Taking a page from the NCAA College Basketball Tournament’s “March Madness,” Carolines Comedy Madness is a five-round comedy competition in which 64 comedians go head to head with audience members deciding who advances to the final round. A panel of industry judges determines the champion in the fifth and final round. This year’s judges were Carolyn Gitomer, assistant booker and producer at Carolines on Broadway; Nora May, a talent manager at 3 Arts Entertainment; and Jessica Pilot, a producer and talent booker at CBS.
Sixty-four of New York’s best young comedians were randomly pitted against one another in a series of one-on-one competitions. The first round took place on February 27 when all of the 64 competitors each performed one minute of stand-up. 32 comedians advanced to the second round on March 12, when each performed two minutes of stand-up. The third round, on March 19, feature the “Sweet Sixteen,” and fourth round on March 20 featured the “Elite Eight,” who each performed three minutes of stand-up. The “Final Four” advancing into the fifth and final round on March 28. The “Final Four” comedians squared off on March 29, with each performing seven minutes of stand-up. The last two advancing comedians then squared off with each performing ten minutes of stand-up, with the eventual winner being crowned.
This year’s “Final Four” comedians were Melissa Diaz, who was pitted against Eagle Witt; and Gordon Baker Bone and Emill. Witt defeated Diaz to face off against Emill in the final contest of the competition.
Past winners of Carolines Comedy Madness are Julian McCullough (2007), Reese Waters (2008), Myq Kaplan (2009), Nate Bargatze (2010), Dan Soder (2011), Adam Newman (2012), Mark Normand (2013), Gary Vider (2014), Anthony DeVito (2015), Neko White (2016) and Kerry Coddett (2017).