Did you hear the one about the Petaluma man who set out to book a few comedy shows and ended up launching the first Pet-a-Llama Comedy Festival?
The punchline is yet to come, but you’ll hear plenty of jokes next week. The new festival — given its playful name by founder Dominic Del Bene’s 6-year-old son, Cooper — will host some 40 comedians in 19 shows over three days. Aug. 16-18, at the Mystic Theatre and The Big Easy restaurant and nightclub.
“This festival is a combination of what I do and who I am,” Del Bene said. “I’m a Petaluma local and I love Petaluma. I am a comedy producer and I love comedy, so it’s a natural fit.”
Headliners include former Sonoma Valley resident Brian Posehn, known his comedic TV roles on “Mission Hill,” “The Sarah Silverman Program” and “The Big Bang Theory.”
The lineup also features Randy and Jason Sklar, identical twins billed as the Sklar Brothers, and an appearance by Scott Thompson as Buddy Cole, his character from the beloved comedy troupe, The Kids in the Hall.
The roster of comedy talent, with each act hand-picked by Del Bene, is a sampler of the people he has connected with during more than a decade of producing comedy and music audio albums, podcasts and videos.
“It’s a good cross-section of comics that I’ve worked with here in the Bay Area, some in Sonoma County and then a lot of comics I’ve been fortunate enough to work with on comedy specials and TV productions and bigger projects.”
The festival includes stand-up comics Jay Larson, Ryan Sickler, Dan Van Kirk, Drennon Davis and Todd Glass with The Todd Glass Band, as well as live podcast tapings of “Dumb People in Town,” “The Crab Feast” and “Benedictville.”
It’s an ambitious program for this inaugural event, but Del Bene is fully committed.
“It was not my intention at the beginning for it to be this grand. It just organically moved in that direction. But if we’re going to do this annually, we can make it this big,” Del Bene said.
The two venues — the larger Mystic Theatre and the more intimate Big Easy — allow Del Bene to put on some shows that feel like festival events and others with more a comedy club vibe, he said.
“We’ve got some shows that are capable of selling out the Mystic, and we’ve got so many other shows and such a diverse lineup that some are going to sell out The Big Easy, but aren’t as well suited to a larger room. Those shows are going to be just as much fun as the bigger ones.”
And incidentally, both locations are quite convenient for him.
“My office is smack dab in between the two venues,” Del Bene said.
Born in San Francisco, Del Bene, 37, moved to Santa Rosa with his parents when he was 10. He graduated from Maria Carrillo High School in 1999 and went on to San Francisco State University. He remained in the Bay Area to pursue his music and comedy production career, working for Rooftop Comedy and Audible.com.