Last fall a comedian and writer by the name of C.J. Toledano unearthed some advice he received waaay back in 2005. It came via an online comedy forum to which Toledano, just eighteen years old at the time, had posted a message asking for guidance from more established comics.
"Go on stage as often as possible. Any stage, anywhere," came the response from Louis C.K.
"Don't listen to anyone about anything," continued C.K., the comedian whose star was on the rise in 2005 but who wouldn't become a household name for another few years with his hit show, Louie. "Just keep getting up there and try to be funny, honest and original.... Keep in mind that you are in for a looooong haul of ups and downs and nothing and something. It takes at least fifteen years, usually more, to make a great comic."
C.K.'s advice is certainly not lost on those within the St. Louis standup community. These comics know that making it big in the industry is no easy task and that it takes a lot of practice. How else to explain the open mics occurring every night of the week in St. Louis? And that's just standup. St. Louis also has a flourishing sketch and improv scene with outfits such as Bare Knuckle Comedy, the Improv Shop and STL Up Late.
Two years ago Riverfront Times debuted Standup Throwdown as a way to celebrate these hard-working and humorous St. Louisans and (hopefully) help them hone their craft. The premise is simple: We select some of the brightest aspiring comedians in town and enter them into a bracket à la March Madness, where you — the reader — decide who is the funniest up-and-coming comic in town. For 2014 we've changed the format a bit to include two live standup competitions. The first round, though, is the same as it has always been: Comics gain entry into the tournament by tweeting us a joke. This year we asked that contestants come up with a ridiculous "fact" about St. Louis.
We received jokes from some 50 comedians, and from those responses we arrived at what we call the Tweet 16. Now it's time for you to help narrow the field down to the Elite 8. Log in to riverfronttimes.com by Sunday, March 23, to vote for the comics whose tweets you think are funniest. Those who survive — a.k.a. the Elite 8 — will then square off in a live standup competition to be held Thursday, March 27, at Fitz's in the Delmar Loop. The four comics who advance from there will perform for the title of Standup Throwdown champion at Blueberry Hill's Duck Room on Tuesday, April 1. (April Fool's Day, naturally.)
But first it's time to vote on the Tweet 16. And please be nice when judging this year's crop of aspiring comedians.
As Louis C.K. also told the eighteen-year-old Toledano back in 2005: "[B]e polite and courteous to every single person you deal with. Not because that will make you a better comedian, but because you're supposed to do that."Click here to meet the competitors.
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