Jessica Gross Talks FONFEST and Comedy: "Laughter for a Good Cause!"
Friends of Nature comedy booker Jessica Gross.
War isn't funny. Neither are Planet Earth's environmental woes.
But this Veteran's Day weekend on November 9 and 10, the Friends of Nature Music Festival (AKA FONFEST) will descend upon Virginia Key Beach Park in the hope of making Miami laugh and dance and be merry.
That's right -- these Friends of Nature aren't satisfied with simply entertaining the masses with music, art, cinema, and cuisine (nor are they content with merely educating the public about sustainability, the well-being of the planet, and how to contribute to saving it), they also want you to bust a gut laughing.
High hopes indeed. But with seventeen stand-up comedians scheduled to perform they're confident polluters will not have the last laugh. To find out what's so hilarious about saving the planet, New Times heckled FONFEST comedy booker Jessica Gross via email.
New Times: What is the Friends of Nature Music Festival?
Jessica Gross: FONFEST aims to become the first carbon-neutral event to be held in the City of Miami. Created by musicians, artists, activists, scientists, and young entrepreneurs who share a common desire to save the planet and all the amazing animals we share it with.
How did you get involved with the festival?
I learned about FONFEST through my friend Jessica Wade Pfeffer, whose company Jessica Wade Inc. was hired to handle publicity, among other initiatives, for the festival. She introduced me to Oscar Diaz and Ines Galindo, the founders of FONFEST and our mutual love of comedy blossomed into bringing an amazing lineup to Miami
Why are there comedians at a music festival?
Why not! Friends of Nature Music Festival is bringing a number of amazing bands, but they are also bringing in an amazing comedy lineup. O Cinema is curating our Cinema Tent. And there will be cool specialty vendors and delicious food options offering an array of vegan and vegetarian choices. But seriously, who wouldn't love seeing Ted Alexandro, Nikki Glaser, Matt Braunger, Ron Funches, Wyatt Cenac, and many more bring some laughter for a good cause!
How did you select the comedians?
I wanted to bring some of the best established, as well as up-and-coming talent in stand-up comedy to our neighborhood. Unlike other festivals around the country, Miami was lacking in festivals that integrated music, cinema, and comedy -- until now. Many of the comedians have performed at other festivals and now we can introduce Miami to these amazing talents at FONFEST.
Can environmentalism be funny?
Um. Yes. But in all seriousness, comedy is an excellent way to broach current, important topics in a nonaggressive way, which is what the festival is all about. FONFEST wants to make being green cool and how better to do that than showcase it through avenues -- comedy, music, film, art and food -- that bring people together.
Do any of the comedians you booked have routines about environmentalism?
Many of the comedians have material about the environment. Comedian Forrest Shaw, a Miami native who recently left for L.A., once made his living as a marine biologist helping manatees.
There will, of course, be music at the festival. What music do you think is the best to compost to?
Our lineup is packed with great music like We Are Scientists, Matisyahu, and DubFX that you can do anything to but it doesn't matter what you are listening to as long as you are composting!
Will the comedy at the festival be 100-percent biodegradable and/or vegan?
I'm confused by this question. Do you mean food? Is this a poop joke?
Will any of the jokes be recycled?
All the comedians will have original material, but I'm hoping they come with some old classics like Matt Braunger's Owl Joke.
Friends of Nature Music Festival. With Matisyahu, Free Like Me, and others. Saturday and Sunday, November 9 and 10. Virginia Key Beach Park, 4020 Virginia Beach Dr., Key Biscayne. The show starts at 11 a.m. and tickets cost $50-$1000 plus fees via fonfest.com/tickets. Call 305-960-4600 or visit fonfest.com.
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