Picklesburgh has become a destination for foodies across the country, with pickle-flavored beer and desserts, pickle juice contests and other ways to celebrate pickle deliciousness. After several years, you’d think the event would have covered everything you can do with pickles.
But Picklesburgh’s organizer, the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, has added something completely new and, frankly, unexpected to the festival – a comedy show.
On Thursday, July 14, Picklesburgh will present the Pickles and Giggles Comedy Showcase at the Byham Theatre, described as spotlighting “four rising star comedians” who have been featured on Comedy Central, Netflix and various late-night talk shows. The event will also feature three local comedians from Pittsburgh’s Arcade Comedy Theater.
The comedy program adds to a long list of events featured as part of the 2022 festival, which runs from Fri. July 15 to Saturday July 17 on the Rachel Carson Bridge. Along with the main weekend, the PDP also launched Taste of Picklesburgh, another new addition which, from July 8-14, features 15 downtown restaurants serving pickle-themed food and drink.
The showcase was born out of a partnership with the National Comedy Center, a nonprofit cultural institution and museum in Jamestown, NY, with the stated mission to “present the vital history of comedy and preserve its heritage for future generations, as officially designated by the United States Congress”. .” Opened in 2018, the center also serves as a museum dedicated to the life and work of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, the so-called “first comedy couple” who rose to fame on the iconic 1950s TV show. i love lucy. (As the museum notes, Jamestown is also Ball’s hometown.)
This is the center’s first time hosting an event in Pittsburgh, and executive director Journey Gunderson thinks the choice to book artists in Steel City makes a lot of sense.
“Pittsburgh has always seemed to me to punch above its weight when it comes to comedy,” says Gunderson. “It seems like a city that really appreciates comedy, with its finger on the pulse of comedy. It produces many great comic artists. And then there’s also this festival, Picklesburgh, whose name you can’t even say without a smile.
Russell Howard, vice president of special events and development for the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, agrees that, given the difficulty of the past two years due to the pandemic, which included the closure of Picklesburgh at one point, festival-goers need a chuckle.
“Pickles are just kinda funny, and we’ve been giggling and moaning with bad pickle puns since Picklesburgh launched,” says Russell Howard, vice president of special events and development for the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. “We could all use a good laugh these days, so we wanted to bring Picklesburgh’s lighthearted spirit further into the city centre. And the partnership with the nation’s premier institution dedicated to comedy brings real comedic credibility into the mix.
Included in the Pickles and Giggles lineup is NBC contest semi-finalist Jackie Fabulous America’s Got Talent; Sammy Obeid, Lebanese-Palestinian comedian and current Netflix show host 100 humans; Rojo Perez, the first Puerto Rican comedian to debut on TBS’ late night show CONAN; and, Steven Rogers, a podcast host and comedian who has appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and The Late Late Show with James Corden.
Gunderson says the national comedians were selected for how well they all work together. “We’re trying to put on a show that’s diverse,” she says, “and really has something for everyone so that everyone leaves the show happy and goes, ‘Oh my God, that was a great mix and a wide variety of voices in comedy. ‘”
Samantha Bentley, Collin Chamberlin and Chrissy Costa, three local comedians recommended for the show by Arcade Comedy Theater, also perform. On Friday, July 15 and Saturday, July 16, Downtown will bring more comedy to the festival with two nights of pickled-themed stand-up and improv performances.
When asked if the humor on the show Pickles & Giggles will be pickle-based, Gunderson lets out a laugh.
“I think what you’re going to see, like any good comedian, there’s going to be personalized humor and Pittsburgh because it’s too fun to stay away from,” Gunderson says. “But then you’re also going to see jokes and bits that they’ve perfected through a pretty iterative process on stages big and small across the country. So it’s going to be an awesome mix that way.
Gunderson sees the partnership with PDP and Picklesburgh as allowing the center, which hosts an annual Lucille Ball Comedy Festival and works with comedians across the country, to expand its reach. She also sees it as an opportunity to promote the center, located just two and a half hours north of Pittsburgh. Pickles and Giggles attendees will even receive half-price admission to the center with their tickets.
She adds that the center has been recognized as one of the “greatest places in the world” by TIME magazine and as the “best new museum” in the country by USA todaya publication which also awarded Picklesburgh the distinction of “Best Specialty Food Festival”.
” What is the [Rock and Roll Hall of Fame] is to the music and what [Cooperstown, N.Y.] is in baseball, Jamestown is now in comedy,” says Gunderson. “And people who live in Pittsburgh are lucky enough to be pretty close to that.”
Pickles and Giggles comedy showcase. Thu. 14 July. 8 p.m. 101 Sixth St., Downtown. $21.25-61.25. picklesburgh.com