USC Comedy Festival, Vol. 6 Presents: DOES COMEDY HAVE TO BE FUNNY?

February 24, 2023, 7:30 P.M.

The Ray Stark Family Theatre, SCA 108, George Lucas Building, USC School of Cinematic Arts Complex, 900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007

USC Comedy at the School of Cinematic Arts,
and USC Visions and Voices: The Arts and Humanities Initiative,
invite you and a guest to attend a Special Comedy Debate



Featuring Comics Niles Abston, Jena Friedman,
Alyssa Limperis, Christina Catherine Martinez,
and Moses Storm

Hosted by Vulture Senior Editor Jesse David Fox

7:30 P.M. on Friday, February 24th, 2023

The Ray Stark Family Theatre, SCA 108
900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007




Presented during the USC Comedy Festival, Vol. 6,
taking place from February 24th - 26th, 2023

Visit the USC Comedy Festival, Vol. 6 Homepage:
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This year, the USC Comedy Festival is pleased to partner with Postmates!
Attendees at the Festival will be eligible to redeem a code good for $25 off your Postmates order.
Codes will be available for attendees only. No order minimum. One per user.


About the Panelists


Niles Abston is a 28 year old stand up comedian and filmmaker from Jackson, Mississippi. This past year he was named one of Vulture's 24 "comedians you should and will know", wrote, directed, and starred in "Notice To Quit" which was named "the best short film in years" also by Vulture Magazine and joined season 3 of FX's DAVE as a staff writer. Niles' second hour comedy special "household name" is out now.


Jena Friedman is a comedian, filmmaker and creator of Soft Focus on Adult Swim and Indefensible on AMC Plus. Her writing credits include Borat 2: Subsequent Movie Film, The Conners on ABC and The Late Show with David Letterman. She was also a field producer on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart from 2012 through the end of his tenure in 2015, where she wrote and directed field segments. She's a contributing writer to The New Yorker and has appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Conan on TBS, The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore and most recently in the Sundance hit movie Palm Springs, now on Hulu. Her latest stand up special, Ladykiller, out now on Peacock, was listed as #2 in Decider’s 10 Best Stand Up Specials in 2022 and her first book “Not Funny: Essays on Life, Comedy, Culture, Etc” published by Simon & Schuster, will be available April 18 on Amazon and wherever books are sold.


Actress, writer, and comedian Alyssa Limperis released her debut one-hour comedy special NO BAD DAYS on Peacock in August 2022. The special takes viewers on the journey of loving and losing a parent and then slowly but surely, coming out on the other side. While the show provides an honest portrayal of loss and grief, it is full of jokes, hope and for good measure, a little bit of dancing -reminding us all that no matter how dark or heavy things feel, if you are open to it, there’s no such thing as a bad day. The special has received glowing reviews, and is featured in The List, Decider, and The Washington Post, amongst many others.

Alyssa can also be seen starring in season 2 of the Showtime hit TV series FLATBUSH MISDEMEANORS, in a powerful performance as recovering addict “Sydney". The viral success of her comedic “Mom” videos led to recognition from, Vulture, Decider, Forbes, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe and other top-tier media outlets. She has also been featured on CONAN, LAST WEEK TONIGHT, FOX SPORTS and AUNTY DONNA’S HOUSE (Netflix).

In 2021, she starred in the independent horror/comedy feature film TOO LATE opposite Ron Lynch, Mary Lynn Rajskub, and Fred Armisen. Her other recent credits include the short film BRANDI FINDS GOD from Gonzalo Cordova, HOW TO AVOID A SAPPY GOODBYE from Doug Rogers, and she has completed a role in the feature film THE LIST co-starring Halston Sage. Additionally, she stars as ‘Mary Peck’ in the scripted podcast Edith that was nominated for best fiction podcast by iHeartRadio, 'Denise' on HBO MAX's THE HAMLET FACTORY, and voices multiple characters on both the Spotify podcast THE LAST DEGREE OF KEVIN BACON, and Cartoon Network's WE BABY BEARS.

Photo Credit: Mitch Anderson

Christina Catherine Martinez is a comedian, writer, actor, and award-winning art critic based in Los Angeles. She’s been named both a Comedian You Should Know by Vulture and a Comic to Watch by TimeOutLA in 2020.

Her live act has been described as “conceptually highbrow and physically slapstick” by TimeOutLA,  and "a great bridge between many different disciplines, including performance art, stand up, and clowning” by The Comedy Bureau. The writer Michelle Tea describes Martinez herself as “Naomi Klein meets Tallulah Bankhead.”

She writes for The Los Angeles Times, Artforum, Art Agenda, Texte Zur Kunst, and also for television, including The Eric Andre Show and a forthcoming animated drama series on Adult Swim. She devised and acted in the short-form series Two Pink Doors for FX’s late night comedy programming. She is the creator and host of the live comedy talk show Aesthetical Relations. She will be at the SXSW Comedy Festival March 10-14th in Austin, Texas.

She has performed commissions for The Musuem of Contemporary Art, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, REDCAT Center for the Performing Arts, Art TORONTO, and the Spit Take Comedy Series in Minneapolis. Her book of essays, also titled Aesthetical Relations, is available from Hesse Press.


Moses Storm is an actor and comedian who you know form his HBO Max Special Trash White, Tonight with Jimmy Fallon, Conan O'Brien, The Lovebirds on Netflix, and Hulu's Everything is Trash. Moses was recently named on of Variety's Top 10 Comics to Watch in 2022.

