Things to Do

A Guide to the 2014 BYT Bentzen Ball

What to know and who to see—plus a special reader discount.

This week brings multiple chances to see Tig Notaro live. Photograph by Flickr user CleftClips.

Brightest Young Things’ Bentzen Ball returns for the third year October 1 through 5, offering a smorgasbord of comedy by performers both instantly recognizable and up-and-coming. Tig Notaro once again curates the festival’s lineup, in addition to performing at both the opening and closing nights and hosting a dumpling-making class and brunch at the Source with fellow comedian Jena Friedman in between. (Visit Best Bites for full details on that event.) Read on for the scoop on which tickets are going fast and a Washingtonian reader discount on the closing ceremonies. The full festival schedule is available online; check out #BentzenBall on Twitter for daily updates on special guests, the status of shows, and other news. 


According to BYT’s Svetlana Legetic, while tickets to most shows are usually available the day of, a few events might get close to filling up. One such event is the closing night at Lincoln Theatre featuring Reggie Watts and Tig Notaro. Washingtonian readers can get a special discount: Enter the promo code YouAreSpecialToMe on the online ticket sale page for $5 off the $30 tickets. 

Wednesday’s opening show at Lincoln Theatre is “getting up there,” though it’s not yet sold out. Tickets ($30) are available here

The Friday Lincoln show is another sellout risk, thanks to big names such as Rob Corddry, John Hodgman, and Kate Flannery. Tickets ($25) are available here

Saturday’s show at 9:30 Club—which is apparently the designated multicultural night—features Retta, Wyatt Cenac, and DC native (and former Washingtonian intern!) Aparna Nancherla, who’s been on Conan and FXX’s (now-canceled) Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell. Tickets ($20) are available here

One event you definitely can’t get tickets to? Saturday’s planned show at Lisner Auditorium, which was supposed to feature Rosie O’Donnell and (once again) Tig Notaro but was canceled due to an unspecified family emergency.


You’ll recognize plenty of names and faces from movies, online series, and a ton of TV shows: Parks and Recreation (Retta), The Daily Show (John Hodgman, Wyatt Cenac), Curb Your Enthusiasm (Jeff Garlin), The Office (Kate Flannery), Drunk History (Kyle Kinane). Want to find some new favorites? Here are a few more performers to look out for. 

Kate Berlant

The New York Times in 2013 called this Brooklyn-based performer a “magnetic improvisational comic.” She’s been featured on IFC’s Comedy Drop and toured with indie rocker Father Joh Misty. Her style is most often described as “absurdist,” so don’t say you weren’t warned. 

When to see her: Opening night at Lincoln Theatre (tickets are $30)

Mike Lebovitz

The Chicago funnyman is part of the Comedians You Should Know collective and was featured at last year’s Montreal Comedy Festival. He also looks a bit like Jack Black and enjoys using the hashtag #withmydick. 

When to see him: Thursday at Fillmore Silver Spring (tickets are $20) 

The Puterbaugh Sisters

Tiffany and Danielle—yes, they’re really sisters—are cast members of Chicago Underground Comedy and host a variety/comedy show called Entertaining Julia (which was started by another Bentzen Ball participant, Jena Friedman). 

When to see them: Hosting Saturday’s 8×8 at Black Cat (tickets are $15)

Dave Hill

The writer and performer has contributed to the New York Times, McSweeny’s, GQ, and This American Life and wrote the 2012 book Tasteful Nudes … and Other Misguided Attempts at Personal Growth and Validation.

When to see him: Thursday at 9:30 Club (tickets are $20)

Seaton Smith

You can catch this DC local alongside fellow Washingtonian John Mulaney in Fox’s new comedy Mulaney, premiering Sunday. You might also recognize him as the “Pimpin’ Referee” in a Sierra Mist Web ad campaign. 

When to see him: Thursday at 9:30 Club (tickets are $20)

Katie McVay

She could double as a life coach, thanks to her Web series Yell You Better, which involves asking readers to write in with a problem and then berating them into getting over it. If F-bombs offend you, I wouldn’t recommend clicking the video link (everyone else should definitely check it out). 

When to see her: Friday during Church Night at Wonderland Ballroom (tickets are $4.99 to $9.99)