The Last Comedian Standing competition started five years ago in Bend, and has grown into a state-wide affair that, this year, screened more than 100 comics in six Oregon cities. The touring showcase of winners is a localized version of The Comedians of Comedy Tour, with the four top competitors from the 2014 face-off traveling the state in an RV sponsored by Coors Light. Debauchery guaranteed.
"It's fun to kick back and listen to everyone else be funny," said organizer Jen Meyer from the front seat of said RV. Meyer was on the road with the comedians on the leg from Portland to Eugene. From the front seat of the rambunctious rolling RV, she continued to talk on the phone with the Source. "It's all possible because of our sponsors, GIVE IT UP FOR COORS LIGHT!" she shamelessly corporate-plugged and shouted back into the RV. Her announcement is met with a dull "wooooo" from the traveling comedians.
Like a less bloody and much funnier "Hunger Games," over the past several months, 50 finalists were selected from all the competitors, and pitted in set-to-set competitions. The dangling carrot was not only bragging rights, but winnings totaled upward of $10,000, making Last Comedian Standing one of the largest prize purses for amateur comedians in the world, second only to a competition in Melbourne.
Such winnings are attracting top talent and, runner-up Scoot Herring explained that the comedy scenes in Oregon are becoming some of the best the nation over.
"I come from the desolate tourist trap beach town known as Seaside on Oregon's Coast. There, the only things one can do after high school is to hopefully leave it's soul-sucking embrace and pursue a life worth living or to give into said soul-sucking embrace and work at one of the three bars in town for the rest of your life until you pass away out of sheer convenience...Shout out to all my friends still living in Seaside.
"I only had two objectives after high school: Move to Portland and become a stand-up comedian," said Herring. "Portland in particular is turning into one of the best places to do and see comedy in the U.S., alongside other great cities like Denver and Austin. Great comedians, like Ron Funches and Ian Karmel, have come out of Portland in the last couple of years and are currently killing it in L.A. It's a good time for comedy in Oregon."
Next year, the competition hopes to expand to the greater Pacific Northwest, covering Oregon, Washington and Idaho. This year's winner, Jacob Woodmansee, and the three runners up, Herring, Chris Green and Juan Knutson, will be joined by last year's winner, Dan Paul for their show at Summit Saloon.
Woodmansee, a Bend resident and brother of another local stand-up comedian, Chelsea Woodmansee, worked hard for the win, driving back and forth from Bend to Eugene to compete, while still working an early-starting day job. But Woodnmansee said the win still came as a surprise.
"I really cannot wrap my head around it. When I got a car full of goodies and a significant amount of pay, I almost felt guilty, like I was carting off someone else's things," said Woodmansee. "My most treasured prize is my Coors Light personalized fridge with my name on it; I think it's because no one can ever take it from me. Titles will come and go, money gets spent, but I will always have a fridge with my name on it and I always try to keep it full of homemade kimchi."
Last Comedian Standing Showcase
Wed., May 28, 8 pm. Volcanic Theatre Pub, 70 SW Century Dr. $10.
Thurs., May 29, 8 pm. The Summit Saloon, 125 NW Oregon Ave. $10.