Rumors about a major winter storm, bringing high winds and who-knows-what-else, gave a dangerous edge to the Preliminary Week Two-Night Four show of the 32nd Annual Seattle International Comedy Competition–and I don’t know if “dangerous edge” and “Whidbey Island” have ever been used in the same sentence together before…
And yes, the rough seas did make the ferry crossing more exciting. And yes, the wind knocked down leaves and branches from the tree-lined roads on the way thorugh the woods to the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts. And yes, the good folks at WICA were ready with a generator so the show could go on if the power failed. In the end, however, the stage was lit up by the incredible talent on display. Hearts were warmed…and smiles were generated. It was a fun night in a great venue.
Being both a “theater show” and on Whidbey Island, the audience, by and large, was a little bit older than most comedy show audiences–but that was also true the previous night in Auburn and the night before that in Port Townsend. It looked like another excellent opportunity for Pismo Beach’s Mrs Hughes to connect with like-minded individuals (and where some of our young hipsters might struggle to make that connection)–and it certainly seemed that the audience responded very well to her… However, when it came to the judges’ scores (and the judges well-represented the demographics of the audience), Mrs Hughes didn’t get the love we all thought she would. Perhaps there is something to the “Going First Curse” that seems to have settled in on this year–as no one who has drawn the “bullet spot” and had to go up first has made that night’s Nightly Top 5 (something that hasn’t happened in previous years.) Surprised and disappointed by the scores though she may have been, Mrs Hughes definitely got the show started off right and definitely made that audience her own on this night.
Notably, three performers had their best sets this week. Atlanta’s Carlos Valencia narrowly missed making tonight’s Top 5–taking 6th on the night. Carlos has improved his placement by 3 positions every night so far this week. If that trend continues, on Sunday night he’ll take 0th.
Two performers cracked the Nightly Top 5 for the first time. Shanti Charan came into the Seattle International Comedy Competition very confident–as she’d just done extremely well in the San Francisco Comedy Competition…but it’s been tough sledding for this Union City, California based comedian this week. Perhaps the cultural gap between the Bay Area and Western Washington was larger than she’d thought. Regardless, tonight, Shanti found the right mix and connected with, frankly, probably the least likely audience to do so…and was rewarded for it with a 5th place finish.
And Seattle’s Brett Hamil had an excellent set to close out the show and earned himself a 2nd place finish. Brett has been doing solid work all week–and getting solid, if not spectacular scores, each night. On this night, his score ended up being, finally, spectacular.
In the end, though, the comedian that connected the most–whose smile and easy going humor charmed the Whidbey Islanders–was Kansas City’s Mike Baldwin. This is Mike’s second nightly win…putting him in good shape towards making it through to the Semi-Finals–but with two shows remaining, anything can happen.
Let’s see how the rest of the Top 5 from Preliminary Week Two-Night Four at the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts in Langley shook out:
- Mike Baldwin (Kansas City)
- Brett Hamil (Seattle)
- Rick Kunkler (Seattle/Los Angeles)
- Will Weldon (Los Angeles)
- Shanti Charan (Union City)
Things are definitely pretty close in the weekly standings towards making the Semi-Finals. As of right now, there’s a tie for 5th place for the week–and plenty of challengers nipping at the heels of those who are in. The next two nights should be very interesting.
The competition returns to the Tacoma Comedy Underground for Saturday Night’s Preliminary Week Two-Night Five show. Should be a packed and possibly rowdy club show–a far cry from the friendly theater settings we’ve had the past couple of nights. We’ll see how THAT shakes things up even more!