How To Stand-up Comedy Contest (part III)
By Paul Ash
In this, part three about stand-up comedy contests, I’ll explain how I run my monthly comedy competition, Kick Ashiest, as part of the weekly open mic The Kick Ash Comedy Show. Again I’ll be explaining the reasons for the choices I make. The Kick Ash Comedy Show is a weekly open mic starting 9pm every Tuesday in Andrews Pub, located at 1239 Guy, Montreal, Canada. Acts either get asked to perform by me, or book with me by sending a message to the Kick Ash facebook fanpage. The monthly competition is Kick Ashiest, a play on the show’s name, which is a play on my name.
Kick Ashiest (Kick Ash’s monthly competition) runs every 5th week. From the previous 4 King of the Mountain shows I pick my favorite two performers each week. I occasionally ask for feedback from friends who attend the show but generally I try to take note of those that make a special connection with the audience. It’s my choice, but hey, it’s my name on the show. I never tell anyone that they are auditioning for me, and I’ve not corrected anyone who thinks the audience vote for King of the Mountain selects the Kick Ashiest participants (well, until now).
The goals of this competition are:
1) to show my confidence in new acts
2) to put together the best show of the month, and let people know it is the best of the month.
How it works
The show is set up with a host (most often me), an opening act, followed by those in the competition (in a predetermined, random order) and ending with a closing act while scores are tabulated. The show ends with me naming and awarding the cash prize to the winner.
Scoring works on two points. An audience vote and judges. Yep, judges. Most comedians who dislike ‘contests’ top three peeves are: judges, judges and vomit on their shoes.
“I’m a comic’s comic.”
“Judges don’t understand the craft.”
“Comedy is subjective, if they don’t like what I do – how can I win?”
What many comedians forget, is that every time we go onstage we’re judged. Every joke we tell, audience members judge, if they like the joke, they laugh. If they don’t, we get silence. Selecting two specific people to be judges doesn’t change that, it just makes it two specific people. That said, I ask certain people to be judges. People I know, or who are recommended to me, as involved in the arts or even specifically comedy. I’ve had pro comics, comedy bloggers, news host, burlesque performers and musicians all work as judges.
Judges judge on two attributes:
1) Material: how well written are the jokes? How original and unique a take does the performer have? Does the material flow from one
Source: Paul ash Comedy