Because They’re Funny at the Wharf
The inaugural Because They’re Funny comedy festival lands at the Wharf this fall; Credit: Laura Hayes

We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

The American Black Film Festival announced Monday the launch of a new comedy festival in D.C. Because They’re Funny will be a three-day event showcasing comedians in BIPOC communities.

Curated with comedy fans and industry professionals in mind, the festival aims to showcase a new generation of stand-up comedians while promoting strong ties between Black entertainers through resource sharing, education, and artistic collaboration. 

Because They’re Funny, which will be held at the Wharf Oct. 6 to 8, represents a larger expansion into comedy for ABFF. In a press release for the event, the organizations’s founder and president Jeff Friday says, “BTF extends our 27-year legacy of supporting Black talent and providing pipelines for emerging artists in the entertainment industry.”

The main event within the three-day festival is Next Up Comedian of the Year, in which up to 20 emerging comedians from around the world will take the festival stage to compete for a $25,000 grand prize and talent holding deal. 

In addition to the competition, the festival will feature headline shows, performances from new comics, celebrity conversations, and screenings.

Because They’re Funny was developed by ABFF in partnership with Events DC as a spinoff of the decades-old, titular event: the American Black Film Festival, based in Miami. According to BTF’s press release, ABFF has worked to support emerging Black comedians since its inception in 1997. It lists some of the biggest names in comedy as previously performing at the original festival including Kevin Hart, Cedric the Entertainer, Mike Epps, and Craig Robinson

According to Mayor Muriel Bowser, the District has a similar legacy. “A lot of talented comedians have started and grown their careers in DC,” she says in the press release. “We can’t wait to welcome the future of comedy and comedy fans from across the country [to the District] this October.”

More information on Because They’re Funny is expected in the coming months. For details on the festival—including tickets, and participation or submission requirements—visit