SICC-32: Who’s ready to find out who this year’s finalists are? Come On!

There was one major storyline playing out during last night’s sold-out show at the beautiful Theatre on the Square in Tacoma.  Could Houston’s Sam Demaris find a way to get himself into the Weekly Top 5–and on to the Finals of the 32nd Annual Seattle International Comedy Competition?

Yes, certainly, some people wanted to find out if Mike Baldwin could run the table in this Semi-Finals week.  Could Mike actually take first place every night this week, despite an extraordinarily talented line-up in this year’s Semi-Finals?  And some people might be wondering if Xung Lam could get some recognition for his excellent work this week and get himself into a Nightly Top 5 (something that many felt he should have the night before in Kelso) or would he end his competition heartbroken?  And fans of comedy, in general, were definitely interested in seeing what this group of comedians had to offer…

…but the focus was on Sam Demaris.  He’d won his Preliminary Week with a confident story-telling style, consistent scores and a dramatic Night Six victory–his first Nightly win in his week.  He’d been just as strong in the Semi-Finals Week–just that his first few scores weren’t as strong as he’d hoped.  He made some changes and the scores started to come around.  If he could pull off another dramatic Night Six win, he could find himself sticking around for one more week’s worth of shows.

Sam went up second on the night–and delivered his best set of the entire competition.  When the moment presented itself, Sam responded…and the Tacoma audience gave him a thunderous encore point cheer.  Sam had done all that he could do.  Because he started the night in 6th place for the week, he’d need some help to insert himself into the Weekly Top 5.  He’d need one of three performers to slip up.

Los Angeles’ Patrick Keane didn’t slip up.  He had another strong, confident performance.  So, for Sam to get in, he’d need either Mrs Hughes or Rodney Sherwood to stumble.  Rodney was in 5th place going into tonight–so, he was the closest one within Sam’s reach.

Rodney, a Seattle comedy veteran who had made the Finals of the Seattle International Comedy Competition twenty years ago, had actually retired for five years…before coming back to comedy just over a year ago.  His energetic and locally-sourced material has often made him a crowd favorite in this year’s competition–would it do so again in Tacoma?  His set seemed to go pretty well.

Mrs Hughes, meanwhile, was playing with house money.  She’d narrowly missed making the Semi-Finals from her Preliminary Week (by only 5 hundredths of a point), but was called upon as a late replacement after Night One of this Semi-Finals Week.  She accepted the invitation to rejoin the competition–but it came with a cost:  no drop score.  Unlike the other competitors, she wouldn’t be able to drop her lowest score–ANY score she got on this final night, she’d have to take.

She went into the night in 3rd place–but, a particularly bad score could not only drop her out of the Weekly Top 5 (and make room for Sam) but could land her all the way at the bottom of the standings for the week.  Mrs Hughes had a decent set on this night–but didn’t get close to the standing ovation she’d earned for herself earlier this week at The Skagit Valley Casino.

Meanwhile, Mike Baldwin–safe in the knowledge that he’d locked in his spot in the Finals with FIVE NIGHTLY WINS–had another marvelous set…and even managed to sell a few t-shirts while he was at it.  It seemed, based on the reaction of the crowd, that the night was Mike’s to win again…but what about Sam?  What about Rodney?  What about Mrs Hughes?

The names of the Top 5 for the night were called out.  Patrick Keane, no surprise, another consistently strong performance was 5th…he would most assuredly hold onto his place in the finals.

Sam Demaris took 4th for the night.  A strong finish–not quite the dramatic win that would truly improve his chances of making the finals.  He now had to hope not to hear Mrs Hughes or Rodney Sherwood’s name ahead of him.

Xung Lam took 3rd on this night–and deservedly so.

Mike Baldwin, to the shock of many, was announced as having taken 2nd–his first night of not winning in these Semi-Finals.  Those who had not been called yet looked around at each other to see who the judges might have favored on this night.  Would it be Rick Kunkler?  Would it be Will Weldon?  Would it be Mrs Hughes?

Come on!  The nightly winner was Rodney Sherwood.

So, the Top 5 for Night Six of the Semi-Finals Week of the 32nd Annual Seattle International Comedy Competition from Theatre on the Square in Tacoma was as follows:

  1. Rodney Sherwood (Seattle)
  2. Mike Baldwin (Kansas City)
  3. Xung Lam (Seattle)
  4. Sam Demaris (Houston)
  5. Patrick Keane (Los Angeles)

…so, Sam Demaris was down to one last hope–that Mrs Hughes’ score for the night was so dramatically low that it would allow him to move up and take her spot in the Finals.

Well, Mrs Hughes did take 8th place for the night–but our judges on this final night had looked favorably upon all 10 performers tonight.  They gave high scores to everyone–just slightly higher scores to some–and that meant that regardless of where Mrs Hughes finished, placement-wise, on the night…she was given a score that on other night’s this week might have had her in the Top 3.

It wasn’t enough for Sam to move up.  Despite his best efforts and his gift for connecting with audiences and making them laugh, Sam would end the week (and this competition) in sixth place.

Those comedians moving on to the Finals by making the Weekly Top 5 are:

  1. Mike Baldwin (Kansas City)
  2. Rick Kunkler (Seattle/Los Angeles)
  3. Mrs Hughes (Pismo Beach)
  4. Patrick Keane (Los Angeles)
  5. Rodney Sherwood (Seattle)

For these five comedians, the 32nd Annual Seattle International Comedy Competition continues for one more week–five more shows, starting with a private show at the Washington Athletic Club on Tuesday night.  They’ll have to do longer sets, they’ll be judged by more judges and they’ll try to earn scores that will allow one of them to declare himself or herself to be the NEW Seattle International Comedy Competition Champion!

But, for Sam Demaris…Xung Lam…Eric Krug…Will Weldon…and David Tveite.  Their competition dreams, after night after night of excellent shows, died in a beautiful theater, in front of an enthusiastic crowd in Tacoma…

They will be missed by us–but, hopefully, not by you–please, seek them out and catch their comedy as often as you can.  (Do the same for our host for this Semi-Finals Week:  Jim Short.  Jim is extremely funny and did an excellent job as our host–we couldn’t have made it through the week without him.)

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