Boston's annual comedy festival competition, much like its comedy scene, is an odd mix of college-aged joketellers, strong writers, aspiring upstarts and wily veterans who for some reason have flown under the national radar. In 2008, Dwight Slade (a teen comedy peer of the late Bill Hicks) entered and won the contest. This year, 30-year-old Marshfield native Dave McDonough took the trophy (is there a trophy? methinks not, but there is $5,000) with a set of dark but strong, clever jokes. His win made many local comedians happy, not just for him, but what it meant for the scene to have one of its own beat out 95 other contestants for the top prize. Which, to me, made this a clear echo of Dan Boulger's victory here in 2006.
In fact, the top three places in this year's Boston Comedy Festival contest went to locals. Kelly MacFarland took home the $2,500 runner-up prize, while Lamont Price finished third, receiving $1,000. Ryan Hamilton led the remaining finalists -- Paul Myrehaug, Danny Bevins, Auggie Smith and Mehran -- who split the remaining prize money.
McDonough told me afterward that he doesn't get onstage as often as he could or should, as the Braintree resident still works as a roofer. When he does perform, he tends to work rooms in the South Shore, and he did win a South Shore comedy contest earlier this year. And I'm told he is related to one of Boston's most wily of stand-up vets in Don Gavin. As for McDonough, if you look for examples of his comedy online, you're not going to find a lot just yet. A YouTube video of his set from the Comedy Studio in Cambridge -- which includes many of the jokes he told in the contest -- dates back two years (that's as old as my most recent stand-up video, and I barely perform anymore). Here's a taste of him. Bear in mind that his delivery and wording of a few of these jokes has gotten stronger since this recording, though he still tends to stare down at the floor (a la Mitch Hedberg):
As I type this, I'm still in NYC, taking care of a few last-minute details at HQ before heading over to Port Authority for the overnight bus to Boston. But the 2009 Boston Comedy Festival stand-up contest continued with the first half of the semifinal brackets. Comedians from the eight prelims got sorted out into four new groups for the semis. And the initial reports are in from Thursday night's first two semis.
Moving on to Saturday's finals...
They outscored Mike Whitman, Sean Sullivan, Joe List, Kevin Kneuer, Orlando Baxter and Alycia Cooper.
They outlasted Tyler Boeh, Justin Williams, Alvin David, Karen Rontowski, Harrison Greenbaum and Anton Shuford.
Two more semifinal groups of eight comedians apiece will face off tonight at the Hard Rock Cafe.