(Recap has now been added, after the jump!)
Today’s recap is titled “The first shall be last and the last shall be ninth despite having a great set.”
What can be said about Semi-Finals Week-Night Four at the Skagit Valley Casino in Bow? Performing in the Pacific Showroom to a sold out audience (of 600+), being treated like how you always imagined that you’d be treated if you made it in show-biz, and then watching every performer get big laughs and big encore point cheers…it’s amazing!
And then the reality sets in, that a small group of people control your fate with their pencils and their numbers–the judges. And the judges are there, not to simply enjoy the show, but to determine who was marginally better than someone else at doing something that is incredibly personal and subjective. Those judges do their job to the best of their ability and every competitor knows that this is a crazy thing that we have to do in order to have a competition (to have people score a performance art with numbers)…but it still stings a bit when the scores don’t quite match how you felt you did.
The night started off with Mo Alexander blowing up the room. Big Mo has had a rough go of it in the Semi-Finals–not because he’s doing anything wrong. This is just a highly competitive group of ten comics and Mo’s not been getting the love he’s accustomed to getting. Going up first is always a challenge but Mo delivered right out of the gate, setting up the whole night to blow up big. When the scores came in, Mo came in 9th for the night. Again, not because Mo did bad…but because everyone in this week is BAAAD.
Mo didn’t come in last on this night because Graham Kay did. Yes, Graham Kay…the only person with two nightly wins in this semi-finals and the person going into the night in first place for the week…the performer who has simply been consistent with excellent performances and good scores throughout this competition…and delivered another great set at the Skagit…that same Graham Kay took last on the night. And it wasn’t even that the judges found something about him that they didn’t like…the judges just seemed to favor other worthy performers more, so Graham slipped all the way down to 10th place.
Sam Demaris, Trenton Davis and Kortney Shane Williams all felt they had podium-worthy performances…and none of them managed to get themselves in the end of the night picture. (Kortney came the closest on this night, finishing in sixth place…just barely behind the 5th place comic.)
Who was just ahead of Kortney in 5th place? Lonnie Bruhn did. Lonnie’s been delivering confident performances all through this competition but in the Semi-Finals, he’s not made a top 5 until tonight.
Steve Hofstetter and Zoltan Kaszas were in the top 5–and they’ve been pretty consistent in being in or very close to the top 5 this whole week. Pushing his way past them into the 2nd spot for the night was Rodger Lizaola–his first top 5 finish so far in the Semi-Finals.
“I finally connected the dots!” Rodger said after he came off stage following his set. (No word on if he intends to paint by numbers during his set on Saturday night.)
Top honors of the night went to Toronto’s Dave Merheje. On this night, Dave was like the snowball that eventually turned into an avalanche…picking up momentum all the way. The crowd was left breathless by his performance and the judges all ended up giving him their biggest scores.
So, in bold print, that information looks like this:
SICC-34: Semi-Finals Week-Night Four Top 5
1) Dave Merheje (Toronto, ON)
2) Rodger Lizaola (Seattle, WA)
3) Steve Hofstetter (Queens, NY)
4) Zoltan Kaszas (San Marcos, CA)
5) Lonnie Bruhn (Portland, OR)
So, Rodger and Lonnie’s getting into the Top 5 on this night and Graham’s 10th place finish definitely changed some things in the weekly standings. I can say that going into the last night of the semi-finals, nine of the ten semi-finalists are still capable of snagging one of the five spots that will advance to the finals (and two of them, going into the Saturday night show at Snoqualmie Casino, are actually tied for the fifth and final spot!)
All signs point to a finger-nail biting finish for this incredible Semi-Finals week. The Snoqualmie Casino showroom can hold 900 people in it–and this astonishing group of comedians deserve another sold out show. (Tickets, as I type this, are still available…and the Snoqualmie Casino is just 30 minutes out of Seattle…so, you can make it if you try.)
Who will move on to the finals? We’ll find out…very soon!