Seattle International Comedy Competition – Night 5 & 6

Ok two more nights passed and one more blog. Again, so much more for one post per night. Oh well.

Night five of the competition was off to Bellingham, a city around two hours north of Seattle. This would mark the farthest we have traveled for the competition. I went up a couple hours before the show with Leyna to see the city and to have dinner with her Mom. We took the scenic route, saw some fabulous beach view, and visited an antique shop in downtown Bellingham. B-ham. Bellinghamster! I also got to visit Boundary Bay brewery, which was on my list of breweries to visit in Seattle. After a fabulous spagetti dinner, it was off to the Fairhaven POub and Martini Bar. Yes, a pub AND martini bar, in the same building, and it didn’t look like either. They really should just call it Fairhaven bar with a stage. I think that was its qualification for hosting the show that night.

I knew that it wasn’t going to be a good night. I wasn’t going to change my set and something told me that my hobbit opener wasn’t going to ring as true here at the pub AND martini bar. The comic before me had a rough set and I went up to probably the coldest room of the week. I actually held my room, but it was one of those sets where it was like trying to jog through snow compared with the night before. It was funny, while going into my hairy chest joke, some girl said, “I don’t think so!” when I said that they could follow my Happy Trail. Part of me wanted to stop my set and say “Fuck you, my girlfriend is sitting over there and she follows it, so suck it! Actually don’t,..” Maybe if I had, my score would have been higher. Cy called someone a “retarded faggot” and took 5th if that is any indication of what we were dealing it.

I didn’t place tonight (shocker), but I’m still not looking at my scores at this point. Everyone else is freaking out at this point as we are heading into the home stretch. Most people are going to use tonight as their drop score. After my performances in night one and two, I don’t think I have a drop score option anymore. 🙂 Drop scores aside, Jose and Andy had great sets and scored first and second respectively. All in all, I felt my set went over pretty well for a bar show where I did the same set I did at a theater show. Doesn’t really matter, time to get out of this town…

Into night six. Final night. Industry night! We had a talent agent from CBS and the guy that does recruiting for the “Just for Laughs” festival in Montreal. What we think this means is opportunities galore for all the comics in week one. What this really means is the toughest and probably most accurate scoring of the week. Still, having not looked at my scores, I’m feeling pretty good going into that night. I may still have a chance to make the top five (I didn’t know how far from the truth this was). Fast forward to the set. I thought it was solid for the most part. Strong start, stronger middle, meh, ended kinda week. My closers have definitely been the weakest link this competition. One of the (many) takeaways. After leaving the stage, that was it. I had done six shows in six nights and it was all over. At this point, it was just waiting for the scores. I thought, I could have placed tonight? Sure, why not. I did not place, I did not move on. I didn’t pass go either, but I made $200. The final five were Matt Billon, Jose Sarduy, Roger Lazola, Scott Monroe, and Andy Haynes. Andy took second on the last night and slipped right into 5th place for the week to upset Jane Stanton. It was a photo finish for the 5th place spot. I

I took 11th on the last night show. Not ever close to sixth. Heh. I also took 14th for the week. Ya, not even close to placing. Wonderful, wonderful delusion. Holy shit I’m glad I didn’t look at my scores huh!?!? Right? Best decision I made all week. That and switching my set on night three. That took me from last place on Thursday (LAST!?!? WTF!) and 5th on Friday. I don’t think I could have done that had I let the full weight of Thursday fall on me. That fifth place finish was all that I wanted out of this competition and I did it. So happy. Josh Gondelman took 5th on the last night, which was awesome, since I had displaced him for 5th in Aurbun by like one point. I got my picture. I’m good. But ya, scores. Don’t ever look at them.

