WATCH AND VOTE: Who Is The Next Great Queer Comedian?

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com August 06 2013 6:00 AM ET

The Advocate set out to find the best up-and-coming LGBT comedians anywhere in the country and now it's time to hand over the microphone and invite readers to vote.

In this elimination round in "Stand Out: The National Queer Comedy Search,"  you can watch short stand-up performances that were sent by each of the amazing finalists. Then vote once per day until Aug. 20. The top three vote-getters will be locked into a live contest on stage at Zanies in Chicago.

The rest of the contestants will be named at a viewing party at Sidetrack video bar (3349 N Halsted in Chicago) on Aug. 28 at 8 p.m. If you're in the area, you'll want to go, because everything from the viewing party and live competition will feature sponsored drinks from Absolut vodka.

The live portion will be hosted on Sept. 24 at 8:30 p.m by OutLoud Chicago creator Adam Guerino and judged by Zanies booker Bert Haas, The Advocate comedy editor Jami Smith and The Chicago Reader comedy critic Molly Adams. The winner of Stand Out gets a cash prize and will be featured in The Advocate's comedy section — which is, of course, priceless.

Presented by OutLoud Chicago, Absolut Vodka, Sidetrack The Video Bar, and The Advocate, Stand Out strives to find the best in queer and queer-friendly comedy from all across the country, all were welcome to compete — veterans and newbies. Stand Out isn't searching for the most experienced in queer and queer-friendly comedy, just the most hilarious.

Watch below and vote at the bottom of the page.

The finalists...
- Dana Goldberg
- Jackie Monahan
- Charlie Ballard
- Carey Callahan
- Jerry Harvey
- Sapna Kumar
- Matthew Nouriel
- Casey Ley
- Frank Liotti
- M.K. Paulsen
- Cody Melcher
- Maggie Faris
- Natasha Muse
- Belinda Carroll
- Archer Coe
(Bios were submitted by comedians and edited for length.)

Dana Goldberg
Raised by a wild pack of Jews, otherwise known as her mother and two siblings, Dana Goldberg's tongue-in-cheek edginess is why she continues to collect loyal fans in cities all over the world. Dana’s comedy has been seen in 27 states and seven countries. She has performed at the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland, The Comedy Festival in Las Vegas produced by TBS and HBO, The San Francisco International comedy competition, and the Gay and Lesbian Comedy Festival in Dearborn Michigan. She's headlined at clubs such as The Improv, The Laugh Factory and the World Famous Comedy Store. Goldberg recorded her comedy special “One Night Stand Up” for LOGO at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, and she was voted “One of the Top Five Funniest Lesbians in America” by Curve magazine. Apart from her hilarious stand-up performances, Dana has also helped to raise more than $1 million for the Human Rights Campaign and more than $50,000 for HIV/AIDS organizations across the country to help support education and prevention. Dana has shared the national stage with President Obama, Jane Lynch and the cast of Glee, Lady Gaga, Kathy Griffin, Portia de Rossi, Judy Gold, David Brenner and Kathy Najimy.  As the youngest child in a single-parent household run by a Jewish mother in which two of three kids are gay, she helps keep most of the comedy venues and half of the psychotherapists in the country in business.

 

Jackie Monahan
Jackie Monahan is a comedian, actor, writer and producer who is setting the comedy stages of New York and L.A. on fire with her fearless brand of humor. Most recently she has been performing at LA comedy hot spots such as The Comedy Store, The Improv and alternative rooms such as What's up Tiger Lily.  Debuting this August at L.A.’s Sundance festival will be Foxy Merkins, a new film in which Jackie stars, co-wrote and co-produced.  Also, this fall Jackie’s life calling of hidden camera action will be featured in Adult Swim's The Eric Andre Show and Celebrity Surprise, a new series on the Oxygen Network produced by Wendy Williams. Jackie had toured the country as a featured performer with Amy Schumer. Other past television performances include appearances on VH-1, Showtime, Comedy Central and Logo.  In addition, she made her film acting debut in Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same which premiered at the prestigious Sundance Film festival to rave reviews in both Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. Jackie was trained at UCB and Groundlings and her dedication to the craft is evident. Esquire magazine, who voted her best new comic, said "She's got the look of your friend's hot, older sister, and the jokes of a deranged serial killer. She will kill you, and you will be smiling."

