Who’s the Funniest Person in Columbus?

diverse city like Columbus hosts people from all walks of life, bringing a variety of comedic talent along with it. Each year, dozens of local comedians enter the annual Funny Bone Talent Search competition, flooding the venue with self-deprecation and laughter for a chance to not only perform on this one-of-a-kind stage, but for a chance to win a cash prize and a whole week of sets at the Funny Bone Comedy Club. Four of this year’s contestants took the time to share their comedy background, their style, and their thoughts on the competition.

Dave Burkey

Age: 30

Hometown: Columbus

Favorite Comedian: Dave Attell

What happened the worst time you ever bombed?

I did a variety show once at the now defunct Wall Street nightclub. The act right before me was this really elaborate dance act with these crazy balloons as props. The main dancer brought her girlfriend to the edge of the stage, popped one of the balloons, and a ring clanked onto the floor. She proposed and everyone went crazy. The stage got cleaned up and then I was supposed to do fifteen minutes of comedy. Worst set of my life.

What is it like competing against a spouse using a lot of the same inspiration?

Doing a competition is hard, because obviously I want us both to do well. But if it came down to one spot left to move on, I want it. [Our] outlooks are a lot different. We could probably tell jokes back to back about our kid and nobody would even know we were married. We just have different comedic voices.

What’s next if you lose the competition?

Just keep going. There will always be a next show, or a next idea to work out.

Chris Gilli Gillikin

Age: 43

Hometown: Dallas

Favorite Comedian: Richard Pryor

Why did you enter the competition?

I entered the competition for several reasons, the first being that I love to perform in front of large audiences in a professional environment. It always helps to gauge the quality of a joke over a wider demographic. Second, the competition gives you an opportunity to give your name and brand exposure, making yourself more accessible to bookers. Most importantly, it’s a very fun experience to be a part of.

How long have you been doing comedy? What made you start?

My whole life people told me I was funny. […] My father would tell me jokes everyday before I left the house for school, so you could say I was a class clown. I never actually imagined doing stand up until my little brother introduced me to an open mic at the Scarlet & Grey. I went up on stage that one night, and I have [performed on] every stage I could find for the last five years.

What do you think the difference is between Texas and Ohio comedy?

I think the only difference between Texas and Ohio comedy is geography. […] Comedians are very hospitable no matter where you go—partly because we’re good people, but mostly because we all understand the uncontrollable urge to seek the uncomfortableness of new faces and stages, and nobody should have that experience alone.

Natalie Burkey

Age: 27

Hometown: Columbus

Favorite Comedian: Margaret Cho

Has doing stand up changed your day-to-day life?

Ever since I was a kid, my dad was concerned about me taking things too seriously, and I am proud to say that I have lightened up! […] I have more fun now. I recently returned to college to finish my degree, and I have learned to appreciate my professors’ attempts at humor–I honestly have to stop myself from laughing obnoxiously in class.

When did you realize you were funny?
I still don’t think I’m that funny. Maybe I’ll come around one day.

Who is funnier, you or your spouse?
Dave is hands down funnier than me. He has this stupid charm and everyone loves him, especially the audiences. I don’t have that. I think we are both good writers, and our [senses of humor and delivery style] are so different. I tend to do better with gay audiences [and] all female audiences […]. Dave can pretty much pull off a good set anywhere.

Cortney Taylor

Age: 24

Hometown: Rushville, Ohio

Favorite Comedian: Natasha Leggero

Has doing stand up changed your day-to-day life?

Comedy rarely affects my life day-to-day. I’m tired from all the open mics. Yeah, that’s how it’s different. I think I’m more tired.

What’s your favorite thing to make fun of?
My favorite thing to make fun of? Men, probably.

Do you think millennials have a different sense of humor than other generations?

Millennials definitely have a different sense of humor. It’s not just more dry or more sarcastic–it’s more absurdist. Being a millennial is like trying to explain why something is funny to someone and not being able to.

What do you plan on doing first if you win?

If I won, I’m very certain the first thing I would do is cry. I’m not sure how long I’d do that, but afterwards I’d just like everyone to hug me and tell me I look beautiful. I can only imagine about 20 minutes into winning, so that’s a pretty limited worldview. […] That’s the thing about winning—everyone coaches you on how it’s sort of unattainable and meaningless. It becomes an idea you don’t even entertain.