So ya, the competition is over! Takeaways? Don’t look at your scores, I think I said that already?
Now that it’s over though, I’m really interested in the raw scores to see if there might be some trends over the entirety of the competition. My strongest point? Probably overcoming my nerves the first night and punching through to take 5th on Friday. My weakest point? My set choice. You watch guys like Jose or Andy or even Ahmed and they have a varied set that I didn’t have going into this competition. All their bits were unique but related to a common theme. For me, I think my voice is just starting to appear and all of my jokes were kind of generic. I knew this going into the competition, but didn’t know exactly what I knew. My friend Toby explained it to me. My second to last joke’s punchline was that I got an erection. My last joke was about getting an erection. No wonder my closer never landed like I wanted! I was basically telling the same joke twice.

Although I had so much fun and learned a bunch of stuff, I am so freaking tired. Maybe it’s because I haven’t given myself a break even though the competition is over. I went to the open mic last night at Laughs (where I took LAST!) and I’m writing this blog entry from an open mic in Magnolia. What the hell is wrong with me?!? 😛

Seattle International Comedy Competition – Night 4

Last night’s event was at the Historic Everett Theater in Everett, Washington. This place was a beautiful theater right in downtown Everett. Seated about 800 people on a packed show, I think we had around 450 people there. It had a mezzanine about a quarter filled (more on that later). Still, it was going to be very interesting performing in this kind of place. I have never done a theater show before, so this was many of the interesting learning experiences I knew that I would get in this competition.

I drove Ahmed Bharoocha and Josh Gondelman up there with me again. They’ve been good car pooling buddies. I’ve been taking the opportunity to bend their ear about Boston comedy and the scene out there. Networking with other comics is key for these sort of events. It’s really the one thing that everyone gets out of the competition now matter how you place. Unless you’re a douche-bag that no one wants to talk to. Thankfully, we haven’t had any of those in our week, so overall the group dynamic has been great. Hopefully when I’m in Boston, or Dallas, or New York, or wherever, I’ll be able to call back to these experience and friends that I’ve made so far in the competition and get some good stage time, or at least a couch to crash on. Ok, enough sappy stuff, back to the competition!

The Everett Theater has a great backstage, mostly because its a real theater. It was kind of cool to hang out behind the curtain and listen to the show, knowing that just a couple of inches beyond it was a comic and 450 people listening to him. Steve Monroe took the opportunity to explore the entire theater, including the rafters, while the performance was underway. What are you going to do with an ex-tech geek with a flashlight, I just don’t know. Regardless, the backstage was more popular than the green room tonight. Possibly because the green room was the dressing room and sounded like there were birds mating in there due to a squeaky belt driven air exchanger in the basement. The backstage was also well insulated (unlike Auburn), so we were able to converse with each other about the sets previously and currently on stage.

I was up 9th tonight, which for most would be the best time to go up, but this night there was an intermission between the 8th and the 9th comic. This meant I was essentially the “first” comic in the second half. The host, Paul Myerhaug, who has been awesome by the way, did about four minutes in front of me to get the crowd going again. I hit the stage and it was another great set! I mean, I got my closest to going over seven minutes (with 6:34) because the crowd was laughing at my jokes for so long. I felt super comfortable coming off of night 3 with my newly arranged set and it shows. Also, comparing my nervousness level from night one to last night, wow what a difference. The confidence level and timing with which I’ve delivered this set has increased so much during this competition. I knew that I had a lot to gain going into this, more so than many of the competitors in this week, and my performance last night has shown that I took my punches from night’s one and two and am bouncing back.

The long and the short of this though was that I didn’t place last night. I apparently was very close to placing, as everyone was every excited to tell me that I was very close to placing, which means I took sixth. Not bad for someone who couldn’t close just two nights before. 🙂 At this point though, every is surely freaking out about the scores. Word on the street (and mathematically), is that the top three spots are already locked in at this point in the week. This is not surprising, as Jose Sarduy again took first tonight. Matt Billon, Steve Monroe, Roger Lazola, and Jane Stanton rounded out the top five. Beginning to see a pattern here?

