Once again, the Addison Improv hosted the final showdown for the Funniest Comic in Texas and this year's honor went to two-time FCiT finalist and local comedian Linda Stogner.
One-fourth of the Four Funny Females, Stogner went up against four strong sets from four equally talented comedians including Joel "Junebug" Runnels, Chris Mack, Jon Stringer and Theo Taylor. However, Stogner's well-honed brand of absurdist observation ultimately won over the judges and the final trophy, which was presented by last year's winner Raul Sanchez.
The evening started with another strong set from San Antonio's Sanchez who opened with some new material that reminded the audience why he was last year's funniest person in an entire state. Sanchez has a great sense of self-depreciation and a sharp eye for tearing apart any topic that he delivers with a great talent for story telling and timing.
"When I was younger, I thought I was going to be an author and writing novels and shit," Sanchez said. "Now I know I'm not because that's how I describe it."
Runnels kicked off the competition with an unflinching mix of topical and personal material that covered a visit to an appropriately named specialist called Dr. Wang and some clever wordplay on illegal immigration.
"We took this country from Mexico," he said, "because if you take the 'r' out of 'American,' you got 'A Mexican.'"
Dallas' Chris Mack jumped up on stage next. His set featured observations about geek culture without relying too much on the topic to wear the hook with some personal stories about his "personal time" during his military service. He also seemed very adept at playing with the audience.
Austin's Jon Stringer followed Mack's set and he should have won a special honor for having the most energetic set of the night. His stage had a slow build that ended with a very lively dance performance dedicated to the greatness of 80s karaoke staples and started with some great observational bits including one about the active lives of people in Valtrex commercials.
"Apparently, when you get herpes, everyday you're in the X-Games," he said.
Houston's Theo Taylor, winner of the 2011 Houston's Funniest Person contest, also offered a very lively and energetic set that served as the perfect closer of the night before the final winner was crowned. He offered some solid material including a great bit for a Texas crowd about getting asked if everyone rode horses by some smart ass New Yorker.
"I took him outside and pointed up at the moon," he said. "People from my state built a rocket and flew up there and you ask me if we still drive cars?"
However, Stogner's well-honed material and killer delivery ultimately won over the judges. She's created a unique character for herself on stage as a quirky person with an unfamiliar view of the world as if someone just dropped her off on Earth during some intergalactic layover. She easily had some of the funniest bits of the night.
"Some people think I'm on drugs," she said. "I'm not. I'm just goofy. If I was on drugs, I'd be normal. 'Why is Linda in a business suit doing spreadsheets?' Linda's on meth again. Bring your taxes before it wears off."
That character quickly went away, however, when she walked up to accept her award on the verge of tears and as she stood on stage before a rousing crowd of fans.
"I'd just like to say in the words of Mitch Hedberg, stand-up comedy is a noble profession," Stogner said.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.