The 6th Annual Laughing Skull Comedy Festival returns to Atlanta now through March 29. 
More than 400 comedians submit to be in the festival, but the competition only selects the top 72 of them. This is considered by many comedy industry folk to be the best festival to see up-and-coming comedians and a great opportunity for Atlanta to see the best the country has to offer in one place over one weekend.

Gay Atlanta’s Ian Aber (that's me!) own got all up ‘Ian’ the business of some of the contestants that have an Atlanta connection to find out how they prepare for a comedy competition, why readers should check them out, and what they will do if or when they win.

Catch Dan Weeks, Chris Buck, openly gay Mike Gillerman and Landry at the free, yes FREE, showcase show Thursday at 10 p.m. at Hot Mic at The Hideaway with Ian Aber.

Links for tickets to Skull Fest can be found at the link, and then use code IKnowIanA for a $5 discount on most of the venues. Pretty slick set up.

Not only is Ian a local gay fave comedian, he is also the best interviewer of comedians coming to his town and here, in this piece, he lets us know what to expect and maybe give a few tips to the visiting comedians:

mikegillerman-2Mike Gillerman

Why watch? He’s done a bunch of cool things like talk into a camera on "The Wendy Williams Show" and writes articles for "The Advocate" and is the creator of "The Gay For Pay Comedy Tour" coming to colleges this summer.

1. Atlanta connection: I've never been but I'm excited to perform out there.

2. What have you been doing to prepare for the festival? Working on my showcase sets and mastering use of the word "shawty"

3. How is a stand up comedy competition different than a regular stand up comedy show? A competition has judges so it's a lot more pressure cause the stakes are higher.

4. In between sets, you are: Peeing, eating, Grindr'ng

5. Tell readers why they should come to see you compete in 5 words: I'm not like other gay comics (I don't like to count).

6. Right before you go on stage you say to yourself: No matter what happens, you're still pretty

7. A great set is better than: Certain sandwiches. Turkey Club, Tuna fish, it's a toss up with a reuben though. Except a reuben doesn't amp me up like a great set does. When you kill you might as well be doing coke…you're not sleeping.

8. The first thing you will do when you win the 6th annual Laughing Skull Festival is: This question is setting me up to be cocky so I'll just say I'm excited to perform for some amazing ATL peeps, shawty.

Dulce' Sloan Headshot-1Dulcé Sloan

Why watch? Dulcé is an Atlanta favorite and no stranger to the LGBT community, performing on all the locally produced LGBT shows, including my new show ‘Hot Mic at The Hideaway, Thursdays at 10 p.m. Her take no prisoners approach to comedy wows audiences

1. Atlanta connection: I've lived in various suburbs around the city most of my life. 24 of 31years if you like facts and such. So according to the rules, I'm from here.

2. What have you been doing to prepare for the festival? I've been doing as many sets as I can and reciting my jokes in traffic. I know the other people on 285 think I'm nuts! Or I was on the phone…damn it!

3. How is a stand up comedy competition different than a regular stand up comedy show? The stakes are 1,000 times higher, the payoff is much bigger and the urge to go to the bathroom is much stronger.

4. In between sets, you are: Trying not to fall asleep at work, going to sketch group rehearsal and bothering my mom. (Hi Lady!)

5. Tell readers why they should come to see you compete in 5 words: Face beat, titties sitting, yaaaas!

6. Right before you go on stage you say to yourself: You were born to do this. You have control of the room. And make sure you avoid eye contact with the drunk white girl in the front row.

7. A great set is better than: Everything in life! Except sex … and nachos. Nothing is better that nachos.

8. The first thing you will do when you win the 6th annual Laughing Skull Festival is: Quote Sally Field's 1985 Oscars speech, "You like me! You really like me!"

LaceSmileEdit-1Lace Larabee

1. Atlanta connection: Moved to Atlanta in 2002 for stripper clown school.

2. What have you been doing to prepare for the festival? Procrastinating.

3. How is a stand up comedy competition different than a regular stand up comedy show? In a comedy competition, there is a winner. In a regular stand-up show, everyone loses, especially your parents who wanted more for you.

4. In between sets, you are: Crying. 

5. Tell readers why they should come to see you compete in 5 words: More than just dick jokes. 

6. Right before you go on stage you say to yoursel? “Whose panties are these?”  

7. A great set is better than: Eating a Thin Mint dipped in peanut butter with honey drizzled on the top during sex while "Friends" reruns play in the background.

8. The first thing you will do when you win the 6th annual Laughing Skull Festival is: Go home and watch the 10s of new Twitter followers pour in. 

Dan Weeks Headshot Color-2Dan Weeks

1. Atlanta connection: Lived in Atlanta for about 12 years.

2. What have you been doing to prepare for the festival? Going up as much as possible doing different sets until I found a combination I liked, punch dancing to Whitesnake and watching Bloodsport.

