Phasefest Brings The Noise
September 24, 2014
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September 25, 2014

Bad Dates, Great Stories, and a Chance to be the Last Comic Standing

By Karen Houston

Chelsea Shorte, a local comedian, has recently been invited to audition for Last Comic Standing, a comedy competition complete with celebrity judges that airs on NBC. It’s a pretty big deal. She’ll go through a series of auditions, advance to the last round, win the competition, and be awarded a cash prize and her own T.V. show, or at least that’s the goal.

ChelseaShorte_PHotobyAshley Kolodner

Photo: Ashley Kolodner

Shorte will have three and a half minutes to woo the judges in her first audition. “I want to show not just that I’m funny, but who I am and how that is unique,” says Shorte. “Though a big part of a talent-based reality show is talent, it’s still a reality show and they are looking for interesting, diverse people. The jokes I choose address my queerness, how I think about race (more specifically the under-representation of black and brown people in advertising), and show off a little bit of silliness. After that I can only hope my handsome face and impressive fashion sense can sway the judges.”

Shorte finds humor in her own experiences, connects them to larger world problems, queer and racial issues, and somehow keeps the audience laughing in moments that would otherwise be tense. Sometimes her jokes are “just funny stories about online dating experiences and coming out in the digital age,” she says.

During a stand up performance in a video titled, “Comic Chelsea Shorte On Race and Color,” Chelsea says, “I was actually out a couple weekends ago and this white woman came up to me and she was like, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re so cute—you look like the black version of my ex-girlfriend’. . .so I just pretended that she said, ‘I’ve [had sex with] you in the dark before.’”

Her gender and sexuality play into her comedic persona right off the bat. “It’s all over the place,” she says, “when I’m on stage, I look so gay. I have to address it—it puts people at ease. I’m not always performing for a mostly queer audience, so I feel like once I acknowledge it the sets go much better. If you took the gay out of my act, I wouldn’t really have much of an act anymore. And if I’m going to talk about dating, I’m dating ladies.”

When Shorte is on stage, you’d think she’s just talking one on one to a good friend. Her stories are relatable and her delivery is laid back, which she says is “the illusion of stand up comedy, and that’s why some people don’t get it; it’s supposed to appear conversational.”

Shorte has performed at DC Improv Comedy Club, Arlington Drafthouse, The Kennedy Center, and Busboys and Poets, and draws inspiration from other local comedians, who “set the mark pretty high.” She plans to continue performing locally and would love to see the community come out to her upcoming shows.

When she’s not on stage, Shorte is working at a consulting firm as a software developer and cultivating her writing skills for satirical essays and screenplays.

Last Comic Standing auditions takes place Saturday, September 27 10:30 p.m. at the DC Improv Comedy Club. For more information visit

Upcoming Shows:
The DMV Roast of the Washington Capitals, October 7th, The Brixton on U St:

A Night of Comedy for Natasha’s Justice Project, October 18th: