Big Sky International Comedy Competition Recap
Lukas Seely is a stand up comedy entrepreneur.
And Billings is fortunate that he is.
He is also a local boy who has made it big in comedy- in case you didn’t already know…
Out of his entrepreneurial spirit and collaboration with friends such as Chad Korb and Wayne Wilcox come fantastic things like: Open Mic Night every Wednesday night at Manny’s, Montana Comedy, the annual Montana Comedy Competition and the Big Sky International Comedy Competition that took place this past weekend.
I’m new to the stand up scene. And, I was not sure what I was walking into when I agreed to follow the group around for three and a half days and document the process. (Get ready- this is a picture heavy post…) What I found was a bunch of genuine, hard working people who are living, breathing and following their passion. This includes the A-list group of judges that descended upon Billings as well as the fantastic promoters. Who are these elite? They are super agents from both coasts (meaning L.A. and NYC), VIP’s of the comedy world and people who make decisions for the likes of CBS and Disney. It was an incredible opportunity for the 26 comics who made it into the competition to perform in front of and chat with said people.
Promoters Lukas Seely and Wayne Wilcox worked tirelessly to make sure everyone was comfortable and well taken care of. I heard a lot of commenting on how happy people were with the overall experience. One of the judges was impressed and is now working with the team to make next year’s competition even better.
Competitors and judges alike were treated to a big buffet of activities. A trip to Red Lodge, Three Sights Shooting Range, horseback riding, Geyser Park, breakfast at the Farmer’s Market courtesy of Taste of Asia, catered meals by Ciao Mambo and Jimmy Johns and of course a couple of competitions thrown in.
Lukas Seely and Auggie Smith (another local comedian who has made it big) hosted and divided the 26 comics into two teams- team Auggie and Team Lukas- and alternated locations Thursday and Friday nights at Manny’s Entertainment and Bones Brewing. The contestants got two shots to perform their routine in front of two different teams of judges. Saturday night The Babcock Theater hosted the finals for the eight finalists. While none of our local comedians made it into the last round, their comedy was a lot of fun and completely worth checking out at our local venues.
Back to the competition. You would think 26 competitors crammed together for four days would be tense and a bit cold. It could not have been more the opposite! They sort of alternated between encouraging each other and giving each other hell. It was rare that anyone was not laughing. The environment was so relaxed it was easy for everyone to just be themselves. If you are a comic and are reading this right now; make plans to enter next year. You will not regret it.
The late night karaoke sessions floored me. (I’m giggling now…) Laser tag with a gang of comedians was ridiculous. Watching Byron Bowers, the competition’s winner, run around the mountains above Red Lodge like a kid was heartwarming. I commented to one contestant that I thought it was cool he was carrying around a book on edible plants. He was gracious enough not to say anything and I found out later that night it was hilariously a joke in his act… I loved listening to everyone’s stories. Whether it was about being on the road, their home lives, people they represent, TV shows they’ve been on or how little they get paid- it was all fascinating.
The final competition was pretty fierce. Everyone did well. I can imagine it was not an easy choice. I believe the choice they made was a solid one. Byron Bowers was so overcome being named the winner. You can see it in the photos. Back behind the stage, he looked at me and said ” What a day!! First the mountains and then THIS! I can’t believe it! This check is worth twice the amount of my car!”
With $5000 in prize money and a fantastic three day line up, this is a great start to what will be an annual tradition.
Again, take some time and check out one of our local comedy venues and enjoy what our local talent and guest comics have to offer.
Jodie Tenicin Smith the photo chik
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