Drowning out the roar of planes taking part in the Cleveland National Air Show during Labor Day Weekend will be the laughter emanating from the Accidental Comedy Fest. The seventh annual comedy festival takes place Aug. 29 through Sept. 2 at both the Hilarities 4th Street Theatre and the Frolic Cabaret venues.
One of the national headlining acts, appearing Aug. 30 at the Frolic Cabaret, is comedian Jim Tews, who spent a decade in Northeast Ohio before moving in 2011 to New York City.
‚ÄúAround 2000, I got stationed in Cleveland when I was in the Coast Guard,‚ÄĚ said Tews, calling from Queens. ‚ÄúI started stand-up in the last six months of enlistment. Afterwards, I stayed in Cleveland.
‚ÄúI figured, if I‚Äôm pursuing comedy, I might as well get a degree in something that leaves me with a little safety net and is somewhat related. So I graduated from Cleveland State University with a degree in film.‚ÄĚ
Considering Tews came from Allentown, Pennsylvania, he found a similar Rust Belt mentality in the area that actually played a key role at the beginning of his stand-up career.
‚ÄúBetween Cleveland and Allentown, it‚Äôs very blue-collar,‚ÄĚ said Tews, who lived in Cleveland‚Äôs Tremont neighborhood and Lakewood. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs, like, find a way to make this work and maybe just not being focused on the getting lucky part of it, but more focused on the working at it part.
‚ÄúLike, my dad is a cop, and my mom an insurance adjuster. Trying to explain to them comedy is how I hoped to be making a living, they said, ‚ÄėWell, act like it. Go out, work at it and wake up every day and put something into it.‚Äô That definitely helped.‚ÄĚ
As for the Accidental Comedy Fest, Tews has performed every year. The funnyman, who cited storyteller comedians such as Dave Attell and Jim Gaffigan as influences, isn‚Äôt surprised to see Lorain native and Accidental Comedy founder Ramon Rivas II‚Äôs festival grow over the better part of the last decade.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm delighted by it,‚ÄĚ said Tews, who directed 2015 feature-length documentary ‚ÄėMake Fun,‚Äô about Cleveland‚Äôs independent comedy scene. ‚ÄúI think Cleveland has always been a good place to do comedy. That was the case even when I started. It‚Äôs just been cool to see that it actually has grown.
‚ÄúIt seemed like every year there were more little shows and more comics popping up that were trying new things. And Cleveland is good at supporting its own, for sure.‚ÄĚ
The upcoming Accidental Comedy Fest lineup features national acts Doug Benson‚Äôs ‚ÄúDoug Loves Movies‚ÄĚ podcast, Liza Treyger, Clayton English, Joyelle Johnson, Sean Patton, Deb DiGiovanni, Billy Wayne Davis, Jermaine Fowler, Nore Davis, Felonious Munk, Ryan Dalton, Amy Miller, Stavros Halkias and Nick Mullen.
Cleveland-based comics appearing at the Accidental Comedy Fest include Mike Polk Jr., Bill Squire, Juanda Mayfield, Joshua Morrow, John Bruton, Cody Cooper, Jimmie Graham, Mary Santora and Martin Malloy.
Over the last decade, Tews has watched his own career grow. Not only is the ‚ÄúLast Comic Standing‚ÄĚ veteran a regular on the touring comedy circuit, but he‚Äôs also a published author with New York Times Bestseller ‚ÄúFelines of New York.‚ÄĚ
Earlier this year, Tews garnered national attention when he created an animated video for Weezer song ‚ÄúHappy Hour.‚ÄĚ The entire experience happened on a lark after Rivers Cuomo, via Twitter, requested ideas for the band‚Äôs new song. Eventually Tews finished the animated video, which Weezer tweeted out from their official Twitter.
‚ÄúIt got some pretty good views and was really cool because Rivers followed me on Twitter,‚ÄĚ Tews said. ‚ÄúThe band also hooked me up with concert tickets a couple of weeks ago. It‚Äôs like a weird and strange connection to my favorite band and a really cool credit.‚ÄĚ
At the very least, Tews‚Äô parents had to be happy he was using his college education.
‚ÄúMore than proud ‚ÄĒ they‚Äôre probably surprised,‚ÄĚ Tews laughed. ‚ÄúLike, ‚ÄėOh, that worked?‚Äô‚ÄĚ
When: Aug. 29 through Sept. 2 (times vary).
Where: Hilarities 4th Street Theatre, Cleveland.
Tickets: $10 to $20.
Info: 216-736-4242 or pickwickandfrolic.com.