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Ivy League mafia to invade Aspen

Stewart Oksenhorn

Zonker, Mort Guffman, “Maus” and the Harvard Mafia will join Jim Carrey as the subjects of celebration at the 2005 U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen.The 11th annual festival is set for Feb. 9-13 in various Aspen locations.Festival producers announced that “Doonesbury” creator Garry Trudeau, the cast and makers of “Waiting for Guffman,” prominent figures in the world of graphic novels, and alumni of the Harvard Lampoon will all be featured in live programs at the festival.Trudeau will be the recipient of the Freedom of Speech Award in a career tribute hosted by Aaron McGruder, creator of the comic strip “Boondocks.” The first comic strip artist to earn a Pulitzer Prize, Trudeau regularly courts controversy in the long-running “Doonesbury.”Trudeau, who also teamed with Robert Altman to create the campaign comedy TV series “Tanner ’88” and the current sequel “Tanner on Tanner,” joins such past honorees as George Carlin, Michael Moore, August Wilson and the Smothers Brothers.The cast and makers of “Waiting for Guffman,” a mockumentary about a small-town theater group hoping for its day in the spotlight, will gather for a look back at the 1997 film. Scheduled to participate in the reunion are director Christopher Guest and actors Catherine O’Hara, Fred Willard, Eugene Levy, Bob Balaban and Parker Posey, who also formed the core of the cast for subsequent Guest films “Best in Show” and “A Mighty Wind.”The USCAF will also present The Rise of the Graphic Novel, a look at how the comic book has evolved as one of the most subversive literary forms. Dave Eggers, author of “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” and editor of the literary journal McSweeney’s, will moderate a panel of graphic novelists, including “Maus” creator Art Speigelman, as well as Chris Ware, Dan Clowes, Lynda Barry, Charles Burns and KAZ.The USCAF program Writers’ Room will focus on The Harvard Lampoon, the country’s oldest college humor newspaper and a source of some of the most influential television talent over the last three decades. The alumni – known as “the Harvard Mafia” – include “Simpsons” writer George Meyer, “The Critic” co-creator Mike Reiss, “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” creator Andy Borowitz, and Lisa Henson, the youngest president of Columbia Pictures, all of whom are scheduled to participate.The USCAF had previously announced that Carrey would be the recipient of the 2005 AFI Star Award. Carrey, star of this year’s “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” as well as past hits “Bruce Almighty,” “The Truman Show” and “Dumb and Dumber,” will be celebrated in an event hosted by late-night TV host Conan O’Brien.Additional acts have yet to be announced. The USCAF regularly features stand-up acts, one-man shows, alternative comedy, industry programs and the Film Discovery Showcase, featuring new and vintage comedy features, documentaries and short films.Ticket packages for the 2005 USCAF are now available at 1-800-778-4633 or at http://www.hbocomedyfestival.com.Stewart Oksenhorn’s e-mail address is stewart@aspentimes.com


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