The 2011 Charleston Comedy Festival kicked off rather quietly Tuesday night with the sold-out Stand Up Competition Finals at Theatre 99. The six survivors from the five preliminary rounds faced off in front of a giant mural of Elvis which, as finalist Shon Kennedy pointed out, looks a bit like a vagina. Each performer got about 10 minutes to perform their bits, after which they were given the red light and shuffled backstage to await their fate.

Q(uinton) Green started off strong with jokes about racism and 3-D porn, followed by local favorite Jason Groce, who awkwardly (funny awkwardly) spit out a series of one-liners. Lee Pollard was next, drawing more cringes than chuckles with his jokes about having sex with his mom and his daughter’s boyfriend. A shaky Philip Cohen quickly won our hearts by comparing himself to an excited Jack Russell Terrier before recounting an incident involving habanero peppers and a date that went south. Shon Kennedy, the competition’s only female contingent, talked about the insanity of turkey shoots, and Tim Miller wrapped things up with a confident, though familiar, set. (He may have recycled some jokes from last year.)

The audience voted on their two favorite comedians by ballot (mine were Q and Shon) before the winners were announced. Jason Groce (below, left) won second place. Philip “Jack Russell” Cohen (below, right) won the $1,000 grand prize, but he did not piss on the stage out of excitement.

Comedy Fest continues tonight with a few local shows at Theatre 99 and the first L’After Party at Mellow Mushroom — be sure to cash in on your $2 cheese slices and cheap beer with your ticket stubs. If you haven’t already, check out our complete guide to Comedy Fest to schedule the funniest weekend you’ve ever had — just buy your tickets in advance, or you may be left out in the cold.

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