Rev. Bob Levy
Larry the Cable Guy
Last Comic Standing
Chondra Pierce - A
Piece of My Mind
Live Comedy from the
Laff House: Make
Room for Comedy
Roundup 2 - Bill
Engvall, Jeff Foxworthy
and Ron Shock.
Southern Gents of
Comedy - Ron White,
Vic Henley, Steve
McGrew and Otis Lee
Laffapalooza #6 -
Jamie Foxx, JB
Smoove, Gerald Kelly
and Wil Sylvince
Laffapalooza #7 - Rob
Stapleton, Loni Love,
Jo Koy and James
Laffapalooza #8 -
Rodney Perry, Tony
Paul Mooney -
Russell Peters - Two
Dave Attell - Insomiac
Tour Uncensored -
Dave Attell, Dane
Cook, Greg Giraldo and
Mike Epps -
Jeff Cesario - You Can
Get a Hooker
Kims of Comedy -
Steve Byrne, Bobby
Lee, Kevin Shea and
Alonzo Bodden - Tall,
Dark & Funny
Jim Gaffigan - Beyond
Don Rickles - Speaks
Jackie Mason - The
World According to Me
Jake Johannsen - Jake
This Dot Com
Brad Montague -
Eric Schwartz - Wimp
Kathleen Madigan - In
Drew Hastings - I'm
Just Like You
Jesse Joyce - Joyce to
Marc Maron - Not Sold
Mike Birbiglia - Two
Tom Rhodes - Hot
Jimmy Shubert -
Ron White - You Can't
Oliver Double - Getting
the Joke: The Inner
Workings of Stand-Up
Ed Driscoll - Spilled
Gravy: Advice on Love,
Life, and Acceptance
from a Man Uniquely
Unqualified to Give It
Brad Stine - Live From
Middle America: Rants
from a Red-State
Sandi C. Shore - Sandi
Shore's Secrets to
Stand-Up Success: A
Judy Brown - The
Health Inspector -
Larry the Cable Guy
and Bruce Bruce star in
the comedy with
support from Lisa
The Benchwarmers -
David Spade stars with
Nick Swardson, Craig
MacDonald and Adam
Sandler in a comedy
about a three-player
baseball team that
Phat Girlz - Mo'Nique
and Godfrey star in the
comedy about love and
Scary Movie 4 - DeRay
Davis co-stars in the
spoof comedy with
Anna Farris and Regina
The Wild - Eddie Izzard
lends his voice in the
Over the Hedge - Garry
Sykes and Omid Djalili
lend their voices in the
starring Bruce Willis,
who replaces Jim
Carrey as the lead
Little Men - Keenan
Ivory Wayans directs
his younger brothers,
Shawn and Marlon
Wayans in a comedy
that co-stars Tracy
Morgan, Gary Owen
and John Witherspoon.
Wordplay - Jon Stewart
shares his passion for
crossword puzzles in
featuring Bill Clinton,
Bob Dole and Ken
Click - Adam Sandler
stars in the comedy
about a man who finds
a universal remote.
THERE IS NO
How to Advance and Win Comedy Competitions:
Winners Share Their Secrets of Success
What does it take to advance to the next round, to keep the crowd and judges
laughing all the way to the finals and take the top prize? Last winter, we tracked down
four 2005 winners from the New York Underground Comedy Festival, the Boston
International Comedy and Movie Festival and the Seattle International Comedy
Competition to find out how they did it.
Winner, Boston International Comedy and Movie Festival
What was your experience performing at the
It could easily be argued that no one had a better
time than I did at the Boston Comedy Festival. I
met a ton of great comics in a supportive, historic
comedy scene and I walked away thousands of
dollars richer. Who could’ve possibly had a better
time than that?
I would have to say that Boston, from the
unspoken high standards to the strong sense of
community, is one of the best cities in the country
to develop your act under the industry radar. The
comics and the crowds are intelligent, which forces
you to be as provocative and polished as possible.
Did the competition seem easier or more
challenging as you advanced to the next round?
The first round of the competition is by far the
hardest, bordering on impossible.
In each preliminary round, twelve comedians compete and only two advance, so the
numbers are against you. Beyond that, I thought I was doomed in both the semi and
final rounds because, due to random selection, I had to perform first in both rounds.
There are so many talented comedians, overall, that the competition is stiff in every
Were there any comics who you thought performed well and did not advance to the
semi-final or final round?
There were plenty of hysterical comedians who did not advance to the semi or final
rounds, as is the case with all competitions.
What was the most important lesson that you learned?
