5 local comedians to watch in 2017

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Clockwise from top left, our local comedians to watch in 2017 are Shelly Paul, Turner Barrowman, Linda Aarons, Chloe Radcliffe, and Ali Sultan

There’s no doubt that 2016 was a weird year. But if there was one redeeming quality to our last revolution around the sun, it was the continued explosion of our local comedy scene.

Many of the Twin Cities’ most popular and reliable comedians made the move towards national stardom, moving to Los Angeles and New York to pursue the next phase of their careers. From seeing favorites like Steve Gillespie and Mary Mack annihilate the audience on “Conan,” or continuing to watch the meteoric rise of Andy Erickson, who joined the star-studded cast of Fox’s horror comedy “Scream Queens,” homegrown talent continued to stake their claim as the best in the country.

In their afterglow, the next group of up-and-coming comedians have been sharpening their skills and preparing to carry the torch. These are five of the best that you need to keep an eye on in 2017.

Chloe Radcliffe

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Chloe Radcliffe

Chloe Radcliffe might just be the funniest second-place comedian in all of Minnesota.

In past couple of years,  she was a finalist in comedy contests at Acme Comedy Company, Sisyphus Brewing, and Joke Joint Comedy Club, placing second in two out of three. And while her resume may not have a fancy “champion” stamp on it, Radcliffe is a straight-up comedy destroyer no matter where she performs.

“I’ve been on stage my whole life in theater, speech, debate, and improv,” she says of her performing roots. “I got laid off from a grown-up job in 2015 and decided I wanted to get back into performance, but didn’t think I’d land in stand-up. I tried it more to ‘check it off’ than anything, but that first time I did an open mic at Acme, I realized that stand-up is super similar to speech.”

Radcliffe was quickly smitten with the spotlight, and considers herself to be at home when she’s on stage solo. This past year she’s done stand-up in front of crowds of all sizes, including getting a guest set from TJ Miller at the House of Comedy.

“It always feels really good to work with a major national name and have a great set,” she recalls. “I was very proud of having a strong performance that night and dissecting the show with him later.”

Related post: Sisyphus Brewing is going all in on comedy

Still, Radcliffe doesn’t let a win go to her head, and is good at bringing herself back to a humble place of growth.

“One of my best friends reminded me after that it’s not hard to have a great five-minute set in a sold-out room. Sure, those five minutes feel nice, but now get back to work, Radcliffe,” she says. “Sometimes my friends’ advice and my inner monologue blend together.”

In addition to her improving her stand-up chops, Radcliffe is also beefing up her improv skills, having performed at alt-comedy showcase Boy Kisses alongside fellow comedian Pat Susmilch, and recently hosting a sketch show in her own home.

But 2017 is all about growth for Radcliffe.

“I want my joke writing to keep getting better in significant measure. I have a couple jokes that I’m confident can ‘crush’ in any room, but I want to write a half hour of those jokes,” she says.

If you get the chance to see her this year, do it, because 2016’s favorite runner-up might just be 2017’s comedy MVP.

Where can you see her next?

Next page: Shelly Paul

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