Yesterday the New York Comedy Festival hosted its annual New York’s Funniest contest at Carolines on Broadway and there was amazing talent to choose from. Chris Distefano hosted a sold out house in the middle of Saturday afternoon as eleven young New York based comics took the stage. Caroline herself was in the house and presented the award of being New York’s Funniest to Ricky Velez, from Queens, New York, who was also the audience favorite judging by the roar of applause he received. Velez will receive a cash prize, a week of performances at Carolines on Broadway, and will appear on SiriusXM’s Ron and Fez Show on Monday.
The judges had a really difficult job choosing because the talent was so strong throughout the nearly three hour show. Eight judges from the industry evaluated each of the comedians in multiple categories. Judges included Ron Bennington, host of SiriusXM’s Ron and Fez Show, and Unmasked, Josh Lieberman, from 3 Arts Entertainment, Steve Wettenstein from Converge Media, Josh Pearl from ICM, Louis Faranda, Sarah Wagener and Samantha Veilleux from Carolines on Broadway.
Competing to be New York’s Funniest, and giving some truly talented and remarkable performances were Joe List, Tommy J Pope, Adam Newman, Dave Smith, Emma Willmann, Kevin Iso, Matteo Lane, Liza Treyger, Mike Recine, Mike Cannon and of course, winner, Ricky Velez. If you love comedy, follow them in their careers, and on twitter, and you can see some of their profiles right here on TheInterrobang.
All of the judges said they were blown away by the level of the talent, going as far as to say that they wanted to put the recording of this show into a vault because ten years from now this will run like a who’s who of comedy. We talked with one of the judges, Ron Bennington about the performances. Bennington summarized the entire afternoon as being on par with Rodney Dangerfield’s special from the 1980’s where a lion’s share of the acts go on to have huge careers. A few highlights Bennington mentioned were Kevin Iso and Liza Treyger who got the biggest laughs of the night with lines that we won’t share in case you haven’t heard the show yet. Dave Smith did an entire set that could only have been written in the last three weeks…and killed with it. Bennington called Joe List’s set, “flawless” saying about List, “He’s a professional and will work in his business for the rest of his life.” He also called Mike Recine one of the most original stand ups he’s seen in a long time. He referred to mike as “a corner who hasn’t been turned yet who is going to set his own pace and the audience is going to catch up to him.” About comedian Tommy J Pope, Bennington pointed to his Bob Newhart style pauses, and predicted a future beyond the stand-up stage, crossing over to television and other digital media platforms.
The New York’s Funniest competition also aired on SiriusXM’s Raw Dog channel 99 at 7pm et, today, and will replay on Monday November 10, 2014 at 3pm immediately following the Ron and Fez Show, also on channel 99.
Winner Ricky Velez with Chris Distefano and Caroline.