Disaster victims love Randy Ankarlo’s comedy.
Over the past year, Ankarlo’s day job as a disaster relief worker has taken him to places like Houston, Key West, and Ventura, California, where he has helped clean up and rebuild areas that have been affected by floods, fires, and hurricanes.
“While I’m on the road, I’ve been able to get up at open mic nights and showcases in all the towns we’d do work in,” Ankarlo explains. “My job takes me out of town like 90 percent of the time, so it’s really the only way I can get on stage.”
This past Tuesday, Ankarlo proved that he can be funny even when he’s home, as he was crowned the House of Comedy’s Funniest Person with a Day Job champion.
Now in its ninth year, the contest invites up-and-coming comedians, open-mic performers, and people who just generally find themselves hilarious to try their hand at standup in front of comedy fans and a rotating cast of celebrity judges ranging from roller girls to former Timberwolves players. The contest has been going on through the spring and summer, with Ankarlo winning the $1,000 grand prize.
Ankarlo, who is originally from Colorado but currently resides in St. Cloud, has been an aspiring standup for roughly 11 years. As for how he got his start in comedy, Ankarlo credits the internet, and a small case of megalomania.
Back in the heyday of MySpace, Ankarlo created a page to alert the world that he was an up-and-coming comedy star in the making. There was just one small problem: He had never done comedy before.
“I made the page and told everyone I knew that I was a comedian now,” Ankarlo laughs. “I friended like every Minnesota comedian I could find, and then I figured I better actually do it now.”
At the time, he was living in Duluth, and made his grand comedy debut at an open mic at Dubb Linn Pub.
“I used to have this Spiderman hoodie, so I wore the hood up on stage and tried to hide myself,” he remembers. “I had one joke I had written, so I was on stage for maybe a minute and a half. But that one joke got a laugh. If it hadn’t, I probably would have quit right then and there.”
Ankarlo would have the opportunity to make good on his MySpace claims to fame, becoming the regular host at Dubb Linn for both their open mic night as well as featured acts. However, job responsibilities and life changes would force his attention away from the stage.
Despite his hectic work schedule taking him away from comedy the past couple of years, Ankarlo has had the opportunity to try – and fail – in several other comedy competitions before the House of Comedy.
“I’ve lost a lot of contests,” he sighs. “Probably five or six.”
That streak came to an end this summer, however, as Ankarlo made the trip from St. Cloud to Bloomington for each round, waiting nervously for his name and occupation to be called from the stage.
“It was stressful for me waiting to go on. Luckily, I have two sisters who live in Minneapolis and they brought like 20 of their friends every time so I had some support. They had more support for me than I did.”
Ankarlo is now $1,000 richer, and has big plans for his comedy future.
“I’m going to pay rent,” he deadpans. “But I’m also moving to Osseo, so I’ll be able to start performing in town more often, which I’m really excited about.”
Sounds like he can go back to his MySpace friends and let them know that he’s finally a professional comedian. For real this time.