St. Edward’s University student strives to be crowned funniest

Austin’s live comedy fans have a lot to look forward to, and maybe a little to dread, in the 26th Annual Funniest Person in Austin Competition hosted by the Cap City Comedy Club on Research Boulevard.

The show first began in 1985 and has given the amateur comedians of Austin a very large platform to show off their skills and perhaps hit the big time while simultaneously cracking up the masses that turn out.

“The contest is in its 26th year, and we have grown from four rounds and a final night involving about 40-50 contestants to 14 rounds of comedy spanning over two months, involving over 150 contestants,” said Margie Coyle, co-owner and manager of Cap City Comedy Club.

The rules of competition are as follows: All performers must be from Austin or the surrounding area, perform for five to seven minutes during preliminary rounds, submit an entry form along with an entry fee of $15 (an extra $10 gets you a T-shirt), have completely original material and either have a demo tape or a good reference from an established comedian on hand.

Preliminary rounds started on April 4, eliminating comedians every Monday until May 2, though more preliminaries may be added as needed. Semi-finals are scheduled for May 8–10, barring any unforeseen circumstances.

The final night will be May 16 with 12 contestants battling for the top prize.

“Contestants are judged on ‘are they funny,’ ‘is their material original,’ timing, delivery, stage presence, and audience response,” Coyle said.

And the stakes are high, considering that this year the winner will take home $2,500 in prize money. Second place is awarded $1,000 and third place $500.

If that wasn’t enough, the contest semi-finals are regularly attended by industry scouts from such institutions like Comedy Central, The Tonight Show and MTV.

“This year so far we have confirmed from Comedy Central both [Vice President of Talent Department] JoAnn Grigioni and [Director of Talent] Anne Harris and Bart Coleman from Craig Kilborn,” Coyle said.

Of further interest, this year, Bo Laughman, a St. Edward’s University sophomore, will be competing for the king jester’s crown.

“I’ve been doing stand up since I was 16,” Laughman said. “I don’t really know what attracted me to it, but it’s just something I thought I could be good at and possibly make a living with one day.”

Laughman is approaching the competition with a reserved confidence.

“I’m hopeful that I’ll do well, but it’s hard to really be confident in something like this,” Laughman said.

Laughman will be up against many talented competitors.

“Austin is a prime source for stand-up comedy and has been for many years,” Coyle said. “Cap City has helped to cultivate a healthy pool of very talented comedians, many of which are national touring comics with the TV credits to go along with it.”

With that in mind, even if you don’t want to compete, you should definitely attend. Admission is free with two canned food items that will go to the Austin Food Bank.

“The contest nights are heavily attended from friends and family of contestants,” said Coyle. “They are some of my favorite shows of the year.”