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Gene therapy: Get a final dose of the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival

A little help from his friends: Eugene Mirman, right, is excited to perform with Reggie Watts at his 10th and final Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival this weekend.
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He loves you, but he’s chosen Massachusetts.

This weekend’s 10th-annual Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival will be the final blow-out for the silly, sincerely ironic extravaganza that has drawn big-name comedians to the Gowanus area for the last decade. Festival founder and former Brooklynite Eugene Mirman says that, since he moved to Cape Cod two years ago, it is has become too difficult to organize a Brooklyn gathering. But he wants borough residents to know that it wasn’t us — it was him.

“Brooklyn did not drive me away,” said Mirman, who lived in Park Slope for 16 years. “I had a child, and I wanted to be closer to family, closer to Massachuse­tts.”

The annual gathering is going out with a bang, with musician and comedian Reggie Watts flying in to host one show and perform in several more, along with an all-star lineup of comics including Bobcat Goldthwait, Whoopie Goldberg, Jim Gaffigan, David Cross, and Ophira Eisenberg, among many, many others.

This year’s fest will include 14 shows over five days, several of them with amusing and accurately described titles, including the headliner “A Festival That Was Just Supposed to Be a One Year Joke: The 10th Year Anniversary Show,” and the young comedian showcase “Yikes! Most of These Comedians Were Born After Police Academy 2 Was in Theaters.”

Mirman doesn’t remember what prompted him to put on the first show, but he kept going for a simple reason.

“We put one on, it was really fun, and we kept doing it,” he said.

The festival started at the Bell House, and has since grown to include shows at Union Hall, as well as a giant annual “Star Talk” presentation hosted by Mirman and popular scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson, happening this year at Kings Theatre in Flatbush on Sept. 18.

In addition to stand-up shows and a live recording of Mirman’s podcast “Hold On,” the festival will have its usual dose of random, amusing activities between and after shows. This year, those include a session of career advice from a unicyclist and an after-party featuring people dressed as Vice President Mike Pence. Mirman says that he does not think too much about these projects — he just thinks they are fun.

“I think there’s something really enjoyable about a party with five to 10 people dressed as Mike Pence, but I can’t really put my finger on why, other than it makes me smile,” he said.

The final show of the event is titled “This Is Probably The Last Show Of Our Last Festival, But Who Knows, The Eagles Got Back Together and I Only Moved To Massachuse­tts,” which leaves the door open for another gathering in the future. But regardless of what happens with the festival, Mirman said that he will be back in Brooklyn again.

“We’ll probably do shows at the Bell House again. It’s not like we’re a band getting divorced,” said Mirman. “It’s just a lot of work to produce to produce a festival for no reason.”

Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival at the Bell House (149 Seventh St. between Second and Third avenues in Gowanus) and at Union Hall [702 Union St. between Fifth and Sixth avenues in Park Slope, www.eugenemirmancomedyfestival.com). Sept. 15–19 at various times. $15–$55.

Reach arts editor Bill Roundy at broundy@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–4507.
Posted 12:00 am, September 13, 2017
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