Amateur comedy competitions turn me off. Not because I have a perfect losing record(3 for 3), but because people want to take this fun thing that I love, and start judging and saying “this person is better than this person. He wasn’t funny, but she WAS!” We’re all offering our uneducated opinion at the end of the day and do we really need to add yet another dimension to make stand-up more difficult?
What’s worse is the contest where the audience “votes.” More accurately, when enthusiastic green comics are blatantly exploited to make money for the promoter. The newbies hustle to get anyone and everyone they know, to the support them and then the audience winds up sitting through a long terrible show where the person they came to see only performed a “tight 5.” There’s an entry fee, the people you bring buy tickets, drink minimums…It all gets a little too skeezy for meezy. The people who come to those shows won’t be leaping at the chance to see you again. This is the kind of stuff that burns me out. Americans love competition. We have to label someone a “loser” and unfortunately, a “winner.”
That being said, I have to begrudgingly acknowledge the positives.
1. Hey, it’s stage time!
2. A packed house! It’s not often that amateur comics can get in front of a good and welcoming crowd.
3. “You have to learn to promote/market yourself!” Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know…It’s a business.
4. The grand prize MIGHT be worth entering.
This is why I was interested in talking to Tim McLaughlin about his competition set. As you’ll see in this clip, his approach is a little different and left me with questions.
How long have you been doing comedy and how would you describe your act?
I have been doing comedy for 3 years. I dont have much of an act, I have lots of jokes but I mainly work them into my set with crowd work, there is no set order of what goes where. So I guess you could say my act is manipulating the crowd into what I want them to say so I can use a joke I’ve written.
What was this contest for and why did you enter?
The contest was to emcee the weekend at Cracker Comedy Club for Charlie Murphy. I entered the contest because I get paid by Morty’s Comedy Joint in Indianapolis to do comedy, and there is a restriction on set by Crackers not allowing Mortys comics to get work at their club. So I went in to win the contest so they had to work me.
What were the results and were you surprised?
I won the contest. I was a little surprised at the results considering I did not do a single written joke during my set, and there were other very good comics on the show that night.
How many people did you bring to the show? How did you promote yourself?
I brought 7 people to see me, and the 7 only came bc a friend from out of town dragged them with him. I did not promote myself at all, after doing this 3 yrs no one I know will come see me anymore. The crowd that night had about 150 people all together.
In your opinion, what are the positives and negatives that come out of comedy competitions?
I don’t see many positives to comedy competitions unless I win, but one positive is it gives people incentive to get their friends out to a show giving you a larger crowd to preform in front of. The negatives of a comedy contest are creating unneeded tension between comics before a show. The fact that comedy is subjective that makes it hard to judge, because what is funny to you may not be funny to someone else sitting right next to you.
Our clip shows you interacting with a crowd member and saying “I don’t want to win this contest.” True, or part of the act?
That is totally true. I was happy I won but I didnt give a shit if I lost. I only sign up for contests like this to get as much stage time as possible. Winning is always fun and makes you feel good inside, but my main goal always is to go out and put on the best show I can for the people there to watch it, whether it be 8 or 800 people they all deserve your best, prize or no prize.
So the prize was opening for Charlie Murphy. How did that go? Do you feel the contest was worth doing in retrospect?
It was a very fun weekend, all the shows were sold out. I got to shut down several hecklers which is my favorite thing to do. The contest was worth doing in the sense that it got me on stage an extra 10 times in a week I would normally have not had those kind of reps.
Congratulations, Tim! Hopefully this will lead to more success in the future!
To keep up with the Mayor of Fart Town(Tim McLaughlin), follow, like and visit his website.
Twitter is @MayorOfFartTown