The highs and lows of Clusterfest 2019

Comedy Central’s Clusterfest wrapped up its annual three-day comedy-filled festival located in the heart of San Francisco. For three years, Clusterfest has brought the best of the best in the world of comedy allowing attendees to leave with huge smiles on their faces. However, this year might have been a bit different for a few.   

In order to satisfy festivalgoers expectations, Clusterfest introduced a few new ideas: the ability to score tickets to a show via a reservation system on the official Clusterfest app, headliners performed indoors versus on the outdoor main stage, additional rooms opened up to host multiple comic sets, and all outdoor activations disappeared (with the exception of the Crank Yankers wall).

But even with these new implementations, the groans grew louder—the complete opposite of what they wanted to achieve. Below, read on to see the best, low, and frustrating moments of the weekend. 

'Disgraceland' podcast host Jake Brennan at Clusterfest 2019

HIGH: Disgraceland was a hidden treasure. 

Scoring a seat in Disgraceland was an ultimate win. Creator and host Jake Brennan narrated the unreal story of the Rolling Stones performing at the local Altamont Free Pass concert in 1969. A historic event that took place only a few cities away from San Francisco. To say we’re hooked is an understatement. Highly recommend for those who enjoy hearing the dark history of your favorite musical legends. 

FX 'Atlanta' display at Clusterfest 2019

LOW: Atlanta had a very little presence.

Being that Atlanta is a show that continues to break barriers in television, imagine our dismay finding out the Atlanta presence was a lackluster representation. Simply put, it was a museum set aside in the corner open to the public the size of Harry Potter’s room underneath the staircase featuring props from the Teddy Perkins episode. Riveting. 

HIGH: Food was something you didn’t have to worry about.

From Johnny’s Cupcakes to Woodhouse Fish Co., the festival did not disappoint when it came to food. There were enough tables and open areas to chill out, eat, and listen to a comic or musical act. No harm in that. On the flipside, finding water to help chow down your food might’ve been more difficult than actually securing your meals/snacks. 

Whitney Cummings performing at Clusterfest 2019

HIGH: Women ruled this year.

Amy Poehler, Chelsea Peretti, Leslie Jones, and Whitney Cummings were just a few of the leading ladies who left the audience buzzing for more. They dove straight into poking fun at today’s current events with their hot takes and shared hilarious anecdotes of their daily lives. We were yearning for more. Not to mention, everyone’s opening comic acts got the audience pumped with continuous non-stop laughter. Just what we wanted. 

HIGH: We’re excited about the future of comedy.

We got curious with Jonathan Van Ness during the live recording of his podcast, Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness. It was such an interesting introduction to up-and-coming comedians Ayo Edebiri, Catherine Cohen, Jaboukie Young White, and Julio Torres who are now all on our radar. And should be on yours. The future is in good hands. 

LOW: Set yourself up for a day of standing.

Read: next bullet point. TLDR: you had to mentally and physically prepare yourself for a day of standing if you came late to attend a show on the lineup. No seats? Not even given a chance to squat on the sidelines? Why, yes. That is the sound of attendees’ complaining about their aches from the whole day. 

(THE ULTIMATE) LOW: Securing a spot to see your favorite comic was a bit harder this year. 

Bill Graham has the ability to hold 8,500 attendees and even with that number, certain shows such as John Mulaney’s on Saturday night filled to the absolute brim with more than a few setting up camp on staircases. No matter how early you planned out your schedule, lines wrapping around were noticeable almost everywhere. Smaller rooms lead to frustrated attendees missing out on their favorite comics they paid to see (i.e. Chi Guys: Feat. Langston Kerman, Matteo Lane, Jaboukie Young-White, Langston Kerman, Matteo Lane and Will Miles) It felt more like waiting for a ride at Disneyland more than anything else.

Even with the new reservation system via the Clusterfest app, reservations to shows were snatched up as soon as they were available. Some people (such as ourselves) questioned whether the system was rigged because how was it possible for tickets to be gone as soon as they went on sale? Felt like a huge bug in the system. 

Suggestion for next year: Cap each reservation timeslot accordingly. Save 200 for reserved VIPs, 200 for reserved GA, and the rest for walk-in attendees! 

Overall, Clusterfest has ways to go to improve. Luckily, they’re making strides to fix it year after year with minor kinks here and there. Despite the frustrated attendees, everyone still benefited from listening to at least one comic to brighten their experience. Cheers to you, Clusterfest. 

Were you at Clusterfest 2019? Let us know what you thought: @celebmix

Written by Ashley Bulayo

I reference anything and everything to Lizzie McGuire. Follow me on Twitter + Instagram: @ashleeeybash. I respond 99.9% of the time.