Published: Jul 08, 2008 03:57 PM
Modified: Jul 08, 2008 03:57 PM
John Loftin steps onto the stage, thanks the audience for its welcoming applause and takes the microphone from its stand.
"So I was at my gynecologist's this week ..." he begins.
You can't see the audience in the video posted on Loftin's MySpace page, but you can hear it. Loftin, low-key and engaging, gets the crowd on his side from the start, and they stay there, laughing and applauding, through the rest of the nearly 12-minute show.
Although he's been doing standup comedy for only a year and a half, Loftin clearly has a knack for it -- so much so that he recently outperformed many more seasoned performers to win DSI Comedy Theater's competition to name Carolina's Funniest Comic.
Loftin, a 25-year-old Hillsborough native, emerged from six weeks of competition and a field of 29 comics with the title. Nobody was more surprised than Loftin.
"I entered this competition knowing that I'd lose," he said. "I mean, there were people competing that have been doing this for nine years. I've been performing for a little more than a year. Honestly, I didn't think I'd make it to the second round."
Loftin got his start in comedy doing college radio at Appalachian State, where he wrote skits for avariety show hosted a cooking show and noticed that his natural on-air manner tended to draw laughs
He decided to go with that strength and give standup a shot.
"My first show as an open mic night in Durham," he said. "I was horrible."
But he stuck with it. He took some improv classes at DSI, a comedy theater in Carr Mill Mall in Carrboro, and he kept performing and improving, and audiences began to notice.
Loftin's approach onstage is casual and laid-back -- so laid-back that he can draw a laugh just by easing into a joke with, "I'm a workaholic; I work constantly ..."
For the DSI competition, Loftin looked at material he had accumulated -- and decided to come up with something new
"I had a bunch of material, but I felt like I still hadn't really found my voice," he said. "So I rewrote my whole set. I got through that first round, which surprised me, and I wrote five more minutes of new stuff for the second round.
"I just kept doing that, and I reached the final round. I was really shocked at this point. I thought, what do I do now? Start using props or something? But I just kept doing what I was doing. I guess I found something that worked."
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