Spelling bee, pun competition part of annual comedy festival

Feb. 05, 2014 @ 01:17 PM

Is there humor in a spelling bee? There may be when improv artists, standup comedians and sketch comics moderate the competition.

Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill will present its third adult spelling bee at 7 p.m. Monday. This year’s bee marks the first time the book store has teamed with the annual N.C. Comedy Arts Festival to present the event, said Linnie Greene, marketing and publicity coordinator for Flyleaf. Members of DSI Comedy Theater, which has presented the annual festival since 2001, will emcee the event and likely find material for improv in the competition, Greene said.

Competitors may pre-register, or they may show up the night of the contest. The difficulty of the words “progresses by level,” Greene said of the bee, but “it’s something that no one should feel intimidated to try.” Competitors at past events have been good-natured. Greene remembers a discussion about the correct spelling of “sepulcher” (or is it “sepulchre”?). The debate provided some laughs, and the competitors ended up accepting both spellings, she said. (To pre-register, visit flyleaf.indiebound.com).

The festival offers other participatory events in addition to the spelling bee. The Regulator Bookshop is teaming up with the festival to present The Great Durham Pun Championship beginning at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Motorco Music Hall in Durham. Punsters who want to compete for the loudest groans for their puns should sign up at The Regulator at 919-286-2700 or e-mail regulatorbookshop@gmail.com.

Audience members also may compete in the N.C. Laughter Championship at 7 p.m. Friday at DSI Comedy Theater in Carrboro. The winner will advance to the Southeast regional in Atlanta. To compete in the championships, send an email to Hey@Laughology.info.

The participatory events are part of the 10-day festival that includes artists from across the country who present improv, standup and sketch comedy at different venues in Carrboro, Chapel Hill and Durham. The headliner for the festival is Bruce Vilanch, a comedian and actor who writes jokes for the Oscars and other awards ceremonies. Vilanch was profiled in a 1999 documentary titled “Get Bruce.” Vilanch will perform at 9:30 p.m. at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro.

“The Muslims Are Coming!” is a documentary that follows several Muslim comedians as they try to counter preconceptions about their religion. The documentary will be screened during the festival at 7 p.m. Friday in the Fed Ex Global Education Center’s Nelson Mandela Auditorium at UNC. (Admission to this event is free.)

For a full lineup of featured artists and events, visit www.nccomedyarts.com.