Spot number four is also pretty much spoken for. The fifth spot is up for grabs though. Currently Jane is in it right now, but I’ve been told that everyone down to 12th is a contender for 5th when you take into account the drop night. I’m tenth in that list. Dammit guys! I’m trying not to look at my scores here. Anyone who is going to, or who have been in this competition, not looking at your scores is the toughest freaking thing to do, especially as it comes down to the wire and everyone is freaking out. You will find out, even if you don’t want to, because someone will want to talk with you about it and will “fill you in” just so they can complain or brag or whatever about their own position. “Hey Brian I’m 8th so I’m still in the running, you’re 10th by the way so you shouldn’t give up either.” Dammit! Stop unpurifying my thoughts!

Jose Sarduy has been a really great guy to hang out with during this competition. Last night he offered me some great advice about merchandising and doing theater shows. Talked about writing jokes, his experiences in the San Fransisco competition, and just good comedy. He also complimented me on my sets the last two nights, which doesn’t hurt either. It’s this kind of stuff for which I’m really exciting to be participating this year. The field is so good, the sets are so polished, that I can’t NOT learn anything just by being here.

We went out for drinks with most of the competitors last night in Capitol Hill after the show. This was the first (and probably only) outside show hangout everyone did together. We had a good 16 people at the bar, it was a nice sized party. I drove Ahmed and Josh down from Everett, and I introduced them to Dic’s Hamburgers on the way to the bar. Ahmed says, “I’m kinda hungry” and I turn to him and say, “I know what we can put in your stomach, some Dic’s.” It then took me five minutes to undo the damage and convince him that Dic’s was an actual drive in and not some gay stripper club. It’s kind of a Seattle institution, just a notch below In-N-Out Burgers. They loved it and my car was filled with the smells of Dic’s all the way to the bar.

I really need to take a shower as my ride is about 15 minutes away from picking me up to drive me up to Bellingham, where tonight’s show will take place. Stay tuned for the fourth installment tomorrow!

Seattle International Comedy Competition – Night 2 & 3

Ok so I already haven’t kept to my one blog post per night. Sorry, I had to go to work and it sucked yesterday. So here are my updates from nights two and three. Night two was at Laughs Comedy Spot in Kirkland. This is my home club, so I was expecting a great set. I was scheduled to go up third, which was a little early. I went after Jose Sarduey, which was the guy who took first from the first night. He had another great set, which I think set the expectations a little high for my set.

Regardless, I had a strong opening again. I think I lost the crowd though when I started being a little mean during my online dating joke. I also tried some new segways that were a little clunky, as I wrote them outside the club. Mistakes one and two for the night. I ended with a whimper again that night, which was upsetting as I was hoping to show well at the club I do the most sets at. Oh well. Steve Monroe took first with a joke about the five types of hugs, where he hugged some lady from the audience and explained what he was doing. I’m so upset that this guy comes into my home club and rips off my “Five different types of hand jobs joke”, albeit my joke is a lot harder to get a participant to help with. Jose Sarduy, Roger Lazola, Matt Billion, and Andy Hanyes filled out the rest of the top five. Cy Amundson also had a great set, but was denied placing. Fun times in the life of comedy competitions.

So now we’re going into night three, the Auburn Theater. I had gotten interviewed by the Auburn Reporter on Thursday when I was leaving work. I thought that I might be one of the many people that were being interviewed for the paper. I was wrong. When I got to the theater, a woman approached me and said, “I recognize you from the paper.” I got a hold of the article that she was talking about; my mug was on the front page. Pretty cool eh? I was a good page long article about my rise to comedy greatness and my participation in this years show. Well maybe not greatness, but it talked about how I hate bombing my first year doing comedy. He also spelled my name “Boshe”, which my dad wasn’t happy to hear about. That last “s” is important you know.

The show in Auburn was awesome. Everyone was having killer sets. Josh Gondelman, a comic in from Boston who I had given a ride to the gig that night, went up and had the best set I’ve seen him have so far in the competition. He’s a Jewish comedian of a similar age, our acts our quite a bit different, but he was the one for me to beat tonight. I was up 14th, which I was concerned about maybe the crowd becoming too tired by the time I hit the stage. I couldn’t have been more wrong. They stayed strong the entire night and I had the best night in the competition so far.

