If you want to join the ranks of the dozen or so local comics who have gone on to national recognition, then Comedy Works New Faces Competition is the perfect place to start. "A lot of comics use it each year to see where they are as comedians, judging by how far they get along in the contest," says competition organizer Deacon Gray. "Past winners have included Adam Cayton-Holland, Ben Kronberg, Josh Blue, and last year's winner was Elliot Woolsey. It's one of those things that carries a bit of bragging rights here in town." While the competition will continue for the next eighteen weeks, round one begins tomorrow at Comedy Works downtown.
Despite the rise of DIY shows and new comedy clubs, Comedy Works remains the focal point for any Denver comic looking for a career in the funny business. It's the ideal venue for some craft-sharpening stage time, to place get noticed in the local or even national comedy scene. And if you work long and hard at it, you may even make a little bit of money.
The thirty-year-old club maintains a three-tiered system for the comics it gives stage time to. Established locals such as Troy Baxley, Chuck Roy, Adam Cayton-Holland and, most recently, Jim Hickox have gotten their names on what is reverently known as The List. This gets them the prime spots opening up for big names rolling through town, a large amount of stage time, and a healthy paycheck for their efforts. Next down on the CW hierarchy is Almost Famous, which can offer similar opportunities as The List, but will most likely put you on after the emcee of most gigs, a little less stage time, and no cash.
And then there's New Faces. The competition for this category of comedy newbies has been going on for the last seventeen years, providing a window of upward mobility for comics who have not yet caught the eye of people like Comedy Works owner Wende Curtis (or perhaps have, but not enough to warrant a bump up the ladder). Winning or even getting into the finals of New Faces goes a long way toward advancing your name into the Almost Famous category, or for an AF comic to ascend to The List. And the winner of New Faces gets a cool $1,000, while first runner-up receives $500, and second runner-up receives $250.
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Although the 144 slots available for New Faces have already been filled, Deacon Gray says that it's worth your while to get your name on the standby list if you are interested in throwing your hat in the ring. To do so, simply shoot an e-mail off to firstname.lastname@example.org
Comedy Works New Faces Competition begins at 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 22 at the downtown Comedy Works, 1226 15th Street. Tickets are $12; for more information visit www.comedyworks.com.
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For more comedy commentary, follow me on Twitter at @JosiahMHesse.