Comics battle it out this Friday in Funniest Person in Iowa competition

Funniest Person in Iowa Finals

Friday, Feb. 25th at 7:30 p.m., Thew Brewing, Cedar Rapids, $5

Haley Flenker, owner of Thew Brewing, watches an open mic — Malcolm MacDougall / Little Village

Iowa comics will be going head to head this Friday in the Funniest Person in Iowa contest at Thew Brewing in Cedar Rapids ($5 cover at the door). Over the past two weeks, a total of 24 comics competed to qualify for the finals in two sessions, leaving 11 competitors who will be battling it out for the title of Funniest Person in Iowa.

Mike Lucas, a Cedar-Rapids based comedian who has been hosting open mics for “about 10 years” and is the primary host for Thew’s Tuesday open mics, spoke highly of the atmosphere at Thew’s events.

“It’s so much fun. Good people, everybody cares about each other, it’s fun to just be together and enjoy each other’s comedy,” he said. “[When] you have a bigger show, [with] 40 people, you can’t possibly sit there and watch 40 comics, so a lot of people go outside during other comics. The vibe’s definitely not like that here. Everybody sits and watches everything.”

The first round of the competition was on Friday, Feb. 11, when comics and audience members from across Iowa filled Thew’s floors and watched 12 comics perform five-minute sets of their best material. The show was hosted by Lucas and judged by Thew owner Haley Flenker, brand ambassador for Lion Bridge Brewing Travis Lange and Iowa State Representative Liz Bennett.

The second round, on Feb. 18, had another dozen comics. That round was hosted by Travis Bails, a regular at Thew’s open mics, and judged by Flenker, local comic Wes Shirley and Tim Sullivan, a nationally-touring comedian based out of Cedar Rapids.

Audience members got the opportunity to put in their votes as well and vote for an audience favorite, giving comedians another chance to move on to the next round even if they weren’t already picked by the judges.

Huta performs at an open mic at Thew on Feb. 15. — Malcolm MacDougall / Little Village

Some comics to keep an eye out for this Friday are Huta, a Sudanese comedian who recently moved to Iowa and relates stories of his life with a wry charm; Melanie “Mel” Mackey, a Des Moines-based comedian whose energetic charisma brought her an easy audience favorite win in the second preliminary round; and Joe Marino, a University of Iowa student with an off-duty hockey player vibe and a confidently physical delivery.

“The comedians who are in these shows, I’ve been watching these people for years, and they work really hard on this stuff. This is genuinely funny stuff,” said Lucas. “They may not be famous, but they’re definitely funny.”

The comedians who will be performing this Friday are:

  • William Allen Watts II
  • DJ X
  • Huta
  • Curtis Parish
  • Leslie Mitchell
  • Jen Kuhle
  • Mitch Banks
  • Brandon Ream
  • Joe Marino
  • Melanie Mackie
  • Matt Anderson