speakeasy laugh hardThe Laugh Hard Challenge is back this weekend for a second year of rocking the mic and ripping out the laughs for area audiences.

In the six years since opening The Speakeasy has become known as one of the premiere venues in the area for stand up comedy. “Comics tell us on a regular basis it’s their favorite room in town to perform in” said Brett Hitchcock, Director of Audience Development. “Last year we hosted the inaugural Speakeasy Laugh Hard Challenge where we had comics from Chicago, Peoria, St Louis as well as our wonderful local comics coming together to compete in a month long competition resulting in Matt Stein from Peoria being named Laugh Hard Challenge champion and winning $1,000! The event was so successful we had to do it again.”

This year’s Laugh Hard Challenge will have two preliminary rounds Aug. 6 and 13 and the finals will be on Aug. 20. There are 30 comedians participating from all over Iowa and Illinois and from as far away as St Louis and even two from Oklahoma.

The top five comedians from each prelim round will move on to compete in the finals. The winner of this year’s Laugh Hard Challenge will receive the grand prize of $1,000 and will headline a comedy showcase at The Speakeasy on Nov. 12 along with the other top four finishers.

The comedians will be judged by members of the local media including Jonathan Ketz from WQAD and Tiffany Lundberg from WHBF and comedy club managers from across the area in a number of different categories including “audience response” so The Speakeasy is hoping for packed houses for all the shows.

“If you know someone performing come out and support them. Your response could help make the difference!” said Hitchcock.

The doors for the Laugh Hard Challenge open at 7:00 with the comedians beginning at 8:00. Tickets are $10.00 in advance and $12.00 day of for all three shows. Tickets may be purchased by calling 309-786-7733, Ext. 2 or online at www.thecirca21speakeasy.com.

Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written almost 30 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.