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Atlanta Comedy Festival Vol. 2 harnesses urban comedy energy

Is Atlanta positioning itself to be the next big city of comedy?

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Few cities in America could host a comedy festival featuring a gold-toothed, dreadlock-swangin' comedian named Foodstamp the way Atlanta can. And while the man with the magnificent moniker is one of more than 20 comedians scheduled to perform at the Atlanta Comedy Festival Vol. 2 July 30-31 at Apache Cafe, Fredo "Foodstamp" Davis embodies exactly why Atlanta has become such a hotbed of urban comedy in the last decade: It's big enough to see and be seen, but cozy enough to charm outsiders; refined enough to be culturally and artistically significant, but gutter enough to keep it real.

Five years ago it was relatively difficult for local comics to find consistent stage time. These days, rooms are sprouting up all over the city in venues as diverse as Pearl Bistro, 255 Tapas and Smith's Olde Bar. With the growing supply of comedy, and a growing demand for it as evidenced by the packed houses across town, Atlanta could be positioning itself to be the next big city of comedy.

Last March, local comedy promoter Maurice Sims tapped into that momentum with the Atlanta Comedy Festival at Apache Café. The event quickly sold out. Barely five months later, Sims, who runs comedy nights at the Pearl Bistro Bar on Wednesdays, and Taboo 2 on Thursdays, is producing Vol. 2.

"The city gets so many comedians that represent the art of stand-up comedy differently, but well. We haven't had a real urban comedy festival since Laffapalooza [in October 2006], and I wanted to fill that void for all of those in the city that still crave comedy," says Sims. He hopes to parlay the festival's proceeds into a new comedy club he plans to unveil in November 2011.

While Atlanta has yet to become the new capitol of comedy, a successful second run of the Atlanta Comedy Festival could go a long way in raising the city's profile. Vol. 2 will feature local acts such as Clayton English and Sean Larkins, as well as Chicago's Vanessa Fraction, and the Big Easy Comedy Festival winner, Mario Tory, to name a few. Tony Tone and Special K will be hosting the shows all weekend. Expect everything from Ashima "Skinny Fine" Franklin's baby-daddy drama in the ATL, to Lavar Walker's spot-on impression of local rapper T.I. After all, if we can't laugh at ourselves, how can the rest of the nation laugh with us?

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