My Time in the 39th Seattle International Comedy Competition

I was one of 32 competitors in this year’s Seattle International Comedy Competition (SICC).  I will talk about a couple of things that I experienced during my second time competing in this competition.

For those that aren’t familiar with this, this is a multi week competition all around the Western part of Washington state.  The first two weeks of the competition are the preliminary rounds.  The top five for both of those weeks move on to the semi-finals and the top five move on to the finals.  There have been a lot of amazing comedians that have taken part in this competition.  Many people submit each year and it is quite an accomplishment to get to compete (at least in my opinion).

When I was selected to be one of the 32 competitors I chose to compete in the first round.  There were a lot of Seattle locals in this round so I was nervous because of home town advantage and all.  I had worked on a set that I thought would work well and I was ready.  Me and fellow Spokane comedian Michael Glatzmaier were late because like a lot of people we underestimated Seattle’s notoriously bad traffic.  That first night sets the tone for the rest of the week for a lot of people.  Those that are suited to move on will, and those that may have bitten off more than they can chew (always wanted to say that) can usually be found looking out into the world in confusion.  I placed first the first night with what I think was my best performance of the entire competition (which is bad because it was the first night of the entire thing).  I felt like my set was dialed in and I was confident it could get me to the semi-finals.  The rest of the week, I placed second in each show.  For the week I finished first and I was comfortably moving on to the finals.  There was only one other show in which I thought I did well enough to finish first, but when you get called second you kind of forget about all that.

The semi-finals was not as comfortable as the preliminary round (of course).  I had a week to lay about and think, and the five comedians from the second week were still sharp going in.  I hadn’t worked on a semi-finals set as much as I had liked so I was basically trying to cobble something together.  I took what I was doing during the prelims, and added another couple jokes onto it.  I won the first night and I was feeling really good.  Then things got pretty bumpy after that.  Took fourth the next night.  Didn’t place at all the third night.  The fourth night I placed second, but I was still worried because this competition is score based and so placement doesn’t mean as much if everyone else’s scores are really close. The last night was in this enormous theater and everyone brought the heat.  I finished third for that night and fourth for the week.  I was the only one from the first week to move on to the finals.

I knew I was in trouble because my plan of action didn’t take into account making it to the finals.  I have a lot of  material.  Two (or three if you count an earlier DVD I did) albums and an iPad full of jokes means that when you are in a competition, you have too much to chose from.  Do I go with the older material that works great, but I haven’t done in awhile, or do I go with the newer stuff that I have been doing more lately, but may not be “winning” material.  I went with going with the material I have been doing lately and slapping one of my closers on the end.  I was excited about making the finals with a group of amazing comedians.  I was there with my buddy Phil who finished first for the week in the semi-finals and that first night I was just up there having fun.  I finished fourth for the night.  I was happy and life was good.  After the second night though, I realized I maybe the only one just happy to be there.  I finished that night second, but I could see on the other comedian’s faces that they were trying to win.  That’s when I realized I should probably try better.  The next couple of nights were rough because no matter what I wasn’t finishing how I wanted.  On the last night, first was pretty much decided and second was pretty hard to get to.  I decided to do more of my more opinionated material because I was in the heart of Seattle and it didn’t really matter at that point.  I took a time penalty and ended up fifth for the night and fifth for the entire competition.

These competitions teach you what you are made of as a comedian.  Will you fold and just mail it in to get it over with, or will you keep pounding away until you reach the finish?  Do you have great material are you full of hot air?  Overall I am disappointed in my finish because I expect more from myself.  Yes, it is good to be there, but those couple of shows in which I was just “happy” to be present was my ultimate downfall.  I want more from myself because I have been doing this for so long.  I think I am also embarrassed.  I know it may seem silly, but I was embarrassed to be beaten.  Competitions are weird like that.

What you have to learn from these things is that not finishing first doesn’t mean you can no longer be a comedian.  Plenty of comedians never got out of the preliminary round and went on to make a name for themselves.  There is also so much work out there when you are around comedians from all over the planet.  I have booked so much work as of late all because of this competition.  I also have a couple things that could really be big in the new year.  So all in all, a pleasant experience.

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My Favorite Things…of 2017

This is not my typical post.  Instead of comedy, I am going to be listing my favorite things, so from gadgets, to comedy specials, to movies, I am listing it here.  I will have links if I can, so you can see it up close if you want.  Here we go!

Sony A7RIII:  Granted, this is not cheap, but if you are into cameras then you can not go wrong with this.  I love the 4k, I love the photos that I have taken with it.  It is an excellent camera.

