Caroline Frank, Staff Writer and Photographer
On Wednesday, Aug. 29, 230 people flocked to the Funny Bone in Westport Plaza to celebrate the two-year anniversary of the “Best of STL Showcase.” Produced and hosted by Max Price, “Best of STL Showcase” is the highest attended monthly comedy show in St. Louis. Wednesday’s show included sets by Max Price, Will O’Donnell, Charlie Winfrey and Brendan Gay.
“The first show had eight people. [The show has progressed] immensely,” Price described. He said the show has taken a lot of trial and error, as it has faced cancellation multiple times.
“I know the show has really grown,” O’Donnell admitted. “I was honored to be chosen for the second anniversary show. I’ve been doing comedy for two years, so it just felt right.”
O’Donnell won the “Hey Guys Comedy Competition,” took second runner up in the “Funny Bone Comedy Competition,” and worked with Roy Wood Jr. and Joe Machi. According to Price, O’Donnell could barely finish getting in the punchline during his set because people were already laughing, clapping and cheering.
“[O’Donnell] was destroying it,” Price observed.
He described how Winfrey was also popular with the audience, “He is a huge goofball, but he makes it work. It’s nonsensical but it makes sense.” Price commented, “he killed it.”
Winfrey who was the winner of the “Jukebox Comedy Competition,” is a regular featured artist at the Funny Bone and has performed with Chris Rock and Doug Stanhope. Winfrey felt it was great being chosen to perform at the “Best of STL Showcase.”
“I’ve known Max for a long time, and I just love performing,” Winfrey said.
Gay also described how it felt being asked to perform at the show. He felt being picked for the “Best of STL Showcase” was special: “I’ve traveled a bunch. St. Louis has a lot of great comedy clubs.”
Gay, who recently completed a 52-week, 52-city tour after winning the “Comedy For Cash Competition,” and has been participating in comedy festivals, was a finalist in the “TruTV Comedy Breakout Initiative” at the New York Film Festival and has worked with Mark Normand and Machi. Price commended Gay for his strong set.
“He has a very likable persona and charm to him,” Price said. Everybody was on fire, and it was a “hot, high energy crowd,” according to Price
After the show, Debbie Compton, a member of the audience, commented, “I thought it was really entertaining. There was a lot of talent here.”
O’Donnell noted the audience seemed to be really excited. “The crowd was awesome when I was on stage,” O’Donnell said.
Winfrey also thought the audience enjoyed all of the comics. “I just make sure I have a good time and hope everybody else comes along,” Winfrey posited.
Gay also commented that it kind of felt like a party.
“It was packed,” Gay said, “the vibe was — they were ready to laugh.”
Price explained how people got more involved in the show and were more drawn in because they felt like part of the act.
“[The Funny Bone] is a very intimate setting,” Price said. “Laughs really reverberate.”
After the show, groups of people came up to take pictures and buy merchandise.
According to Price, fans have been messaging him. “Everybody seemed to enjoy the show.” Price said, “Overall, it went really well. I think it was a win-win for everybody.”
Price placed second in the “Funny Bone Comedy Competition” in 2016, was a finalist two consecutive years in the “Make Me Laugh Competition,” was part of St. Louis’ first comedy festival “Flyover Comedy Fest” and has worked with some of the biggest names in comedy. Some of these names included Nikki Glaser, Pauly Shore, Chris Kattan, Bobcat Goldthwait, David Koechner, Ben Bailey and John Caparulo.
There are so many different things about comedy that are important to Price. “It’s therapeutic,” Price explained. “Being able to talk about something in joke form and having people laugh with you about it makes it seem … less real or intense or harsh. There’s just a high about making a room full of people laugh.”
Price detailed how he got involved with comedy.
“I’ve always been a fan of art. When I started watching stand-up, that’s when it clicked—that’s the kind of writing I want to do. I decided to take the leap … I fell in love with it and … started dedicating my life to it,” Price explained.
When he is up on stage, he feels as if everything else goes away.
“The stage is a place where … no one can touch you. You’re in your own fantasy world— – your own creative, personal bubble. You feel like you’re growing and building as a comedian … That’s the kind of high you’re chasing,” Price remarked.
He is hoping to get enough of a reputation, following and local support to sell out every show.
While the tickets to the “Best of STL Showcase” are free if you mention Price’s name*, the number of people in attendance is still important because of the two-drink minimum. This is how the comedy club makes its money and how the comedians make their commission. However, Price has put on a few charity shows in recent years where people were charged admission and 100 percent of the ticket proceeds were donated to a specific cause.
“If I have a good opportunity to help somebody, I like to do that,” Price said. The next show is Sept. 19, 2018. Price encouraged people to come out to the “Best of STL Showcase” and “support local comedy.”
*An earlier version of this article stated tickets were free without mentioning Price’s name.
*An earlier version of this article stated the next show was Sept. 18, 2018.