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Big comedy festival slated for Toledo

Central Location, Community Factors For Selection Of Site

December 12, 2013
By John Speer - Editor ( , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

Slated for March, 2014

In the works behind the scenes for almost a year the Green Gravel Comedy Festival is now on the path for a late March, 2014, premier in Toledo.

Lee Keeler, who heads Green Gravel, told The Chronicle last week in a telephone interview, the renovated Wieting Theatre and the "enchanting environment"of Toledo made the town the choice for what he said "is kind of an experiment."

Article Photos

Lee Keeler

The show "launches" on the weekend of March 28-30. Bumblebee's, the Magnolia, and Fueled are three downtown business places Keeler said he hopes will provide additional settings for some of the comedy shows. other spots probably will be sought, he said.

Keeler has high praise for the Wieting Theatre Guild and others locally for their "fantastic cooperation."

He touted the central location of the Tama-Toledo area in the state for choosing this as the site.

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"Young adults, college students and young professionals" are the core audience the festival aims to attract, Keeler said. He noted the hour or so travel time from Iowa universities and Des Moines.

In addition to presenting affordable shows, planned are workshops in stand-up, sketch and improv comedy.

What's in store for audiences are comedians of the alternative genre - those popular in their local areas and to give Iowans a chance to see some headline acts. There will be headliners as well as regional comedians.

Fact Box

The Green Gravel Comedy Festival invites you to help make this event happen- The goal is to raise a total of $13,000. With 16 days left in the campaign they had $2,453 of that goal.

Donations from $1- $1,000 are sought at:

For one dollar you can be an investor; $3 makes you a "Bonus Investor;" and upward amount entitle you to tickets and other "perks"


If the fund raising effort currently underway is successful the promotional material for the event promises "We'll be investing in renting buses that will run from Iowa City, Ames and Cedar Falls throughout the weekend to encourage safe festival attendance."

Keeler said it would be a goal to bring in agents from Chicago to see the talent Iowa has to offer. He said this "could be a year away, however."

Lee Keeler

The president of Green Gravel Comedy Festival, Lee Keeler is the promoter of the "Hour of Power Hour" at the Improv on Melrose in Hollywood, a show he has produced for the past three years. His "day-job" is an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher inn Los Angels.

No stranger to Iowa, Keeler's parents grew up in Marshalltown and he is a native of Sioux City.

Matthew Mesaros

From Iowa City now, Matthew Mesaros is vice president of Green Gravel. According to his bio, he currently attends the University of Iowa pursuing a BFA in Graphic Design while working for Epiphany Design Co, a local web development startup. He has written film reviews for the local Iowa City monthly "Little Village" and he is also the founder, designer and curator of Cinelogue, an online film essay journal.

Festival Coordinators

Evan Watkins and Derek Eadon are co-festival coordinators.

In his bio , Watkins is listed as a comedy content producer in Los Angeles. The bio state he has quickly made a name for himself producing video content for The Laugh Factory comedy club's online markets. He's had a hand in creating various sketches, podcasts and stand-up clips, working alongside comedians such as Dom Irrera, Adam Ray, Finesse Mitchell and many more. As for live comedy, he wrote and produced a year-long run of a successful standup and sketch show, "Comedy Slice" at the Hollywood Improv club.

Eadon's bio states he s a political and public affairs strategist from West Des Moines. e specializes in organization building, integrated planning, and event management. Derek has led efforts on hundreds of events including: the 2013 Harkin Steak Fry, Barack Obama's 2009 Inauguration, and Barack Obama's 2012 3-day bus tour of Iowa.



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