JESSE DAVID FOX (Vulture Senior Editor)

Jesse David Fox is a writer in Brooklyn, New York. He is currently a Senior Editor at New York Magazine’s Vulture, where he’s been since 2012, covering comedy and executive producing Vulture Festival. Since 2017, he has hosted Good One: A Podcast About Jokes, a popular interview podcast about the process of making comedy. Some of the over 150 guests include: Kevin Hart, Bo Burnham, Hannah Gadsby, John Mulaney, Kate McKinnon, Judd Apatow, Nicole Byer, Kumail Nanjiani, Katt Williams, Martin Short, Maria Bamford, Patton Oswalt, Marc Maron, Taika Waititi, Tig Notaro, Margaret Cho, Hasan Minhaj, Samantha Bee, and Seth Meyers.

About the USC Comedy Festival, Vol. 6

The 6th Edition of the USC Comedy Festival returns to campus in person this February to celebrate community and share laughter, while exploring the changing nature of comedy in contemporary society.

The festival kicks off with standup comics Niles Abston, Jena Friedman, Alyssa Limperis, Christina Catherine Martinez, and Moses Storm debating the topic: Does Comedy Have to be Funny? with Vulture Senior Editor Jesse David Fox. On Saturday, the Women of Cinematic Arts (WCA) return with the ever popular Women of Comedy panel, this year featuring two unique sessions - one featuring showrunners, writers and directors, including Debby Wolfe (Lopez vs. Lopez), Brittani Nichols (Abbott Elementary), and SCA Alumna Thembi Banks (Only Murders in the Building), and one highlighting on-screen performers, including Emily Hampshire (Schitt’s Creek), Lauren Ash (Superstore), and Andrea Savage (I’m Sorry, Veep). Saturday afternoon, Jesse David Fox will explore The Changing Flavor of Series Comedy with Showrunners Rachel Bloom (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), Steve Levitan (Modern Family, Reboot), and Gina Yashere (Bob Hearts Abishola). The festival's Saturday night program will honor legendary comic actress and Emmy-winner Catherine O’Hara (SCTV, Beetlejuice, Home Alone, Waiting for Guffman, Schitt’s Creek), recipient of our 2023 Jack Oakie and Victoria Horne Oakie Masters of Comedy Award, in conversation with John Michael Higgins (Best in Show). Our final day will shine a spotlight on the 2023 Best Picture Nominated feature Triangle of Sadness with Best Director Nominee Ruben Östlund, followed by Marvel’s She-Hulk: Attorney at Law with Series Creator Jessica Gao, and conclude with An Evening with Billy Eichner, hosted by Emmy-winner Wayne Federman.

Visit the USC Comedy Festival, Vol. 6 Homepage:
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Follow the USC Comedy Festival, Vol. 6 on Instagram: @USCComedy
Follow the USC Comedy Festival, Vol. 6 on Twitter: @USCComedy

About USC Comedy at the School of Cinematic Arts

In 2010 USC became the first university in the nation to offer a program dedicated to training filmmakers in the art of comedy. USC Comedy at the School of Cinematic Arts offers instruction in the writing, directing, production as well as the history and theory of comedy. Students work with a distinguished, award-winning faculty of comedy professionals to discover and develop their comedic voices, while getting unrivaled access to the field through workshops, internships, demonstrations and screenings and festivals.

USC Comedy boasts an award-winning faculty that includes Jack Epps Jr. (The Secret of My SuccessLegal EaglesTop Gun), Barnet Kellman (Murphy BrownMad About YouGeorge Lopez), David Isaacs (Cheers, FrasierM*A*S*H*), Robert Townsend (Diary of A Single Mom, The Parent Hood), Rob Schiller (The King of Queens), Andy Cadiff (Last Man Standing, Spin City), Jay Kogen (The Simpsons, Frasier), Chris Guerrero (BuzzFeed, Super Deluxe), Dave Goetsch (The Big Bang Theory), F J Pratt (Sullivan & Son) and Tim Marx (Young Sheldon), to name just a few.
Our students benefit from the expertise and participation of SCA Comedy Alumni such as Jay Roach (Austin PowersMeet the Parents), Tim Story (Barber ShopRide Along), Judd Apatow (Girls, Superbad, Knocked Up),  Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, Spy), Peter Segal (Tommy BoyGet Smart), Gabe Sachs (Freaks and Geeks), Jason Reitman (JunoUp in the Air), Nahnatchka Khan (Fresh Off The Boat), Prentice Penny (Insecure), Cathy Yuspa & Josh Goldsmith (What Women Want, King of Queens), Thembi Banks (Only Murders in the Building), Tracy Oliver (Girls Trip, First Wives Club), Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians), among many other luminaries and industry professionals.

For more information, visit:

About USC Visions and Voices: The Arts and Humanities Initiative

Visions and Voices is a university-wide arts and humanities initiative that is unparalleled in higher education. The initiative was established by former USC President C. L. Max Nikias during his tenure as provost in order to fulfill the goals set forth in USC's strategic plan; to communicate USC's core values to students; and to affirm the human spirit. Emphasizing the university's commitment to interdisciplinary approaches, the initiative features a spectacular array of events conceived and organized by faculty and schools throughout the university. The series includes theatrical productions, music and dance performances, conferences, lectures, film screenings and many other special events both on and off campus. Each program invites students to dialogue and interact with artists, writers, professors and special guests. These interactions provide a dynamic experience of the arts and humanities and encourage active exploration of USC's core values, including freedom of inquiry and expression, team spirit, appreciation of diversity, commitment to serving one's community, entrepreneurial spirit, informed risk-taking, ethical conduct and the search for truth.

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Contact Information

Name: Alessandro Ago