What a Joke Comedy Festival aims to make laughter from political sadness

On every Inauguration Day there are those celebrating and those who try their best to make it feel like it’s just another day. This year feels different—yes, there will be celebration. But there will also be deep mourning by those who did not vote for the man who was elected and have fears about what the future holds.

Worry not, Democrats, Libertarians, Green Partiers and yes, even you, Republicans with a conscious. There’s good news.

Thanks to a national movement created by New York-based comedians Jenn Welch and Emily Winter and brought to you locally by the Salt Lake-based comic (recently relocated from New York City) Andy Farnsworth, the What a Joke comedy festival aims to bring like-minded people together on inauguration day to foster a sense of community and to turn grief into laughter—all while raising funds for the American Civil Liberties Union.

“This is not meant to be a Trump-bashing event,” explains Farnsworth, the organizer of the Salt Lake event—one of 32 happening worldwide throughout inauguration weekend, “The main things is people being together. I just wanted to have something to do on that day.”

Andy Farnsworth

And, he says, though all funds raised will go to the ACLU in every city, this is a particularly meaningful designation in Zion, “Utah is a state of high-priority for the ACLU. They know there’s a lot of ground to be lost here.”

Farnsworth will be joined by other local comics, Natashia Mower and Jason Harvey as well as a player-to-be-named-later, billed as a “special guest,” and  musical guests PIG-EON.

Organizing an event like this is a big undertaking , but Farnsworth says he’s had help from the community at-large, but most specifically his friend and professional event planner Jennifer Bigler, The State Room and KRCL—and he says it will all be worth the hard work in the end, “I’ve spent so much time in fear and anger about Trump’s election that something like this—I know I’m not changing the world—but I just want to connect with people. That’s always what I’ve loved about comedy.”

And who isn’t going to need a laugh on January 20? Or in the four years following…


What a Joke takes the stage at The State Room on Jan 20 at 8 p.m., tickets are available here.


Andy Farnsworth is a local comic. His podcast can be heard here.

Christie Marcy
Christie Marcyhttps://www.saltlakemagazine.com/
Christie Marcy is a former managing editor at Salt Lake magazine. Though she writes about everything, she has a particular interest in arts and culture in Utah. In the summer months, you will find her at any given outdoor concert on any given night. In the winter, you will find her wishing for summer. Follow her on social media at @whynotboth.

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