Inaugural Cleveland Comedy Awards to Take Place at Hilarities

When Brent Gambrel [pictured] moved from Youngstown to Cleveland a few years ago, he gravitated to the local comedy scene and began attending shows. Gambrel, who does standup, wanted to organize an event highlighting the local talent, but he didn't want to step on anyone's toes.

"I looked at bigger markets to see what they had but we didn't have and realized they all had awards shows, but Cleveland didn't," he says. "We thought an awards program would take the comedy scene up a notch and continue to evolve it."

He put the word out to about 100 local comedians and asked them to vote for their favorite local comics in a variety of categories. Once he had a list of nominees, he asked that same group of comedians to vote for the winners.

On Monday, March 26, the winners will be announced at the inaugural Cleveland Comedy Awards at Hilarities. The event will feature awards for Best Male Comedian, Best Female Comedian, Best Show Up Go Up and Best Comedy Club.

The awards will also feature "Yo-Yos" that will recognize "those making their mark in the Cleveland comedy scene."

Comedian Rob Ward will host the event and former Clevelander Ramon Rivas, the guy who founded Accidental Comedy, will headline the affair.

Organizers promise that athletes and "entertainers of all kinds" will be in attendance and that there will be special guest performers and presenters.

"The plan is to make the event upscale casual," says Gambrel. "We want all the things that big awards shows would have. But we want to keep it relaxed and fun. We won't have a lot of long speeches."

There will be not be an ordinary red carpet walk for this event. Instead, organizers have opted for a less formal Carpets for a Cause (a portion of the event's proceeds will benefit the Rainbow Babies & Children Hospital and LifeAct Suicide Prevention and Education).

"We don't want to make it so self-indulgent and narcissistic," says Gambrel when asked about the red-carpet event which will feature guests such as Plain Dealer columnist John Petkovic and local artist Derek Hess. "We don't want to show off. We just want to make it a fun event that will actually benefit something good."

Gambrel says he welcomes whatever shenanigans might take place at the affair. It is, after all, a comedy event.

"It's a whole room full of comedians, so there will be some antics and funny costumes," he says. "The show is meant to be as much entertainment as it is a ceremony. We want to keep it moving and keep it fresh. We have a few things planned that we haven't announced yet, so there will be some surprises."

The event begins at 7 p.m., and tickets start at $20.

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About The Author

Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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