Comedy fest returns, but with new name | AspenTimes.com

Comedy fest returns, but with new name

Stewart Oksenhorn

For several years, rumor has circulated that the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival, which has been in Aspen since its founding in 1995, would be pulling up stakes here. At one point, there were reports that the comedy festival, the biggest of its kind in the U.S., would relocate to Park City, Utah. And last year, when HBO launched a sister event, known as The Comedy Festival, in Las Vegas, there was speculation that the Aspen event would be replaced. Producers of the festival have even acknowledged that they re-examine the feasibility of the event annually.The day has finally come. The U.S. Comedy Arts Festival is no more. Instead, local comedy fans will have to be content with … the HBO Comedy Festival, which seems suspiciously similar to the former event.The dates for the new festival – Feb. 28 to March 4 – correspond more or less with the dates the old festival traditionally occupied. The HBO Comedy Festival, like the Comedy Arts Festival before it, has an emphasis on emerging comedic talent. The festival’s Web address remains hbocomedyfestival.com. (Visitors to an alternative site the festival has used in the past, uscaf.com, will get a website that is not updated.) The HBO Comedy Festival will present tributes and reunions, the Film Discovery Program, stand-up and sketch comedy. In other words, it’s the same old festival under a new name, presumably given for Hollywood-style branding purposes.The HBO Comedy Festival is accepting submissions for live performances through Nov. 6, and will accept film submissions from Aug. 1 through Dec. 1. Ticket packages will be available beginning in the fall. Stewart Oksenhorn’s e-mail address is stewart@aspentimes.com