A week prior to the launch of the Whiskey Bear Comedy Festival, Dustin Meadows described his state of mind as "nervous," a sensation that should be familiar to anyone who's tried their hand at any one of the city's open mics.

A week prior to the launch of the Whiskey Bear Comedy Festival, Dustin Meadows described his state of mind as "nervous," a sensation that should be familiar to anyone who's tried their hand at any one of the city's open mics.

"Part of me is on edge [wondering if audiences will turn out]," said Meadows, who conceived the first-year fest in the summer of 2015 and started planning in September, aided by fellow comics Lisa Berry and Tom Plute. "But I see a lot of people talking about it, so that little glimmer in me is hopeful this will turn into something great."

Meadows launched Whiskey Bear in July 2015 after he returned to Columbus following a four-month stint in Chicago, modeling the collective after similar groups he encountered in Cleveland (Accidental Comedy Club) and Knoxville, Tennessee (Scruffy City Comedy).

"The idea is you can produce cool shows [and] put on festivals, and all those shows are under that brand," Meadows said, cringing at his use of the term. "It's building attention and getting us a following."

In the months since, Whiskey Bear has produced multiple monthly shows, including a series of superhero roasts, in addition to hosting showcase events for local and national comics.

The multi-venue festival, which runs May 12-17, incorporates all of these elements and more, serving as both an overview of the current scene, as well as a potential jumping off point for something bigger (Meadows said he can envision the festival growing each year).

With that in mind, we thought we'd take a closer look at five of the standups appearing at the fest this week. Catch them now before the Whiskey buzz sets in.