In the previous nights, I had done a joke about “morning sex” and also a kind of sexist tag during my online dating routine. Both of those bits destroyed my closer, and I always ended weakly. I was determined to change this going into tonight. It was also “TV-clean” night, which meant that the morning sex bit was pushing it, so there was extra motivation there. I decided to replace both of those with a bit about restless leg syndrome drug and my experiences getting my wedding suit fitted, the latter which I had done on night one. The difference was sizable. There wasn’t a reason for the audience not to like me anymore! I finally got to close strong, got my encore point, and left the stage thinking “that is how I should have been competing from the start”.

This performance was enough to eek out fifth place right in front of Josh Gondelman, who was right behind me be one tenth of a point. I placed! That is really all I wanted to do; place one night of the competition. Get that coveted picture of me and the four other finishers that night. I was so excited, and happy, and thrilled to be on that side of the stage, in front of that great crowd in Aurburn, after having my best set of the competition so far. After the show, I went to Denny’s with Josh, Cy, and Ahmed and had way too much sugar, and then drove Josh and Ahmed back to their host house in Wedgewood. What a great middle of the competition. I’ve reach my goal, and still have three more nights left in the competition. I figured out my set, this is what I’m sticking with for the rest of my competition. Too bad it took two nights to figure it out. 🙂 Who knows, I might actually have to start thinking about moving on to the semis, which in all honesty, I had ruled out before tonight.

Oh, and if you want to read the article, I’ve linked it here.

Seattle International Comedy Competition – Night 1

Tonight kicked off the first night of the 30th annual Seattle International Comedy Competition at the beautiful Columbia City Theater. It’s the first night of my preliminary week, and my first night in a real competition (if we don’t count Bend as a real competition). I drew 3rd in the lineup, which was a good place for me as I wanted to go up early this show and not sit and be anxious before my first set.

I’d like to say that it worked out that way and I wasn’t anxious. That couldn’t be more from the truth. I was super nervous getting through my entire set. My opener fell correctly though and my follow-up joke, which I had changed the wording to moments before hitting the stage, worked as well. The middle of the set also went well. My morning sex joke didn’t quite land like I wanted to, but I heard a bunch of people loosing their shit somewhere in the audience, so overall I was happy. My closer did ok, but the thing I’m most upset about was I flubbed putting the mic back in the mic stand. I was so embarrassed as I sat for a good 15 seconds and tried to figure out how to jam it back in there. That might have cost my some points in my technique or something, but I’m not looking at my scores until this entire week is over. Should save me from a lot of head games. I did get the all important “encore point” which adds a point to my score. All but two comics tonight got that, and those that didn’t had a bit of a meltdown (understandably).

So I didn’t make the top five tonight. Jane Stanton, the only female in the group, took fifth. Matt Billon was fourth. Andy Haynes and Roger Lazola were third and second respectively. Roger had just come off the finals for the San Francisco comedy competition, so the second place finish was not to say expected, but well justified. Jose Sarduy took first and it was totally warranted. That guy destroyed the room tonight. His mostly Cuban-themed set was well polished, high energy, original and the crowd just ate it up, including yours truly. I’ll be really excited to see him do that set again and again in this competition. If he keeps having reactions like that though, he’s in the semis for sure.

It’s going to be a really tough week from a competitors standpoint. It’s just a really great field. There aren’t any people that you watch and go “he’s definitely not in the semis”. Really, after only one night though, it’s still anyone’s game; no one is going to go quietly in this competition. That being said, all the guys seem really cool and fun to hang out with. I won’t go into it too much more than that after the first night as they could all be douchebags and it may take a day or two to tease it out of them. Regardless, I hope to make some new contacts at least in some new markets and hopefully they enjoy Seattle.

Tomorrow we head to Laughs Comedy Spot in Kirkland, my home club. I’m going to shake whatever is left of these nerves and bring it tomorrow, HARD. Can’t wait!

UPDATE: Just watched the video. It looked way better than I thought it was. Rock on!