Jared Munson knows that a lot of people think they're funny. People voted "funniest" in their high school yearbook, or told they're hilarious by coworkers. "Everybody says, 'Oh, I can be a comedian. It's easy,'" he says over coffee, talking about winning Inlander readers' votes as Best Comedian.
There's a big difference between the flippantly funny, though, and the dedicated comedy craftsmen exemplified by Munson, who's been doing stand-up — as well as booking and promoting shows — for 10 years.
"Most open mics, you get three minutes," Munson says. "A lot of people can do a good three minutes. Can you turn those three minutes into a solid five? Then a solid 10, and then 15 or 20, and keep it fresh? That's the hard part."
Munson is still working to keep it fresh after first getting on stage for a high school talent show at Auburn Mountainview High School on the westside and telling some jokes. He didn't win, but got enough laughs — and attention from fellow students and the school newspaper — to quickly addict him to the art form he'd studied as a fan for years before daring to actually get on a microphone.
After starting school at EWU in 2007, Munson quickly cased the open-mic opportunities in Eastern Washington; he's never stopped performing. An Asian-American adopted by Caucasian parents, he mines his family life, as well as pop culture and race, for jokes, and travels to perform outside the area as much as possible. His comedy aspirations don't stop at the city's edge.
"My end game — and it's never going to happen — but what I want to do in life is be a late-night talk show host. Or Ellen. But there's only one Ellen," Munson says.
While that dream remains far off, Munson wants to work promoting Spokane's comedy scene as much as he can. He booked monthly shows at Northern Quest for a year or so, stocking the room with local talent, and he says there's a great variety of comic talent to be found locally.
"I'd say there's 50 comics in the scene, give or take, and there's probably 20 I would book without any hesitation," Munson says.
"I really want to be an ambassador for the Spokane comedy scene. I want people to be aware there's been a scene here for years. Support the big shows, support the clubs, support each other. One thing about Spokane is that it's a great size, where we want to see everybody succeed."
Spoken like a true ambassador.
2nd PLACE: Harry J. Riley; 3rd PLACE: Dan Cummins