Does anybody remember laughter? From the discord over Chris Rock’s joke about Jada Pinkett-Smith (and Will’s reaction) to the backlash Dave Chappelle got for his last stand up special, the nature of comic entertainment and the boundaries it should or shouldn’t cross have come into question, especially when this concerns mockery and societal commentary, which is basically its foundation. Yes, comedy is at a crossroads. So it’s a bold move for the streaming service that aired that Chappelle special to go big on celebrating gags, jabs, roasts and satire with a week plus-long festival. Featuring some of the biggest comics alive, Netflix is a Joke, is an expansive, statement-making event that is literally taking over all of L.A., with over 250 live shows in 30 different locales.

From Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias at Dodger Stadium to Kevin Hart at the Crypto arena, this thing is like the Coachella of comedy, only at different venues, with many of the events recorded for future airing on the ‘Flix. The Palladium alone offers Bill Burr & Friends, Snoop Dogg (hosting a “F*cn Around” lineup including Katt Williams, Mike Epps and more), Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda, and Amy Schumer on different nights, while The Wiltern has Dana Carvey & David Spade in conversation with Adam Sandler, Conan O’Brien, Chelsea Handler and Margaret Cho. Seth Rogen does Table Reads, Aziz Ansari & Friends do stand up, and the “Imaginary Living Room Olympian” aka Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness offer lulsy presentations at the Orpheum. And it goes on.

Peter Davidson has a shindig at the Fonda Theater (expect plenty of paparazzi outside looking for GF sightings), John Mulaney is at the Forum and the Hollywood Bowl (same), and Chappelle himself has a few nights at the Bowl, too  There’s also a queer event called “STAND OUT: An LGBTQ+ Celebration” (scheduled appearances include Eddie Izzard, Sandra Bernhard, Wanda Sykes, and more) and an event called “Outdoors At Hollywood Palladium” where surprise pop-ins from comics, drag queens and more can be enjoyed for free. The Laugh Factory and The Comedy Store (which just celebrated 50 years) host an array of up and coming comics, too natch. As you look through the massive list of events keep in mind that anything that says “and friends” probably means more big names and surprises. The essence of comedy –despite the recent cancel culture driven controversies– isn’t about caricature, quips or contempt, it’s about comradery. April 28- May 8. Tickets and info at netflixisajokefest.com.

LA Weekly