Mountain Dew doppelgänger Sierra Mist knows a little something about cracking a joke. As part of the company's new ad campaign, it enlisted comedians like Nicole Sullivan and Michael Ian Black and recently held a standup competition to find the best young comic in the country. This is where clean-cut funnyman Ryan Hamilton comes in. As winner of Sierra Mist's "Next Great Comic" contest, the former Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints missionary beat other comics to the punch line with his blue-material-free comedy -- and possibly because some say he looks like a white version of Chris Rock.
"Someone told me that once, and I tried it out at a show and people went crazy," Hamilton tells New Times. "I never would've picked it out myself, but sometimes you need a third eye to tell you." Of course, this third eye must be made of glass because Hamilton bears as much resemblance to Rock as he does to Phyllis Diller. Hamilton often goes for the subtleties of awkward first dates, growing up, and offbeat conversations about naked cats. It could be his upbringing; Hamilton grew up in a small farming community in Idaho. Despite having moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, Hamilton says he's still rural at heart.
"A lot of my comedy comes from juxtaposing that background with my life now, which is a lot more metropolitan," the 29-year-old says, noting that he has toured to cities he never would have visited had he not won the competition.
Another perk for Hamilton is getting to perform with his comic heroes, like Jim Gaffigan, with whom Hamilton is currently on tour. Thanks to the soda's great exposure, it's no secret Hamilton's become quite obsessed with it, even blogging a photo essay of himself with a two-liter in various activities. "I don't know, it just goes everywhere I go," he says. "So whatever it's doing, I'm doing. It's like a security blanket."
Catch Hamilton and Gaffigan Thursday through Sunday at the Palm Beach Improv (550 S. Rosemary Ave., Ste. 250, West Palm Beach). Tickets cost $15 to $17. Call 561-833-1812. -- Terra Sullivan
The New Kings of the South
If you like dirty white boys from the South who play unadulterated, Southern-tinged rave-ups and Deep South ballads, then check out Tuesday's Secret Machines show at Revolution (200 W. Broward Blvd., Fort Lauderdale). Really. Of course, it's not the psychedelic, Eno-inspired Machines but their buds in the Kings of Leon who bring out the real rock 'n' roll revival. The Tennessee four-piece -- three of whom are the sons of a Pentecostal preacher -- initially turned heads with 2003's Youth and Young Manhood. Now supporting its second album, Aha Shake Heartbreak, the band continues to reel in the rock 'n' roll faithful with its heavy '70s rock and '60s pop influences; this band is more than a few posturing hip kids' guilty pleasure. It's also a band the mainstream media loves to love and snippety indie snobs love to hate. If you like blues-inflected melodies and pretty boys in tight pants that would do a '70s boogie band justice, these are your new kings. So bow down -- and dance the night away. Show starts at 7:30 p.m. and costs $25. Call 954-727-0950, or visit www.jointherevolution.net. -- D. Sirianni
A Touch of Finesse
SNL's Mitchell works the comedy crowd
When not wrangling over designer handbags with Paris Hilton -- in character as the rambunctious Starkisha, of course -- Saturday Night Live comedian Finesse Mitchell performs at laugh lounges around the U.S., drawing throngs of people with his signature blend of Southern flavor and urban humor.
The Atlanta-bred University of Miami alum has been gracing the club circuit since 1995 and is touted for his humorous celebrity impressions of 50 Cent, O.J. Simpson, Donovan McNabb, and Morgan Freeman, to name a few. Part of the SNL squad since 2003 and a regular guest on BET's Comic View, Mitchell is well-versed in live entertainment as the operator of Comedy Novas Inc.
Mitchell will "finesse" the stage at the New York Comedy Club (8221 Glades Rd., Boca Raton) on Friday at 9 p.m. and Saturday at 8 and 10:15 p.m. The show, hosted by Ramon and featuring Oscar Collazos, costs $15 to $20. Call 561-470-6887, or visit www.nyccboca.com. -- Melissa Meisel
Dude Sings Like a Lady
For its tenth anniversary, the RoughRiders of South Florida are putting on yet another big, gay variety show Saturday at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts (201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale). The country-Western dancers and their friends get all 007 with this year's theme, "Big, Bond, and Beautiful." Their last birthday bash, "Fantastic Voyage," earned them an award from the International Association of Gay and Lesbian Country-Western Dance Clubs, proving they're more than just goofy guys in ten-gallon hats. This year promises plenty of dancing, singing, and joviality with the usual high-caliber female impersonators (and one actual female). Doing it up are Bacabuda Arts, Alfred Lewis, and the Julie Christies, as well as Sally West, Mustang Mary, and Tiffany Ariagas. The show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $30. Call 954-462-0222, or visit www.rrofsf.org. -- Jake Smith