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Jill Kimmel brings a new comedy festival to her onetime hometown, Las Vegas

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Jill Kimmel
Courtesy
Julie Seabaugh

Jill Kimmel was a Las Vegas resident until age 15, when her family—including older brother Jimmy—moved to Arizona following her father’s job transfer. These days the Phoenix-based comic and producer sees Las Vegas’ inaugural Double Down Comedy Experience—set for April 26 and 27 at the Bunkhouse—as a melding of her personal past and professional future.

There’s no shortage of comedy shows in Las Vegas. What need does this new festival fill? There are so many shows in grandiose rooms in the big hotels; they’re up on big billboards, and you can pay a ton of money to see them. This festival is more homegrown. You don’t really have to twist comedians’ arms that hard to get them to go to Vegas. But performing in an intimate venue is something comedians prefer over big venues. If you make it big enough to do a stadium tour, that’s fantastic for your career; but performance-wise, as a comedian, there’s nothing better than being able to look into the eyes of the people you’re making laugh and really connecting with them. And this will be a venue of 150 people, three shows a night and a huge entertainment value without worrying about spending a fortune or having a typical Las Vegas experience.

If you buy tickets for any of the shows, you can hang out before and after in an area with food trucks, an outdoor bar and merchandise for sale. The comedians will have their own merch and will be doing meet-and-greets as well. You can take an Uber down, have a good time before, during and after, and really make a whole night of it.

How did you go about choosing the acts? I knew I had to get a solid roster of comedians. [Headliners] Christopher Titus and Garfunkel & Oates have somehow combined being great comics, really working hard and being in the industry for a while with staying fresh and new and relevant. To be doing it for quite a while and keeping it fun and relatable to crowds of all ages, isn’t easy to do. It’s the hardest kind of combination of things for comedians to be.

Any insider details you can share about the Linq Promenade’s new Jimmy Kimmel Comedy Club? As always happens with the opening of any business, there’s always a delayed date and a permit held up and those kinds of things. As far as I currently know, the opening date is May 2 with Harland Williams headlining the first weekend. Jimmy is someone who also grew up in Las Vegas and knows the ins and outs of what people like there … and what locals like. Vegas was built on tourism, but it was built by locals. It’s important to have all of this comedy, whether it’s Jimmy’s club or the Laugh Factory or anywhere else, and we’re so excited to begin a festival that’s going to be part of that landscape. And hopefully next year it will be even bigger.

Double Down Comedy Experience April 26-28; 7 p.m., 9:30 p.m. & midnight; $12. Bunkhouse Saloon, doubledowncomedy.com

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