When we drew numbers for our spot in the finals, I drew number one. Jim McCue, the
creator/organizer of the festival, could see that I wasn’t all too happy about the
number one slot. He said, “Last year, Tom Cotter drew first and he won, so don’t worry
about it.” Turns out that wasn’t true at all. Jim might have thought it was true at the
time, but later that night we saw Cotter and he confirmed, “No, I didn’t go first. I went
up fourth or fifth.” The point is I almost took myself out of the game until it was over.
You have to get onstage with a positive mindset in those situations.
What advice do you have for comics who would like to participate in a comedy
...This was the first competition I’ve ever entered expecting not to win, but still knowing
that I had a shot. I was very relaxed throughout the festival and had no real expecta-
tions. I was just happy to be performing in Boston with creative people who I’d never
seen before. Maybe that was the key ingredient. Who knows?
Winner, Seattle International Comedy Competition
Ryan Stout was recently a featured performer at HBO's The Comedy Festival in Las Vegas
and HBO's U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, CO. Visit his website www.ryanstout.net.
The Boston International Comedy Festival will be held Sept. 8-16, 2006. For more
information about the competition, visit www.bostoncomedyfestival.com.
Ryan Stout was also a national
semi-finalist in the "Sierra Mist's
Next Great Comic Competition"
and took second place at "San
Jose IMPROV's Battle of the Bay
Comedy Competition" in 2003.
You went through two rounds (1st week
and semi-finals) before reaching the finals.
What was your experience performing on
the first week's show. You competed
against 16 other comics. Were you
confident that you were going to make it to
Having done the contest previously in 2002,
I felt pretty good going into that first week.
At least I knew what to expect. That helps a
lot in these types of contests. I also knew I
have a difficult time in the shorter rounds,
so I had to make sure I kept my focus.
I was very fortunate that I had good draws
for the week. That’s a big factor in this
contest. You can’t go first or last more that
once, but you can go 15th or 2nd six nights
in a row. I had good spots. I had nothing
lower than a 10 or higher than a six. My
performances were okay. I felt good.
I chose the material wisely and just wanted to be consistent. That’s the key. I didn’t
place in the top five for the night until the third night. But it’s really about the
consistency. In case people don’t know the format; 32 comics broken into two weeks
(16 a piece), performing 5-7 minutes sets for 6 nights. Your top five scores for the
week are used and the top five with the highest week scores moves onto to the semi-
final round. The top five for the night are announced each evening.
You never really know until that last night. I knew I had a chance to make it going into
the last night, but you never can tell. It turns out that I made it by .01 point. This is
interesting because the comic that was right behind me is the same guy that was
behind me in 2002. That year I made it into the semis by .02 points over him - Travis
Simmons. I was pretty confident on that last night of week one after my set, but when
the organizers told me I had just made it; I was glad I didn’t know it was that close
Were there any comics who you thought performed well and did not advance to semi-
final or final round?
The whole contest is really about being tough mentally. Travis Simmons, who I
mentioned, was having a great contest for the first three nights. Early on, there was
talk about him winning it all. There were some other good comics that fared well.
Rodger Lizaola and Jennifer Grant are ones that comes to mind from that opening
In the semis, I was routing heavily for Erica Sigurdson out of Canada. She’s very funny
and probably most deserved to make the finals of people that didn’t.
After advancing to the semi-finals, did the competition seem easier or more
challenging? How was your performance? What did you learn from the earlier rounds
that helped you in the finals?
I made the semis in 2002 and all the rooms were the same. Again, the familiarity
helped me out a lot. I knew each room and what to expect with the audiences. I had
the game plan of going all out on the first three nights and then kind of coast and work
on my finals set. Everything fell into place and I won the first two nights and placed
second on the third. I had a final’s spot pretty much locked up after the third night. I
felt good, locked in. As we call it, I felt road sharp.
Everybody always says, “Just have fun,”
which I always thought was a cliche' for
people who had no shot at winning. But, the
truth is, that’s the only factor in a competit-
ion that you have any control over. Every-
thing else is completely random and the
only way to win is to have all of the factors
line up in your favor. You have to get the
right spot on the show, the judges have to
like your style (if they don’t like puns, and
you do puns, you’re screwed).
You don't want to talk about the same subjects as the other comics, the crowd has to
like you, the power can’t go out… So many factors and they’re impossible to control.
The motto is that the funniest person never wins the competition. I won and I still find
that to be true. My dad always said, “I’d rather be lucky than good.” I find that to be
true most of the time...
What prizes did you win? How has winning the competition helped your career?
