Arts & Entertainment

2 rise to top at Joker's standup in Richland

Toby Roberts learned Saturday that he tied with another comedian to win the TribbleRun Comedy Festival held at Joker's Comedy Club in Richland last week.

The win means there's a good chance Roberts and Mike "Wally" Walter of Centralia will get the chance to strut their comedy routines at the national level later this year at the Las Vegas Comedy Festival.

Comedy festivals can be a comic's big chance to be seen by major network producers and scouts, which is how Ellen Degeneres, Robin Williams and Chris Rock got their breaks, said Mike Jenkins, the talent coordinator for TribbleRun Comedy Network, which sponsored the Joker's event and books comedy acts across the country.

Roberts grew up in Richland, graduating from Hanford High School in 1988. He now lives in Olympia, where he sells cars when he's not making funny on the comedy circuit.

"I'm so excited, I have goose bumps," Roberts said in a telephone interview Saturday. "But I feel confident I'll get there one way or another."

The Joker's event featured 15 comics, all vying for a spot at the Vegas competition. Each of the contestants' seven-minute gigs were videotaped.

Roberts and Walter's tapes will be sent to the producers of the Vegas show. The comedy festival has been sponsored in the past by the HBO cable television network, but this year TBS is sponsoring the event, Jenkins said.

But Roberts won't find out if he'll get to debut his act at the national competition for a month or more, he said.

"Another cool thing about this win is that I'll be coming back to Joker's for my own show, hopefully within the next month or two," Roberts said.

* Dori O'Neal: 582-1514;