Funniest Person in Austin Contest

Who's the 2011 winner? (And how long did it take to figure it out?)

Andy Ritchie is the Funniest Person in Austin this year, as decided by the judges presiding at the annual contest's finals. The finals' fierce competition, let's clarify, because there were more contestants than ever and so many of them can rock a room with laughter.

There was lack of decision, though, for a long time at the May 16 showdown. After all the comics had performed, the judges – talents and scouts from local and national venues – locked themselves into secret chambers deep within the vast complex of Cap City Comedy Club and deliberated for ... damn, it seemed like hours, as last year's FPIA (and the night's funny, affable host) Lucas Molandes and his cronies halfheartedly attempted a Master Pancake gambit while Top Gun played on the stage's big screen. Yeah, Top Gun. Oh Jesus.

But of course the deliberation took a while. Even disregarding the other 11 comics – although, how can one really "disregard" the talented likes of Chris Cubas, Cameron Fielder, Cody Hustak, David McQuary, Holly Lorka, Jonathan Pace, Maggie MacDonald, Nick Mullen, Ramin Nazer, Ryan Cownie, and Amber Bixby? – the decision to award first place to Ritchie couldn't have been easy. So let's blame him, right? Because he's so damned funny. Because his riffing on something like a "Lost Falcon" poster seen in the wilds of Indiana is a solid delight. Because his timing is impeccable and his jokes smart and well-crafted – ka-pow! – and his delivery what you might picture when you picture Successful Stand-Up Comic Now Headlining in Top Venues Across the Country. The man's got major skills.

So what was the holdup? What kept those judges going at it for so long?

I'm thinking it was that goddamn Chris Cubas.

I can picture the judges trying to crown Ritchie immediately, get the whole thing over with, the decision's so obvious, right? But then, whoa, there's that Cubas fellow.

Cubas, goddamn, big Reggie Watts-looking sumbitch, standing onstage like some favorite pal of yours all casual at an afternoon party, yeah. But, oh, the stuff he's saying. Tales of goofy crackheads wandering his neighborhood, the whole Austin scene and beyond coming to life as he unrolls his lines of observation, his political insights, his perspective on the world at large. He doesn't seem like a stand-up, precisely; he doesn't seem manufactured to provide quirky takes on this complex life; he seems like – he is, simply – one of the funniest and most cogent people you're ever going to witness anytime anywhere. Yeah, I'm not mincing words here; what would be the use?

So I'm betting it was especially his fault: the judges' interminable deliberation, the eye roll-inducing shojo spectacle of Top Gun, the whole djam karet of the night's denouement. Thanks, Cubas, thanks a lot.

But here are the bare facts: Previously reigning champion Lucas Molandes has ditched Austin for Brooklyn. Cody Hustak's gag about liposuction won Joke of the Night. Ramin Nazer placed third, Cubas took second, and Ritchie, ladies and gentlemen, is 2011's Funniest Person in Austin.

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Funniest Person in Austin Contest, Cap City Comedy Club, Andy Ritchie, Chris Cubas, Ramin Nazer, Lucas Molandes, Cody Hustak, Master Pancake Theater

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