The Portland’s Funniest Person contest wrapped up its semifinal round on July 1. The contest, which runs annually, is hosted by Helium Comedy Club. Twelve out of the 36 contestants moved on to the final round, which will be held tonight.
The winner of the final round will be awarded the title of Portland’s funniest person and $1,200, and the opportunity to join Helium as an opening comic and host.
The second placed winner will receive $300. Third place will receive various swag from Helium, ranging from free promotional items to Timber’s tickets.
The semifinals were hosted by last year’s winner, Steven Wilber, who opened with a short set and introduced each contestant.
“[Wilber is] one of many local comics who get paid to emcee our shows at Helium,” said Adam Triplett, operations manager at Helium. “He also hosts the bimonthly showcase Test Tube, a show based around experimental comedy.”
The comedian contestants—all Portland-area residents—were each given four and a half to six minutes to make an impression on the judges and audience.
“This is the fifth annual Portland’s Funniest Person contest, but our inaugural winner was Ian Karmel, a PSU graduate,” Triplett said.
Ian Karmal, former Vanguard and Portland Mercury writer, has written for Chelsea Lately and The Late Late Show with James Corden and Reggie Watts, according to IMDb.
“Ian is inarguably the most successful Portland’s Funniest Person winner,” Triplett said. “He’s now a nationally touring headliner and a writer for ABC’s The Late Late Show with James Corden.”
Though the more than 130 contestants of the preliminary round were judged by the audience, Helium invited various Portland celebrities and those tied to the comic and recording business to judge the semifinal round.
The judges included Art Santana, promotions manager from Ground Kontrol; Larry Crane, founder of Jackpot Recordings; Ben Parrish and Portia Sabin of the Kill Rock Stars record label; Charlie Conley of Bridgetown Comedy Festival; and Portland Trailblazers sports broadcaster Brian Wheeler.
Three comics advanced from each show of the semifinals. Twelve contestants will perform in the finals to decide who is Portland’s funniest person.
The advancing winners were: Neeraj Srinivasan, JoAnn Schinderle, Nariko Ott, Danny Felts, Alex Falcone, Bri Pruett, Sean Jordan, Curtis Cook, Adam Pasi, Amy Miller, Gabe Dinger and Robbie Pankow.
Helium is located at 1510 SE Ninth Ave. and is open Tuesday to Saturday. Portland’s funniest person will be crowned tonight, July 7. The show begins at 8 p.m.