3. How is a stand up comedy competition different than a regal stand up comedy show? For me, the main goal in any show I do is to not suck. So I guess, its all the same. Just dont suck.

4. In between sets, you: Party jamming all day.

5. Tell readers why they should come to see you compete in 5 words: Cocaine and Ninja Turtles YEAH!

6. Right before you go on stage you say to yourself:  See answers 3 and 5.

7. A great set is better than: EVERYTHING!

8. The first thing you will do when you win the 6th annual Laughing Skull Festival is: Probably scream "oh sh*t oh sh*T OMG" in a loud falsetto voice while shaking my hands and jumping up and down. Basically turn into a 12 year old who just won a cheerleading competition.

landry-1Landry

1. Atlanta connection: I've been living in Atlanta on and off since 2002. I started my comedy career here in 2007.

2. What have you been doing to prepare for the festival? I've done a lot of crying. It's best to come to terms with the inner sadness before a competition.

3. How is a stand up comedy competition different than a regal stand up comedy show? Honestly I try not to get too involved with the hype behind it being a competition. I just plan on going up and doing what I do and having as much fun as I can doing it.

4. In between sets, you: In between sets, I am chopping it up with the other comedians. The best part about a festival is the networking.

5. Tell readers why they should come to see you compete in 5 words: I just bought new shoes.

6. Right before you go on stage you say to yourself: "I wonder if I get a discount on chicken wings if I kill it."

7. A great set is better: Than good credit.

8. The first thing you will do when you win the 6th annual Laughing Skull Festival is: The first thing I would do after I win the 6th annual Laughing Skull Festival is call my mother and tell her that she can tell her friends proudly that I am a stand up comedian…instead of telling them that I'm a guest speaker.

chrisbuck-1Chris Buck

1. What have you been doing to prepare for the festival? Smashing sets into five minutes for better or worse. Each day I try not to forget that I'm funny. Then I get overly serious, and become not funny. Then I hang out with another comic friend, and remember I'm funny. Repeat cycle.

2. How is a stand up comedy competition different than a regular stand up comedy show? Some comics have a competitive energy built into their stage persona, maybe that's better suited to competition. I'm competitive but I'm fearful I'll lose the inquisitive curious attitude I have on stage in favor of efficiency and ego. This all feels like an exercise or a drill, for another thing later.

3. In between sets, you are? Straight to working on the next one.

4. Tell readers why they should come to see you compete in 5 words: Because these colors don't run.

5. Right before you go on stage you say to yourself? No words, but I create a mental picture of myself choking out Mark Wahlberg. Not a joke.

6. A great set is better than? World peace, but only for about two hours.

7. The first thing you will do when you win the 6th annual Laughing Skull Festival is? I'd most likely cry.

neelnanda-2Neel Nanda

1. Atlanta connection: I grew up here. Survived 19 years.

2. What have you been doing to prepare for the festival? I've been performing to all of my childhood stuffed animals and childhood dildos in order to prepare for the festival. Oh, and doing shows at the Laughing Skull.

3. How is a stand up comedy competition different than a regular stand up comedy show? A comedy competition turns comedians into enemies exactly like regular stand up comedy.

4. In between sets: I'm getting obese at the Vortex.

5. Tell readers why they should come to see you compete in 5 words? I won't fuck your mom.

6. Right before you go on stage you say to yourself: Daddy doesn't love you, but they might.

7. A great set is better than: Multiple orgasms.

8. The first thing you will do when you win the 6th annual Laughing Skull Festival is: Call my dad and hope he picks up or calls me back.

gregbeherens-1Greg Beherens

1. Atlanta connection: Lived in Atlanta for four years.

2. What have you been doing to prepare for the festival? I've put on about 30 pounds.

3. How is a stand up comedy competition different than a regular stand up comedy show? There's people even more people judging you.

4. In between sets, you are: Talking to myself.

5. Tell readers why they should come to see you compete in 5 words? I got some new shirts.

6. Right before you go on stage you say to yourself: Don't fuck it up, dummy.

7. A great set is better than: My expectations.

8. The first thing you will do when you win the 6th annual Laughing Skull Festival is: Quit my soul sucking day job.

465955_10100452658406183_111410657_oMichael Albanese

1. Atlanta connection: Lived in Atlanta for five years, moved to New York September of 2014.

2. What have you been doing to prepare for the festival? Running as many sets of different jokes as I can to get the ones I am most happy with ready. That, and singing under a street lamp.

3. How is a stand up comedy competition different than a regal stand up comedy show? Industry. Comics are always being judged on stage, but now it is in front of people who can really make you question your decisions.

4. In between sets, you are: Listening to the last set or trying to catch a nap.

5. Tell readers why they should come to see you compete in 5 words: My beard demands you come.

6. Right before you go on stage you say to yourself: Fuck 'em.

7. A great set is better than: Free waffles.

8. The first thing you will do when you win the 6th annual Laughing Skull Festival is: Cash the check so I can get home.

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