With Coachella in the rear-view mirror, the next big '09 festival on the horizon is Bonnaroo, which will bring the recently reunited Phish and road warrior Bruce Springsteen to Manchester, Tennessee from June 11th to 14th. While the fest built its name on lineups that jam deep into the night, over the past few years Bonnaroo has emerged as a major destination for comedy aficionados, as well. So just how has the funny business become such an integral part of 'Roo? "I think because the tent is air-conditioned," Parks and Recreation star Aziz Ansari joked during a teleconference yesterday. (Grab the current issue of RS for a story on the new Amy Poehler show by Rob Sheffield.)
This year's Bonnaroo features perhaps its best slate of comics yet, with late-night host Jimmy Fallon, The State's Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog and Todd Barry. Ansari will back despite an uncomfortable incident that (probably didn't) happen to him last time around. "I was at the artist catering area and I'm sitting there getting some mashed potatoes, and the guys from Peter Bjorn and John are like 'Those mashed potatoes are for us, they're not for anybody else.' I was like 'No, they're for everybody.' Then they started beating me up," Ansari said. To avoid further incident, Ansari is bringing his own posse this time. "I've hired the band Fleet Foxes to be my personal security team. They're assessing all the threats right now, and if they sense a threat coming, they'll just start harmonizing, and then I'll know something is about to take place."
Ansari is also psyched to check out a few of his favorite bands while he's in Tennessee. "Led Zeppelin, looking forward to seeing them. The Who, Radiohead, Metallica, Megadeth, Pantera... these guys are all playing Bonnaroo right? Pink Floyd, looking forward to them, the Beatles, that'll be great. Ja Rule and DMX."
Bonnaroo has also opened its arms to a wide variety of DJs in recent years, and mash-up king Gregg Gillis thanks the fest for introducing Girl Talk to a new audience. Still, he finds it weird to be performing at the same festival that features so many of the artists he's mashed-up over the years. "Being on the same lineup as Snoop Dogg and the Beastie Boys and Springsteen, any of those artists I've potentially cut up and put on albums or collaged together, it's a very surreal experience for me," he said. "I love that. I love being part of a festival with actual pop artists, to have my name on the same flyer as those people, it's definitely a surreal experience."