By David Gavri
By The ultimate contest is here! And the crown is for the funniest person in Texas! Big state—big competition. Comics from all over Texas have done whatever it takes to get in on the action. When it’s all said and done, a total of 70 comics will have competed against each other for the title. And it all takes place tonight and tomorrow night at The Addison Improv in Dallas!
The breakdown of the contest goes like this: It consists of six semifinal rounds, in which the sixth and final round takes place tonight. Only the top two comics from each semifinal round advance to the finals. The final twelve will be competing tomorrow night for a first place prize of $1,000, a weekend featuring spot, AND a one-nighter headlining spot.
The competing comics of the Houston comedy scene include: Matthew Broussard, Theodore M.E. Taylor, Barrett Goldsmith, and Owen Dunn. Broussard won this year’s Stand Up Stand Off Contest, and he won this year’s Houston’s Funniest Person Contest—in which Goldsmith placed second in the final round that also included Dunn. M.E. Taylor won Houston’s Funniest Person Contest last year. The Houston team is stacked, and they’re ready to take on the state of Texas. Here’s what they had to say:
How does it feel to be competing for the title of Funniest Comic in Texas?
Theo: It feels great. The competition’s gonna be great. It’s gonna be a fun time.
Owen: I’m really excited. It’s gonna be nice to see other comics from other cities.
Barrett: I’m looking forward to it. It’s gonna be alotta fun. I’m honored to have been chosen to compete. And I’ve never performed in Dallas, so I’m really excited about that. I’m glad that I get to venture out and see comics from all around Texas.
Broussard: I’m EXTREMELY EXCITED! It’s all that’s on my mind, I can’t wait. I really look forward to performing with these guys. (Owen, Barrett, and Theo) They’re awesome! I’m also a bit nervous—we’re competing against a bunch of really great comics. This contest is bringing in some AMAZING talent from all around Texas. And the contest is at a really amazing club. I’ve never performed at The Addison Improv, but I’ve heard great things. I’m excited. Bring it!
Has anyone from the Houston scene competed in this contest before?
Broussard: Chase Durousseau got third place last year.
Theo: I have. This’ll be my third time competing in it.
Aside from the goal of winning first place, what do you hope to gain from this experience?
Barrett: Bitches. [laughs] But with all seriousness, it’s a great chance to hang out and meet a buncha comics, and get some time up in Dallas. And if you do well, that’s great. If I can get more work out of this, then awesome. Afterall, we’re all trying to be professional comics, and we’re just lookin’ for anything that can help us do that more effectively.
Owen: Biiitchiiizzz! [moment of laughter] Na really, just pride, and having the title, which will in turn, lead to more opportunities to do more gigs. And it’ll be great to meet all the comics from the other cities. I love doing shows in other Texas cities.
Broussard: The thing I love about contests is that it gives you a chance to cut down your jokes and take out the parts that are just okay, but not great. And your set is that much better once you’ve cut that little bit of fat. Cutting jokes is painful, but it makes you stronger.
Theo: It’s a great opportunity to get your name out there in front of people who haven’t seen you. It’s a whole new experience that’s gonna make you a better comic.
You guys are friends now, but come contest time, you’ll be gunnin’ for each other. With competition so steep, how do you stay friends?
Owen: I don’t. [laughs] I like contests. I need competition. We’re all friends, and if anything, the competition elevates us above everything else. Now, if I lose, I’ll still be angry and say the whole contest was rigged. And I’ll probably rent a car and drive back by myself.
Barrett: Yeah, fuck everybody! [laughs] I mean we’re all friends. At the end of the day, you gotta go out and do your thing. And we also collaborate; we give each other advice all the time. So when I do well, that encourages everybody else to do well, and the same goes for them. I really hope that we all do well. I think everybody is really gonna step it up. We’re all bringin’ our A-game. If any of us places, I’ll be happy.
Theo: It is what it is. And we all know it. Just go out there and do you. You can’t worry about anything else. We’ve known each other for a long time, we see other all the time, there’s no need for hard feelings or anything like that. Everybody’s in this together.
