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Tenacious D On The Morbid Yet Hilarious Circus They're Bringing To L.A. This Weekend

The Circus of Death adds a new dimension to Saturday's Festival Supreme. (Image: Courtesy of Festival Supreme)
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The second edition of Festival Supreme, the self-proclaimed “Coachella of Comedy,” takes over DTLA’s Shrine Expo Hall and Grounds on Saturday for fest-goers to experience an all-day submersion in comedy, music and horror. And, no, by the latter, we’re not talking about the issues at last year’s venue, the Santa Monica pier. We’re talking about a Circus of Death—at a comedy fest.

We had a chance to talk to “the D”—aka Tenacious D (Jack Black and Kyle Gass)—the masterminds behind Festival Supreme about this year’s new additions. The aforementioned Circus of Death is an actual mini-circus that promises to be both scary, humorously morbid and borderline offensive, depending on the performance or installation. We get that it’s Halloween season and all, but death and circuses generally aren’t that funny, so why add a whole other diversion to a comedy fest?

“Me and Kyle are in the mind-blowing business...not comedy business,” said Black, who added that the third dimension of horror (after comedy and music) will assist the D in expanding minds. On a more serious note, however, he mentioned “Destino,”—a short surrealist animated film that began in 1945 as a collaboration between Walt Disney and Salvador Dali—as a circus influence.

“[Circus of Death curator and artist] Steven Hull is acting as our Salvador Dali,” Black said. “It’ll be a treat for both the eyes and ears,” said Gass, and with a top-notch list of artists involved, we believe it. “Circus artists” include Marnie Weber, John Tottenham, Allison Schulnik, April Totten, Jim Shaw (who will also perform), among others. From a stage in the round, ringmaster Donald Stroud will also command performances from Ron Lynch, the Haden Triplets and the Spirit Girls. While Black didn’t want to give too much away, he described Weber’s piece as humorous and that Shaw’s piece is a little creepy and controversial with a “biblical tilt.”

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To get to the Circus, guests will have to take a train ride through otherworldly art installations: The Iceberg of Torment, Monster Windmill and Marionette Castle. Once at the Circus, adventurous guests will also see a monster merry-go-round, creepy puppet shows, large-scale videos, sculptures and other surprises.

Lest anyone forget that Festival Supreme is first and foremost a comedy event, there are great acts coming to the Shrine, including Nick Kroll, Fred Armisen, Maria Bamford, Janeane Garofalo, Kumail Nanjiani, Dr. Demento, a reunion of The State(!!) and Drunk History, which Black called, “the best show on TV.” Gass and Black together curated both the musicians and the comedians on the bill. “When the D invites you to a place it’s hard to say no,” said Black.

Festival Supreme is at the Shrine Expo Hall and Grounds at 665 West Jefferson Blvd., Los Angeles on Saturday, Oct. 25. Off the Jefferson/USC stop on the Metro’s Expo Line. Doors at 2 pm. 17+. Tickets start at $99+ fees.