Brad Williams returns for second year of the LOL Comedy Festival

"I had such a great time in Santa Barbara and it did so much for me personally," says Brad Williams, a comedian who will return for the second year of the LOL Comedy Festival. Courtesy photo
“I had such a great time in Santa Barbara and it did so much for me personally,” says Brad Williams, a comedian who will return for the second year of the LOL Comedy Festival.
Courtesy photo

The Santa Barbara LOL Comedy Festival was new last year, but quickly ingratiated itself into Santa Barbara’s increasingly crowded arts fest scene with six nights of stand-up comedy, most of them filmed for cable TV. One of those specials was for Brad Williams, the “little person” comedian – though he’ll gladly call himself a dwarf or a midget, and more about that nomenclature later – who got his big chance to have a full-hour set recorded last year at the Lobero Theatre for Showtime.

Mr. Williams loved it so much that not only is he coming back this year, but he’s the “Ringmaster” of his own show next Friday, bringing on his own favorite – yet still unknown – fellow comedians.

“I had such a great time in Santa Barbara and it did so much for me personally and the audience was so kind and receptive that I wanted to share that with some guys who haven’t had that chance,” he says. “I’m not doing friends favors because I helped them bury a body one time – these are funny guys.”

It’s a brand new hour of material that Mr. Williams is bringing, which has meant he’s had to completely step up his game. Last year’s Lobero show was the culmination of a decade spent polishing his material that he had been doing in 10- and 20-minute sections. Now he’s had to throw all that away and start fresh. In the era of Louis C.K. (and by extension George Carlin, who started that whole practice) that’s expected. Fortunately, a lot has happened and while a lot of his early material was about life as a dwarf, now he’s digging into family matters such as his dad’s brush with cancer, becoming an uncle, fame and life in general. Very little is about size. He says he stepped off stage the other night at LA’s The Laugh Factory to find Dana Carvey, a friend and fan, blown away. “Where the hell did ‘that’ come from?” Mr. Carvey said.

“An acting coach once told me that desperate people get super creative super fast,” Mr. Williams says. “I didn’t want people to watch my Showtime special then decide to go see me, buy tickets, get a babysitter, drive, buy some drinks, then see me do the same show.”

This past year has also been one where Mr. Williams has come up against all sorts of political correctness, often aimed back at him. He laughs just thinking about the well-meaning folks who have told him that he shouldn’t use the words midget or dwarf.

“I’ve lived this life for 31 years,” he says. “I didn’t just become a dwarf three years ago. I didn’t go through a Bruce to Caitlin transition and come out on the cover of Vogue with my chopped-off legs! What are you doing telling me how I can talk about myself and what I’m allowed to do?”

Mr. Williams goes on such a tear about the topic that although he wasn’t planning to talk about this last year of PC-talk, he’s thinking maybe he will.

“I gotta work this out! It’s pretty funny!, he says.”

Brad Williams: Ringmaster
When: 8 p.m. Friday, October 9
Where: Lobero Theatre, 33 E. Canon Perdido
Cost: $32.50-$75
Information: 963-0761,

LOL Comedy Festival Lineup
When: 8 p.m. Thursday Oct. 8
Location: Lobero Theatre

Funny Femmes: Kate Quigley, Jenny Zigrino, Karen Rontowski, Kira Soltanovich, with special guest host Real Housewives of Orange County Alum Gretchen Christine Rossi
When: Friday Oct. 9
Lobero Theatre

Brad Williams Ringmaster
When: 8 p.m. Saturday Oct. 10
Location: Lobero Theatre

Steve Lemme and Kevin Hefferman of Broken Lizard and Super Troopers. Opening act Dan St. Germain
When: 8 p.m. Friday Oct. 16
Location: Arlington Theatre

Legally Brown Tu 2.0 with Cheech Marin, featuring Steve Trevino, Monique Marvez, Jeff Garcia and Willie Barcena. Opening act Rico & Mambo
When: 8 p.m. Saturday Oct. 17
Location: Arlington Theatre

Chris Hardwick and The Nerdy Show with Andy Daly

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