Thursday evening, comedians from all over Oklahoma and as far away as Missouri gathered at Mill Street Garage to compete at the Southern Oklahoma Comedy Showdown. Each of the 12 comics was given five minutes to tell their best jokes, and a team of four judges selected a winner at the end of the night to receive a $250 prize.
After the scores were tallied, Michele VanDusen, of Tulsa, took home the grand prize. VanDusen first began standup in 2001, and she is a member of the Christian Comedy Conference. She said she finds her inspiration in Jesus, her family and her friends.
“My inspiration really comes from my real life,” VanDusen said, giving the backstory to one of her jokes about the neighbor’s housekeeper showing up at her door. “The Merry Maids really did start to come to my house. Our neighbors get the Merry Maids every week, and they had a new girl come out. So she’s carrying a vacuum up my driveway and I just told her to go next door.”
She said the idea for the joke came after she relayed the whole story to a friend.
“The whole idea of the joke is when do you tell them they’re at the wrong place,” VanDusen said. “I actually told her before she got into my house, but I could have had my whole house cleaned!”
While she first began comedy in 2001, VanDusen said she took a hiatus from touring for several years while she was raising her four sons.
“When I first started and my kids were little, I traveled all the time — every weekend and two or three times a week,” VanDusen said. “But I started looking at my kids and I thought, I can’t miss this time with them.”
Now that her boys are at college, she’s back on the road more and has recently performed in Michigan, Tennessee and Texas. She said it’s important to her that her comedy be clean and uplifting.
“I think clean comedy is just a healthier way to live. Any time you can get a chance to go out and laugh and get those deep, belly laughs, it actually affects your body way better than any drug,” VanDusen said. “Comedy should be fun, it should be funny and it should be enjoyable. It’s not any of that stuff if people are just insulting you.”