The laughs will have to wait another year.
The Great American Comedy Festival, which was scheduled for June 18-20 at the Johnny Carson Theater in Norfolk, has been postponed until June 2021 due to uncertainties surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
The headliners scheduled for this year’s festival have both agreed to come to Norfolk next year. Actor, screenwriter and producer David Koechner slated to headline the 2021 Comedy Showcase, and six-time Emmy Award-winning Wayne Brady to take the stage as the 2021 Gala Headliner .
The carryover includes the Family Comedy Magic Show, the Comedy Showcase, the Late Night Adults Only Show at Divots, and the closing festival gala.
Executive director Lisa Wattier said the comedy festival’s board of directors recently made their decision unanimously.
âWhile no one is sure how long this pandemic will last, some in the public health industry believe it could last for several months,â Wattier said. âBecause of this, we had to think very seriously and at length about further planning and fundraising for our festival. “
Beyond that, uncertainty on several fronts played a role in the decision.
âWe think it would be irresponsible to put our audience at risk of getting sick because they attended one of our festival shows,â she said. âIt is irresponsible of us to fundraise, spend those sponsorship donations and end up having to cancel the festival at the very last minute.
âIt is also possible that reserved actors cannot make it here. “
Wattier said all sponsorship money donated so far could either be refunded or earmarked for the 2021 festival.
âIt’s really disappointing to have to take this step,â said Austen Hagood, chairman of the board of the Great American Comedy Festival. “But we, like countless other organizations planning big events across the country, need to be responsible and put public health and safety first.”
âBecause there is just too much uncertainty about where this virus will be in June, we have to take this step reluctantly,â he said.
Nucor Steel Nebraska, Nucor Cold Finish Nebraska, Nucor Detailing Center and Vulcraft Nebraska have been the main sponsors of the festival for several years.
The annual festival opened in 2008 to honor the legacy of Norfolk’s favorite son Johnny Carson, who hosted NBC’s âThe Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carsonâ for over 25 years.