 

Charlie Ballard
Charlie Ballard started his stand-up comedy career back in 2003 at the legendary Brainwash Cafe in San Francisco, California. He is the host and creator of San Francisco's premier LGBT theme show, "Hella Gay Comedy Show." He's been published in Campus Magazine, Indian Country, The Advocate magazine, seen on LOGO, Comedy Central, NBC's America's Got Talent and most recently hes been seen on Canada's APTN *Aboriginals People Television Network* and Kathy Griffin Live.  In June of 2013, Charlie just completed starring in his first feature film, All The Others Were Practice, due out later this fall. Also look for Charlie doing voice over in an animated short called, Injunuity: Two Spirit, soon to be released in film festivals and on PBS.

 

Carey Callahan
Carey Callahan is a comic and transexual on the go based in Berkeley, California. AfterEllen recently said of him, "Callahan’s unique perspective on life, love and the pursuit of happiness is unmatched.... he brilliantly relays personal anecdotes while both engaging social issues and tickling audience’s feelings of identity and recognition." He's charmed audiences since 2006 at Zanies, Chicago’s Mayne Stage, Chicago Underground Comedy, The Cleveland Comedy Festival, and the Ohio Lesbian Festival. (You know, before.) He is the host and creator of The Awkward Sex Show podcast, in which guests compete to tell the most awkward sex story.

 

Jerry Harvey
Jerry Harvey resides in Chattanooga Tennessee and began his career in comedy in 2004 performing for local firefighter and EMS benefits until he eventually hit the stage in Chattanooga's number one place for comedy "The Comedy Catch." Jerry is the winner of The Southeastern Funniest People Search V 2010 and competed in Las Vegas' stand-up comedy festival, The World Series of Comedy in 2012, making it to the semi-finals.
He has performed with, hosted and featured for the likes of Rob Schneider, Kathleen Dunbar, Dean Napolitano, Landry, Anthony Padilla, Janet Williams and many more. Jerry is the producer of Open Mic inside Giggles Grill at The Comedy Catch. You can find Jerry on stage frequently in The Southeast at various venues and traveling through the United States in cities such as Atlanta, Las Vegas, Charleston, Baton Rouge, Knoxville and Nashville.


Sapna Kumar
Most recently, Sapna was included on AfterEllen’s list of 50 Hot Women in Comedy in 2013. Also this year, she featured at the Olivia Travel’s 40th Anniversary celebration in the Dominican Republic, with headliner Wanda Sykes. Sapna has been active in Chicago’s vibrant comedy and theater scene for a decade. She loves this city! Other credits include LOGO TV’s One Night Stand-Up 9 and as a regional finalist for NBC’s Last Comic Standing 4. Sapna also loves acting and has been in the independent feature films Promise Land and Jamie and Jessie Are Not Together, both shot in Chi-town, and had the privilege of understudying Tony Kushner’s Homebody/Kabul at the Steppenwolf Theater. An Indian American girl with a Midwest heart (and unfortunately, appetite too), Sapna is delighted to have been embraced by the wonderful LGBT community in Chicago and by the local comedy club circuit.

 

Matthew Nouriel
Matthew is a stand-up comedian who was born in London, England to Jewish Iranian parents. Now residing in Los Angeles, he is quickly moving up in L.A.'s comedy scene. His Iranian heritage, British sensibilities, American influences, and slight Jewy neurosis result in uniquely skewed perspectives on life that will have you bursting with laughter. Matthew's blunt, honest, raw approach has been gaining much attention. Tackling an array of topics, from body hair to homophobia, from Rachel Zoe to Persian machismo, you can't help but hang on every word... And laugh! He performs regularly at many of L.A.'s hottest clubs — The Laugh Factory, The Comedy Store, The Improv, to name a few, and has just been brought on as one of the presenters for the up-and-coming gay travel series Trip Out TV.

