Drew Carey, Stephen Wright highlight Viaero Great American Comedy Festival
NORFOLK - For the sixth consecutive year, some of the nation’s most talented comedians from New York to L-A made their way past Northeast Nebraska’s cornfields to take part in what has become a prestigious competition in honor of Norfolk’s favorite son. Nearly 1,300 people packed into Norfolk’s the Johnny Carson Theater for the finals of the professional comedians’ competition of the 6th Annual Viaero Great American Comedy Festival. Carson’s good friend and talent coordinator for the Late Show with David Letterman, Eddie Brill has guided the festival since its inception. This year, Brill auditioned nearly 1,000 performers from coast-to-coast and invited 20 to Norfolk. Following semifinal competitions Thursday and Friday night, the eight finalists took the stage Saturday. Price is Right host Drew Carey served as emcee. He says his first appearance on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson changed his life. The Saturday show also featured the annual presentation of the Johnny Carson Comedy Legend Award to Steven Wright. Brill interviewed Wright Tonight Show style, sitting behind a desk with Wright in the guest chair. Brill recounted how Wright, in 1982 appeared on the Tonight Show, and became the only comedian to ever be asked back to the show less than a week later. The winner of the professional comedians competition, Denver comedian Phil Palisoul will host the semifinal rounds of the 7th Annual Viaero Great American Comedy Festival next year.