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'Small Town Comedy Festival' in Healdsburg

A funny thing happened on the way to Healdsburg. And if local sons Sal Costanzo and Cory Loykasek have it their way, the laughs will keep on coming.

Costanzo, a local high school history teacher and Loykasek, who is pursuing a stand-up and comedy-writing career in Los Angeles, are staging the 2nd Annual Small Town Comedy Festival Friday night, having convinced 30 West-Coast-based comics, rising stars in their field to come to Healdsburg to perform.

Many of these comics typically are paid well at headline clubs all over the country, but they are giving that up to spend a weekend in Sonoma Wine Country.

“It was the time of my life,” said Emily Maya Mills, a Los Angeles-based comedian who attended the event last year and has appeared in the TV series “Parks and Recreation” as well as shows hosted by Conan O’Brien and Ellen Degeneres, “I totally fell in love with the town and the people. I mean, you have no cynical people. How is that even possible?”

Last year, on two weeks’ notice, the event drew 350 people, but the two 30-year-olds, friends since meeting in a youth basketball league when they were nine years old, are hoping to double the turnout this year. There are 10 shows scheduled in five venues around Healdsburg – four tasting rooms and the Bergamot Alley Wine Bar.

Among the comedians expected to perform are Andy Haynes, Dave Stone, Kevin Camia, Christian Duguay, Kate Berlant and Chris Garcia. Garcia is one of many comics who Costanzo and Loykasek have met as Loykasek has been wending his way through a fledgling stand-up career, first in San Francisco and, for the last couple of years, in Los Angeles.

“These are well-known names who headline their own shows,” said Loykasek, who added that a lot of the performers are considered on the verge of stardom. “It’s rare to get so many of them together in such a small event. In three years, these will be the comics everybody is talking about.”

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