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    This past November, the annual Louisville Music Awards, now in its fourth year, celebrated some of Louisville's most popular and talented public figures in music for 2015. Though this award ceremony is important to Louisville’s culture, it has overshadowed another local annual award showcase that is just as important and undeniably underrated. Louisville’s annual Kent Carney Awards for Comedic Excellence is in its fifth year, awarding local comedians for their accomplishments and outstanding performances. And if there’s one thing every Louisvillian enjoys, it’s a good laugh.

    So in order to become familiar with Louisville’s local comedic excellence and to prepare ourselves for what’s in store for this year’s Carney's, we at spoke to “Best Comedy Newcomer” nominee, Bryce Peter; “Mr. Comedian of the Year” nominee, Tyler Gooch; and the awards’ creator, Jake Reber, who named the awards after friend and fellow local comedian, Kent Carney.

    Image: Kelli Goings

    New to comedy, 22-year-old Bryce Peter began performing at The Laughing Derby’s weekly open mic night about a year ago and has since gone on to impress crowds all over the city. He graciously shared some insight on Louisville’s comedy scene along with some tips for his fellow beginners. What made you want to become a part of Louisville’s local comedy scene?

    Bryce Peter: “I’ve always been a fan of comedy ever since I was a little kid and started watching Saturday Night Live. When I was a kid, my idea of a comedian was someone like Jim Carrey, who was funny on screen. It wasn’t until I was a teenager and I saw some stand-up specials and realized that that’s what I wanted to do. And recently I asked myself ‘Why haven’t I tried this yet?’ There was nothing stopping me so I put some stuff together, went up on stage and just did it and I fell in love with it immediately.”


    LC: What has been your best experience with comedy so far?

    BP: “I remember the first time I got real laughs. You’re not funny when you first start out, so at first, I went for chuckles but I remember the first time I ever got real laughs and the room was just full of laughter. That sound of approval was just amazing.”


    LC: Do you remember your worst experience with comedy?

    BP: There are a couple that come to mind. I remember one night after I first started, I had only been on stage three times and of those three times, only one of them was good. I remember I went to watch a comedy show at The Bard’s Town and one of the comedians performing asked if I’d want to perform and I did, even though I had been drinking so much that night. That was the night I decided that I could never drink before performing ever again because it’s just a bad combination for me.”


    LC: What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a comedian?

    BP: “My advice would be to always write, never stop writing and also to know when you’re not funny. There are comedians I know who get to a point when they’re so used to horrible sets, and then when they finally have a decent set, they stay in that mindset and they just expect to be just as funny at their next show too and they just don’t strive to get better. So know when you’re not funny and know when you need to change your set.”


    Image: Kelli Goings

    As one of Louisville’s most well-known local comedians, Tyler Gooch hosts The Laughing Derby’s open mic night each week. No stranger to the local comedy scene, he also shared some insight on what it takes to be a successful comedian in this city. How did you get into Louisville’s local comedy scene?

    Tyler Gooch: “I watched Seinfeld growing up, and I thought that being a comedian seemed like a pretty good job. So I decided to give it a try and the first time I actually did it, I drove to Knoxville, Tennessee so that I would know for a fact that if it didn’t go well, I wouldn’t know any of the people watching. I lived in Lexington at the time, and I kept at it. Then, I moved to Louisville a year and a half ago and I started working at The Laughing Derby.”


    LC: What has been your best experience with comedy so far?

    TG: “One time, television’s Jimmie Walker from Good Times told me he liked some of my jokes. It was clearly in an effort to get me to help him with his website at the time, but I took it as an endorsement from Jimmie Walker.”


    LC: Where did you meet Jimmie Walker?

    TG: “I was emceeing at a comedy club in Knoxville and he was there performing.”


    LC: Have you had any bad experiences in comedy?

    TG: “The first bad experience I can remember was when I performed at the University of Kentucky’s student center with a magician and an Elvis impersonator. They told me that the magician was going to perform first, then it was going to be me and then Elvis. But then right before the show they told me that the magician had to set up some stuff so I had to go first. So I went onstage and the entire time, two feet behind me was a magician in a full suit setting up tricks trying not to be a distraction.”


    LC: What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a comedian?

    TG: “I would say to just try it. There are a lot of different paths within comedy, so if you try stand-up and decide that you kind of liked it but didn’t love it, you could get into writing or comedy acting. So once you try it, it’ll be easier to find what you’re good at and what you really enjoy doing.”


    Image: Kelli Goings 

    Local comedy king, Jake Reber, began the Comedy Attack show in 2011 at Groucho’s, which has since been moved to Kaiju where it is performed on the second and fourth Sundays of every month. The Comedy Attack is an open mic style show which invites all Louisvillians to come perform and watch as local comics do what they do best. How did you first get into Louisville’s comedy scene?

    Jake Reber: “I started doing comedy because there was bar called Groucho’s that opened near my house and I had been playing music for ten years and was beginning to get really frustrated with it. I had two friends who had done comedy, so I thought I could make a show and try it. So I hosted my first show and did stand-up for the first time that night and it went great. So we continued the show at Groucho’s regularly for a while. I also hosted a few shows at The Laughing Derby when it was still called The Comedy Caravan.”


    LC: What is your favorite part about doing comedy?

    JR: “Probably just the fact that I get money to say words and I don’t even have to bring an instrument. The fact that I can just go on stage and talk and make money blows my mind. But also, it’s therapeutic for me, and for others watching, to have people laugh at my failures.”


    LC: What has been your worst experience with comedy?

    JR: “The worst always comes when I try to combine the music I like, which happens to be mostly jazz, with comedy. I created a show called the Comic Jam where local comics did stand-up while I performed music in the background, and sometimes that worked great, but other times it hasn’t been. It’s the worst feeling when you try to do everything you want at the same time and it doesn’t go over well.”


    LC: What has been your best experience with comedy so far?

    JR: “There have been a lot. We do roasts of fictional characters at The Bard’s Town sometimes, and also people like Abraham Lincoln and Jesus. I played Lincoln five times and Jesus twice, and both of those went really well. I had a really good experience once when performing at the University of Louisville as well.”


    Image: Kelli Goings 

    You can catch Tyler Gooch and Bryce Peter at The Laughing Derby every Wednesday night at 7:15pm and Jake Reber at the Comedy Attack at Kaiju every other Sunday at 9:30pm. The annual Kent Carney Awards for Comedic Excellence will take place at the Cure Lounge on March 18 at 8pm. Formal attire is required for the event. 

    Image: Kelli Goings

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    About Carly Garcia

    Lover of vegetarian cuisine, Stephen King, puppies, camping and wine...lots of wine.

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