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WQXR announces finalists in Classical Comedy Contest

The competition will be stiff, musical, and hilarious at Carolines on Broadway on November 8 at 7pm, when nine musical acts go for broke in the WQXR Classical Comedy Contest, a partnership between the legendary comedy club and the nation’s most listened-to classical radio station. The competitors – including a violinist/stand-up comic who plays with the Toronto Symphony and two percussionists who met at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College – were chosen from 79 hopefuls from around the world. The winner will be selected by a world-class line-up of judges from the worlds of comedy and music. The contest is presented as part of the New York Comedy Festival. 

In a field not known for humor – except perhaps when Victor Borge and Chico Marx played the piano – these comics and serious musicians will be aiming for serious laughs when they take the stage at Carolines. The winner will be awarded a trophy, a tote bag and the chance to perform a second set at the New York Comedy Festival later that week.

Finalists – who have appeared everywhere from Carnegie Hall to Comedy Central, from the Metropolitan Opera to Late Night with David Letterman – include a harpist/stand-up comic from Brooklyn; a concert pianist/magician from Poland; a New York-based soprano whose partner plays the musical saw; an opera singer with a “rogue accompanist”; a Berlin-based recorder player who performs at variety shows and circuses; Doowopera, a vocal quintet; and a Scandinavian pianist who got his start as a funny man during a concert at Victor Borge Hall in New York, whose audience included delighted members of Mr. Borge’s family.

Carolines on Broadway is located at 1626 Broadway, between 49th and 50th Streets; ticket information is available at and The November 8 event will be taped and broadcast on public television stations THIRTEEN, WLIW21, and NJTV at a later date.  

Celebrity judges who will crown the winner include:

  •       Comedian Robert Klein 
  •       Peter Schickele, of PDQ Bach fame
  •       Charles Hamlen of IMG Artists (classical music management company)
  •       Opera star Deborah Voigt

The WQXR Classical Comedy Contest is produced and hosted by WQXR host Elliott Forrest. 

WQXR Classical Comedy Contest finalists:

Magnus Martensson – pianist/comedian

Jim Wallenberg – stand-up violinist 

“Doowopera,” with soprano Inna Dukach and the GrooveBarbers

David Cope – stand-up harpist

Igor Lipinski – pianist and magician

Gabor Vosteen – visual comedian/recorder player

Steve Russell and Kobi Shaw – cranial percussionists

Sarah Worthington and Nathan Carver – singer and musical saw

Elizabeth Tryon & Mark Janas – Opera singer with Rogue Accompanist. 

A video of the finalists can be seen at:

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WQXR 105.9 FM is New York City’s only all-classical music station, immersing listeners in the city’s rich musical life. WQXR presents new and landmark classical recordings as well as live concerts from the Metropolitan Opera, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and the New York Philharmonic. WQXR broadcasts essential shows such as the Metropolitan Opera Radio Saturday Matinee Broadcasts, the New York Philharmonic This Week on Thursday evenings, the McGraw-Hill Companies Young Artists Showcase on Wednesday evenings, and Symphony Hall each weeknight. WQXR also operates Q2 Music, an online music stream dedicated to contemporary classical composers, cross-genre adventures, and performances from New York City’s edgier venues. provides essential playlist info for online listening, as well as original content, host blogs, NYC cultural news, videos, and a free WQXR App.

About the New York Comedy Festival

Now in its eighth year, the New York Comedy Festival is produced by Carolines on Broadway in association with Comedy Central. The festival has featured top comedians, including Dane Cook, Artie Lange, Margaret Cho, Katt Williams, Aziz Ansari, and Joel McHale. In 2007, the festival launched the “Stand-Up for Heroes” event to benefit the Bob Woodruff Foundation, featuring performances by Robin Williams, Jon Stewart, Jerry Seinfeld, Lewis Black, Ricky Gervais, Conan O’Brien, and Bruce Springsteen. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

For further information, please contact:

Jennifer Houlihan, WNYC/WQXR: [email protected], (646) 829-4497

Glenn Petry, 21C Media Group: [email protected], (212) 625-2038

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