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Being new talent at Comedy Fest

Joel StoningtonAspen, CO Colorado
Benjamin Kronberg
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ASPEN Every year the George Carlins and Stephen Colberts steal the headlines for the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, running from Feb. 28 to March 4 this year. And every year there are 20 or so new faces who throw down eight minutes of stand-up comedy in hope of attracting notice as the next Carlin and Colbert. They are placed in four groups billed as “the nation’s best new comics,” for a 75-minute show at which the many comedy industry people who come to Aspen for the Festival at sure to be. The comedy festival boasts that performances helped folks such as Jack Black, Candy Ford, Bob Odenkirk and David Cross attract or solidify network deals.”It’s similar to what Sundance would be for a filmmaker,” said Benjamin Kronberg, 30, one of this year’s comedians. “It’s a place to expose yourself to all these different industry people. Everyone is going there with some kind of reason outside of laughing, which is interesting.”Kronberg, who hails from Thornton, started doing comedy only four years ago. Last year, he decided to send in a DVD of his act in hopes of making it to Aspen. After a sort of follow-up audition onstage in Los Angeles, Kronberg received an invitation to the festival.

“I’m looking to make connections and forward my career, justify the fact that I’ve moved in with my mom,” Kronberg said. It all started with a lack of skill at guitar. He started picking away at the guitar, a gift from his mom, in his early 20s, but never got very good, he said. So his songs took the direction of humor to detract from his bad playing. “I would just make up funny songs to where it didn’t really matter much what I was playing,” Kronberg said. “I decided to try it at Comedy Works, the comedy club in town. It was received pretty well, that gave me the bug, I wanted to do more, so I did more.”But Kronberg said there’s a something of a stigma with being a guitar comic, so he has focused, more recently, on just writing jokes and leaving the guitar behind. When he does his showcase up here, he’ll bring the guitar but play it only if there are requests.

With the guitar on the out, Kronberg said, poop jokes have constituted a good deal of his material. He was disinclined, however, to go much beyond that. “I have quite a few poop jokes – one of the first songs I wrote was about poop,” Kronberg said. “I am doing a poop joke at the festival, but I don’t want to give that away. A lot of people sit down with a premise and try to flesh it out from there. My jokes come from everywhere. I always keep my joke book with me. I rarely try to sit down and pull things out of the air. I’ll just keep my notebook and any thought I have I’ll write it down.For now, he said, he’s hoping the festival will provide some opportunities to grow. Asked to dream for a bit, he said management would be nice. “Getting an HBO special, like a comedy special on HBO would be ideal. I would like the opportunity to make some TV show ideas, to be in a place where people would take those ideas seriously instead of fantasizing about a ‘What if?’ As a realistic yet generous goal, I would like to start making at least $5,000 a week.”

As part of “Stand-Up Showcase A,” Kronberg performs at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Belly Up; 10:30 p.m. Friday at the Tent and at midnight Saturday at Belly Up. The U.S. Comedy Arts Festival runs from Feb. 28 to March 4 throughout Aspen.Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is jstonington@aspentimes.com


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