IOWA CITY — Green Gravel is spreading comedy all around downtown Iowa City on Friday (5/12) and Saturday (5/13).

The state’s first major comedy festival, launched in 2014, will feature stand-up, improv and experimental performances at The Mill, Riverside Theatre, Iowa City Brewlab and High Ground Cafe.

Headliner is Tony Clifton, played by Comic Relief USA founder Bob Zmuda, an actor, producer, director and author who teamed up with the late comedian Andy Kaufman.  

“He’s a legend who has set the bar on how much good can be done through comedy,” Lee Keeler, Green Gravel’s president, said of Zmuda. Since its beginnings in 1986, Comic Relief USA has raised more than $50 million to assist the homeless and others in need.

Other festival highlights include “Helltrap Nightmare,” a mix of comedy horror and noise music terror from Chicago’s underground scene, and an encore presentation of Megan Gogerty’s one-woman play, “Lady MacBeth and her Pal, Megan.”

Previous Green Gravel guests have included Kevin McDonald from “The Kids in the Hall,” a Canadian sketch comedy troupe that found fame on network and cable TV; Pete Holmes, star of the HBO show “Crashing”; and Rachel Bloom, Golden Globe-winning star and creator of The CW network’s “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.”

Tickets are available for single shows or as festival day passes and weekend passes.

Proceeds from Zmuda’s Tony Clifton show ($15 advance, $20 door) will benefit the ACLU Action Fund and Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, and all proceeds from “Helltrap Nightmare” ($10 advance, $15 door) will go to Planned Parenthood of the Heartland.


FRIDAY: Hey Bails!, 7 p.m., Iowa City Brewlab, 505 E. Washington St., $8; Tony Clifton with the Tony Clifton Trio, 8:30 p.m., The Mill, 120 E. Burlington St., $15; The Floodwater Comedy Hour, 11:30 p.m., The Mill, $8

SATURDAY: “Lady MacBeth and her Pal, Megan,” 2 p.m., Riverside Theatre, 213 N. Gilbert St., free; Police Log, 4 p.m., High Ground Cafe, 301 E. Market St., $5; Hopped Up, 7 p.m., Iowa City Brewlab, $8; “Helltrap Nightmare,” 8:30 p.m., The Mill, $10; Shatterday Night Live, 11:30 p.m., The Mill, $8

TICKETS: $5 to $15 individual shows; or $25, Shovel pass for all Friday events; $30 Pickaxe pass for all Saturday events; $45 dynamite pass for both days;