'Plan on sleeping through the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.'
Ten years ago, comedian Kevin Bozeman decided he wanted to put on a show on Thanksgiving Eve.
"People didn't think it would be a success, but I saw that the bars were always crowded on the day before Thanksgiving. Family members going out and grabbing a drink, old friends meeting up. No one was taking advantage of it," he says.
Bozeman knew exactly where he wanted to put on the show, Madison's Comedy Club on State. The Last Comic Standing alum is a headliner at clubs across the county, and he has strong ties to Madison. The first time Bozeman ever performed stand-up was at the Comedy Club on State's open mic, as a UW-Whitewater student.
"I feel like Madison adopted me. Plus, it is close to a lot of other cities so I could get comics from all over to stop by," Bozeman says.
Since many comedians visit family in the Midwest over the holidays, the Thanksgiving Eve show is an opportunity to book in-demand comics who are normally on the road or working on the coasts. Bozeman typically puts on a show with four or five top-level headliners on one bill.
"In this show, all the comics push each other. When you are with some of the best, you want to do your best," Bozeman says. "For the audience, it's like a comedy roller coaster. The show hits a crescendo early on and never drops down."
While great comics are important, Bozeman credits the success of the event to word of mouth and an audience eager to have a good time with family and friends. If anything, the show had become too successful, easily selling out the Comedy Club. In recent years, the overflow crowd has packed into the club's bar area, where they can watch the show on closed-circuit TV monitors.
For the show's 10th anniversary, Bozeman wanted to do something special and move to a venue that could fit everyone who wanted to attend. Gus Paras, owner of the Comedy Club on State, recently purchased the Orpheum, so Bozeman worked with him to bring this annual show to a bigger stage.
Of course, there were some setbacks as well. Hannibal Buress, a rising comedy star who has been in two previous Thanksgiving Eve shows, was forced to cancel after getting cast in a movie, but the show will go on, Bozeman says.
"That's why we have a bunch of good comics in the show. This show is bigger than any one comic, it will be a great party," Bozeman explains.
Chad Daniels, Roy Wood Jr. and Mike Lebovitz, three acclaimed comics with very different styles, are all on the bill. Bozeman may add another comic or two, maybe even a surprise guest who isn't revealed until show time.
"It's going to be a good night," Bozeman says. "People who attend should plan on sleeping through the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade."