The event is called Just For Laughs, but it will be a chance for those to show who’s really serious about the craft of comedy.
Most of all, it will be about Valley comedians, including some from the East Valley, getting noticed and possibly getting a shot at taking their repertoire to a bigger stage.
At the Tempe Improv on Thursday, at least 12 comedians, including three from Tempe, will each showcase their stuff for six minutes of stand-up comedy for a Montreal Just For Laughs Comedy Festival audition, considered one of the top comedy festivals in the world.
The Tempe Improv and ComedySchools.com which is hosting the event at 7:30 p.m. at 930 E. University Drive, Tempe, had to act fast in putting an audition together, as the school’s director, Tony Vicich found out just slightly more than a week ago Tempe would be one of the sites for it.
The Montreal Just For Laughs Comedy Festival will be July 12-29 in downtown Montreal, and is where many leaders in the industry look for the next big guy — or girl — in comedy.
“We’re excited and we’re pleased to have been chosen for this event,” Vicich said. “This is it. Everyone who is anyone in the industry will be at the Montreal Just For Laughs Comedy Festival making decisions about sitcoms, guest starring roles, comedy tours and specials. It can make a career.”
Vicich, a self-promoter of the comedy school and expanding the Valley’s comedy base, said he went to Los Angeles to knock on doors of producers of the Montreal event to push to be a host for an audition.
“They said they had heard of us, but didn’t know if we’d be able to make the audition happen,” Vicich said. “I think the Phoenix area is a hotbed for comedy and has a lot of talent, and jumped at the chance for us to host something like this. For some of the top comedians in the area, getting a chance at something big, this is it.”
Just For Laughs will have three judges at the audition in Tempe who will select those advancing to the next round in New York or Los Angeles. The judges keep the criteria for selecting those who advance a secret, but the recipe for success is really simple, Vicich said.
“Just be funny,” he said.
Some of the Valley comedians participating in Thursday’s audition are John Higbee, Dave Thurston, Kirsten Alberts, Teri Lynn Compton, Jon Gregory, Jon Jesmer and Bryan Ricci.
Alberts, Higbee and Thurston are from Tempe.
Higbee, 46, is disabled and said he uses that as a “hook” to start making people laugh, but said he has been branching out to tell other jokes so he isn’t labeled.
“I’m going to give it my all,” said Higbee, who participated in Arizona’s Best comedy show about a year and a half ago. “These competitions are tough. I hope a lot of people come out and have a good time.”
Alberts, who is one of ComedySchool’s rising stars, often tells jokes about the difficulties of being single and her ill-fated attempts at trying to have a good man in her life.
Kevin O’Dea — whose trademark saying about his hairstyle is: “Don’t mix Rogaine with Viagra” — will emcee the event audition and Vicich will provide a wrap-up.
“We’re just thrilled to be doing an audition here,” Vicich said. “Hopefully, some of our people will be chosen to go Montreal.”
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