Over 22 years, the backbone of the Boston Comedy Festival has been its stand-up competition. This year 48 comics will compete over four nights, culminating in a final round of eight at the festival’s May 20 Gala at the Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre. But the festival also features headliner and specialty shows. Here are five that are sure to leave you laughing. (Full schedule and ticket info is available at www.bostoncomedyfest.com.)
TODD BARRY A master of dry wit who is as clever with written material as he is with crowd work, Barry is joined by Boston’s Ken Reid, who has been more selective about his live dates in recent years. May 16, 7:30 p.m. $25-$35. City Winery, 80 Beverly St. 617-933-8047, citywinery.com/boston
THE CROSSWORD SHOW Zach Sherwin returns to Boston with this combination game/music/comedy show that plays up wordplay and Sherwin’s knack for connecting seemingly disparate bits of trivia. With guests Corey Rodrigues and Emily Ruskowski. May 17, 7:30 p.m. $25-$35. City Winery, 80 Beverly St. 617-933-8047, citywinery.com/boston
BOSTON COMEDY FESTIVAL ALL-STARS WITH EMO PHILIPS Absurdist Philips is an all-time classic, and he has played the BCF so often it feels like he should be an honorary Bostonian. He’s joined by current Boston headliners Bethany Van Delft and Corey Rodrigues, former Boston comic Shane Mauss, and Louisville native Raanan Hershberg. May 19, 8 p.m. $33-$45. Berklee Performance Center, 136 Massachusetts Ave. 617-747-2261, www.berklee.edu/BPC
AQUA TEEN HUNGER FORCE This Adult Swim show hasn’t aired new episodes since 2015, but five are now on order from the network and it did produce a feature film last year. The Boston angle for this show comes from a 2007 marketing campaign that was mistaken for a bomb threat when several glowing character contraptions were placed around the city. Show creators Dave Willis (who voices “Meatwad” and “Carl”) and Matt Maiellaro (“Err”), along with Dana Snyder (“Master Shake”), and announcer Ned Hastings premiere a new Boston-centric episode and take questions. May 20, 8 p.m. $29-$45. Berklee Performance Center, 136 Massachusetts Ave. 617-747-2261, www.berklee.edu/BPC
ROBERT KELLY & FRIENDS The Medford native and host of the “You Know What Dude?” podcast headlines this show with Ron Bennington, a comic and skillful host of SiriusXM’s “Ron Bennington Interviews,” plus a lineup to be announced later. May 20, 9:30 p.m. $37-$49. Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre, 219 Tremont St. 617-824-8400, emersontheatres.org
Nick A. Zaino III can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.