The eight finalists split $10,000 according to our ranking at the close of the competit-
ion. I received $7,000 for first place, and eighth place won $50. Everyone else was
awarded a sum somewhere in between.
I can’t say that the competition changed my life, but it was a major factor in facilitating
change. Winning the competition has helped my career because it gave me some good
exposure that I didn’t otherwise have...Afterward my name was circulating a little more,
garnering other festival auditions and talk of possible TV spots. Look at it this way, it
was the first domino to fall and, subsequently, it has caused others to fall, but not all
the dominoes are set up yet. So, I’m trying to set up the others before the last one
hits because if the momentum ends I have to start all over.
What was your experience performing in the Finals? What went through your mind
when they announced that you were the winner?
The finals were uncharted water for me. I had been in the finals for San Francisco
contest, but not Seattle. I was a bit nervous because that’s what I came to do. It’s very
much like an athlete’s mindset...You come to win, so you don’t get too happy until the
task is accomplished.
I was a bit worried when I started hearing people say that I was the favorite to win.
I’d rather be the underdog than the front runner.
So I guess I was somewhere between confident and nervous. During the set that first
night, I was actually thinking, “Well, I guess this will be my drop score.” I didn’t think
the audience was feeling me. It didn’t feel good at all. I just knew that you can’t give
up on the set. That’s something I learned from watching throughout.
I saw quite a few comics that were having rough spots and I would think, "Oh, they’re
done” and I would leave the room. Next thing you know, the crowd was going crazy. So
you can’t give up on the set otherwise you are done. So I made it through that set and
was announced the winner for the night. I then relaxed a bit. I won the next night too,
but the third night I was fifth. That’s when the number crunching starts.
I knew going into the last night I was still in the lead, but I couldn’t finish fifth for the
night, otherwise I would have blown it. I had a good draw and had a good relaxed set.
When I heard them announce 5th for the night and it wasn’t me, I knew I had won
The feeling I had the most when announced as winner was one of relief. It’s a long
grueling, mentally tasking contest. It’s one that I recommend to each comic to do at
least once in their career. It’s a great learning experience. And I said that before I won.
What advice do you have for comics who would like to participate in a comedy
It all depends on the type of competition. Comedy is subjective, so it’s impossible to
judge it fairly. That being said, the San Francisco and Seattle are the fairest contests
that you’ll ever be able to participate in. Yes, it’s an investment in travel and hotels,
but we all have to make an investment in our careers at some point. Besides in Seattle
during each prelim week, you’ll be seen by industry...Where else are you going to get
You also don’t have to win to get work out of it. I say do it! Seattle has been going on
for 26 years. Mitch Hedberg was a former winner. San Francisco has an even longer
history. The names of non-winners - a who’s who in comedy today…Robin Williams,
Ellen DeGeneres, Jake Johannsen, Kevin Pollak, Dane Cook, Rob Schneider, Bobby
How has winning the competition helped your career?
Well first and foremost, it got me an interview in STAGE TIME Magazine. Let’s start
there. Other than that, it has helped. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t mean
much to the general public. It’s not like being named Last Comic Standing, but in the
business, it looks good on your resume. It opens some doors...like this year for
Aspen, they asked for a tape…and then said, "passed." See, that’s one step further
than before winning.
What it’s done for me personally is confidence. I’ve been doing this for 23 years since I
was 17. I’ve put together a modest career at best. I know I’m funny and I know I don’t
suck. So it’s good to have that endorsement, that pat on the back, that says, "you can
do this and you’re very good at it." That helps a lot. No matter what stage you’re at,
you want someone to say, “Good Job.”
Lamont Ferguson is a stand-up comedian from San Diego, CA. He recently performed on
the Cranky Tour and has opened for comedy stars such as Bill Cosby, Steve Harvey,
Richard Jeni and George Lopez. He is a regular performer at The Comic Store in LaJolla,
CA. Visit him on myspace.com. The Seattle International Comedy Competition is
accepting submissions for 2006. For information, visit seattlecomedycompetition.com.
Lamont Ferguson was also a finalist
in the San Francisco International
Comedy Competition in 2003 and
ranked in the top ten at the Boston
International Comedy and Movie
Festival in 2004 and 2005.
He was twice named "San Diego's
The semis are always a bit easier for me.
You get more time (10-12 minutes). This
helps a comic like me that does more
social commentary and storytelling than
your standard setup/punchline.
What was the most valuable advice that
The most important advice I had heard
for these contests is "trust your act and
stay within yourself." You can’t get caught
up in the numbers and scoring; you just
have to go out and do what you do.
Consistent is the best thing you can be.