After five straight nights of traveling, joke-telling and ego bruising, many of the comics are ready for this week to end.

It is fitting that the first round should end in a casino. For this is a mighty big gamble. The winner of this competition gets $3,000. But there is no money — I repeat, no money — for you if you don’t make it out of the first round. You may get applause. You may even pick up some fans along the way. But you get no other compensation for your week on the road. It might actually cost you a pretty penny to compete in this thing.

Thus, the pressure mounts. Some of the comics still in the running have begun to second-guess their material. They add new jokes or try anything different to make a final attempt at the top five. Those of us who have been mathematically eliminated from advancing have a different view of the last day. A couple of people snap. Chris Maltby spends his final minutes of stage time explaining how the judges and audiences hated him for being gay. Scott Meyer decides to take this night to explain his madness to the other comics. Of course, this meant nothing to the audience.

The crowd was unnecessarily tought tonight. Considering how little they paid for the show — the casino actually paid the crowd in gambling coupons for their attendance — you would have thought they might have been more forgiving.

For the record, the top five tonight were:
1. Jan Barrett
2. Bengt Washburn
3. Mike Capp
4. James Heneghen
5. Joe Vespaziani
16. me

For the week:
1. Bengt Washburn, 53.16
2. Joe Vespaziani, 52.02
3. James Heneghen, 51.76
4. Kevin Foxx, 50.94
5. Jan Barrett, 50.16

6. Andy Andrist, 50.09
7. Damonde Tschritter, 48.77
8. Mike Capp, 47.27
9. Dean Evans, 46.02
10. Curtis Lee, 44.50
11. Stan Chen, 43.76
12. Gary Lucy, 43.64
13. Celeste Franklin, 40.56
14. Sean McCarthy, 39.16
15. Chris Maltby, 39.04
16. Amy Barnes, 38.27
17. Dave Dennison, 37.40
18. Scott Meyer, 35.89

I learned a lot during this past week. For one thing, I didn’t finish last. Heck, I didn’t even finish next to last, or next-to-next-to last. I learned that while it takes years to become a top-notch comedian, it can take only a couple of days to come up with a very funny bit. I learned that a comedian can tell the same exact jokes from a year ago and still win. I learned that a comedian can improve his or her score with the judges and the powers-that-be if he or she complains in the right manner. I learned that complaining just to complain, however, is not funny at all. I also learned that, if for some reason, you find yourself standing alone onstage dancing in your boxer shorts — and no one else prompted you to take off your clothes — you have no more shame. And I learned something very important about myself: Thank God I didn’t quit my day job.