NORFOLK, Neb. -- The 2024 Great American Comedy Festival will feature two full night of laughs, with a Friday Comedy Showcase not to be missed.

Four national comedians will grace the stage of the Johnny Carson Theatre on June 14, headlined by Preacher Lawson.

Joining Preacher in Norfolk will be Steve Berg, Mort Burke, Baron Vaughn, and Rachel Ware.

Steve Berg is an actor and improviser originally from Omaha, who just finished work on Tim Kasher’s film Who’s Watching. He can also be seen in Olivia Wilde’s recent film Don’t Worry Darling, and can currently be seen in the feature film Snack Shack, which was filmed in Nebraska City. He’s also been obsessed with UFOs, the paranormal, the occult and all things weird his entire life. Whenever he has the opportunity he lectures about Weird Nebraska at conferences and events. His credits also include recurring roles on NBC's The Good Place, ABC's The Goldbergs, Comedy Central's Idiotsitter, and BET's The Comedy Get Down.

Mort Burke was born in St. Louis and started comedy in 2001. He lived and performed in Chicago for seven years before moving to Los Angeles. His Television credits include Drunk History, Workaholics, The Mindy Project, Mythic Quest and With Bob and David. He released his first stand-up special and album, Spiritually Filthy, on all streaming platforms and YouTube last year with 800 LB Gorilla.

Baron Vaughn has a career that spans live comedy, acting, and directing. As an actor, he's best known as “Bud”, sharing the screen with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin on the longest-running hit Netflix series, Grace & Frankie. Baron lends his voice as "Tom Servo" in the recent seasons of cult-hit, Mystery Science Theater 3000. As a stand-up comedian, Baron has been entertaining audiences for more than 20 years. He has two influential comedy recordings, Raised by Cable and Blaxistential Crisis, both available for streaming on all platforms. Baron's been showcased on Comedy Central's The Half Hour and The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail, as well as on HBO's 2 Dope Queens, Showtime's SXSW Comedy, and TBS’ Conan.

Rachel Ware has been an entertainer for more than half her life, and has spent the last decade performing comedy. She’s a regular at the Omaha Funny Bone, opening for national acts such as Big Jay Oakerson, John Paul Morgan, and Dave Attell. She won “Omaha’s best comedian” in 2016 by the Omaha Entertainment and Arts committee, and was nominated again in 2022 and 2023. She has been the voice of multiple syndicated cartoon characters, the most famous as “Angel Cake” in the remake of the cartoon Strawberry Shortcake.

"I love introducing Norfolk to comedians from other parts of the world, and I love introducing those comedians to northeast Nebraska. But at a festival where we're honoring a native Nebraskan, it makes sense to include other Nebraska natives who are doing great work,” said festival Executive Director Pat Janssen. “Rachel and Steve are two incredible performers with some amazing credits to their names, and I'm so excited that they'll be a part of the fest this year."

Friday’s featured performer, Preacher Lawson, is best known for his appearance on season 12 of NBC’s hit series, America’s Got Talent (2017) where he made it to the final round. Based off his stellar performance in season 12, Lawson was invited to compete on America’s Got Talent: The Champions (2019) and Britain’s Got Talent: The Champions (2019) where he advanced to the finale after receiving

the most fan votes. Most recently he was handpicked by Howie Mandell to participate in America’s Got Talent: Fantasy League (2024).

The festival kicks off Thursday, June 13, with the traditional family Comedy Magic Show, and wraps up with the Saturday Gala, with four other nationally-known comedians, and headliner Frank Caliendo. All three shows are at 7 p.m. at the Johnny Carson Theatre.

The Great American Comedy Festival is also made possible with the support of the Nebraska Arts Council and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment. The annual festival opened in 2008 to honor the legacy of Norfolk’s favorite son, Johnny Carson, who was host of NBC’s “The Tonight Show” for over 25 years.