 

 

Casey Ley
Casey Ley is a San Francisco-based comedian who often hears, “Hey! You’re that funny gay comic, aren’t you?”  He longs for the day when people will recognize him as just a funny black comic. Casey’s comedy has been featured nationwide in clubs from L.A. to N.Y. and festivals like Bridgetown Comedy Festival in Portland, Ore. and the Moontower Comedy Festival in Austin, Texas. In San Francisco, Casey is the host and creator of the weekly comedy game show "Mayhem Trivia" at Dr. Teeh and the Electric Mayhem and the monthly stand-up show "This Feels Wrong."  His comedy has appeared on NPR and he was voted the Bay Area’s best comic by readers of SF Weekly in 2012.

 

Frank Liotti
Frank Liotti is a stand-up comic living in New York City.  His sardonic wit and bizarre stream of consciousness have won him praise in the prestigious Laughing Skull Comedy Festival, the Boston Comedy Festival, the Laughing Devil Comedy Festival, the Los Angeles Comedy Festival and the Long Island Laugh Off, and he's been a finalist in every festival he's entered to date. In addition, was seen headlining at Caroline's on Broadway this past summer. As an actor, he has been seen playing criminals on multiple episodes of Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, Fox TV's Jonny Zero, Canturbury's Law with Julianna Margulies, and others. A graduate of Yale School of Drama as well as SUNY Purchase, he landed the cover of The New York Times Arts and Leisure section for the production of Cats Talk Back — a mockumentary of life as a cast member within the Broadway hit Cats — which was the winner of "Best Overall Production" in the 2003 NYC Fringe Festival. It was also performed at Yale Cabaret, Williamstown Theatre Festival, and revived in The Fringe's 2011's "Best Of" series.  He also appears in the 2012 film BearCity2.

 

 

M.K. Paulsen
Roaming the scene of the young, 20-something crowd in Austin, Texas, M.K. Paulsen is a local favorite at comedic venues across the town where his wit and knack for sarcastic observations has earned him a reputation as one of Austin’s hot, new up-and-comers. M.K. began doing comedy in Washington, D.C. where he was known for having a new and unique voice as an openly gay, male comic.  After working in Congress and consulting, he has developed a fondness for political humor and satire that has been described as sharp, intelligent and biting.  He writes extensively, working to find the sweetest mix of word play and sarcasm to the delight of his audiences. Currently M.K. resides in Austin, where he attends graduate school at the University of Texas. He has performed at venues across the country including the D.C. Improv, Riot Act Comedy Theater, and Cap City Comedy Club in Austin.  M.K. is also a former co-producer of the award-winning Gaylarious comedy showcase in Washington, D.C. that features gay and minority comics.

 

Cody Melcher
Cody Melcher is not only a lexicographic snake-oil salesman, but a witwanton and literary homosexual who is not afraid to talk about the important issues of today, such as politics, the English language, and the Weimar Republic. On stage, he weaves a tapestry of obscure observations and personal proclivities designed to delight and enlighten. He is a cast member of the stand-up collective 100 Proof Comedy at ComedySportz Chicago, co-produces a showcase called Double-Shot Showcase, has a monthly podcast — Tomefoolery — where comedians talk about weird books, is a senior writer for the live late-night talk show Talk Hard, is head writer for Humbug Media, writes and produces plays through his company The Ministry of the Flightless Parrot, and is constantly working on new projects. He has been a stand-up for two years, and has performed at some fantastic venues such as Chicago Underground Comedy, Stand Up Stand Up, The Laugh Factory, and festivals including Carlinfest in DeKalb, The Out of Bounds Comedy Festival in Austin, and Milwaukee Comedy Festival. He was once given the title "BEST COMEDIAN WITH AN ENCYCLOPEDIC POINT OF REFERENCE THAT ALSO INCLUDES THE FACTS BEHIND THE COTTINGLEY FAIRIES HOAX" by Dan Telfer.

