Funniest person in Rockford named

Three Mikes and one Chris entered in contest – Chris won!

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL

Four finalists in the first annual “Funniest Person in Rockford” contest. (l-r) Mike Cole, Chris Schneider, Mike Marn, and Michael Newell. Photo by CLIFF HILL

The first real snowfall of the season was just beginning to cover the ground last Thursday evening at 9:00 p.m. but inside the Corner Bar it was standing room only. The iconic downtown Rockford restaurant had been kind enough to host the Rockford Education Foundation’s (REF) 1st ever “Funniest Person in Rockford” contest and the laughs were about to commence.

The REF was hoping to promote interest and ticket sales for this Friday and Saturday’s annual REF benefit concert. Sold-out for their one show in 2010, the Second City – Laugh Out Loud comedic troupe returns this year for an encore 2-evening appearance at the Rockford High School Fine Arts Auditorium.

“Funniest Person in Rockford” Chris Schneider stands between contest emcee Bob Wells and REF Administrator Sue Arend. Photo by CLIFF HILL

The prize for winning Thursday night’s “Funniest Person in Rockford” contest was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to appear onstage, for both evening performances, with Second City along with 4 tickets to the performance.

The REF had selected four semi-finalists, all with connections to Rockford, from previously submitted videos, which were posted on the REF’s Facebook page, where fans could vote for their favorite.

Appearing on a make shift stage in a corner booth of the Corner Bar, each of the wannabe comedians was afforded 10 minutes to win over a panel of distinguished judges. The judges, all Rockford residents, consisted of WZZM-TV13’s Catherine Behrendt, Corner Bar co-owner Andy Tidey, and Jim Kinney – a funny man himself in achieving fame for being voted class clown in high school.

Each comedian, Mike Cole, Michael Newell, Mike Marn, and Chris Schneider, was introduced by the evening’s emcee Bob Wells, best known as the on-field between-innings host for the West Michigan Whitecaps. Wells, also a RHS math teacher, is a pretty funny guy himself and had the evening’s crowd well warmed up at the start of and between each of the contestants.

Judging was based on humor, originality, and positive audience response. From our seat in the packed house, it seemed that the audience’s overwhelming response to Chris Schneider’s side splitting routine did the trick and the judges awarded him the title of the “Funniest Person in Rockford”. (Or maybe they were simply confused by the fact that 3 of the comedians were named Mike and it was simply easier to go with the oddball, Chris – just kidding!)

Chris Schneider, a RPS Freshman Center Technology Dept. Technician, will be seen enjoying the rewards of his contest victory while appearing with the legendary Second City this Friday and Saturday evening during both 8:00 p.m. performances. Everyone fortunate enough to hold tickets for either performance can vicariously share in his “15-minutes of fame”.

The annual REF benefit concerts are the prime source of funding for the good works of the Rockford Education Foundation. REF Administrator Sue Arend was beaming with pride when she told us, “The REF will have awarded a million dollars in grants by the end of 2012.”

Tickets for Second City – Laugh Out Loud performances may still be available. For details visit www.rockfordschools.org/ref.

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