Six shows. That’s what the sixteen comics in Preliminary Week Two of the 34th Annual Seattle International Comedy Competition had to earn good scores from our judges and get themselves into the top 5 for the week–as those top 5 would move on to the Semi-Finals…and the other eleven would be out of the competition.
After five shows, less than a single point separated 2nd place from 7th place and none of the five top spots for the week were locked down. When the Top 5 from Night Six at Parlor Live was announced, it just served to make everything more muddled. Some of the people in contention for those spots did not make the Nightly Top 5. Could they hold onto their spot? Could others have bumped them out?
First place for the week wasn’t as much of a surprise–it was Portland’s Lonnie Bruhn. His second place finish tonight solidified a lead that was only jeopardized by a low score on the first night of the week. In the end, he claimed the weekly top spot by a significant margin and he moves on to the next round of this competition.
Second place for the week would go to Toronto’s Dave Merheje. Picked by some to be a favorite going into this competition–he started the week strong and he ended the week strong. He advances.
Third place went to Dave’s fellow Torontonian Graham Kay. Graham was extremely consistent this entire week–and he ended up with the highest “lowest nightly score” (if that makes sense.) He went up first on this last night of the week–a difficult place to get a good score from and that may have kept him off the podium for the night. For the week, Graham was only 6/10ths of a point behind Dave…and he will compete in the Semi-Finals.
Only five hundredths of a point behind Graham Kay was Mo Alexander from Memphis Tennessee. Mo was in sixth place for the week going into this final show of the week–he needed to get a good score and he needed someone ahead of him to stumble just a little. Since both of those things happened, Mo will continue on in this competition for at least one more week.
And the fifth and final spot in the Weekly Top 5 goes to Zoltan Kaszas from San Marcos, California. Zoltan started the night in 5th place for the week but he did not make the Nightly Top 5 at The Parlor. Despite this, his score was strong enough for him to hold onto 5th place, exactly one hundredth of a point behind Mo Alexander!!! It doesn’t get any closer than that, but it doesn’t matter by how close it was because Zoltan is now a Semi-Finalist in this year’s competition.
Let’s make it official then…
SICC-34: Weekly Top 5 from Preliminary Week Two
1- Lonnie Bruhn (Portland, OR)
2- Dave Merheje (Toronto, ON)
3- Graham Kay (Toronto, ON)
4- Mo Alexander (Memphis, TN)
5- Zoltan Kaszas (San Marcos, CA)
The heartbreak of the night belongs to Michael Davis. If you don’t know, Michael is a comedy legend–a contemporary of Robin Williams, Dana Carvey, Steve Martin and more. He was a finalist in the San Francisco Comedy Competition…in 1979. He was involved in Comic Relief, he performed for Ronald Reagan…and he finished sixth in this week of this year’s Seattle International Comedy Competition.
Michael is known as a juggler–but he went into this competition intending not to juggle at all, but to challenge his ability as a stand-up comedian in a competition for stand-ups. His perfectly economical one-liners were a crowd-pleasing part of every show this week–but some judges, who wouldn’t necessarily know Michael’s backstory, were hesitant to reward him for jokes that they might not have known were actually written by Michael. As Michael would add to his act, “My jokes only sound old because I wrote them.”
On this night, he decided–for the first time all week–to add one of his juggling bits to his act…that of a someone trying to juggle while riding a motorcycle (the bit involves a kazoo and tennis balls flying everywhere.) The bit needed about fifteen seconds…but he started it with only two seconds before he would incur a small time penalty. That time penalty only cost Michael half-a point off his nightly score…which doesn’t seem like a lot, but with that time penalty, Michael ended the week three hundredths of a point behind Zoltan Kaszas who ended up taking fifth place for the week. Had Michael Davis not incurred a time penalty on this last night, he’d have ended up in third place for the week…instead of sixth place and out of the Semi-Finals.
Also just missing out on moving on to the Semi-Finals were Toronto’s Julia Hladkowicz and Renton’s Monica Nevi–both of whom brought the funny every night and each of them earned a nightly win earlier in the week. This means that no women from either Preliminary Week will have advanced to the Semi-Finals and that Peggy Platt’s status as the only woman to have won the Seattle International Comedy Competition will keep that status for at least another year.
(Bri Pruett, who took top honors on Night Six ended the week in 9th place and Seattle’s Kelsey Cook finished in 10th place.)
We need to give some love to Anne Edmonds who came all the way from Melbourne Australia to compete in our event. Anne is so funny and so charming…and she, like Tin, had to work to figure North American audiences out. She’s assured us that she’s had a great time being in this year’s event…and we’ve certainly had a great time getting to watch her work night after night!
So, that’s it for Preliminary Week Two. We have our ten Semi-Finalists for this year. Let’s put ‘em in bold type and in alphabetical order, how about?
Mo Alexander (Memphis, TN)
Lonnie Bruhn (Portland, OR)
Trenton Davis (Chicago, IL)
Sam Demaris (Houston, TX)
Steve Hofstetter (Queens, NY)
Zoltan Kaszas (San Marcos, CA)
Graham Kay (Toronto, ON)
Rodger Lizaola (Seattle, WA)
Dave Merheje (Toronto, ON)
Kortney Shane Williams (Seattle, WA)
That’s a good looking group of comics right there…and they will now do ten minute sets in five shows starting on Tuesday November 19th at the Comedy Underground, Seattle and ending with a show on November 23rd at the Snoqualmie Casino. At the Snoqualmie Casino, we’ll find out which five of these performers will move on to the Finals!