 

 

Maggie Faris
Maggie Faris is noted for her ceaselessly cheerful personality and seemingly endless series of quirky, intelligent jokes dissecting our fears and social barriers. With light-hearted material that forces the audience to laugh at their insecurities and prejudices, Maggie Faris is a favorite for a diverse audience of fans — showing that we are all equally goofy human beings. Maggie is the winner of several comedy competitions including the Gender Showdown — the first woman to win the title featuring an impressive list of past competitors including Louie Anderson and Roseanne Barr. Additionally, through competition, Maggie won the coveted role of public address announcer for the St. Paul Saints professional baseball team, leading to an appearance on ESPN’s Cold Pizza, as a result of her unique style and memorable game announcements. She appeared two years in a row on NBC's Last Comic Standing, and won both the Silver Nail award and Funniest Clip of the Year at the Aspen Comedy Festival in 2011. Curve magazine named Maggie Faris one of the Funniest Lesbians in America.

 

Natasha Muse
Natasha Muse is pretty funny, for a comedian. She began performing in 2002 as “Ginger” at AsiaSF. Her friends claimed she was much too shy to be a good performer, and the fact that they were kinda right didn’t stop her from trying it anyway. She sorta proved them all wrong. In 2008, Natasha made the leap from lip-synching to stand-up comedy, and began to create a buzz in the San Francisco comedy scene. Her cerebral wit, whimsical wordplay, and unique perspective on life have earned her the adoration of audiences and the respect of her peers. She’s guaranteed to be at least the second-funniest transexual you know. Natasha performs all over the Bay Area, including Cobb’s Comedy, the SF Punchline, Harvey’s and the Dark Room. In addition to stand-up, Natasha produces and hosts the monthly underground hit “A Funny Night for Comedy ” at the Actors’ Theatre, and the podcast “Too Soon.” She also writes and performs with the sketch group Femikaze, and is a "force to be reckoned with" on Twitter. Natasha is the winner of the 2010 Battle of the Bay competition, Miss Toolbox 2011, and named by SF Weekly as the "Funniest Tranny in SF" in 2012 and one of the 10 "Comedians to Watch" in 2013.

 

Belinda Carroll
Belinda Carroll is a nationally touring stand-up comedian, writer, vocalist and actress with appearances on XM Sirius' Get Off My Lawn!, NBC's Grimm, MTV, and the Oregon Lottery's Winter Scratch-it's commercial. She caught the comedy bug circa 1986 when in third grade she was asked to play not only “Aunt Sally” in the school comedic masterpiece Tom Sawyer, but was also asked to sing the national anthem, in front of the entire school, in a gray-haired wig, floral mu-mu dress, and Mom’s orthopedic stockings. With her pride firmly in the gutter, her road had begun. She has produced shows and performed with: ANT, Dwight Slade, Nato Green, Chip Pope, Sabrina Matthews, Dana Goldberg, Ian Harvie, Curiously Strong Comedy with Vicki Shaw, Gloria Bigalow and Jackie Monahan, and Lezberados with Sandra Valls and Mimi Gonzalez. 


Archer Coe
Archer Coe was born in the wagon of a traveling show. His momma had to dance for the money they'd throw. Archer Coe's grandpa would do whatever he could—preach a little gospel, sell a couple bottles of Doctor Good.  From there Archer moved to Chicago where he started his awesome bar-tending gig at the best bar on the planet—Sidetrack, which led to stand-up comedy with Laughtrack@Sidetrack. Since then he has performed at the Laugh Factory Chicago, numerous appearances at Zanies Chicago, Hydrate's "Just Dickin' Around" and at Sidecar in Rogers Park.  From his fly-on-the-wall perspective to his stories of debauchery and scandal, his theatrical wit makes for a non-stop mixture of groans, belly laughs and Oh-No-He-DidNt's.

 

 

VOTE FOR YOUR FAVORITE
(once per day until Aug. 20)