Comedians to start early 4th of July weekend fun with a bang

Local comics have their game faces on this weekend as they, as well as comedians from all over the Midwest, gather to battle in the annual Wiley’s Comedy Club Fireworks competition.

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This is the 10th year for the event, and 52 comics are signed up. Karen Jaffe, comics and Wiley’s Sunday Comics booker, said they had to start a wait list this year, probably because of the $1,000 grand prize.

“It's definitely a huge payout. Most contests only pay $500 as the grand prize. All of the registration fees go back to the winners,” she said.

The preliminary rounds are at 7:15 and 9:30 p.m. on both Friday, June 28 and Saturday, June 29. The comics who advance will perform in the finals on Sunday, June 30 at 8 p.m. There will a grand-prize winner, but second and third place also receive something small.

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“Each round is competitive, but it's friendly competition. I find most of the comics are supportive to each other, despite wanting to win it all,” Jaffe said.

The preliminary rounds are based on the audience’s votes. Each person must vote for their three favorite comics on the show. They cannot write down one person’s name three times or put someone’s name on the ballot who isn’t performing.

“It keeps the shows more fair. The final round is a judge and audience vote. The audience vote counts as one judge. It's always a nail biter,” Jaffe said.

The judges for this year include Lisa Grigsby, Lori Graves and Jesse Nutt. All the judges have performed comedy for a number of years. The headliner for this year’s show is last year’s winner, Dwight McCormick.

“My experience last year was a welcome change of pace. I had been performing in mainly church and “clean” shows. It is always a privilege to perform on a stage in a comedy club. Not everybody gets to do it. I was shocked to advance and more shocked to win,” McCormick said.

McCormick, a pastor and comedian, said he is excited to come back this year. He believes that the event is something that comics need to do for multiple reasons.

“Comics should compete in the contest to get to know local Dayton talent and to support Wiley’s Comedy Club. Ideally it would be fun and you will get to meet and hear other stand-up styles and viewpoints,” he said.

All the shows on Friday and Saturday are $5 if ordered online. Tickets for the Sunday show are $10. Tickets purchased at the door will be an extra $5. Reservations are strongly encouraged because these shows tend to sell out, especially the final show on Sunday. The shows are worth it though.

“Is there anything else you want to add that I didn’t ask about? Comedy is one of the hardest things to do. It’s public speaking and joke crafting and a little improvising sometimes. Most people can’t do any of those things comfortably, never mind all three of those things. I think participating in a live comedy audience is one of the greatest gifts you can give to those of us who trying to make this work,” Jaffe said.

There is a two-item minimum for each person. To get tickets, call 937-224-5653 or go online at

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