What would a comedy festival be without the chance to see a few rising stars, in addition to the already established ones? Well, this show is that chance.
Each year, Theatre 99 hosts the Charleston Comedy Festival Stand-Up Competition, and the winners perform at the festival’s Stand-Up Winners Showcase.
This year, you’ll be seeing locals Jeremy McLellan and Mike Brocki and the Atlanta-based Anthony Driver. Dusty Slay, who won the Stand-Up Competition two years in a row before moving to Nashville, will host and do a short set to open up the show.
McLellan, who’s an actual Charleston native — the rarest of birds these days — is an aspiring comedy writer and performer who works at the Disabilities Board of Charleston County. You may have seen him at a comedy open mic around town lately, as that’s part of what he’s been doing to prepare for his time in the spotlight. “I’ve been running through my sets with more experienced comics, as well as going to as many open mics as possible,” McLellan says. Those sets include plenty of personal stories, even ones about his work. “I do talk on stage about my job and the people I work with who have disabilities, but only if I have time to provide context, and make sure everyone knows where I’m coming from,” he says. “There’s no such thing as a good quick joke about people with disabilities.”
Brocki, who gravitates more toward a quippy, one-liner-heavy style, is taking a more laid-back approach. In addition to performing in Charleston, which he does regularly at several open mic nights like TROM at the Tin Roof and at King Dusko — he runs his own open mic there on Thursday nights — he recently participated in the Carolina’s Funniest Comic competition in Greenville and wrapped up a mini-tour in Florida just last week. As for the set he’ll perform at the show, he hasn’t exactly been practicing because he’s not sure what he’ll be using. “I won’t know till a couple of days before,” he says. “I never plan that far ahead.”
Driver — who was a double award-winner, winning first place in the judges’ vote and second place in the audience vote — is a regular on the Atlanta comedy scene, making the rounds of several comedy clubs and open mics each week. His comedy is more observational and more than a little racy. His set will be half jokes that he’s been doing for a while and half new material, he says. Other than putting together his set list, he’s been carrying on as usual. “I haven’t been doing anything different in terms of prep, other than my normal regimen of trying to get on stage as much as possible each week.”