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Do-Re-Mi-Ha? Laughingstock belts out a third year of musical comedy

The daylong festival expands to 26 acts and three stages.



Comics Mike Barton and Josh Dunkin—both Second City alums and both founding members of the Pub Theater Company—long struggled to find an audience for a particular brand of humor. Perhaps that's because the duo doesn't always gift-wrap its jokes for the audience. Instead, Barton and Dunkin sing them in the comedy-rock band Nashville. "You're in between being a musician playing at a music venue and a comedian playing during an open mike," Barton says.

In 2012 the duo started Laughingstock, a daylong festival dedicated to musical comedy. Now in its third year, the festival has grown from a 17-act show once crammed into the now-shuttered Ace Bar into a 26-act, three-stage, 12-hour extravaganza.

Along with traditional novelty-humor bands like folk-comedy group Shock Ts, this year's lineup includes sly tongue-in-cheek performers like the all-female Beastie Boys cover band She's Crafty and theatrical (read: over-the-top) groups like burlesque parody troupe Off Off Broadzway. The popular Cupid Players headline.

Dabbling in escapism, this year's festival will channel the aesthetic of a traveling DIY carnival. Expect strange characters to pop in and out throughout the day, and feel free to partake from the old-fashioned popcorn machine being wheeled around. An RV will serve as the third, more intimate stage, with local comedian Lorenzo Toia interviewing acts after they perform for a special podcast.

Since the festival's first year, Barton and Dunkin have seen more musical-comedy acts popping up, and they're excited to find a place where they finally fit in. "It's refreshing to see a show where people are all doing the same thing," Barton says. "It's cool to be a part of this small niche community that is bigger than we originally knew."

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