On Stage

Laugh-Off

The cream of the comedy crop

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

As the Director of Talent for the Seattle International Comedy Competition, Peter Greyy regularly has some tough choices to make. The most difficult, of course, is deciding what comedians make the cut.

“This year, 1,313 performers were considered for the competition,” Greyy says. “It’s my job to go through all of those applications and evaluate their ability, their experience and whether they would help create an event that is compelling, competitive and diverse.”

After viewing countless hours of the applicants performing standup in front of live audiences, Greyy—who’s also a comedian who has competed in the event in the past—eventually settles on 32 performers who will be vying for the grand prize, which includes a cash infusion of $5,000, a weekend booking at Seattle’s Comedy Underground, and a recording contract with Uproar Entertainment that comes with an advance of $1,000.

Before bestowing the winner with their title, however, the 30-plus performers must prove they have the talent to stick around. Starting this week and continuing through the beginning of December, the funny folks will perform at a variety of venues throughout Washington—including Seattle, Bellingham, Kirkland, Bremerton, Auburn, Renton, Whidbey Island, Everett, and beyond. At each venue, local judges will get onboard to help settle on a winner for that round.

As the comedians prepare for the onslaught of competitions, Greyy says he’s often asked for advice from those who are providing the laughs.

“When comedians ask me what I’m looking for, my accurate but not terribly helpful answer is, ‘Be undeniable,’” Greyy says. “Obviously, we’re looking for performers who are funny—but, at some level, nearly every applicant is funny. We hope that each performer chosen clearly defines themselves and who they are as a performer.”

The 16 hilarity purveyors who will be performing Wed., Nov. 13 at Poppes 360 in Bellingham offer a good representation of the diversity of players, Greyy says. While there’s a strong showing of comedians from the Pacific Northwest, attendees will also be treated to laughs from competitors from California, Georgia, Ontario, Australia, and Slovenia.

Greyy says he’s been working hard on putting the “international” in the “International Comedy Competition”—in the past, that moniker simply meant they had to have at least one Canadian competitor—and gives props to the comedians who make their way to Seattle to take part, especially since they have to pay for their own airfare and find places to stay during the competition.

But, of course, getting here is only a small part of the laugh-off. Greyy says those who take part in the Seattle International Comedy Competition must be willing to give their all. “This is a trial by fire,” he says. “To win this competition takes three weeks of putting your best up against the best of a lot of talented performers, night after night. The comics who win this competition come out stronger, more confident performers.”

Last year, the tour didn’t make a stop in Bellingham, but Greyy says they’re happy to be back, and hopes community members will fill the venue.

“It’s going to be an excellent show,” he says. “These are very funny people who are all going to be trying their hardest and doing their best material.”

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