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Jakey Emmert is the funniest person in the Twin Cities. And he has the cash-reward to prove it.
Last night, in front of a stacked judging panel of Twin Cities journalists, standups, and comedy big-wigs, Emmert beat out five other funny up-and-comers to claim what is undoubtedly the most prestigious title in the Minnesota comedy scene, along with a $1,000 grand prize.
For roughly 20 years, Acme has attracted some of the funniest people in the Twin Cities for the contest which, according to owner Louis Lee, has produced upwards of 30 or 40 successful comics.
This summer's contest, which kicked off back in May, attracted over 200 participants (300 signed up, but 100 wussed out), exceeding last year's total. Emmert, a 24-year-old Minneapolis native, actually entered last year but ultimately didn't make the cut that time around.
"Last year I didn't even win my night," Emmert told City Pages while excitedly fidgeting with his grand prize envelope just moments after winning the title. "But I did a few other comedy events, and Andy Erickson [a former Acme Funniest Person runner-up] told me I should enter again. And if someone like that tells you to go for it, you can't say no."
After cruising through the first round this past May (as an opener for Colin Kane who Emmert calls "sex on a stick"), he made it to the semi-finals which took place just this past week.
"I won my night but I didn't know if I'd make it to the finals because it's all based on scores," he continued. "Then last weekend I got the call that I made it and now here I am."
With his hilarious blend of sexed-up gay pride, slight self-deprecation, and a smidge of political commentary (all shoved into a three-minute set), Jakey blew away the judges and the crowd Tuesday, which included a small number of friends and his mother.
"My mom came to every night of the contest, but my dad stayed home for the finals because he thought he'd jinx it."
Now that he's certified funny, Emmert is already looking ahead to his next gig.
"I'm doing a show at Saloon next Wednesday [September 12], which I think I'm actually more nervous for than I was for tonight," he explains. "It's like gay high school in there."
As for the other very funny runners-up, a loss in the finals isn't necessarily the end of the road. In fact Bryan Miller, another former Funniest Person Contest runner-up who happens to be featuring at Acme all this week (and who works as City Pages' proofreader), explained that sometimes a loss in the contest can be a win for your career.
"I finished fourth in the contest the year I entered," said Miller, who appeared on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson this past April. "So my advice to the finalists would be to try and finish third or fourth."
While time will tell just how far Tuesday's aspiring comics will go in their careers, this summer belongs to Emmert, who offered these words of advice for next year's crop of contestants:
"Comedy is like sex: You don't want to go too fast or let them know you're doing it for the first time."