Laugh Warriors 

Local comics face off in a battle of jokes.

Jeff Blanchard relinquishes his title as Cleveland's funniest comic at tonight's Ninja Comedy Death Match 2. He'll also turn in the ceremonial samurai robe he won last year. "Hopefully, he hasn't stretched it out or gotten wing sauce or other foreign substances on it," says organizer Joe Hannum.

The second annual competition pits 10 contenders against each other — including last year's semifinalists Joe Howard, Brian Wehmann, and Mike Wypasek. During the three-round battle, the comedians randomly pick one of 10 topics, from Cleveland politics to the Iraqi war. Then they have three minutes to riff on it. A trio of judges determines the winner. "I don't want people bumbling over words," says Hannum. "This separates people who take it seriously from the people who fuck around and write material right before the show starts." Still, Hannum says, he won't be surprised if some of the comedians come unprepared tonight. "Comedians are notorious for procrastinating," he says. "The fact that they show up is amazing."
Fri., June 23, 9 p.m.

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