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Originally published Friday, January 18, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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A funny thing happened on the way to the festival

Creatively named events will be held at venues ranging from Central Cinema to Chop Suey. They include a showcase of Seattle's alternative comedy scene and standup combined with improv comedy.

Special to The Seattle Times

Comedy preview

Week of Fun, Jan. 24-30, various venues and prices; many events are all-ages (www.weekoffun.com).

Launched last year by local comedian Dartanion London, the alternative comedy festival called the Week of Fun started out as a bit of a joke itself.

On a lark, London said, he and comedian Hari Kondabolu submitted the winning bid in an auction for The Stranger's "Stranger Suggests" section — a page on which the alternative newspaper's critics ordinarily recommend a performance or exhibit for every day of the week.

London and Kondabolu decided to arrange and promote a different comedy event each day, and called the whole thing "The Week of Fun."

Kondabolu has since moved to England, but London and other comedians are again producing a Week of Fun this year, after submitting a winning bid of $292.

Half-a-dozen local comedians help guide and manage the event, which London said makes it unique. The legwork (writing press releases, taking photos, creating logos and fliers) is done by performers.

What is "alternative comedy"? London explains: "You know 'Larry The Cable Guy'? It's the opposite of that." (Ba-dum-bump.) "That's pretty much all I know."

Creatively named events held at venues ranging from Central Cinema to Mr. Spot's Chai House and Chop Suey include: "The Week of Fun 2: The Weekening" (a showcase of Seattle's alternative comedy scene), "Lo-Ball" (a workshop to try out new material) and "Dart-Mondo" (standup combined with improv comedy).

The highlight of the week, says London, is a Celebrity Open Mic, held Sunday, Jan. 27, at The Comedy Underground. On the lineup are comic artists Peter Bagge, former "Almost Live!" host John Keister and others.

Local comedian and full-time writer Paul Merrill (he penned the fest's press releases) described the Week of Fun as a real "Seattle thing," not unlike the music scene in the 1990s.

Merrill, a veteran of the theater community, said groups of like-minded comedians have decided to create small shows at coffee shops or rock clubs instead of trying to break into established clubs. In that way, they've made their own scene and don't necessarily have to conform to a certain kind of set or certain kinds of material.

"There is nothing like this in any other part of the country," said Merrill. "Comedians are really solitary people. But in this community, it's like the theater community. We're coming together and making this happen, instead of all of us trying to pick away and succeed on our own."

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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