He probably isn’t giving the prize money back, but J Bliss would have been just as happy, or maybe even happier, with a different reward for winning this year’s North Carolina’s Funniest competition.

“I think there’s some money, but I want work,” Bliss said Tuesday night after taking first place in the NC’s Funniest finals at Goodnights Comedy Club in Raleigh. “That’s ultimately what I want, to get booked here at Goodnights.”

Bliss, who lives in Charlotte, emerged victorious from a field of nine stand-up comedians who advanced to the finals of the annual competition that began this year on June 6. After 10 preliminary rounds, two semifinal rounds were held July 26-27 leading up to Tuesday’s grand finale.

All nine of the comics who took the stage in front of a packed Goodnights showroom Tuesday proved they were worthy of being finalists, but it became clear during and after their sets that either Bliss or Maddie Wiener would win.1

The crowd reaction was audibly different for those two, and it was no surprise that Wiener was the first runner-up. It also wouldn’t be surprising to find out that first and second place were separated by the thinnest of margins.

Bliss and Wiener both killed, but Bliss nailing his first joke a little bit faster than even he anticipated might have made the difference.

“The rule in comedy is to get the crowd to like you in the first three minutes,” said Bliss who, like the rest of the comics, had to revise that goal since each set was limited to 10 minutes. “I had them in the first minute and a half. … Once I looked down at my timer (on my phone) and saw I was at a minute-20 (after the first joke), I said, ‘OK, I’m 10 seconds ahead of time and I’ve got them on my side. Let’s slow down a little bit.’

“Once I got that first one out, everything just kind of fell into place.”

In his 11th year of doing stand-up, Bliss gets $1,200 for his first victory in a comedy competition.

He also got a pro wrestling-style championship belt from 2016 winner Mark Brady.

Eric Trundy finished third and celebrated by chugging a full glass of wine handed to him on stage by host Mike Mello.


  1. The author was one of the judges for the final.
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