That’s not the start of a joke: That’s exactly what happened on July 7 at the kickoff for Boise’s Funniest Person, the search for the town’s next great comedian who, right now, isn’t a comedian at all.
The annual contest, hosted by the Liquid Laughs, features Shakespearean actors, firefighters and archaeologists, among others, all battling for glory and a $1,000 cash prize.
In the competition’s first phases, contestants audition for a handful of spots. On July 7, 20 would-be performers were given three minutes each to wring laughs from a panel of three judges and a sold-out club. Ten of them advanced to the next round and will perform on Saturday, July 21, after which their ranks will be reduced to five. On Saturday, July 28, a single comedian will take home the top prize.
The competition has become a feeder for Boise’s comedy scene, according to Jeremy Aevermann, who owns Liquid Laughs comedy club.
“We always get a few new comics out of Boise’s Funniest Person. People that would maybe never have tried stand-up comedy,” he said.
Winners will join a tight-knit and budding comedy community.
- Bree Jones
- Andrea Trammell
Donahue and Jenkins were comedy rookies when they competed in the very first BFP contest in 2012. During the competition they discovered they shared a strong comedic chemistry, and afterward founded the comedy duo Lady Bizness. They now perform across the country and were voted Best Local Comedian, as a duo, in Boise Weekly's Best of Boise earlier this year.
BFP wasn’t just started to find new talent: It was also a business decision. While comedy shows thrive for most of the year, summer is notoriously slow.
“In Boise, you’re fighting against the sun gods,” said Aevermann. “It’s beautiful here at eight o'clock at night all summer long. It’s hard to get people in a movie theater. That’s why we invented Boise’s Funniest Person, because we need something people want to come out to.”
- Bree Jones
- David Kociol
Haas said the 208 Comedy Festival provides an opportunity to familiarize well-known comedians with Boise, and he’s confident that familiarity will breed affection and then tour dates.
“We know [that] as soon as they get to Boise they’re going to fall in love with it, and it’s happened without fail. Because Boise’s amazing,” he said.
Even as Boise attracts more nationally recognized comedians, it is the homegrown comics—many of whom owe their start to BFP—who make people laugh week in and week out.
“It’s easy to just come out and see the big names,” said Jenkins. “But you can come down to the comedy club on a Thursday and pay a fraction of what you pay at a big show, and you are going to laugh. These people are professionals.”
Even this year’s amateur contestants, one three-minute set into their comedy careers, will deliver the goods this weekend.
“People are always surprised by how good the show is,” said Jenkins. “And it's because these people have been working their butts off.”