Show Spotlight: Pizza and Punchlines Comedy Open Mic Contest

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pizza-punchLocal comedian, Rich Kiamco has a nifty new show that’s also a contest that is held at the delicious Two Boots pizza restaurant in Jersey City (133 Newark Ave, Jersey City, NJ 07302), and it sounds like a lot of fun for both the comics and the audience. The next show is Dec. 9th.

We interviewed Rich to find out more about him, and the show.

See ya there!

Before we even talk about the show, tell me about you (just some basic junk):

Where are you from?
Born Chicago – grew up in Wood Dale, Ill
Lived NYC for 20 years, now Jersey City 7 years

What about stand-up was appealing to you?
The high of making people laugh – its like having a secret superpower

How long have you been doing it?
I started in college in 1988 and at my first paid gig I was threatened with assault by a guy in audience picked up a chair and tried to swing it at me [I ran off stage grabbed the money and fled via the fire escape – I was 18 – I blocked it out from my memory.]

Disappeared into being backup dancer/love slave + costume designer for Judy Tenuta for 7 years – then did a one man show for about a decade touring colleges etc – then on my birthday 5 years ago I asked myself what I would regret not doing if I died today [comedy] – so came back into Stand Up full force.

Do you love what you do?
I HAVE to do this, its my life calling my soul will die without laughter
I need it, and the world needs me to do it

Describe who you are as a comedian:
fun bold ballsy and a trojan horse for a higher purpose

Now – tell me all about the show:

Have you produced other comedy shows – or is this your first?
I have 2 tiers of shows that I produce:

HEADLINER SHOWS with venues in Jersey City, NJ  Sullivan County, NY [previously in PA too] and special events at various venues / fundraisers audiences buy tickets or pay a fee to have the event at their venue. Its a solid pro show with headliner, features/guests spots and MC/Host

I’ve previously had monthly open mics in Jersey City at PINT Bar and Made with Love – but now Two Boots is my regular venue
Its an open mic contest with younger emerging comics with headliners making closing appearance.

What are your favorite and least favorite parts of running a show?
[both open mic contests + headliner shows]
love stagetime, stagetime stagetime
to work on new material and refine grow material
and build my crowdwork muscles – I love wandering into the crowd and playing around in the moment – it’s so ALIVE
love working with talented people who inspire me to bring my best to the table, I’ve been fortunate to make some great friends/mentors in the biz

[open mic contests]
Dealing with flakey irresponsible comics – who don’t email or text to cancel if something comes up, you’d be amazed at how far basic courtesy can go.
[As a child, my parents beat me JUST ENOUGH to make me a thoughtful human being and consider other peoples feelings ] I sometimes pick comics from the open mic contests to feature on my headliner shows, its easy to see who you want to work with in how they handle conflict, email text etc.

[headliner shows]
Selling tickets – its always nerve wracking to fill venues, but somehow it has always worked out

This show has a nifty structure, with the rules, contest aspect, the texting, the pizza … How’d you come up with all of that?
I just found having 1 judge or small panel of judges made it less interactive, plus sometimes if it was only 1 judge, there could be some major stinkeye from comics – i wanted to make it a collective vote, but needed a more efficient way to tally than just pieces of paper – texting to vote is great and i love having a PIE CHART or BAR GRAPH to show the totals – it makes my inner asian mathlete all shiny happy – and who doesn’t LOVE PIZZA? The owner of Two Boots JC is great and having a venue owner who supports the arts and “gets it” is important.

Do you think that the ‘competition’ part of the show brings different things out of the comics?
Competition is great, pressure is great, it makes you focus on bring your A-game. I usually HATE contests especially judging something as subjective as humor – however I just did the Boston Comedy Festival last week and now I really appreciate the contest concept and its value more than ever – the pressure is like fire and can really melt the impurities out of the metal [nerves, bad habits, weak jokes and when used properly it can sharpen your sword] this monthly mic is not that level of stakes, but great pace again for stagetime and to practice bringing it under pressure.

There are plenty of open mics to just dick around and be a d-bag – this is NOT one of them.
I’ve banned a person who didn’t value this contest – he was shitfaced and scared the audience – I lit him after 30 seconds – I don’t have time for BS, comedy is hard enough without people wasting stagetime. To me comedy is a sacred art – stagetime is not to be wasted on fools or drunks. Competition makes you commit to your talent. any sport is fun when you are just tossing the ball around, but turning it into a competition is a nice way to put some pressure on and get to the truth of what you really have in there.

What is the level of talent that you are hoping to draw?
Since I’ve been running contests in Jersey City for a few years – comics know my reputation for running good mics – solid comics come back again and again, they see how good the room is to work on material: there are actual human beings in the audience, which is the most important point of the contest -doesn’t really matter if you win its really about getting to feel out a joke in front of people who are listening – not just other comics waiting for their stagetime with their heads in their notebooks or phones. And comics with major TV credits come do the headliner closing spot – every comic at every level needs stagetime. Comedy is an ongoing process and we all need to hit the gym no matter what level we are at

What can an audience expect when coming out to the show?
Great entertainment and great pizza – I usually host and have a headliner w TV credits do a closing spot so the contest is bookended with solid talent and in-between. That’s the fun: watching the comics bring their best 5min, its a ride – some really solid comics come back again and again – but it is a lottery draw to get a spot- so you never know who is gonna get up, its part of what makes an open mic contest an adventure – like America’s Got Talent – it can be crazy funny even if the person isn’t great, but usually its decent comics that come to do the contest, again its only 5minutes each so its bearable if they aren’t that strong yet – many comics talk about how its more like a show that happens to be an open mic, its a great time.

From a comic’s perspective, how do people get onto the show? Is there a fee?
ITS FREE but its spots by lotto email
Click here to get on email list
Join the facebook group

It’s usually the FIRST Tuesday of the month [though DEC 9 is next]

You will then receive a lotto email 1 week before the actual contest, and then you must reply to that month’s email with your name and cell# within 72hours of receiving it. You get email with lotto results on that Saturday before the Tuesday show.

From an audience’s perspective, when and where are the shows? Is there a cover?
It’s FREE usually FIRST Tuesdays
though DEC 9 is the next one [then JAN 6, FEB 3, etc …]

The funniest comic is one with most TEXT VOTES, the voting app tallies the first 40 votes and that comic wins a Two Boots gift certificate and is invited to perform in the ALL STARS ROUND and compete for the grand prize.

One audience member also wins a Gift Certificate to Two Boots just by putting name into a hat, the audience drawing is at end of the contest after the headliner appearance and the winner is revealed.

What’s your favorite slice at Two Boots?
My fav slice is = “V for VEGAN ” or “The Bubba”





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