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Comics vie for laughs at comedy competition

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By Theresa Goffredo
Herald Writer
"Seattle International Comedy Competition": This contest of laughs returns to Whidbey Island Center for the Arts and will present 16 comedians in a slap-happy show of comedic skills.
Comedians performing Friday night come from as far away as New York. Local Seattle comedians include Brett Hamil, Rick Kunkler, Xung Lam, Seth Lazear and Emmett Montgomery. The emcee is Ralph Porter.
Each contestant will perform for five to seven minutes, consistent with being on the "Tonight Show" or "Letterman."
The audience plays a vital role in this competition.
First, the audience helps determine the Tremendously Obvious Encore Award: After a performer has left the stage at the completion of their routine, emcee Porter returns to the stage, and if he decides the audience has applauded loudly for a full 10 seconds, he awards the TOE.
"It really is the determiner of who does well and who does not," said Jonathan Fox, the competition's executive producer.
Also, one of the seven categories which judges are required to rate from 1 to 10 is audience response, Fox said. Other factors include material, delivery, stage presence, technique, audience rapport and their own gut feeling about the performer.
The contestants will perform for WICA's group of local, celebrity judges.
The comedians perform in six nights of preliminary rounds with the top five scorers advancing to the semi-final round. The WICA show is part of preliminary round two.
After six nights of semi-final round shows, the top five from that week advance to the final round. After five shows in the final round, the scores from that week will determine the winner, runner-up, third, fourth and fifth place finishers.
The winner will receive $5,000 and a recording contract offer from Uproar CD. Another $10,000 will be split among the second through 10th place finishers, Fox said.
"Seattle International Comedy Competition" begins at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts, 565 Camano Ave., Langley.
Tickets are $15. Call 360-221-8268 or 800-638-7631 or go to
More laughs: The Seattle International Comedy Competition has grown during its 32 years to become a major festival with nearly two dozen shows in 26 days.
The comedy showdown takes place at venues around the Pacific Northwest, including a stop Wednesday at the Edmonds Center for the Arts.
Out of hundreds of comedians who auditioned, 32 are selected to compete.
Comedian Jim Short, a former winner of the San Francisco Comedy Competition and regular on "The Late Night Show with David Letterman," is the host.
Since this is a run-off style contest, the contestants will not be announced until the evening of the show. That's OK because everyone in the battle is top rate.
Previous participants have included 2007 winner "Marcus" who became runner-up on NBC's "Last Comic Standing," and Patton Oswalt, one of the hottest comedians in the country and the voice of "Ratatouille" in the Pixar film.
The laughs are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Edmonds Center for the Arts, 410 Fourth Ave. N, Edmonds.
Tickets are $15 to $30 at or 425-275-9595.
"Hairspray": There's lots of rebellion around these days so what better time than to revel in the spirited 1960s at Seattle Musical Theatre when Tracy Turnblad tries and succeeds in making social change stick.
"Hairspray" explores and explodes stereotypes and the cages of segregation in Baltimore, Md., in 1962 as plump but talented Tracy earns her coveted chance to dance on "The Corny Collins Show."
Her role on the show wins her overnight celebrity status but there's something bigger afoot: integrating the show.
As Tracy says "I just think it's stupid we can't all dance together," but society -- led by the devious Amber Von Tussle and her racist stage mother, Velma -- won't have it that way. It' up to local heartthrob and TV dance show host Link Larkin to change the tide.
Social change is set to a backdrop of rhythm and blues including "You Can't Stop the Beat," "Welcome to the '60s" and "(You're) Timeless to Me."
"Hairspray" opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Seattle Musical Theatre (formerly Civic Light Opera) in Magnuson Park, 7120 62nd Ave. NE, Seattle. Shows are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8 and running through Dec. 11.
Tickets are $35 to $40. Call 206-363-2809 or go to
Theresa Goffredo: 425-339-3424;
Story tags » Arts, Culture & EntertainmentComedyTheaterWhidbey Island

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