Fitting that the final night of the final week of the 33rd Annual Seattle International Comedy Competition brings our five finalists back to the Comedy Underground in Seattle, where, in front of a packed house, our month long endeavor would conclude with the crowning of a new champion.
A comedy club is a very different thing than a big theater–the crowd is right on top of you, ready to interact with you (whether you want them to interact with you or not) and they’re not simply there to help you get the score that you need to push you up into the top spot for the week. You’re going to have to work hard and earn those scores.
Joe Klocek certainly knows that. He’s been through this a couple of times before. The last time he took on the Seattle International Comedy Competition, in 2004, Joe made the finals and took 4th place over all. In this year’s event, going into the last night, Joe was in…that’s right, 4th place. Joe did NOT want to finish in 4th place this year.
Ahead of Joe in the weekly standings, going into this night, were Landry, Michael Malone and Tyrone Hawkins…and they all wanted to finish 1st for this year. Joe would have to push past at least one of them if he was to not finish in 4th place.
Joe also had some urgency added into his situation–because immediately after tonight’s show, Joe would be racing to SeaTac airport for a flight taking him to China. Hopefully he could rest on the plane because upon landing, he’d be driving four hours to do a show before he’d even get to check into his hotel!
Landry, no stranger to pressure situations as a previous winner of the Boston Comedy Festival and this year’s World Series of Comedy, would have his own challenge going into this night–he was going to be performing first. He needed a big score while taking the bullet…while taking the “Go Up First Curse” head on.
Michael Malone, on the other hand, who suffered the Go Up First Curse the previous night at Bremerton’s Admiral Theatre (where he finished 3rd for the night, which dropped him from the top spot for the week into second place going into this last night of the competition), would be going up last–possibly a prime spot to get a good score…or, perhaps, falling into a dead zone where the crowd is tired out from a long show or too tipsy to control.
And Tyrone Hawkins, with two nightly wins in the four previous shows before this final night of the finals, held a slim lead over the field and was going up third–an excellent place to be.
The math was cruel to the fifth finalist and the only two-time champion of this event, Elliot Maxx–all he could do on this night would be to possibly play spoiler…
On this night, the show…as it has every night in this final week…and, truly, every night this entire competition…was strong, top to bottom. The audience loved every performer and every performer earned their encore point. It would be put into the hands of the judges and the cruelty of math.
On this night, the judges favored the pure material-based approach of San Francisco’s Joe Klocek…and earned the biggest scores of the night–by far. He was the number one scored performer from four of the five judges (the fifth judge gave the night to Landry)…and that gave Joe Klocek his second nightly win of the week, matching Tyrone Hawkins in nightly wins.
The official nightly results for Night Five of the Finals Week of SICC-33 looked like this:
Finals Week-Night Five Nightly Top 5
- Joe Klocek (San Francisco, CA)
- Landry (Atlanta, GA/Toronto, ON)
- Michael Malone (Los Angeles, CA)
- Tyrone Hawkins (Tacoma, WA)
- Elliot Maxx (Ballard, WA)
…but what none of these performers knew at the time the Nightly Top 5 was announced was what their scores were…and how these scores, added to their previous scores, would impact the final standings for the competition.
Could Joe have scored high enough to push himself all the way from fourth to first? Could Tyrone Hawkins hold on to first despite finishing fourth on this final night? Michael Malone was closer to passing Tyrone than Landry or Joe, but Michael didn’t finish as high as either Landry or Joe…so, who won?
Without access to the math behind the final results, they might look a little strange…but all the math was triple checked and the equations all added up properly to give us the following results:
Elliot Maxx took 5th place for the week–and he knew it too, not waiting to be called on stage as the 5th place finisher by our host Drew Barth…but just coming on stage on his own.
Landry had to be surprised to have finished 4th for the week–after all, he went into the night in third place…finished 2nd for the night…how could he have slipped back? Well, the answer to that is simple–he was passed by Joe, who had been in 4th going into this last show…before taking the top spot for this last night of the finals, and his 2nd place finish did not give him a score to earn him a significant jump forward in the standings.
Tyrone Hawkins had gone into the night in first place for the week…but a fourth place finish on this final night earned him a new “drop score”–the lowest nightly score that a performer earns for a week is dropped from their weekly total. That wasn’t surprising–he was one of three of the performers tonight whose score from tonight’s show was low enough to become their new drop score (only Landry and Joe Klocek actually improved their score with their score from the final show.) Tyrone would have to settle for third place.
With a mad race to the airport and an international flight waiting for him, Joe Klocek had to find out if he’d made up enough ground from having won the final night to push all the way into taking the championship. Unfortunately, while Joe could have and DID earn a score high enough to push himself past Landry and Tyrone Hawkins…even a nightly winning score would not be enough to push him past Michael Malone. Still, second place is not fourth place…so Joe avoided repeating his finish from eight years ago.
Despite finishing third on the final night of finals…despite earning a score on this last night of the finals low enough to become his new “drop” score…and despite only snagging one nightly win, when both Joe and Tyrone had two each…the math showed that the consistently high scores of Los Angeles’ Michael Malone would be enough for him to be declared as the champion of the 33rd Annual Seattle International Comedy Competition.
After 22 shows over 25 nights at various venues in Western Washington, with hundreds of scores from scores of judges…it came down to this: Michael Malone defeated Joe Klocek by 18 hundredths of a point.
(Michael was only half a point ahead of Tyrone and Landry.)
This only serves to illustrate how strong this year’s field was…how competitive this competition turned out to be.
And since we have a worthy, battle-tested new champion in Los Angeles’ Michael Malone…we can now close the book on an exciting year for the Seattle International Comedy Competition.
(Until we do it all again next year, of course…)