Inaugural Event Will Take Place in Washington, DC, October 6-8, 2023

Los Angeles, Feb. 27, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- For Immediate Release                       

ABFF Ventures LLC today announced the launch of Because They’re Funny (BTF) Comedy Festival, a three-day event showcasing comedic talent within BIPOC communities. A spinoff of the American Black Film Festival, BTF will propel a new generation of stand-up comedians to stardom and showcase content in the comedy genre. The festival, programmed for comedy fans and industry professionals alike, will take place October 6-8, 2023, at The Wharf on the Southwest Waterfront in Washington, DC. Events DC, the premier host of conventions, sports, entertainment and cultural events in the nation’s capital, is the festival’s presenting partner.

The centerpiece of BTF is the “Next Up Comedian of the Year” competition, a contest to discover emerging comedians from around the world and guide them to successful careers in Hollywood. Up to 20 contestants will be chosen to perform at the festival to compete for a $25,000 grand prize and talent holding deal with a major studio or network. Comedians interested in the competition are invited to visit for details. The festival lineup will also feature headline shows, new comic spotlights, celebrity conversations, screenings and exclusive parties. BTF will be promoted nationally, attracting upscale tourists as well as residents of the DMV market. 

“We are proud to expand our event properties to include the comedy genre,” said Jeff Friday, founder and president, ABFF Ventures LLC. “BTF extends our 27-year legacy of supporting Black talent and providing pipelines for emerging artists in the entertainment industry. We are thrilled to partner with Angie Gates and the Events DC team to bring BTF to the nation’s capital for the inaugural event.”  

“We love welcoming artists and visitors to DC. We also love uplifting Black creatives. We especially like when we can combine welcoming people to DC and celebrating the creative community,” said DC Mayor Muriel Bowser. “A lot of talented comedians have started and grown their careers in DC, and we can’t wait to welcome the future of comedy and comedy fans from across the country to Washington, DC this October.”

“Washington, DC is culturally diverse and inclusive, on top of being a hub for politics, social movements and American culture. The partnership with the American Black Film Festival is a great way to expand our entertainment portfolio to the District and its visitors while supporting future BIPOC talent,” said Angie M. Gates, Events DC president and CEO. "With our multiple theaters and wide variety of performance spaces, the comedians of Because They’re Funny are sure to feel at home and attract audiences ready for a good laugh and a good time.” 

“Unlike any other city in the world, we have a dynamic, thriving local, national and international community,” said Max Brown, Events DC chairman. “We welcome the American Black Film Festival’s Because They’re Funny Comedy Festival and guests to see why the nation’s capital is the greatest place to live, work and play.”

The American Black Film Festival has a long legacy of supporting emerging Black comedians, dating back to its inception in 1997. Many of today’s biggest names in comedy have performed at the festival in the early stages of their careers including Kevin Hart, Cedric the Entertainer, Mike Epps, Craig Robinson, JB Smoove, Chris Spencer, D.L. Hughley, Sheryl Underwood, Earthquake, Tommy Davidson, Bill Bellamy and Ricky Smiley among others.

For more information about Because They're Funny, including passes and submission information, visit –


About ABFF Ventures LLC

Because They’re Funny Comedy Festival is a property of ABFF Ventures LLC an entertainment company specializing in the production of live events and platforms that celebrate Black culture and achievement. The company’s flagship property, the American Black Film Festival (ABFF), founded by Jeff Friday in 1997, is the leading festival of is kind showcasing Black storytelling. Dedicated to the belief that diverse artists deserve the same opportunities as their mainstream counterparts, Friday conceived the festival as a vehicle to strengthen the Black entertainment community by fostering resource sharing, education and artistic collaboration. Having premiered the work and encouraged the careers of many of today’s most successful filmmakers and actors, the ABFF has become the standard-bearer of excellence for Black American creativity. Embarking upon its 27th year, the festival has become a key proponent of diversity in Hollywood, providing a platform for emerging Black artists. For more information visit, Find us on social media @ABFF on Twitter and @AmericanBlackFilmFestival on Instagram and Facebook.


About Events DC

Events DC, the official convention and sports authority for the District of Columbia, delivers premier event services and flexible venues across the nation’s capital. Leveraging the power of a world-class destination and creating amazing attendee experiences, Events DC generates economic and community benefits through the attraction and promotion of business, athletic, entertainment and cultural activities. Events DC oversees the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, an anchor of the District’s hospitality and tourism economy that hosts more than 1.7 million visitors and generates more than $400 million annually in direct economic impact and the historic Carnegie Library at Mt. Vernon Square. Events DC manages the RFK Stadium-Armory Campus (RFK Campus), including Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, Festival Grounds at RFK Campus, the non-military functions of the DC Armory and the Skate Park at RFK Stadium. Stay current on the 190-acre RFK Campus Redevelopment Project at Events DC also built and serves as landlord for Nationals Park, the first LEED-certified major professional sports stadium in the United States. Events DC manages Gateway DC, R.I.S.E. Demonstration Center and Entertainment & Sports Arena all conveniently located in the Congress Heights neighborhood of Washington, DC. For more information, please visit and find us on social media – Facebook, Instagram and YouTube (Events DC), and Twitter (@TheEventsDC) — and on our new hub for live and on-demand event programming on GATHER by Events DC at

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Chelsye J. Burrows                                                                  Christy Goodman

ABFF Ventures LLC                                                                  Events DC                                          




Because They're Funny Comedy Festival

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