Fall Guide

Comedy Goes Rogue

The Rogue Island Comedy Festival brings big laughs back to Newport

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Stop us if you’ve heard this one: Two Rhode Islanders walk into a bar and decide to start a comedy festival. Okay, the punch line’s a little weak – and we don’t know if they planned this all in a bar – but the results have been pretty hilarious.

The Rogue Island Comedy Festival, founded by Rhode Islanders Doug Key and Katie Latimer, is back this fall for another five days of big laughs in the City by the Sea. Since its humble origins in 2015, the festival has more than doubled in size, drawing hundreds of submissions from comics from all over the US and beyond.
Response last year, according to Latimer, was hugely positive. “Nearly all the shows sold out. It really couldn’t have gone much better.”

2017 featured a major headliner at the end of the weekend, but this year, the festival will go back to a format that is more reminiscent of its earlier years, with the focus really being on the entire weekend’s roster of comics and venues. Performances are spread over five days, kicking off with two big shows at the Jane Pickens Theater – including a live edition of the hit podcast Guys We F@#ked – followed by stacked lineups at the newly renovated Studio Three, two stages at the Firehouse Theater, and Gurney’s. The idea is to double down on quantity and quality, with nightly sets featuring a diverse group of six or seven comics performing.

“People are surprised, they think they’re only going to see one or two comics,” says Latimer. Instead, each show will deliver on that festival feel, giving crowds a ton of laughs.

This year’s headliners include comics who’ve appeared in Comedy Central, SNL, MTV, and Conan, and the full roster will feature more than 50 performers, including local hosts like festival founder Doug Key, Andrew Williams, and Brian Beaudoin. Comedy nerds take note. October 4-8, Newport