The Ladies of Laughter recently announced the 2016 winners of its bi-annual comedy competition. The Grand Finale, hosted by national headliner Tammy Pescatelli, featured 16 finalists vying for over $5,000 in cash prizes, paid bookings and the coveted 2016 Ladies of Laughter titles at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, NY.
New York City resident and former attorney, Jocelyn Chia won in the Newcomer category. She received $1,500 in paid bookings and $250 cash. Audience favorites Stacy Kendro and Jaffy Taffe were named Professional and Newcomer runners-up, respectively.
The competition was judged by Emmy award-winning late night TV writer, Chris Albers, Bob Spiotto, Director of Events at the New York Friars Club and Peggy Boyce, Executive Producer of the Ladies of Laughter.
Beginning in May, Ladies of Laughter received nearly 150 submissions for the contest with 75 competing at four preliminary events at comedy clubs in New York City, Albany, and West Nyack, NY in July and August.
Dedicated to discovering talent and launching the careers of funny women, the competition continues to attract comedians of all levels. “What stood out this year was how many new women in comedy applied and were still surprised of what a positive experience it would be for them,” says Boyce. “Some women were a little unsure of it. We handed women a bottle of water before each preliminary and they were so grateful. I think they were not used to being treated with some basic niceties.
Though the preliminary events were hosted at various comedy clubs, the Grand Finale was moved to an upscale venue, the Turning Stone Resort Casino. “Turning Stone was amazing,” says Boyce. “All of us were blown away by how beautiful the property, casino and theater was. The women were so excited to perform in such a beautiful venue and the accommodations were out of this world. It was the perfect venue for us.”
With each competition, the Ladies of Laughter’s diverse roster of talent grows as well as the opportunities within the organization that include club dates and theater tours.
In addition, some participants receive stage and TV opportunities months after the contest has wrapped. “The women know that even if they don’t win, they get a fabulous experience and are able to network with others and receive opportunities well after the competition,” says Boyce.
“I find out years later from women that they got bookings, sealed the deal on a future TV spot and received recognition that was not immediately presented to them but came about weeks or months later. I’m most proud of that.”
Launched in 1999, the Ladies of Laughter has been a driving force behind women reaching the next level their in comedy careers. Past winners include Jane Condon, Patty Rosborough, Robin Fox, Alycia Cooper and Dena Blizzard. Comedy stars such as Amy Schumer, The Big Bang Theory’s, Melissa Rauch and national headliners Tammy Pescatelli, Laurie Kilmartin and Jessica Kirson have also participated in Ladies of Laughter events.
Sponsored by Turning Stone Resort Casino, Stage Time magazine and Skinnygirl Cocktails, a percentage of proceeds from the Ladies of Laughter contest benefited Buddy Cares – an animal rights advocacy group that provides wellness and services to abandoned animals in need.
For more info on Ladies of Laughter and upcoming tour dates, visit www.ladiesoflaughter.org.
Professional Winner: Kelly MacFarland
Newcomer Winner: Jocelyn Chia