Last Thursday I had the pleasure of judging the last round of Portland’s Funniest Professional Contest. It’s actually kind of a daunting task, being asked to judge a group of people far funnier than I am. But don’t feel bad for me. While I got to sit in the back of the club, drinking for free, and hiding in the comfort of dim lighting and anonymity, these men and women had to hop on that Comedy Connection stage and prove to a bunch of assholes (read: me) that they are indeed the “funniest” professional.
Luckily, not too many jokes fell flat at the last round of this contest. Host George Hamm got things in gear with self-deprecating stories about his perhaps less than stable mental health. He also found an audience member or two to heckle, namely one high-looking kid from Lewiston and a mechanic sitting up front with his, as Hamm put it, “hut” girlfriend.
The ten contestants who made it to the finals truly were funny. While some more on their game than others, it was pretty encouraging to see this level of comic talent in the Pine Tree State. One fun surprise was seeing a previous middle school teacher of mine, Miss Joanne Bearor, telling jokes about sagging tits and pretentious Volvo-driving Cape Elizabeth parents, which had me laughing loudly until I remembered I grew up in a two-Volvo household…in Cape.
The evening’s highlights included Will Green’s spot-on delivery as he relayed substitute teaching tales of foul-mouthed elementary school children; Jesus-ish looking Matt Kona, whose jokes about his slightly homeless appearance and his father’s skeptical outlook on Veganism certainly brought the giggles; and of course Jordan Handren-Seavey, who, for the task of winning the crowd and judges over with his commentary on an alternate world of menstruating men, won the entire contest and the $1000 cash prize. By the way, a huge congratulations to you, Jordan! Well done, sir.
Because this was a contest and not a T-ball game, not everyone got to walk away with a prize. But, I’m going to go ahead and get real corny for a second anyway and say “everyone was a winner that night.” And that’s not because I thought everyone was roll on the floor, laugh my ass off, pee my pants funny (thank goodness because I had plans afterward and that would’ve been awkward to show up with pee pants…again). No, everyone was a “winner” because as the Comedy Connection’s Rich mentioned before introducing the evening’s contestants, getting up on that stage “takes balls.” And though I probably would’ve said it takes ovaries, I hear what he’s saying. That shit’s not for kitty cats.
So hats off to all the comics I saw last Thursday, to all the comics who participated in the previous “Funniest Professional” rounds, and also to the Comedy Connection for continually supporting standup comics in Maine — because they can only live at home for so long.