Comedy is a subjective thing. You may think Jeff Dunham is hilarious. Other people may hate Jeff Dunham. There is no right or wrong answer here. Its a matter of opinion. (he will have his place in puppet hell, but that’s neither here nor there) You can say Chappelle is better than Rock. I can say Rock is better than Chappelle.Once again, there is no real answer, just opinion. That’s what I love abut comedy. There are so many styles. Carrot Top may not be my cup of tea, but i understand and get why people like what he does. The only time a persons opinion effects a comedian is when they partake in the dreaded “comedy contest”.
Comedians are fragile. They need their egos stroked constantly. If we didn’t need adoration and approval, we wouldn’t be up there. When we are done, we like it when the fans come up quietly and say “you were my favorite”. We don’t want to hear that we weren’t your favorite. But, when in a contest, we are told at the end who was the “favorite” of the night. And rejection can hurt a lot of young comics.
Since leaving Foxwoods, I have had to find ways to get back in front of the comedy clubs in my surrounding area. So I decided to put myself through hell and sign up for as many contests as possible. I also did this to prepare myself for comedy festivals that i may be selected to participate in. I won the first one that I entered at the Comedy Connection in East Providence, Rhode Island. There were 3 rounds. The 1st round each comic had to do 5 minutes. If you go over your time, you lose points. This is an advantage for the young comics who have only a limited mount of material. But for comics who are used to doing longer sets, this is tough. The further you advance, the more time you get to do. By the time we got to the finals, I was in my element, doing 20 minutes. The 3 other young comics did great, but had never done 20 minutes before. The winner received a paid weekend of work at the club and $1000. But our fate wasn’t in the hands of comedy industry people. It was judged by local tv personalities and whatever local comic didn’t make the contest and was willing to judge. Does winning this contest mean I’m better than the other finalists? Hell no! It means that on that given night, The 4 people who were judging liked what I had to say a little more than the others.
The one thing you do learn from these contests though, is who a comic really is. How they react after winning or losing shows a lot about the character of that person. The night of this contest, I saw 3 young comics who were just generally excited to be on a “real” stage, in front of an audience that paid attention. They were happy and proud to be in the finals and on the show. It was really cool to see and I gained a ton of respect for the 3 of them.
I am now currently involved in 2 contests. I just advanced to the semi finals in one last week and last night i advanced to the finals in a contest that is actually run by a radio station but takes place at the Hartford FunnyBone comedy club. Most contests make you submit, pay an fee to enter, then wait to see if you were selected to be in the contest. This one was different. the radio station put a link on their site and the 1st 30 people, no matter what experience you had, to submit a youtube clip of them telling jokes, made the contest. So, you are bound to get some moron, who never performed before but loves the radio station, to enter. These guys are fun to watch at the contest because they have no clue how to behave and make an ass of themselves. The round last night had 13 comics in it, each doing 5 minutes. Nobody was really sure who the judges were and the contest got off to a weird start, with the first 2 comics not being able to see the light and having there mics shut off before they finished. The young comics became nervous and began to speed up there acts, which resulted in them doing not as well as they could have. I decided to do only 3-4 minutes. There is no penalty for doing less time and I got big laughs. After the contest was over and the 3 comics were selected to advance to the finals, there wasn’t that vibe from the young comics that I saw at the Comedy Connection. These young guys felt they were screwed. That politics were involved.( found out later that the judges were 2 waitresses and a the ticket booth guy. Don’t know what kind of politics they could be involved in) They seemed bitter and upset. And for what? At the end of the day, this contest will mean absolutely nothing to their comedy lives. They got to perform in front of a good size crowd (bigger than most of them had ever been in front of) at a legit comedy club ( which most of them haven’t been allowed to perform at except for open mic night). They probably didnt know this, but a few of the comics in the contest book and produce shows. These bookers were probably turned off by the attitudes these young comics displayed. They may have been funny enough to use on a show, but why deal with the headache of a “diva”? Some of these young guys went on social media, saying they were robbed and that they were better than everyone else, etc. Now, they get a bad rep because they couldnt handle being judged.
So, my advice to all young comics, old comics or in betweeners is this. Act humble. Act like you’ve been there before. And just be happy you get to do what we do. And keep letting me beat you in contests. they prize money pays my child support.