After several weeks of intense comedy competition, Mike Earley was crowned Minnesota's Funniest Person in front of a packed house at Joke Joint Comedy Club this past Saturday. In addition to insane bragging rights, Earley walked away with $1,000 cash as the grand prize.
The 25-year-old comedian has been a fixture of local comedy clubs over the past several years, performing regularly at Joke Joint, House of Comedy, and Acme Comedy Co., where he served as emcee for their show on Saturday before jetting across the river for the contest.
"I like Joke Joint because it has a unique audience," Earley says of his experience. "I've had the chance to talk with a lot of people here, and a lot of them come to Joke Joint exclusively. It's pretty cool because it's a pretty varied group."
Now in its third year (last year's competition, won by the late Gus Lynch, went by the name of "Best Comedian Ever"), the contest invites funny people of all ages and levels of experience to get onstage. The comedy battle royale started out back in November, with 88 hopefuls competing for the title. The contest featured a mix of seasoned comedians who have made a name for themselves on the local scene, as well as fresh faces looking for their big break. Judging was based on audience voting, as well as a vote from the club management. Each night of the preliminary rounds two contestants would advance to the semi-finals, with the top six making it to this past weekend's finale.
"It felt good to win," says Earley. "Sometimes contests can be a little frustrating in the way they're judged, because it becomes a popularity contest or something. This one was great though."
Other finalists included BJ Page, Chloe Radcliff, Ashlee Flint, David Sitrick, and Jeff Pfoser.
This night belonged to Earley, however, who ability to discuss anything from sexting to bullying with a disarming sense of honesty and self-awareness has made him chameleon-like, attracting audiences of all kinds. While the admiration of the crowd at Joke Joint this past weekend put a stamp on Earley's successful year in comedy, he has no plans of blowing his new-found wealth this holiday season.
"When you're trying to just do comedy you need to be able to stretch your money," he says. "I definitely won't be buying any gold cows or anything like that."
So goes the tough choices that come with being named Minnesota's Funniest Person. To learn more about Mike Earley, visit his website at www.mearley.com.