The four-day Gundo Comedy Festival gets an encore

By Chase Maser

Podcaster Bert Kreischer (center, double-fisting) and friends at El Segundo Brewing Co.

Podcaster Bert Kreischer (center, double-fisting) and friends at El Segundo Brewing Co.

When Dave Williamson’s stand-up comedy career started to gain momentum a few years back, the Florida resident and his wife bought an RV, loaded up the kids and set out on a tour around the country.

They spent 18 months driving from one gig to the next, but that nomadic existence came to an end when he and his wife stumbled upon a paradise unlike any other, the place they were meant to be: El Segundo.

No joke.

“We were staying at the beach and we saw all these kids running around, and so we really felt like this was the place for us to raise a family. We fell in love with the tightknit community. It’s definitely home for us,” Williamson says.

Setting down roots has also given Williamson a new take on his comedy career.

Last May he organized the city’s inaugural Gundo Comedy Festival, which returns this week for another round of local laughs.

The 2nd annual Gundo Comedy Festival boasts eight shows in various venues from Wednesday, May 18, to Sunday, May 21. Noteworthy pros headlining Gundo gigs include Al Jackson (Comedy Central, MTV), Jimmy Dore (“The Jimmy Dore Show”) and Michael Rayner (“Late Show with David Letterman,” “Sesame Street”).

“We had a lot of fun last year getting everything started, so we’re looking to build on that,” says Williamson.

Kicking off the festival at noon on Wednesday is podcasting comedian Bert Kreischer (Travel Channel, Comedy Central), who will be doing a live recording of his show “Bertcast” at the El Segundo Brewing Co., 140 Main St., El Segundo.

“Bert is known to be a bit of a hard guy and a drinker, so it should be a good time,” says Williamson. “Last year, Jaleel White [who played Steve Urkel on “Family Matters”] came and swapped stories with him. You never know who could show up this year.”

At 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Ian Bagg (“Last Comic Standing”), Chris Fairbanks (Comedy Central) and Jim Short (“Late Show with David Letterman”) head up a free stand-up comedy show at the Purple Orchid
Tiki Lounge, 221 Richmond St., El Segundo.

On Thursday, May 19, Dore, Fairbanks and Kira Soltanovich (“The Tonight Show”) perform in an 8 p.m. show at Old Town Music Hall, 140 Richmond St., El Segundo. Cover is $20.

On Friday, May 20, Al Jackson and Bret Ernst (“Chelsea Lately”) head up a 9:30 p.m. show at Flights Beer Bar, 5119 W. El Segundo Blvd., Hawthorne. Cover is $20.

There are four shows on Saturday, May 21:

Michael Rayner performs a free comedic juggling show at noon at the El Segundo Teen Center, 300 E. Pine Ave., El Segundo. Then at 2 p.m. there’s a free all-ages improv show at the
El Segundo Museum of Art,
208 Main St., El Segundo.

In the evening, the Comedy and Magic Club is producing a show at 7 p.m. and the comedy group Comedians You Should Know performs at 9 p.m., with both shows happening at Big Door Studios, 114 Sheldon St., El Segundo. Tickets for each show are $20.

Since leaving life on the road in the rearview mirror, Williamson says he’s found a home that really supports his passion.

“El Segundo has that small-town feel, but I think our festival could grow into something big,” he says. “It’s not your typical L.A. crowd.”

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