Not long after winning the North Carolina’s Funniest Person contest at Raleigh’s Goodnights Comedy Club last week, Mark Brady went to the beach…and entered another comedy competition.
The Raleigh native is not some stand-up mercenary who just waits for contests to enter and then destroy, but Brady did pull off quite a feat at Goodnights and at Port City’s Top Comic contest in Wilmington.
Last Wednesday, Brady, a little less than two years into his comedy career, grabbed the N.C.’s Funniest crown — a belt actually — and a cash prize at Goodnights. On Sunday, he finished in the top three at Dead Crow Comedy Room, which hosted the Port City event won by another North Carolina native and Dead Crow regular, Drew Harrison.
As he was driving back to Raleigh on Tuesday, Brady and I discussed whether or not he was surprised by his victory, extending the Brady-Harrison comedy competition into an NBA Finals type of series, how he plans to spend his N.C.’s Funniest money and much more.
Enjoy the interview, follow Brady on Twitter, and don’t forget The Best Tweet I Can Find in Five Minutes at the end.
Tony Castleberry: Were you surprised you won?
Mark Brady: I was because the thing about competitions is that comedy is so subjective. All of the comics know that. It’s really hard to judge art like comedy because you and I might think one person is funny and then you like this guy, and I don’t like that guy at all. It’s kind of like looking at two paintings right beside each other. They’re both great, but one is an oil and one is a watercolor. One is a landscape. One is a bowl of fruit or whatever. Which one is better? It’s like, they’re not even the same. That’s how it is with competitions. You never know which way it’s gonna go.
TC: Do you get a belt, a trophy or a crown or something?
MB: Joe Perrow won it last year and he made himself a belt. [Brady, interviewer laugh] He made a belt and carried it around, took pictures with it and things like that. When I won this year, he didn’t tell anyone, but he made me my very own wrestling belt and next year, I will make someone their belt and I will present it to them as the funniest person in North Carolina.
TC: Kind of like the weird fantasy sports trophies that people give each year.
MB: Exactly, except ours (requires) way harder work. [interviewer laughs]
TC: Did you switch up your material in each round or keep it the same?
MB: I added jokes. I typically expanded on it because you got to do more material. I went with what I feel like is my best stuff and added a couple jokes. I think in one of the rounds I took out a joke and added two more.
TC: Did you feel like it was going well each round?
MB: The first round for me was shaky. At least I felt that way, but I can never tell. I’ll watch the whole show from the back and then when you’re up there, it’s kind of hard to tell how it’s going for you. The hardest part is trying to get laughter within that five minutes (that each comic was allowed in the early rounds). It’s really hard to try to put your best material there. You warm (the crowd) up in two or three minutes, but by the time you get them warmed up, you have to start winding down. As each round progressed, I got more comfortable with, “OK, I have another two minutes. I have a minute to just kind of take my time and get it going.”
TC: Yeah, the competition format is not necessarily geared toward a good stand-up set because, like you said, just when you feel like you’re in your sweet spot, you get the light and you have to get off stage.
MB: Sometimes you have to hurry up your material or you get the light and…once you get the light, sometimes you’re not where you think you are (in your set) and you have to edit on stage immediately and start taking things out if you want to get to a punchline or a certain point in your act.
TC: So you won N.C.’s Funniest in Raleigh, and a few days later Drew Harrison was named Port City’s Top Comic in Wilmington. Who would win a Brady vs. Harrison winner-take-all match?
MB: [laughs] I don’t know. I know Drew. I love him. He completely earned (the Port City win). … We had our head-to-head and Drew won that one. Maybe we can do a best-of-seven series.
TC: I’d buy tickets to that. I hope it would go seven and neither one of you would get a sweep.
MB: Drew had amazing sets and earned the first round. He’s the champion of that.
TC: My favorite joke that he told at the Cape Fear Comedy Festival was about his breakup and the fish. I don’t know if he told that one (during Port City’s Top Comic) but god, it absolutely slayed at Cape Fear. So good.
MB: I have not heard that joke.
TC: I obviously can’t tell it as well as he does, but he and his lady split up and he volunteers to keep these pet fish, thinking it was just going to be the two fish, not knowing that the fish multiply like rabbits and the next thing he knew, he had like 30 of these things to take care of.
MB: That is a testament to how good of a comedian Drew Harrison is, to have a joke that slayed like that, and then for me not to hear it in the finals where he’s trying to win a contest. He has an abundance of material, and it’s great.
TC: If you haven’t already, how will you spend your winnings?
MB: I got married in April, so I’m assuming it’s gonna go toward curtains or something. [interviewer, Brady laugh] I don’t know how that’s gonna shake out. That’s not really my decision anymore.
Here it is, The Best Tweet I Can Find in Five Minutes:
The zombie apocalypse seems quaint at this point.
— Georgia Hardstark (@GHardstark) July 8, 2016