Panasonic GH5:  Still expensive, but is cheaper than the above camera, the GH5 is a great stills camera, but an even better video camera.  It is light weight so you can take it with, and I recorded my documentary with it.

Dave Chappelle’s Specials:  These were both great and an awesome comeback from a legend in stand-up.

Jerry Before Seinfeld:  I loved the insight that he gives about his process and his life, and the material was awesome as well.

Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King:  This was a touching stand up special as well as funny.

Michael Che Matters: He does more than just read teleprompters people! Great special.

Norm Macdonald: Hitler’s Dog Gossip and Trickery:  We got a lot of specials from heavy weights in the comedy industry and this was another great one.

Rory Scovel Tries Stand-up For The First Time:  This may have been one of my favorites.  Going in, I didn’t know much about him, but his style won me over.  I am not a big fan.

Split:  Great movie, with a nice little twist at the end.

Logan:  It is the end of an era, but what a great way to go out!

Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2: What can you say?  Perfect summer movie!

Wonder Woman: As you can see I like super hero movies!  This was maybe the best of the year.

Nintendo Switch: I love video games and this was one great console.

 

Thanks for checking out the blog this year.  I hope you continue to do so, and if you know of someone that wants a little more insight into comedy, then send them this way.  Thanks and see you in 2018!

Times, They Are Changing

For a decade, Uncle D’s Comedy Underground WAS comedy on the east side of Washington state.  They didn’t bring in the bigger names in comedy, mainly due to the size of the room and budget, but it was a place for comics, young and old alike, to perfect their craft and get paid to perform.  Uncle D’s final show was last Thursday and it was bittersweet.  It allowed me a place to perfect jokes and meet other comedians.  It was inviting, and helped newer comedians gain confidence on stage.  Some saw it as an establishment very much stuck in the old ways of comedy.  Not much in the way of social networking, or advertisement, for most people, learning that Uncle D’s is no more, is like learning a semi famous actor died.  You thought they died a long time ago.

People not from the area, dismissed the club for a number of reasons.  They may not have liked the owner, or the fact that the acts where mainstays of the 80’s and 90’s, but for most of us that lived in Spokane, it was all we had.  That club was the only place in betweeners like me could get paid to headline.  It was the only place for some comics who only have 15-20 minutes to get actual work.  For these things it will always be remembered.

Even before Uncle D announced he was closing his doors, the Spokane Comedy Club was pulling into town to start what perhaps might be the best attempt at live comedy in the city.  Within three weeks they have brought in big comedy names and have more lined up.  This is the club Spokane, and Spokane comedians, have been begging for.  But the more things change, the more they seem to stay the same.

For Spokane, it establishes it as a city.  A big city.  All the other big cities have comedy clubs where big names come through town to be gawked at.  Spokane has to learn, and learn quickly, that this comes with a price.  In order to see these big names, you have to pay big(ger) prices.  No longer will you pay $12 in order to see generic “comedy”.  You will pay to see these guys live that you normally see on TV.  To me, that is worth it.  I would love to see Chris D’Elia live for 30-40 bucks, but I love comedy.  Spokane is also gaining a reputation as a city of people that don’t know how to shut up when a show is going.  No matter how many signs, or videos tell them otherwise, their always seems to be one guy or gal in the crowd that wants everyone to know their garage was blown over in the windstorm of 2015.

The local comedians will be in for a surprise as well.  No longer will it be acceptable to run the light as long as you wish, and have no worries about not being able to go up next week.  The open mic will be ran like it is ran in larger cities.  You run the light, you don’t go up next week.  Another thing that comedians will have to learn to live with is the fact that their decent 10 minutes is not going to get them featured in this club.  The product is better, so the comedians have to be better.  I think I said this in an earlier article, but there are comedians in this town that feel like a new club means a new person that will deal with their bullshit.  The issue is that this is not a new club owner.  Adam, runs another club, and he has dealt with some really big names, what makes anyone think he will put up with the old Spokane comic bullshit?  These guys are in it to run a business, not a daycare for comedians, and it will hit some right in the chest when they realize this.

Times are changing.  There is a newer crop of comedians that are running their own shows and making names for themselves.  There is a new comedy club that is bringing some of the biggest acts in the country.  This will most likely have a trickle down effect.  Independent shows will likely see an increase in attendance because people will want to see comedy.  Last weeks Drink N Debate was a testament to that.  Things change, except the things that don’t, like working on material, and gaining an audience are still fundamental parts of being a comedian.  I hope the city and the comedians within it realize what a unique situation we see ourselves in.

