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GIG Nomination - The Gundo Comedy Festival
Dave Williamson is the founder and creator of The Gundo Comedy Festival and is a shining example of the “Good in Gundo.”

eGundo.com’s mission is to explore the good in Gundo and a big part of the good in Gundo is the people that live here.

We recently had the opportunity to speak with Dave Williamson, Founder, and Creator of The Gundo Comedy Festival, to learn more about who he is and why he’s a shining example of the good in Gundo.

Dave is an impressive case of an individual “pursuing his dreams” – With his wife and two kids, Dave and his family set out on a road trip traveling the US and Canada in a 25′ Travel Trailer making several stops along the way at various comedy clubs – all in the name of making people laugh – our hats are off to you, Dave (and to your wife and two kids).

Dave Williamson
Dave Williamson is Good in Gundo!

Roughly six years ago, Dave and his family landed in El Segundo – they needed to settle down. In another act of courage, Dave further pushed his comedic dreams by creating The Gundo Comedy Festival – he brought more laughter to El Segundo – priceless! Big ideas really do take off in El Segundo – don’t they?

This is the 4th year of The Gundo Comedy Festival. Dave created it in a way that he thought it would fit the community of El Segundo. They have several shows over the course of six days. Most of them are Stand-up showcases, but they also have some live podcasts, a Kid’s show, and a Comedy Trivia night.

All of the shows are booked by proven comedy producers or formats from those venues or somewhere else in the city, who they align with the festival for a week of fun. There are free and paid events and the venues range from bars to event spaces to a theater. Over the years, they’ve even used places like a Crossfit Gym as a venue.

What made you want to create The Gundo Comedy Festival?
As a full-time comedian, I’ve performed in several festivals around the country. I also worked as a coordinator at The South Beach Comedy Festival in Miami Beach for 3 years. That festival was extremely large and corporate, which is great but can also be stifling when you want to implement a creative idea.

Upon moving to the West Coast and falling in love with El Segundo, I couldn’t stop thinking it’d be a great place to start a grass-roots type festival from the ground up. One where I could institute all of the positive elements I see in certain festivals. I kept finding places that would obviously be great venues and it seemed like the type of thing the community would enjoy and embrace.

What are your goals for The Gundo Comedy Festival?
I hope that this event gives the people of El Segundo an excuse to go out and enjoy some of the great establishments that are here. We tried to cover a lot of bases so that everyone can attend at least one event. There is a weekday, lunchtime event for those that only work in the area. There are free events if people can’t afford tickets. There is free babysitting during one show if you need someone to watch the kids. Even the Kid’s show itself has a great performer that the adults really enjoy watching themselves.

The paid events we try to give a lot of bang for the buck with a good experience. I hope it helps bring some business to other establishments as people grab food and drinks before and after shows. I enjoy exposing my neighbors to many of my favorite comics and introducing my comedy co-workers to this gem of a city that I live in. We also try to support local Comedians with the festival. There is always an El Segundo resident or two performing in the festival, and one of our Live Podcasts features 2 local moms. The festival also tries to support the community with our promotion budget. We regularly sponsor things like the Parks & Rec Egg Hunt and the Teen Center Golf Tournament.

How do you see this event evolving over the next 5 years?
We’ve grown every year. I think we have room to grow even more rapidly over the next few years with the right partners and sponsors. There are venues that could handle larger crowds, and we’ve built the credibility by now to attract even bigger names (although we get some top-notch talent already).

We intend to shift the festival to a non-profit and use it to serve local charities, which we’ve done on a small scale in the past. I think our “5 Year Anniversary” in 2019 will see a lot of this take shape. I’d love to add new elements like a Short Film competition and things like that.

Please share your El Segundo history:
I moved here from Miami about 6 years ago with my wife and 2 kids. My family toured with me in a 25′ Travel Trailer for a year and a half while I worked comedy clubs all over the US and Canada en route to landing in Los Angeles. We had no idea what part of the city we wanted to live in and popped around to different RV parks.

While staying at Dockweiler, we fell in love with El Segundo and realized it was a great place to raise the kids and found a house to rent. The close proximity to LAX was a benefit for me as I continued to work the road heavily. I truly value the relationships I’ve made here, and this community is definitely “home”.

Tell us something about you that people might not know:
I love Water Polo and try to stay involved with the sport. I travel too much to coach these days, so now I ref High School games in the area. I also play with the Master’s group at the Plunge on Sundays when I’m in town.

I also love Texas-style BBQ. I have a ridiculously over-sized smoker in my yard and am smoking up Brisket or Ribs almost every weekend.

What is your favorite City event?
Hard to choose just one. The kids love the Hometown Fair (we even adopted our dog there 2 years ago), and the Egg Hunts at the park and at the pool. Fourth of July fireworks are probably one of my favorites, along with the Art Walk.
What do you love most about El Segundo?
I love the people. I can’t go to the Coffee Shop without running into someone I know, which is great. I love supporting the small businesses that give El Segundo charm and that I’m valued and remembered as a patron most places. I love that everyone is willing to help each other. Pretty cool to have those elements in a place this close to the beach!
Can you share an example of “Good in Gundo?”
I’ve seen a lot of “Good in Gundo” from running this festival. Several local community members have helped me when they didn’t have to either by telling their friends, hanging a festival poster in the window of their business, sponsoring, or just sharing local knowledge. Parks & Rec is always incredibly supportive as well as The City of El Segundo. It’s refreshing because I assume most places wouldn’t be that way and makes me proud of my community. The festival is run entirely by volunteers, which is incredibly humbling.

 

To get a feel for what kind of guy Dave is, take a look at this video which he created sourcing multiple well-known comics (including Jay Leno) to wish an 11yr old boy in Michigan suffering from a sensory processing disorder a happy birthday.

Dave is a fantastic example of the Good in Gundo – another entrepreneur who’s done something to enrich the lives of the residents of El Segundo. The least we can do to show some good Gundo support is to attend one of his events this year.

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