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If you can reel off the likes of Chris Lilley, Tim Minchin, Peter Helliar, Josh Thomas and Hannah Gadsby on your alumnus rollcall, you must be doing something right. Since its inception in 1996, RAW Comedy has become Australia’s premier open mic comedy competition and in the lead up to the showdown at the Melbourne Comedy Festival, the spotlight is rolling over our young and hungry Sydney comics every week at the Comedy Store. We speak to one who has made it, MC Daniel Townes, and one who wants to, Damian Sommerlad, to find out how they are handling the heat …

DANIEL TOWNES

What if it turns out these raw comedians tell some funnier jokes than you? I hope they do tell some funnier jokes than me, funny new comedians are a good thing, it means the future of comedy in Australia is safe.
How important are these kind of comps for comics trying to get a toehold in? They are important but it’s not the end of the world if you don’t win. Winning them opens doors and so does not winning them … and still being funny. That said, if you were going to win a comedy competition RAW is definitely the one you’d want it to be. It’s the biggest competition in the country, it’s got the prestige and the prize is amazing. No pressure.
What word of advice would you give yourself of five years ago? Don’t put pressure on yourself in comedy competitions, enjoy the gig for what it is and have fun.
And what’s one thing you hope never happens in a comic sketch again? I don’t know to be honest with you, anything can be funny if it is done well and with a new approach, even old ideas.

DAMIAN SOMMERLAD

What’s the rawest thing you can think of? Nappy rash. Life ain’t easy at two.
How do you prepare your material? Are you a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants or speech card kinda guy?
‘Every battle is won before it is ever fought’ Sun Tzu.
If you win, what will you do with the prize money?
Build a giant papier mache effigy of myself and start a cult.
Who are your comic idols? George Carlin, Bill Hicks, Ricky Gervais, Rik Mayall.
And your dream gig? One where people laugh.

Until Feb 28, Comedy Store, The Entertainment Quarter, Building 207/122 Lang Rd, Moore Park, $10-15, 9357 1419, comedystore.com.au