Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Funny Business Comics Try for Chance at Fame

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Funny Business Comics Try for Chance at Fame

Article excerpt

Thirty-nine people who thought they were funny took to the stage Tuesday, each offering two minutes of humor they hoped would win attention, wealth - and maybe even a sitcom.

Two minutes can be a very long time.

Home Box Office and the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival sponsored the open audition for stand-up comedians at the Funny Bone Comedy Club in Westport Plaza. The finalist may get a chance to perform before entertainment industry executives at the festival's showcase in Aspen, Colo., next year, and they could appear on an HBO comedy special. "It took me 14 hours to bag the leaves on my lawn. Of course, I had these little sandwich bags." - a comedian. "What we are looking for is undiscovered talent," said Lou Viola, senior talent executive for the comedy festival. As an industry, comedy is headquartered in Los Angeles and New York with a large branch office in Chicago. St. Louis, about as funny as a bratwurst, doesn't rank much higher than Fresno. Which is fine by Viola. He said Los Angeles and New York are full of the same faces, and the same jokes. "Mass media has taken away America's regional voice," Viola said. "We are looking for someone with a very fresh outlook." Viola may have found a fresh outlook Wednesday, but he also heard a lot of generic comedy. An assistant called the comedians to the stage by name and number. Each got two minutes to make it big - or die. No. 22 told a feminine hygiene joke. No. 23 told a misogynist joke. No. 25 told a lesbian joke and an incest joke. No. 26 told a race joke. No. 28 told a drug joke. No. 33 told a joke involving Michael Jackson and little boys. One woman began a joke with the words "So I'm sitting on the toilet." One woman ended a joke with the words ". . . it was my gynecologist." Viola was kindly toward those who were unoriginal, who had no timing or who simply were not very funny. "This is a terrifying experience," he said. "I came from a rather large family - mammals. …

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