- Globey/Seattle International Comedy Competition
- The top five of 2014, left to right: Kyle Bottom, Cory Michaelis, Sterling Scott, Nathan Brannon, and Matt Donaher (in glasses), with host David Crow
Following 22 shows in 24 days, last night brought the final round of competition in the 35th Annual Seattle International Comedy Competition to the Comedy Underground in Pioneer Square, and it was amazing. (Full disclosure: I was one of the night's five judges, so please imagine everything I write being said by someone in a barrister's wig.)
Perhaps you're thinking, "Of course it was amazing—it was the final night of the finals, featuring the best of the best comics as winnowed down over weeks of competition!" And of course you're right. By the time a comic makes it to finals, he or she (but almost always he—in my three years of judging SICC finals, I've never seen a female competitor) is a well-oiled comedy machine. What made last night special was the density of excellence, with not one, not two, but three of the night's five competitors revealing themselves as singular comic talents ready to take over the world (by which I mean TV, movies, and Twitter). Specifically:
*Kyle Bottom, a bearded weirdo from Vancouver BC, whose off-kilter jokes about kicking dandelions and his mom's dumbness were peppered with dazzling and disarming bursts of eloquence and insight in the human condition. Rather than a quotable joke lodged in my brain, Bottom's set left me with endless admiration for his stage presence, which rendered everything he said more or less hilarious. I was ready to peg Bottom as the best performer I'd ever seen in the Seattle International Comedy Competition, until I saw...
*Matt Donaher, a self-styled nerd from New Hampshire with a high, warbley voice, a thin, hunched frame, and a cavalcade of exemplary jokes, all of which played off his nerd-quirk delivery perfectly. "My longest relationship was nine months.....when my mom carried me to term," said Donaher, then paused. "That joke's all about the delivery." I was ready to peg Donaher as the best performer I'd ever seen in the Seattle International Comedy Competition, until I saw...
*Nathan Brannon, a gregarious man from Portland, OR, who lackadaisically slew the crowd with a litany of insane stories delivered in the manner of a very friendly stealth bomber. Among Brannon's best bits: an endorsement of hunting hibernating bears, a seriously dark and hilarious story of leaving his beloved child to die in an outhouse, and a recollection of how he saved money on his wedding by stripping at his own bachelor party: "I'm crying, my dad's crying..." Brannon recalls wistfully.
- Seattle International Comedy Competition
- Nathan Brannon is your 2014 Seattle International Comedy Competition champion!
At the end of the night (drumroll please), the official winner of the 35th Annual Seattle International Comedy Competition was announced. Coming in third: my beloved Matt Donaher. Coming in second: my beloved Kyle Bottom. And taking first prize—which includes a $5000 cash prize and a recording deal with Uproar—was Nathan Brannon.
Congrats to all the competitors, and seriously, if you appreciate comedy, keep your eye out for Kyle Bottom, Matt Donaher, and Nathan Brannon, the last of whom will soon book a headlining weekend at Comedy Underground. I'll keep you posted.