FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Church Night, featured at this year’s New York Comedy Festival on November 11 & 12 is set to be a groundbreaking experience. Not just another vehicle for stand-ups, Church Night is both a comedy variety show and a very real church service that was described by one viewer as “a Prairie Home Companion on acid.”
For the 2017 festival, the writers of Church Night partnered with stand-up comedians Sara Armour (Last Comic Standing) and Brooke Arnold (Race Wars podcast), two of the freshest female voices in comedy. As viewers soon discover, Church Night is an experimental comedy experience unlike any other. Reason: Brooke Arnold was raised in a fundamentalist Christian homeschool cult, and their secret, sinister teachings are the subject of the show.
“Exploring our traumatic histories with religion to create rip roarin’ comedy is the name of the game at Church Night.” - Linsay Deming, creator of Church Night
An eccentric, religious parody that updates Dana Carvey’s famed Church Lady sketch on Saturday Night Live, Church Night has played to sold-out crowds in Washington D.C. all year. Its success made it an easy pick for inclusion in the 2017 New York Comedy Festival, the largest festival of its kind in the United States. Now in its 14th year, the festival was founded by Caroline Hirsch, owner of the legendary Caroline’s on Broadway, and is sponsored by TBS.
The Festival will be Arnold’s first major credit and the show will be a coming out for a performer who didn't think her traumatic past could be turned into comedy. “Back in 2015, I wrote an autobiographical one-woman play that had comedic elements but was a lot more serious than Church Night. Much to my surprise, the show generated laughter even though it was about something as unfunny as growing up a cult.” The original play, Growing up Fundie, had a sold-out run at the New York City Fringe Festival in 2016 and took home the “Best in Fringe” award.
“It was the first time I talked about my life in such detail and it was really difficult,” says Brooke. “I vowed never to talk about it again.” But Arnold’s friend, longtime life coach and fellow comic Sara Armour, wasn’t going to let her off that easy. “I knew Brooke had it in her to stand in her truth even when it was hard. And I believed that if she did, she would the opportunity to inspire a lot of people.”
“I realized I had a mission to speak out in order to help other people,” says Brooke, who is now working on a documentary film with Armour that tells the story. When Arnold quit her job to focus on the project, Armour, a Boston University film school graduate who is directing the film, took her to a rooftop pool at a New York City hotel to take her mind off things. That day changed everything. They met a couple at the pool who invited them to dinner, listened to their story and became their first financial backers.
Armour and Brooke used the funds to film initial footage at Brooke’s childhood home and church in Texas during this summer. Armour even attended a church service undercover. “It felt like a really intense improv sketch. I had to act out things Brooke was taught and it gave me more perspective on her feelings.” Along the way, the pair began to recognize that the story of a life coach turned film director helping a comedian investigate her childhood cult was funnier than most comedy films.
After the shoot, they travelled to Washington DC where Armour began her comedy career to perform at stand-up shows, where they met up with Linsay Deming, the star and producer of Chruch Night, and an old comedy friend of Armour’s.
“After hearing about Brooke’s history with the church, I knew we needed to bring her to our pulpit to share her story.” - Linsay Deming, creator of Church Night
The show will also feature “hymns” from viral internet sensations The Trump Beatles.
Church Night at the New York Comedy Festival will be at The Cobra Club on Saturday, November 11th at 9:00pm and Sunday, November 12th at 8:00pm. They will take the show to DC on 11/25 at the Black Cat at 8pm.
Tickets for Nov 11 in NY: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/church-night-tickets-37944529108
Tickets for Nov 12 in NY: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/church-night-tickets-37944634423
Tickets for Nov 25 in DC: http://www.blackcatdc.com/shows/church-night.html
Trailer for the Doc: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kL1MMg4aarA&t=33s
Stand-Up Clip of Sara: https://youtu.be/gV0fCNIC1EM
Stand-Up Clip of Brooke: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOr_oq6ho-Q&t=70s
To learn more / support the documentary: patreon.com/brookeandsara
ABOUT THE NEW YORK COMEDY FESTIVAL
Now in its fourteenth year, the New York Comedy Festival is produced by Carolines on Broadway in association with TBS. The festival has featured the country's top comedians, including Aziz Ansari, Judd Apatow, Hannibal Buress, Bill Burr, Louis C.K., Margaret Cho, Billy Crystal, Larry David, Ricky Gervais, Kathy Griffin, Kevin Hart, John Leguizamo, Norm Macdonald, Bill Maher, Tig Notaro, Nick Offerman, Amy Schumer, Sarah Silverman, and Wanda Sykes, to name a few. In 2007, the festival launched the “Stand Up for Heroes” event to benefit The Bob Woodruff Foundation, which has featured performances by Louis C.K., Ricky Gervais, John Mayer, Seth Meyers, John Oliver, Conan O'Brien, Ray Romano, Jerry Seinfeld, Bruce Springsteen, Jon Stewart, and Robin Williams, among others. To date, the “Stand Up for Heroes” events have raised over $40 million. For more information please visit the NYCF website, like the NYCF Facebook page, and follow the NYCF on Twitter, @NYComedyFest.
Photos and videos available upon request: SaraArmour@gmail.com
Contact: Sara Armour
Tel.: (973) 222-0636