Comedians from throughout the Southeast are preparing for the fourth annual Comedy Contest, set for Nov. 1.
The show will be hosted by Thomas Paris of the Savannah Comedy Revue and Brian Shirley from the BTS Radio Show and is being sponsored by Creative Approach and Comics on Parole in Atlanta.
"This will be our biggest one yet," Paris says.
Contestants will battle for up to $1,000 in cash and a paid spot in Savannah Comedy Revue's November show. Winners for first, second and third place will be chosen by celebrity judges, and one comic will be given the Audience Choice award.
Contestants will get a chance to be discovered as bookers for late-night shows, big-time casting directors, development execs, agents, club owners, managers and more are expected to attend.
"They will be scouting for comedians to use in clubs in Atlanta and other places," Paris says. "This is a good opportunity to get known and win some money. The contest also is going to be shown on the Galaxy TV cable network.
"We'll also enter two people in 'America's Got Talent' so they can audition," he says. "There are lots of opportunities for comics to get noticed."
Each contestant is given 5-7 minutes to perform.
"It depends on the number of comics we have," Paris says. "We try to do an hour and a half of comedy and use the last half hour to get everything together and award prizes.
"If there's a tie, we'll have a run off," he says. "In the intermission, comic Brian Shirley will perform."
While some entrants come from Savannah, others come from Atlanta, Jacksonville, Tampa, Sarasota and the Carolinas.
"It's a regional competition," Paris says.
So far, there are 12 entrants and Paris will accept up to 15. Entrants must pay a $25 fee, which usually guarantees entrants with more experience who can provide a better show.
"The majority of the entrants are looking to make money," Paris says. "They are really going for the big prize.
"We do check to make sure the entrants have all been on stage and had some experience in comedy," he says. "The way it works is if they get up and if they are bad or raunchy, swear a lot or if they go over the time limit, they are disqualified.
"If they truly suck, we give them 3 minutes and lead them off the stage," Paris says. "We're really trying to make sure everyone has experience, because that makes the show fun."
The competition is highly regarded.
"We do pay the money, up to $1,000," Paris says. "The more people we have in the show, the more prize money. We pull all the money together and use it to pay the comics."
Last year's winner was Roz McCoy of Jacksonville.
"She also got an audition to 'America's Got Talent,'" Paris says. "She made it through for about five rounds. She was on her way up."
Coming in at second place was Comedy Bash of Atlanta and third was local comedian Antonio Scott. Comedy Bash is returning to the 2013 competition for another shot at the title.
After the comedy competition, the Savannah Comedy Revue will host comic hypnotist Gary Conrad in a show on Nov. 3.
"We're bringing him back by popular demand," Paris says. "When he was here before, the audiences really enjoyed him a lot. We're calling this show a 'Special Sunday.'"
If you want raunchy language and nasty jokes, go somewhere else. The Savannah Comedy Revue does not allow either.
"The whole thing is that it's comedy with a purpose, which is what we want it to be," Paris says. "We want to provide a good place to go have a fun time, not be grossed out, but to have a good experience."
The show will be filmed for Paris' own documentary/reality show.
"It's about being behind the scenes of Savannah Comedy Revue and the people behind it who make the show happen," he says.
This year's celebrity judges include a movie producer, a production secretary from the "SpongeBob SquarePants" filming in Savannah, a talent scout from Atlanta, a local doctor, a business owner, a talent agent and a local standup comic.
"We're releasing no names, so no bribes can be had," Paris says jokingly.
Judges concentrate on the contestants' material, stage presence, originality and whether the act is funny. At $9 regular admission and $15 VIP seating, the show is a bargain, Paris says.
There's even a special deal for regulars, Paris jokes.
"If you pay $9, we here at the Savannah Comedy Revue will let you in free."