April 28, 2013

Film festival brings Adam Carolla, laughs to Merced

Downtown Merced came alive Saturday as film lovers and comedy fans alike came out for the third-annual Middlestate Independent Comedy Film Festival.

The headliner of the event – comedian Adam Carolla -- didn't disappoint.

Carolla, 48, took the stage after 9 p.m. and shared life experiences, personal philosophies and his interactions with other celebrities, all with his blunt-style of comedy that people have come to love him for.

Some of his humor was localized to Merced.

When he got to Merced, Carolla said he stopped at a gas station to fill up when a lady came through asking for spare change.

When she approached another woman with a minivan full of kids, the driver didn't offer up change, but suggested something else that Carolla described as "not something we hear in Los Angeles."

"We don't have any change," the lady told the beggar. "Would you like some chicken?"

Many in attendance Saturday night were excited to have a well-known performer in Merced.

James Williams and Taneka Payan-Williams of Merced are fans of Carolla, especially James Williams, who regularly listens to Carolla's podcast, "The Adam Carolla Show," which holds the record as the most downloaded podcast of all time.

Both he and his wife enjoyed Carolla's performance and the setting of the Merced Theatre, which went through a multi-million dollar renovation a few years ago.

"It's something to do -- it's awesome," Takeka Payan-Williams said. "It's a little bit of culture in Merced."

Tom Price, publisher of the Downtown Life Magazine, organized the festival along with Joey Essig, Brian Strong and Ben Davidson.

Price said the two-day event, which included a reception, two full-feature films, nine short films and Carolla's show, was much larger than last year's.

He hopes to eventually to turn it into a week-long event and increase its exposure.

The local arts community benefits from many of the festival's guests, Price added. This year, director, screenwriter and actor Todd Berger attended and did a question-and-answer session with attendees.

Price said since the festival first took root, there's been a lot of interest in it.

"These films that we showed -- none of them would ever end up here," he said. "To have an opportunity to showcase these films that are really unique and something that you'd never get a chance to see anywhere else in the valley, we're really proud that we can bring this here."

Reporter Mike North can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or mnorth@mercedsunstar.com.

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