The sixth and final night of Preliminary Week Two of the 34th Annual Seattle International Comedy Competition brought us back to the Eastside and the Parlor Live Comedy Club, on the third floor of Lincoln Square in downtown Bellevue.
Going into the night, the scores for the week were EXTREMELY close. How these performers did on this night would likely determine their fate–five of these sixteen comics would move on to the Semi-Finals and eleven would end their competition experience here.
The crowd was up for a good show–and they got one. So, why did everything feel so out of control? And why was everyone looking at their watches the whole night?
Well, it started with a slight mix-up about showtime. We had to scramble to make sure that everybody got to where they were supposed to be at the time they were supposed to be there–comics, judges and even our host were all in danger of missing the start of the show…but all managed to get there in time.
Then, during the show, we had performers going over their time. Not by all that much, but enough to earn a penalty off their scores for it. This was significant because no one in this week, prior to this show, had received a time penalty…and a couple of the performers who went long were definitely fighting for the chance to advance to the Semi-Finals.
And then there was Bri Pruett, who was going up last on the night. She simply wasn’t in the room when her name was called for her time to perform. She was just outside the showroom…and hadn’t realized that it was her time. She was quickly found and ushered on stage in a rush–heaven knows how she was able to keep her head from spinning, but she ended up giving one of the strongest performances of the night! Perhaps due to the chaotic nature of getting her to the stage, however, she also went over her time. Well over her time, actually, as she was eleven seconds away from getting herself disqualified for the night!
The show was hot, from the start to finish–and everyone earned the “tremendously obvious encore” point from this appreciative audience. It would be up to the judges to determine who would get the big scores–who would they gravitate to?
Continuing the theme of the night, it took some time to count the scores–we wouldn’t get a second chance to make any corrections, so we had to be accurate.
Here’s what the Top 5 for the night looked like:
SICC-34: Preliminary Week Two-Night Six Top 5 (well, Top 6, really…)
1- Bri Pruett (Portland, OR)
2- tie: Lonnie Bruhn (Portland, OR)
2- tie: Tin Vodopivec (Ljubljana, Slovenia)
3- Dave Merheje (Toronto, ON)
4- Xung Lam (Seattle, WA)
5- Mo Alexander (Memphis, TN)
Mo Alexander went into the night in 6th place for the week. He knew that he needed a big score to push him up in the standings. Would a 5th place score do it? He didn’t know. Xung Lam, a previous semi-finalist in this event, made his first appearance in a nightly top 5 this week–that’s how competitive this group was. Dave Merheje had started strong this week, stumbled a little mid-week and over the last two nights made a strong charge to hold onto one of the top 5 spots for the week. Lonnie Bruhn had shaken off a rough opening night to become the strongest and most consistent performer of the week.
Lonnie was joined in a second place tie by Tin Vodopivec, who was making his first ever appearance in a Nightly Top 5 (and with Tin and Xung making tonight’s Top 5, it meant that fifteen of the sixteen comics in this week had managed at least one Nightly Top 5 finish! Again, such a competitive week!)
Making Tin’s accomplishment even greater is, of course, that Tin is our first ever Slovenian competitor and English is not his native language. And all of the other comics this week had great respect for Tin Vodopivec–and when he was announced as having tied for 2nd on this night, the other comics all started chanting his name. (Well, they chanted his first name…)
And they HAD to chant his name…because, assuming that he wouldn’t be making the nightly top 5, Tin was in the other room giving an interview to our documentary film crew…so, he was late in getting to the stage.
Top honors for the night, then…to fit the unexpected theme of the night, had to go to “Miss Slightly Tardy”, Bri Pruett…who shook off the time penalty and still won the night. The judges loved her energy, her wit, her willingness to go a bit dirty and her obvious joy in performing. She truly earned this win on a night where everyone was performing at their best.
So…those were the results for the night. Who would make it through to the Semi-Finals?