Local competition crowns Madison’s Funniest Comic

At this year's Madison's Funniest Comic competition, Milwaukee-based comic Ton Johnson took home the prize.
Comedian Ton Johnson holding a trophy in a black shirt and jacket
Photo courtesy of Comedy on State
Comedian Ton Johnson

Wednesday nights at Comedy on State are typically reserved for The Mic on State,” one of the country’s largest open-mics with 20 comedians doing stand-up in front of a live audience.

But during April, things change a bit as each Wednesday is for the annual Madison’s Funniest Comic competition, which started in 2010. This year, 72 comics from all over Wisconsin participated. Milwaukee-based comic Ton Johnson won the competition and Eric Smith of Milwaukee took home second place. Jared Porter, a Madison-based comic, came in third.

“The main goal of the competition is to give local comics a platform to hone their skills,” says Alec White, the production manger at Comedy on State.

The competition took place Wednesdays April 6-27 with the finals on May 4. Participants are required to have performed at least three times at The Mic on State prior to the competition. Comedians go through a preliminary round then semi-finals followed by the final round. Audience members and a panel of judges vote for their favorite comedians.

For the winner of this year’s competition, Johnson, standup is nothing new. He’s been doing it for eight years now and the story of how his career began still makes him laugh. “It’s funny to say that out loud because I started on the count of losing an office bet on the NFL playoffs — the loser had to try standup at a local club amateur night,” Johnson says. “All these years later here we are, because of that. Go figure?”

Johnson has competed before and made it to the finals last time. His third attempt brought him victory. He enjoys participating because “it’s always amazing to put your best material against the great stuff comics from all over the state have, in front of sold out crowds,” says Johnson.

The competition allows comics throughout the state to connect with and compete against some of the states best comics. Johnson says being a part of the local comedy scene in Madison is fun.

“There are some talented veteran comics and some really promising newcomers to get to know,” says Johnson.

Winning the competition this year solidifies that he’s on the right path, he says. “It’s always a great measuring point for where I am as a comic and how I can improve,” says Johnson. Comedy on State is an amazing venue with a great staff, and the comics were all so nice.”

Johnson’s future shows can be found on his Instagram, @tonjohncomedy.

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