Contest Judges: Vermont's Funniest Comedian, 2016

We're so excited about the batch of experienced entertainment industry professionals judging the 5th Annual VT's Funniest Comedian contest. Take a look at their credentials below!


Jessica Pilot is a comedy producer and talent scout. She scouts and produces stand-up comedy for CBS.

Her previous credits include National Geographic Channel, Comedy Central and NBC. Pilot has also written about comedy for Esquire, Glamour and The Village Voice. Her feature length story in Vanity Fair included interviews with Jon Stewart, Ray Romano, Silver Silverman and other influential comedians.

She created and produced a documentary series for The Village Voice which profiled the lives of stand-up comedians on and offstage in New York City. Guests episodes include: Patton Oswalt, Jim Gaffigan, Colin Quinn and more.

Chris Burns is a comedy manager and producer at AGI Entertainment Media and Management.

Prior to AGI, Chris was a comedian, writer and producer who worked on such films as Trainwreck and Date Night, as well as TV shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm and Delocated. He lives in New York City.

Michelle Barbera is co-founder and co-producer at WICF, which produces the Women in Comedy Festival (April 19th-24th; submissions now open), as well as original podcasts and writing. WICF is open to all comedians of all genders, with a focus on helping to close the gender gap in comedy. 

Michelle has performed, written, and produced comedy in Boston for over a decade. She was a member of ImprovBoston's MainStage for over four years. Michelle has directed numerous improv troupes, sketch shows, and taught improv master classes and workshops. She founded and co-produces the award-winning WMAM films, which has screened films nationally at the Independent Television Festival, Boston Film Festival, Filmapalooza, and her personal favorite, the Zompire Film Festival.


Amy E. Hawthorne started her comedy career as a blogger in Los Angeles before moving into production, marketing and publicity. Now the Talent Booker at New York Comedy Club, she has previously booked and produced shows at The Stand, The Creek and The Cave, The Comedy Store and The Viper Room.

As a writer she has covered numerous major events and festivals, including Just For Laughs Montreal, Moontower Comedy Festival, RIOT LA, Bridgetown, The Improv’s 50th Anniversary and The Comedy Store’s 40th Anniversary. She has had the honor of interviewing comedy greats like Bill Burr, Colin Quinn, Nick DiPaolo, Bonnie McFarlane and Judah Friedlander. She is currently a contributor to and has appeared on SiriusXM’s Bennington, Legion of Skanks, and You Know What Dude.

Joe Garden is a freelance writer living in the Catskills in New York. His work has appeared in Vice, Conde Nast Traveler, and The Onion, where he was a writer and editor for 19 years.

He's also co-written three books that make great gifts and co-hosts the live comedy shows Monko Sexo Trasho and Griff & Joe's Holiday Spectacular

Sophia Salador is an Associate Producer at Just For Laughs, the world’s largest international comedy festival.

She has been with the company since 2012, working festivals in Montreal, Toronto and Chicago. Sophia works with the programming team to produce all of JFL's Festivals worldwide.

Sophia has judged many competitions in the past, including several years on the jury for the Montreal Fringe Festival and the Montreal Comedy Competition.


Norm Laviolette is the co-owner of Laugh Boston, a 300-seat, state-of-the-art standup venue, and the co-founder, President and Executive Producer of its sister improv and sketch venue, Improv Asylum

As an actor, writer and producer, Norm has written and produced several renowned television pilots and feature scripts. He was Executive Producer of the Emmy-Nominated Improv Asylum’s Vanity Project, as well as Executive Producer of Second City Boston, the hit musical You’re A Good Man, Scott Brown, and the cult classic All The Single Ladies. Norm leads Laugh Boston and Improv Asylum's strategic business and artistic visions locally, nationally and globally.

Becky Astphan is a comedy manager and producer in New York City. After managing Stand Up NY on the upper west side of Manhattan for 4 years, she co-founded management and production company Sweet Wine Productions.

Becky currently represents comedians who can be seen on NBC, ABC, Fox, Comedy Central, TruTV, MTV, Oxygen and more. During her time at Stand Up NY she helped start podcast network Stand Up NY Labs and produced the acclaimed Broken Comedy Show at Bar Matchless. 

David Thomas started performing standup to make friends. It's going great!

He runs a weekly show in Jamaica Plain at The Riot Theater and has performed in the Boston Comedy Arts Festival, at Laugh Boston and other clubs, and opened for Adult Swim's Pound House Live. His brand of genuine, offbeat humor will endear himself to you as much as it makes you laugh.