Heartbreak Motel

I came in 7th in the 2015 San Francisco Comedy Competition.  I tried my best, I think.  I left the state of California with a check and a broken heart.  The last time I felt this way was when I didn’t get into the finals of the Spokane Comedy Competition all those years ago.  Personally, I thought I was good enough to be in the top five, but the judges thought otherwise.

When you get your ass handed to you like this, you start to wonder if your head is to big, or you think more highly of your abilities than you should.  The second to last night I put on a performance that I thought was worthy of placing.  I felt good about it and the crowd buzzed.  I can’t explain it, but you could feel the energy coming off the audience.  I didn’t place that night, and I was just a zombie driving back to the hotel room.  I couldn’t believe it.  I kept questioning the things in my head.  Did they not believe I had a heart attack?  Did they not like the description of child birth?  Do I look too stupid?  All these thoughts popped in my head, I was just heartbroken, like a love had just left me.

I wanted to make the finals so the comics in Spokane could be proud of me honestly.  A lot will tell me I did alright to my face, but when they are with others, they will let the truth be known.

I won a prize for my photography at the fair!  It wasn’t for placing it was like a consideration award.  My photos were posted for all to see.  That is what I really liked.  My eye basically shown to the rest of Spokane. It was a great feeling.

I got accepted into Idaho Laughfest down in Boise Idaho.  I am excited.  Why?  Because it is a festival and not a competition!  I can just go there and do my thing and not worry about scores and stuff.  I can also hang out with the comics without that layer of competitiveness seeping through.

I am for real for real gonna start the podcast….soon.

Instilling Confidence In Your Child

I took my child to Seattle for a couple of days.  I was afraid.  This is the longest I have ever been with her alone in years.  She is a teenager and teenage things have happened, but one thing that bothers me is her reluctance to do the things she loves when someone is watching.  For example:  She loves to sing.  She wants to sing for a living.  She even sings in front of hundreds of people yearly at the Christmas concert the school puts on, but yet she will freak out if someone is watching her sing.  My argument is that one or many, you have to be able to perform without getting cold feet.  I don’t know if I am a good person to be telling her this because I just started having confidence in myself.  For decades I have been beating myself up.  Never doing the things I loved because I was afraid of how people would receive me.  It wasn’t until my mid 20’s that I found enough courage to do something that I liked.  I don’t want her to end up like me.  Wanting to make music, but was too scared to do anything about it.  She is a teenager, so of course she thinks I am talking out of my ass.  I want her to realize it before it’s too late.

The hotel we are at has the worse internet.  You would think that hotels would get this shit right, but 4 out of 10 hotels have great internet.  The rest feels like they just bought a normal home router and set it up under a table or something.  Hotels just get internet so they can put that up as a feature.  The problem is once I try your internet, I will not come back to your hotel again.  Fix that shit.  Some people want to watch YouTube.

I have just been picking up shows out of the blue.  Why?  Because persistence pays off!  I have been sending emails to these bookers for months and I picked up a couple weeks of work.  Well, it actually happened that I sent them an email and they just happened to have open dates.  I filled them.  So I was probably more lucky then impressive.  I got my foot in the door though.  Now time to knock it down!!

 

Comedy In Portland

I have experienced two shows in Portland.  One professional show and one open mic and I was very impressed.  The open mic was at Helium Comedy Club.  It is a really nice club and they ran a damn good open mic.  They had 25 people and got them all in in under 2 hours!  That just can’t happen in Spokane.  That would have been 2 and a half to 3 hours and I think it is because they are hardcore about their rules.  If you are not there by a certain time then you don’t get to go on.  If you go over the time, then you will not be put on the list next time.  I think that is something that Spokane should adopt.  They gave the more established comedians more time.  I thought that was fair.  You get what you earned.  I only talked to a handful of comics, but they were cool.

The professional show was hosted and put together by Todd Armstrong and it was really good.  The audience for both the open mic and the pro show was great.  I got to see Freddie Walker and he just looked like Portland was where he was supposed to be.  In Spokane, I think people were thrown off a little bit by his absurd material.  In a larger city, you will probably get more of an audience that will appreciate what you are doing.

I haven’t travelled that much through Portland, so I haven’t taken that many pictures, but I do love the city.  The traffic isn’t murder like Seattle.  They only have one photo shop that was alright.  The other two that I checked out were not that good.  They were tiny and didn’t have a used section.

I am going to go see if there is an open mic I can check out in a place that isn’t as top shelf as Helium.  I will probably be able to see another side of Portland comedy.  See ya Monday!