Waller wins 2012 Amateur Stand-up Competition
06-14-2012 11:50 am
In eighth grade, Garrett Waller was voted by his classmates as most likely to be a stand-up comedian.
If only they could see him now.
The 25-year-old resident of Pueblo, Colo., won the amateur stand-up competition Wednesday at the opening night of the 2012 Viaero Great American Comedy Festival in Norfolk.
“It’s the most incredible thing I’ve done,” he said after the show.
In front of about 600 people, Waller earned the title with a 6-minute set of comedy that audience members laughing with him and, later, voting for him.
Waller had qualified for the amateur finals by earlier advancing from a preliminary round of competition at Time Square Event Center in Norfolk. Eleven of the 12 finalists qualified that way, performing in either Norfolk, West Point or O’Neill earlier this year. The 12th, Stephen Agyei of Denver, advanced by winning a separate comedy competition held in Denver at the Comedy Works club.
Waller said he’s been performing on stage for the past 18 months or so. His parents and his wife, Keirstin, are supportive of his career choice. “They’re happy because they know this makes me happy,” he said.
The win earned him a trophy; a consultation with Eddie Brill, warm-up comic for David Letterman and executive producer of the comedy festival; and a $500 prize.
And perhaps even more.
Because one of the 20 professional comedians — Reese Waters of New York City — invited to participate in this year’s festival had to bow out earlier this year because of contractual obligation with ESPN, Brill invited Waller to also compete in this year’s professional competition at the festival.
Sam Adams of Denver, who hosted Wednesday night’s performance, was in a similar situation in 2009 after he won the festival’s amateur competition and then was invited to participate in the professional competition, too. He finished second in that.
Adams said those victories propelled him in his career, prompting him to pursue a full-time career in comedy.
Waller now may have the same kind of opportunity before him.
“I’ve got to just keep going,” he said.