Comedy showdown leaves one man standing

by Lindsay Craven

The corner of West McGee and Elm streets is crowded and it seems people are headed this way from every direction. The Idiot Box stands at the corner, taking in the people with open arms. The small room inside is packed full with chairs and tables that are quickly filling up. Tonight the venue hosts the Ultimate Comic Challenge finals, a contest which began in July with 36 competing comics and finally comes to a close tonight with four comedians. The competitors are Big “A”, Tom Keller, Mike Hannon and Scott Stockton, all hoping to win the $1,000 grand prize and the coveted title of Ultimate Comic. Our leader for the night is Jennie Stencel of WXII news. She jumps into things quickly introducing the panel of “celebrity judges,” which consists of a representative from 98.7 Simon, Chipotle Grill and me, here to represent YES! Weekly. Club owner Steve Lesser gets the crowd pumped up efficiently with a bit about being a great lover because he’s a scientist with a working knowledge of the anatomy. Stencel, his wife, seems to get a kick out of this. He wraps up his set by sharing his plan to create a GPS to the G-spot and the crowd is ready for the competition to begin. Big “A” storms the stage with his flaming red hair. He looks strikingly similar to the Andy character on “According to Jim.” He has a great bit about how rednecks made the discovery that spit from lizards could be used for medicinal purposes. He muses over the fact that Slim Jims make you fat and asks the crowd if they know what ingredients are in the spicy snack food. He pulls a Slim Jim from his pants and proceeds to read the list and then tosses it into the crowd to a gentleman who requested it. Two more Slim Jims magically come out of his pants later in his set. He wraps it up with an explanation as to why people aren’t buying more hybrid cars… the car names are “too gay.” Tom Keller makes his way to the stage next. He tells us that he is a sports reporter for the News & Record and how difficult it is for him to cover sports he knows nothing about. Fishing poses the largest obstacle for him, he says, as all of the sports jargon sounds like candy names for Willy Wonka. Keller continues by telling the audience about a heat-sensitive bra that would increase a woman’s cleavage based on her attraction to someone. He says men already have this technology and it’s called sweat pants. Following up Keller’s strong set is Mike Hannon. He takes the stage with enthusiasm and shares his dream with the crowd… to crap on a bird. He has a plot to hide in a tree with a specifically placed birdbath below the limb and take revenge on the bird that made it necessary to hit his car twice in one day. Hannon tells the audience he is distraught that his mother has added him as a friend on Facebook and insists on poking him regularly; she’s distraught because he won’t poke her back. He contemplates why women travel in groups to the bathroom and tells us a girlfriend told him it was to help each other keep from sitting on the seat while the others peed in the bathtub, he in turn put Crisco in his bathtub at parties to identify these women.

He wraps it all up with oneliners accompanied by a guitar melody. Finishing up the night is Scott Stockton. He’s hyper and hard to understand as he tries to balance telling his jokes with his urban dialect. He tells the audience that they need to be careful whom they list as references for a job. Your black friends will be too honest while your white friends will try to steal the job from you. Stockton then asks if any of the men in the audience read Cosmopolitan magazine. He shares that he has greatly improved his masturbation skills from their tips and wonders what the research center for this information is like. His strongest bit is his proposal to take thugs off the streets and use them as NASCAR pit crewmembers instead. Stockton thinks that “Bootsy” will get the job done faster than any guy out there. As Stockton ends his set the audience members gather their miniature squares of paper and thoughtfully mark their favorite comics from one to four, four being least favorite and one being the best. Once all votes are collected it only takes about 20 minutes for Lesser and Stencel to return to the stage with the results. Stockton takes fourth and leaves with $50, Big “A” receives third and is awarded $100, Keller wins second gaining $200 and the title of Pentultimate Comic while Hannon walks away with the grand prize and bragging rights on the Greensboro comedy scene for the next year.

Contestants in the Idiot Box’s Ultimate Comic Challenge vie for the 2009 title. Right: Ultimate Comic 2009 Mike Hannon. (photos by Lindsay Craven)