“I’m still pinching myself every couple of hours to make sure it’s all real.”
That’s absurdist comic Cody Hustak, the 28-year-old Omaha, Neb. native who took top honors in the annual Funniest Person in Austin contest Monday at Cap City Comedy Club. He beat out more than 200 competitors to take this year’s title, which comes with a cash prize and recognition among industry movers and shakers.
Hustak performed stand-up comedy for three years in Omaha before relocating to Austin early in 2010 for more opportunity.
“The comedy scene in Omaha wasn’t too great; it’s a lot better now,” he says. “Back when I was there, there were only maybe two or three open mikes all week. I basically just set out in search of stage time.”
Hustak came to Austin with fellow comic Ryan Cownie, who placed second in this years FPIA cage match. “It was pretty amazing and ideal,” Hustak says of the one-two punch he and Cownie laid on Austin Monday night. “I couldn’t imagine a better outcome.”
Lashonda Lester placed third.
I wondered if Hustak woke up Tuesday morning and quit his day job waiting tables at Opal Divine’s. He didn’t, but he says his boss actually messaged him to see if he was planning on showing up for work.
This is Hustak’s fifth FPIA contest and the fifth time he’s been sent to the final rounds. He joked that if he didn’t win this time, he was done with the contest. “But I definitely would have done it. I love the contest, It’s fun.”
He performed smack in the middle of the lineup, which he called “ideal.” Going up first, as he has done several times, is the worst, he says.
“I didn’t want to get my hopes up, but I felt like it was my time,” Hustak says. “I’m the only comic in town who’s been in the finals five years in a row.”
Hustak changed up his set a bit for Monday’s finals, but noted that a signature bit about his plan to follow an audience member home after the show — “consider it a prize you’ll never know you’ve won,” he says, pointing to the crowd — went over big throughout the entire contest.
While he hasn’t even thought about what he’s going to do with the $2,500 in prize money he received for winning the title, he did take time to post a photo of his new bank balance, $2,586.85, on his Facebook page under the heading “Best day of my life.”
“Quite the windfall,” he says, noting that he’ll probably use the prize money for “something boring, like paying down debt.”
He’s barely had a chance to talk to 2013 winner Mac Blake, but says he’s honored to have his picture on the same wall as his similarly-bearded chum. That’d be the wall outside the entry to the Cap City showroom, where all FPIA winners’ photos reside. But first, he has to have a new picture taken.
“I paid $30 a year and a half ago to have head shots taken,” he says. “I was so unhappy with them; they’ve never seen the light of day.”
You can catch Hustak’s act May 22 at In.gredients, 2610 Manor Rd.; and May 26 at the Spider House Ballroom, 2906 Fruth St., both in Austin.