, and there are a whole host of places to eat, drink, and generally be merry within walking distance of the spots. Here are a few of our picks around the greater Jackson Ward area.

Featured acts

There are over 30 acts performing in the third annual festival, and they’re all worth seeing! But with so many great acts, we thought it might be helpful to narrow it down to the top five must-see performances of the weekend. View the full schedule here.

The Hermanos Brothers


When They’re Performing:

Fri, June 8th / 7pm / Gallery5

Get Tickets

The Hermanos Brothers are Bruce Phillips and Eric Stallings, who are not really brothers. Their two-person improvised form won “Best Duo Improv Performance” in Chicago in 2015, and focuses on strong characters, fast and fun improvisation, and playful performancesall inspired by the complicated love/hate you might have for a real brother.

Atlas Improv Co.

Madison, Wisconsin

When They’re Performing:

Fri, June 8th / 9pm / Coalition Theater

Get Tickets

Atlas Improv Co. takes to the stage with the “Borealis” format, which uses your favorite songs to inspire their set. Will Rihanna lead to a shootout in the Old West? Will Frank Sinatra leave our improvisers lost in a supernatural mist? Could grandma getting run over by a reindeer signal the end of the world? It’s all on the table in this fast-paced game of musical chairs.

Past Our Prime Time Players

San Francisco, CA

When They’re Performing:

Fri, June 8th / 7pm / Coalition Theater

Get Tickets

Three improvisors of a certain age proudly present a fast, funny and heartfelt improv show for all ages.

The cast members have worked together on various improv and scripted projects since they met in 2003, and have performed at the SF Sketchfest, SF Improv Festival, SF Fringe Festival, and further afield.

We, Robot

Chicago, IL

When They’re Performing:

Sat, June 9th / 7pm / Gallery5

Get Tickets

The everyday, mundane, and frustratingly normal are probed and dissected by these two veterans of the craft. Featuring Chris George and Bill Arnett (Founder of the Chicago Improv Studio and author of The Complete Improviser).

Good Joke / Bad Joke Bingo


When They’re Performing:

Fri, June 8th / 11pm / Gallery5

Get Tickets

Random bingo numbers determine which joke or story Shawn Wickens tells. Some are great. Some are not.

The audience plays along on bingo cards to win PRIZES. Some prizes are great. Some are not.

Take It Personal: The Hip Hop Improv Show


When They’re Performing:

Sat, June 9th / pm / Gallery5

Get Tickets

Hip Hop and Comedy has always co-existed but never like this and the forces have been combined like never before by CIPHA SOUNDS (Chappelle show, ROCnation, Hot 97).
Cipha Sounds and his team, A Tribe Called YES, create a comedy show completely made up on the spot. No script, no rehearsal, all freestyle, based on the real life stories of Hip Hop celebrities and personalities. Some past guest have been 2 Chainz, Swizz Beats, Wu-Tang clan, Quest Love, Victor Cruz, Jadakiss, Action Bronson, and even Childish Gambino.2

This year’s workshops

The festival isn’t just about shows–you can get in on the action yourself as well. There will be four workshops during the festival where curious minds can test their improv skills and have fun.  This year’s guest instructors include Bill Arnett (founder of Chicago Improv Studio), Bruce Phillips out of ComedySportz Chicago and the Annoyance Theatre, and Jeanell Allen and Mike Poole from NYC. View more info here.

Tickets, passes, and schedule

Over 800 people attended last year’s shows. Because of this, tickets go fast. Individual shows are $10 or $5; festival passes are available for $30, which includes admission to all performances. You can view the full lineup of acts, purchase tickets, and learn more on the festival website.


We’re proud to sponsor this year’s festival, along with some other dope places around town that you should also pay a visit too (because, well, you already found us).

Visit their website



HI Richmond Hostel

HI Richmond believes in the power of travel to foster a deeper understanding of people, places and cultures for a more tolerant world. As a nonprofit, charitable organization, all money earned by the hostel is reinvested in this cause.

Hi Hostel fulfills their mission by helping people discover the eclectic cafés and restaurants, beautiful murals, natural beauty, nightlife and rich American history of Richmond while connecting them with travelers from around the world in our hostel.

Visit their website

Double Take

Based in Richmond, Virginia, we help expand the creative community in the city by providing professional, creative videos and photographs. Let’s hang.

Visit their website

Champion Brewing Richmond

Champion Brewing Company is Virginia’s most progressive brewery, producing a wide variety of ales in four location: our Downtown Charlottesville tap room, our Belmont production facility Brasserie Saison, and our Richmond Tap Room.

Stoplight Gelato Café

Located in the heart of Jackson Ward, Stoplight Gelato Café is an attractive, old fashioned family-friendly place to go for healthy foods and frozen deserts served with a triple scoop of hospitality.
In addition to a variety of gelato flavors, soft-serve ice cream, sundaes, floats, sodas, milkshakes, and smoothies Stoplight Gelato offers robust coffee options, and a selection of homemade pastries and sandwich breads.
This is the kind of place where you stop for fun, stop for food, and stop to spend quality time with family and friends. Visit their website.

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