A comedy open mic debuts Sunday at The Honest Pint with a different format than your typical comedy showcase.
ComedyFight is one part standard open mic and another part competition. The first 10 comics to sign up at the beginning of the night will perform a short set. At the end, two previously selected comedians will compete in the ComedyFight, which features prepared topical sets. The audience and host will vote on the winner, and that comedian will be allowed to perform 10 minutes of their own material to end the show.
But it gets even better.
The winners from each Sunday's competition will then be entered into an ongoing bracket-style competition. After the bracket is full, the tournament will continue until an overall ComedyFight winner is chosen. The champion will be rewarded with a 20-minute set.
Sunday's showcase begins at 10 p.m. at The Honest Pint. ComedyFight will continue at that time every week for the foreseeable future.
The first "fighters" will be Donnie Marsh and Elijah Craan. Their topic—as chosen by spinning the "wheel of hack premises"—will be Donald Trump.
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Ian Sharp, local comic/creator and host of ComedyFight, said he found he enjoyed hosting the shows around town and decided to create his own spin on the format.
"[Hosting] used to be something we'd all dread having to do," Sharp said. "But a couple of years ago, I decided it was a valuable skill to have, and I began accepting various hosting gigs at lots of noncomedy shows."
Sharp has also hosted the popular Heavy Metal Bingo at JJ's Bohemia for a year.
"I had been wracking my brain for branding ideas for quite some time, as I've seen other mics in the country doing this," Sharp said. "The name [ComedyFight] came to me literally as I was making the event page for it."
ComedyFight joins the weekly Wednesday comedy open mic at JJ's Bohemia as another opportunity for local comedians to work on their material in front of a live audience.
Last week, organizers with Ladie's Night—a popular Atlanta-based comedy sketch show—announced plans to hold a monthly show in Chattanooga. Chattanooga's comedy scene is continuing to blossom, and Sharp said he expects more opportunities for comedians to keep cropping up around town as comedians explore creative opportunities.
The ComedyFight showcase will be held in the side room of The Honest Pint. If the show grows, Sharp said he'd explore the possibility of performing in the much larger main room of the venue.
"Comedy is more like a play or stage production, where there's an etiquette the audience needs to observe or else it becomes disruptive," he said. "The main room is a great space, but I'm hesitant to try comedy in there until we have a crowd large enough to take control of it."
Sharp took a brief hiatus from open mics last summer and said the scene had exploded upon his return. Whereas before comedians could be guaranteed a seven-minute set or more at an open mic, they're lucky to get five minutes now.
"In a lot of ways, I think comedians are the new rock stars," he said. "In just a few months, it had gone from a mere handful of comics supporting each other to a packed room of new faces, with lots of comedians having to sit out until the next week due to time constraints."
ComedyFight promises to be a riot of laughs for spectators, but Sharp also hopes the format encourages local comedians to become better writers of smarter and funnier comedy.
"What I'm mostly looking for is the unexpected," he said. "That's why I wanted hack premises to be the focus … to sort of force the comics to take a nonconventional look at seemingly tired conventions."