The sixth and final show of Preliminary Week Two of the 33rd Annual Seattle International Comedy Competition, held at Laughs Comedy Spot in Kirkland, kept a little bit of drama in its pocket all the way until the final moment…and beyond! This would be the last performance of this fine group of sixteen comedians…as only five would join the top five from Preliminary Week One in moving on to the Semi-Finals. But which five would they be?
And were we sure?
This week had been spared the legendary Seattle November weather until this night–very heavy rains, added to the heavier traffic than normal thanks to happy Seahawks fans leaving Century Link Field and the closure of 520 for the weekend, made for a difficult commute from the Seattle side of things. Didn’t stop a great crowd from showing up to see an excellent show at one of our favorite venues to bring the competition to (and the free buffet for the comedians didn’t hurt either–thanks Dave & Angela!)
The night started off with Landry taking the bullet spot and fighting off the “curse of going up first”–where it seems performers have a difficult time getting good scores. Landry dared the judges not to recognize how strong he was with an excellent set. In fact, performer after performer seemed to be dropping their best work on this crowd…leaving an incredible impression on everyone involved!
There will be some whose names weren’t mentioned, or weren’t found in any Nightly Top 5 pictures for this week who deserve to be noted: Kevin Bartini, David Gborie, Leah Mansfield, Scott Losse and Pedja Bajovic. All were very funny all week–but especially so tonight. Pedja had his best placement of the week on this last night!
But going into this night was a nine performer battle for five spots…and Landry threw down the gauntlet early, to stake his claim on one of them. Ryan Clauson also went full-on for victory with a strong set. Solomon Georgio and Tyrone Hawkins each chose to bring out some material that they might be using in the Semi-Finals–confident that the scores that they’d earned earlier in the week would be enough to push them though to the next round (not that either of them did poorly…Solomon, in particular, was quite strong on this night…but they didn’t exactly dance with the girl they brought on this final night.)
Paul Varghese went into the night in 5th place–and he’d be the person that was in the most danger of being dislodged from his spot. Paul simply went out and had another excellent set–and it should be noted, that Paul did a completely different set EVERY SINGLE SHOW this week, and was strong every night in doing so.
Right behind Paul, and basically tied with each other for the week, were Joe Klocek and Ria Lina. Ria had come all the way over from London to do this competition and Joe is a former finalist in this event–so both had a certain amount of pressure on them to try to climb over each other to move on to the Semi-Finals. Both had solid performances…and many felt that, perhaps, the audience response on this night would tip things over to Ria…if it came down to those two.
Of course, it might not–because also in the mix were Cory Michaelis and Shane Torres–and both of them totally ripped it up tonight. Could they climb past Joe, Ria, Paul and maybe even Solomon to claim one of the coveted Semi-Finals spots?
It certainly looked possible when the Nightly Top 5 was announced to the crowd.
Preliminary Week Two-Night Six Nightly Top 5
1) Ryan Clauson (Hanover, NH)
2) Shane Torres (Portland, OR)
3) Cory Michaelis (Everett, WA)
4) Landry (Atlanta, GA/Toronto, ON)
5) Paul Varghese (Dallas, TX)
Did Shane and/or Cory score high enough to push their way into the Weekly Top 5? Did Paul do enough to hold onto his position? Where were Tyrone and Solomon? Where was Ria? Or Joe?
The announcement of the Weekly Top 5, therefore, was highly anticipated…as it was hard to put all the math together in your head. In the end, however, the results weren’t all that different than they were going into the night…and the Weekly Top 5 was announced as follows:
Preliminary Week Two: Weekly Top 5
1) Ryan Clauson (Hanover, NH)
2) Tyrone Hawkins (Tacoma, WA)
3) Landry (Atlanta, GA/Toronto, ON)
4) Solomon Georgio (Los Angeles, CA/Seattle, WA)
5) Paul Varghese (Dallas, TX)
Despite a strong run towards the finish, neither Shane Torres nor Cory Michaelis could make up enough ground to move into the Top 5. And while not making tonight’s Top 5, both Joe Klocek and Ria Lina had fine scores–that just left them tenths of a point behind Paul in 5th place.
So, there were the top 5 finishers for the week…and that would have been a fine group to take to the Semi-Finals.
…BUT…what is life without a little unexpected drama?
Wait. Didn’t I say that exact same thing in the write-up of the last night of Preliminary Week One? You know, when Nathan Brannon from Portland took 5th place but then couldn’t go on to the Semi-Finals due to prior commitments so the 6th place finisher for the week took Nate’s place? Surely, it couldn’t happen again?
Guess what happened again? Yep. Paul Varghese had just been asked to host Dallas’ version of the Grammy Awards, a gig he simply couldn’t turn down…and wouldn’t you know it, that event takes place during the Semi-Finals of our event.
So, with the audience bewildered and befuddled–we announced that Paul would not be moving on and we announced who would be…the person in 6th place for the week…and that person was…NO LONGER IN ATTENDANCE!?!?!
After seeing that he had not placed in the Top 5 for the night and that Paul did, Joe Klocek left–figuring that his fate was sealed. So, we announced that Joe Klocek would be moving on to the Semi-Finals and expected him to come up to be in the picture of those moving on…he was on his way home–and his home is in San Francisco.
Some people in the crowd were yelling for us to take our 7th Place finisher…which would have been Ria Lina, and she’d have been happy take Joe’s spot (or Paul’s spot–it all got very confusing), I’m sure. However…Producer Ron Reid managed to get Joe on the phone to let him know that there was a spot in the Semi-Finals for him, if he wanted it…and, at first Joe thought he was being Punk’d–but no, this was serious…and he’s thrilled to be part of the Semi-Finals of this year’s competition.
(But, it means no accurate photo is available right now–I’ll get one and post it on Tuesday!)
So, your Semi-Finalists from BOTH WEEKS are:
Nate Abshire (Minneapolis, MN)
Ryan Clauson (Hanover, NH)
Ricarlo Flanagan (Detroit, MI)
Solomon Georgio (Los Angeles, CA/Seattle, WA)
Tyrone Hawkins (Tacoma, WA)
Joe Klocek (San Francisco, CA)
Landry (Atlanta, GA/Toronto, ON)
Justin Leon (Kansas City, MO)
Michael Malone (Los Angeles, CA)
Elliot Maxx (Ballard, WA)
And we throw out all of the scores and start fresh, with each performer doing ten minute long sets, for five shows starting Tuesday November 13th at the Comedy Underground, Seattle (showtime is 8pm.) Our guest host for the week is a former finalist in this event (and the host of ComedyNight), Drew Barth!