Queen City Comedy Experience returns to Charlotte after a two-year hiatus

By Beth Mack

July 26, 2022

Charlotte’s largest annual comedy event, Queen City Comedy Experience (QCCE), is returning this August after a two-year hiatus with its largest lineup yet. Boasting a schedule of over 70 events across 14 diverse Charlotte venues, the month-long QCCE is expected to paint the town with laughter. This year’s event features headliners comedic musician “Weird Al” Yankovic, stand-up comedian Bill Bellamy, Chicago’s notorious improv group The Second City, and Scott Aukerman’s weekly podcast, “Comedy Bang! Bang!”

Joe Hunsaker, co-founder of the Queen City Comedy Experience. Photo: Brian Twitty / Blumenthal Performing Arts

While the past two QCCE have featured national headliners, that was not always the case. From humble beginnings, QCCE as we know it today was set into motion one January evening in 2017 when Blumenthal’s special projects event manager Joe Hunsaker, an improv comedian himself, went to check out Queen City Comedy’s local comedy festival at Acting Out Studio in Ballantyne. Inspired and challenged by the number of talented Charlotte comedians and the lack of venues for them to perform, Hunsaker decided to do something about it. With Blumenthal holding the keys to multiple Uptown venues and the local talent of Queen City Comedy, the two organizations collaborated on a monthly improv show aptly named The Improv Room at Stage Door Theater in May of the same year. Hunsaker’s idea was wildly successful with most shows selling out, proving Charlotte had an untapped appetite for comedy. 

Photo: Brian Twitty / Blumenthal Performing Arts

Wanting to further help local comedians and put Charlotte on the map for comedy, Hunsaker and Cale Evans and Karla Dingle of Queen City Comedy began talks of a larger format comedy event in Uptown. Looking to make a splash on the comedy festival circuit, Hunsaker brought Brian Heffron, the owner of The Comedy Zone into the conversation. Together they envisioned something different. “Everyone does a million festivals. What can we do differently? Let’s create a buzz,” said Heffron. Thus the Queen City Comedy Experience was born.

In its inaugural year, the four-day event featured national headliners Jay Pharoah, Randy Rainbow, Rob Schneider, and Janeane Garofalo at venues like Spirit Square and McGlohon Theater. QCCE was also able to share some of that limelight with local comedians and include immersive experiences with pie throwing contests, photo booths, improv jams, and after parties with the comedians. 

“Weird Al” Yankovic will perform in Charlotte on August 13 for the Queen City Comedy Experience. Photo: Courtesy

This year, QCCE continues in its quest to offer a variety of experiences in unique settings across Uptown. “We’re trying to make it more immersive with comedy everywhere,” said Hunsaker. Beyond stand-up and improv shows, QCCE is hosting events at Founders Hall, Belk Theater, The Comedy Zone, and Discovery Place Science, among others.

Of course, the main attractions will be headliners “Weird Al” Yankovic (August 13), Bill Bellamy (August 12-14), Scott Auckerman’s “Comedy Bang! Bang!” (August 18), and The Second City, but you would be remiss to not check out the plethora of events QCCE has to offer. 

Looking to watch a good fight without the sweat and blood? Over the course of four separate events, 45 Charlotte comedians will compete in head-to-head comedy battles, but only one will be crowned champion in Comedy Fight Night. The first round begins August 3 and culminates with the finale on August 24

For those who miss Discovery Place’s Science on the Rocks, be sure to check out one of the three Nerdy Night Out events at Discovery Place Science. For its first event in the series, Ladies Who Rock, female comedians will recount stories of various women over the course of history who rock. For the second event on August 20, Heroes Debate, comedians will discuss which superheroes and villains would be best for randomly selected topics. In the final event on August 25, Biology 4 Comedians, a local biology professor will attempt to teach two Charlotte comedians what’s fact or fiction about ’80s and ’90s movies as they imbibe in a few adult beverages. 

If you are looking for a more interactive comedy experience, QCCE has a variety of events where audience members can be a part of the action. Check out hybrid yoga/improv workshop Yogaprov (August 13), Comedy Bingo with Beerly Funny! (August 18), Queen City Comedy Improv Jams, and Adult Spelling Bee (August 26).

Aspiring comedians, both young and old will have multiple opportunities to take improv workshops from some of the best in the business. Learn how to punch up your set with improvisational dance and physical comedy with Comedy Dance Chicago. What better way to learn how to better manage your anxiety than with an improv workshop from world-renowned improv group The Second City? Workshops from The Second City include musical improv, sketch writing, auditioning, and improv lectures.

Photo: Brian Twitty / Blumenthal Performing Arts

This year’s QCCE offers something for everyone, with multiple comedy styles and events located all over Uptown. You can purchase individual event tickets or opt for a VIP pass which includes access to all events, drink tickets, meet and greets with the comedians, premium seats, and access to after parties. 

For a complete list of events visit Blumenthal Performing Arts’ official Queen City Comedy Experience website

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