WEST PALM BEACH – Florida comics believing they are the best at making crowds laugh once again have the opportunity to put their money where their punchlines are.
After a two-year COVID-induced sabbatical, the Florida’s Funniest Comedian contest returns to crown the Sunshine State’s top comic.
“Half the reason I brought it back again is because it’s been a couple of years and there are so many new comics out there that I keep hearing good things about from other cities but haven’t seen,” said Rene Harte, contest founder and co-owner of the Palm Beach Improv. “So it’s time to hit the road again and find the funniest comedian in Florida.”
The contest will contain eight regional rounds, held in eight different comedy clubs throughout the state, with the first occurring on Sunday, Sept. 11 at the Dania Improv. The eight first round dates are:
- Sunday, Sept. 11: Dania Improv, Dania Beach
- Wednesday, Sept. 28: Miami Improv, Doral
- Sunday, Oct. 2: Tampa Improv
- Wednesday, Oct. 5: Orlando Improv, Orlando
- Sunday, Oct. 9: Off the hook, Naples
- Wednesday, Oct. 12: Palm Beach Improv, West Palm Beach
- Saturday, Oct. 22: Comedy Corner (Sunrise Theatre), Fort Pierce
- Friday, Oct. 28: McCurdy’s Comedy Theatre, Sarasota
Each comic will have four minutes of stage time during the regional shows. As many as 20 comics may be on each regional bill. Harte left open the possibility that more regional first round shows could be added based on demand.
Two winners from each first-round show, as chosen by a panel of judges, will advance to the semifinals. Winners from Dania, Miami, West Palm Beach and Fort Pierce shows advance to the east coast semis, scheduled for Nov. 10 at the Dania Improv. Winners from Tampa, Naples, Orlando and Sarasota will head to the Nov. 16 show at the Tampa Improv.
The top three from each semifinal advance to the finals, which are expected to be held during the first week of December at the Palm Beach Improv. The finals show is traditionally headlined by the reigning Florida’s Funniest winner – in this case Cam Bertrand.
Comics will be able to request a spot on a regional show via the soon-to-be-launched FloridasFunniestComedian.com site. Registration is expected to begin on August 1, with chosen contestants for at least the first two shows being announced during the first week of September.
There is a $25 entry fee, and comics will be asked to provide a video as part of the application process. Representatives from each venue will select the contestants for their shows. Comics are encouraged to only enter their closest regional.
“You want to represent your home city,” Harte said.
Along with claiming a prestigious title for their resume, the contest winner will receive a week of paid bookings (Thursday-Sunday) at every single club in the contest. The second place finisher will receive one paid week at one of the three South Florida Improvs. Other prizes could soon be added.
Winners of the Florida’s Funniest contest have generally gone on to enjoy success on a national scale. Erik Myers won 2011’s inaugural contest. Orlando Leyba, Ken Miller, JB Ball, Preacher Lawson, Alex U Ucein and Bertrand have also claimed the title.
“I wanted to see what was in Florida,” Harte said of the contest’s origin. “I wanted to see talent other than West Palm Beach, so I did it to get to know all the comedians in Florida. That was my original purpose, and it worked. It worked very well.”