2018 Judges: VT's Funniest Comedian

Take a look below at the experienced, comedy industry professionals judging the 7th Annual Vermont's Funniest Comedian contest - and get your tickets now!


Sophia Salador is Senior 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.


Ryan Cott is a Boston-based comedy producer who works and books shows at Laugh Boston, a 300-seat state-of-the-art comedy theater located in downtown Boston’s beautiful waterfront.

He is a co-owner and co-producer at John Tobin Presents, regularly booking shows and acts at Nick’s Comedy Stop, WooHaHa, The Comedy Scene and others in the Boston area.

He has also worked as booker and manager at the Boston Comedy Connection in Faneuil Hall. 

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J Finley is an assistant professor of American Studies and Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies at Middlebury College, where she teaches courses focusing on black expressive practices, identity, feminism, and popular culture.

Her current research looks at the history of black women's humor, particularly how stand-up comedy has come to be a site where black women challenge and expand traditional narratives of resistance, redress, and feminist politics.

J earned her PhD in 2013 in African Diaspora Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. She received her B.A. from Hampshire College and PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. Her dissertation, entitled "Firespitters: Performance, Power and Payoff in African American Women's Stand-up Comedy," uses ethnographic and archival research to explore black women's processes of self-making in performance, ultimately arguing that stand-up comedy is a unique space for sometimes unconventional political expression.


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Hari Kondabolu is a comedian, writer & podcaster based in Brooklyn, NY. He has been described by The NY Times as “one of the most exciting political comics in stand-up today.” In 2018, his Netflix special “Warn Your Relatives” was released and he was named one of Variety’s Top 10 Comics To Watch. The NY Times wrote of his special, ”it was an artistic breakthrough for him, an incisively funny and formally adventurous hour that reveals a comic in command of his powers."

Hari has released two comedy albums two albums, “Waiting for 2042” & “Mainstream American Comic." In 2017, he released his critically acclaimed documentary “The Problem with Apu” on truTV. He has performed on The Late Show with David Letterman, Conan, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and has a half-hour special on Comedy Central. He was also a writer & correspondent on “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell.”

Hari is a regular on “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me.” He has also appeared on Fresh Air with Terry Gross, WTF with Marc Maron, 2 Dope Queens, Morning Edition, All Things Considered,Studio 360, and more. He co-hosted the “Politically Reactive” podcast with W. Kamau Bell and currently co-hosts “The Kondabolu Brothers Podcast” with his brother Ashok.

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Jessimae Peluso is a standup comedian who can be seen at clubs from coast to coast (including Vermont Comedy Club on Thurs, Aug 30), and who can be heard weekly podcasts on her Sharp Tongue & Highlarious podcasts. She has a weekly Facebook live show called “Weedsday” every Wednesday that raises awareness for Alzheimer’s Disease.

You may have seen Jessimae on MTV’s “Girl Code” and “Safe Word”, TBS’s “Deal With It”, NBC’s “Last Call w/Carson Daly”, E!’s “Chelsea Lately”, FOX’s “World’s Funniest Fails”, VH1’s “Hip Hop Squares”, AXS’ “Gotham Live”, TruTV’s “Comedy Knockout” , and multiple appearances on Comedy Central’s “@Midnight.

Jessimae was featured in the Moontower Comedy Festival, New York Comedy Festival, Boston Comedy Festival, North Carolina Comedy & Arts Festival, Women in Arts Comedy Festival, and Just For Laughs and featured on Kevin Hart’s LOL Live network. She has contributed to Cosmopolitan Magazine, High Times Magazine, DOPE Magazine, Self Magazine, GQ.Com, Playboy.com, MadeMen.com, and was highlighted in the Huffington Post as ‘one of the funniest comics to follow on twitter’.

Tovah Silbermann is a comedy talent manager at Mosaic. She is Mosaic’s first ever NYC-based manager. Tovah works with writers, standup comedians and comedic actors. Her clients have written for or appeared on NBC, TruTV, HBO, Netflix, Disney, Nickelodeon, MTV, CBS, FX and many more. Prior to being a manager, Tovah was a comedy agent at the Gersh Agency.

She prides herself on her eye for talent, and has booked and produced shows and projects all over NYC.  Her projects have been featured in the NY Times, The Village Voice, Time Out New York, New York Magazine, Downtown Magazine, Animal NYC, Bedford & Bowery and more. 

She is the founder of the 2015 Empire Biscuit Comedy Festival, the associate producer for IFC's web series Boy Band and has served as associate producer for the Forever Dog Podcast Network. She was the producer for the Loud Boys show at Pianos Bar, F*ck that Movie at Videology, Samantha at the Pleasure Chest (UES), Marina + Nicco's Residency at the People's Improv Theater, Literati at Union Hall and Shabbat Dinner at QED and much more. 


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DeAnne Smith is a standup comedian fresh off her Netflix taping at Just for Laughs. A three-time Canadian Comedy Award nominee (2011, 2012, 2013), DeAnne has performed all over the world, including the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, the Iceland Comedy Festival and Just for Laughs Montreal and Chicago to name a few. DeAnne has also been on TV in four countries, including on Last Comic Standing NBC, The Late Late Show on CBS, Canada’s The Comedy Network and CBC, Australia’s Channel 10 and ABC, and UK’s Sky TV.

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Ahamed Weinberg is a Los Angeles-based comedian who has appeared on Late Night With Seth Meyers. His series Please Understand Me (Executive Produced by Sarah Silverman) recently debuted on Facebook. He is one of Vulture's 20 Comics to Watch and was awarded New Faces at the 2016 Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal. He also wrote, directed and starred in Ahamed's Ramadan Diaries (Comedy Central Digital), and appeared in Comedy Bang Bang (IFC), The Eric Andre Show (Adult Swim), I Love You, America (Hulu), Comedy Knockout (Tru TV), and Insecure (HBO). His film Lovebirds premiered on Amazon Prime in November.

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Julia DiFerdinando is a Los Angeles based comedian and writer. Before moving to LA she spent 8 years in Chicago, where she studied and performed at prestigious comedy theaters like The Second City, iO and The Annoyance.

She has also taught extensively at The Second City, served as understudy for its e.t.c. stage, and performed comedy aboard Norwegian Cruise Lines for the better part of a year. 

Julia also performs standup, acts in theater and film projects and is beginning her career as a screenwriter.