Second Crom Comedy Festival to be held in Omaha May 23-25

Before OK Party Comedy, before the first Crom Comedy Festival, Ian Douglas Terry says nationally-touring comedians were bound by one feeling about Omaha.

“The comedians we bring in all share the same sentiment of Omaha being a place that they had no idea was cool,” says Terry, one of the principal founders of Crom Fest and the Omaha DIY comedy collective OK Party Comedy, which is hosting and coordinating the festival.

“Most know about Bright Eyes, Saddle Creek and Cursive, but don’t realize how great the culture that grew up around those sweet geniuses is,” Terry says. “It is our job to show people how cool our city is, and to then use that energy to grow the comedy scene that we’re a part of.”

The second annual Crom Fest will be held over three nights at The Waiting Room from May 23-25, (plus, a special pre-Crom album taping at O’Leaver’s Pub on Thursday, May 22). The lineup for this year’s Crom includes Ben Kronberg, Kyle Kinane, Brooks Wheelan and more than two dozen others. Find the full lineup here. Tickets here.

In its three-year existence OK Party Comedy, which currently comprises Terry, Mike Perry, Ryan de la Garza and Cody Wayne Hurd, has hung its hat on holding DIY shows in non-traditional venues, often music venues The Waiting Room and O’Leaver’s Pub. They’ve attracted and solicited the Omaha appearances of comedians such as Judah Friedlander, Rob Delaney and Neil Hamburger, in the hopes of cementing Omaha as an alt-comedy destination in the minds of touring comics.

And given the wide presence of repeat customers to Omaha and OK Party-hosted events on the Crom billing, the lineup for Crom is, in a way, a success in and of itself for Terry and company.
“I even had an email from a comedy agent that we’d previously worked with, saying there is a lot of buzz about Crom Fest and he’s excited about what we’re doing,” he notes.
Terry says that in comedy circles, playing on a festival billing is considered by some to be a benchmark of professional success or authenticity — ”you feel like you’re a ‘real’ comedian” — and for Omaha to be able to provide that space is reassuring for its cultural growth. Given the scheduling of various comedy groups and troupes at Crom, like The Grawlix from Denver and Power Violence from Los Angeles, the festival allows the opportunity to see shifting lineups and several comedians in different contexts.

“If you come to all of the shows, you’re going to get a chance to see Rory Scovel [for example] (and many others) a handful of times, doing completely different things each set. That is definitely a difference between comedy and music [festivals]. We have the option of doing stand-up, sketch or any weird gimmick idea we get, to keep shows fresh and to make sure each night is unique.”

As for if there are any comedians on the billing who will need to be sold on Omaha later this month, Terry says OK Party’s work is mostly done when it comes to a first pitch on their home city. Sustained enjoyment and a friendly, communal atmosphere during the festival are the priorities now.

“I feel like, at this point, we don’t have to worry. We’ve created a fun party weekend for the comics where they’re going to get to meet cool people from across the [country]. We definitely want to make sure Brooks Wheelan, Power Violence, The Puterbaugh Sisters, and everyone else who is coming to Omaha for their first time has the absolute best time and gets to experience as much of our city as possible. They’re going to get to hang out in Benson, The Old Market and the greatest place in the world (a.k.a. O’Leaver’s).”

This year’s Crom festival will be the last for Terry as a host and primary organizer. At the end of the summer, he will retire from OK Party and move to Denver, making room for another member in the Omaha group. He anticipates it will be hard to leave, but says the growth of the festival and the Omaha alt-comedy scene are in capable hands.

“[Leaving is] probably why I doubled the size and added another night, as sort of a grand finale before moving. Crom Fest will always be in Omaha every year, definitely have no plans to move it right now. I need an excuse to come home and party for a weekend.”

Chance Solem-Pfeifer is Hear Nebraska’s managing editor. Reach him at