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On Philly’s Funniest (and other Contests)

A contest? Why not? My insecurity was just starting to diminish anyway!

A contest? Why not? My insecurity was just starting to diminish anyway!

I have a confession to make. When it comes to the Philadelphia comedy scene, I’m a voyeur. I’m the dude peeking from behind his Facebook curtain and watching the scene unfold in front of my eyes, often seemingly lead up to that indicator of the oncoming summer solstice – the one only a frustrated comic could understand. No, it’s not the changing of the clocks, it’s the naming of Phillies Funniest.

I have ever done two comedy contests in my life. One was in NYC. In NY, it was me and two other guys, one of which has become a very good friend and writing partner. The other was in Philly a few years ago as part of March madness. It was horrible (for me) other than getting to see Tommy Pope kill it as the headliner, as he often does. I realized that contests bring out the worst feelings of inadequacy and insecurity in me. It’s me waiting in line to get picked last for baseball or buckling under pressure while playing the theme to “St. Elmo’s Fire” at the talent show.

I know not all contests are created equally and the level of talent for Philly’s Funniest is authentic and genuinely gauged and governed by a discipline that may not exist with many other contests. I deflected early anxieties around contests (be they visible or invisible like the dreaded SATs) by convincing myself that by putting myself in situations that were merit-based, my natural talents would be recognized and eventually, rewarded.

The truth is that the world really runs in parallel paths. In a balanced way, (though not always 50/50), those with talent will rise and often be put in a battle or contest against those who also deserve to be there. Perhaps next year, I will convince myself that I at least have earned the right to try.

Comedy is a master and I am her slave, Marc

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