Broussard: It gets very Ayn Rand-y. We all understand the position we are in. And for us Houston comics, we all can be happy for each other. We work together and we write together. I’ll be happy seeing these guys win, and of course, I’ll be happy seeing myself win. But the attitude is this: “Go out there and do your best, and I will do the same.”
How do you guys feel about your competitors from the other Texas cities? Anyone to lookout for?
Theo: Just as long as everyone brings their A-game, we’ll be okay. And whatever happens, happens tonight.
Owen: I’m very excited to watch each and every round of the contest. The show is loaded from top to bottom. And I don’t really know these other comics that are competing, but I’ve heard alotta good stuff about them. The real winner in this is the audience. The show is gonna be so fuckin awesome.
Barrett: Yeah, there are no weak links at all. It’s going to be very tough for the judges. As far as people to look out for, I don’t want to name any names, but there’s one girl out in Austin to lookout for…
Broussard: I’d say Chris Cubas is the guy to lookout for. He’s a beast!
How do you prepare for the contest when you’re off the stage?
Broussard: I’ve looked through a lot of my old jokes, and I’ve put together eight minutes of what I thought was both funny, and an act that says something about me and makes people laugh. I want to be remembered, not just laughed at. The goal is to be a persona without being a character. And that’s a real thin line to walk, but if you can pull it off, you’ll stay in peoples’ minds. And I’ve practiced it in various locations, both for time as well as reaction. And now, this is just me being cocky before I start the competition, but I’m thinking of doing a different eight minutes for the second night of the competition—if I get that far.
Barrett: There’s definitely an Eye of the Tiger montage—drinkin’ raw eggs, eatin’ raw steak while listening to some Gwar death metal. [laughs] No, but I try to listen to my recordings and refine some of my stuff. I run through the set in my head a buncha times.
Owen: I honestly have not thought about my set at all. [laughs] I just listen to AC/DC’s Shoot to Thrill on repeat—all the way until I go up on stage. [laughs] I try not to practice my set too much, because otherwise it won’t feel fresh. This method worked for me in Houston’s Funniest Person Contest. I pretty much just gave up toward the end—I went over my time, which got me disqualified, so I got real loose and ended up killin’ it at the end. So no matter how cliche’ this sounds, the key is to just go out there and have fun.
Barrett: [laughs] What are you, an athlete? [athlete impression] Yeah, ya know, coach got us all prepared, and uh…we just gotta go there and do our best…ya know, just gotta throw strikes. [laughs]
Owen: [also does an athlete impression] Yeah, ya know, we worked hard at practice, and now it’s time to go out there and make plays. And I wanna thank tha Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen. [laughs]
Barrett: [still doing the athlete impression] Yeah yeah, I just wanna thank God that I been blessed to come out here ‘n do ma thing, ya know. [laughs]
Since you won Houston’s Funniest Person AND Houston’s Stand Up Stand Off , will you be doing the same set for this contest?
Broussard: Ya know, I HATE my set from those competitions now! I’ve cut it down, and I’ve polished it, and I now think it’s better now just based on minor tweaks. So, some of the jokes stay, and some are gone forever! And I think Louis C.K. said that, “If you don’t hate the person you were a few months ago, then you’re not improving as a human being.” So to me, it shows progress.
What will you do if you win the contest?
Owen: I’ll probably just go back to my place and masterbate. And then I’ll get on Facebook and brag about it, and try to get as many likes as possible. So yeah, masterbating and Facebook likes—over and over. It’ll be all over my Facebook status…for a WHILE. [laughs]
Barrett: I’d try to find the most humble way to brag about it, for the longest time. My Facebook status would say something like, “I’m very happy right now!” And then I’d tag my status with the Addison Improv, hoping that everybody would put the pieces together. [laughs]
Theo: Well, first I gotta focus on gettin passed the first round! [laughs]
Broussard: If I win this competition I will set a date to move to L.A. It’s a little soon, but if I can win it…
Interviewed & Written By: David Gavri