Get your tickets now for tonight’s show, because Theatre 99 was sold out and then some for the first night of the Charleston Comedy Festival’s Stand Up Competition semi-final round. The little lobby was packed to the gills with a rarin’-to-go crowd asking an understandably overwhelmed ticket girl whether they’d had any cancellations? Could they release phone reservations yet? Could they bring out some folding chairs, or let people stand?

The answer to one of those questions, lucky for me, was yes, and I and two other patrons just barely made it in. The theater was positively abuzz with talk and laughter, a good sign for the 10 brave souls who were going to stand up on stage all by themselves and tell their jokes into a microphone (is there anything you can do on stage that is quite as terrifying? Assuming there are no deadly animals or fire involved. Stand up comedy still might win.)

The 10 comics who performed, and the 10 more who will perform Saturday night, have already made it through five preliminary rounds – so if you’re guessing that there aren’t any misses in the group, you’d be right. The comedians from Friday gave us their best six minutes of material, and the audience loved them all. We were generous with our laughs, and the comics were generous with their jokes, which ran the gamut from clean and cute to incredibly vulgar to, just once for good measure, uncomfortably bitter. But uncomfortable or not, the originality of each stand up’s material was impressive and made for steady laughs all night long.

There was a great vibe in the room, a warmth that had nothing to do with the actual temperature and everything to do with an audience that wanted those people up on stage to succeed, the audible laughs of the comics backstage, and of course, the wonderful Brandy Sullivan, who emceed with a huge smile and kept things rolling and the applause going. Three comics were selected to move on, and will join tonight’s three winners in December’s finals, where they’ll compete for $1,000 in prize money.

So if you can get tickets to tonight’s program, do – but I’d call soon. Just make sure you show up early, or else someone like me will get your seat.