Dropped in on the semifinals of the Portland Amateur Comedy Contest last night at the Boiler Room and was again pleasantly surprised. Twenty-two comedians have been whittled down to ten. And while I'll miss a few of those who've been cut, the remaining contestants all bring something worthwhile to the mic. There are a few cheap laughs, but every so often a set dips into the sublime. Let me put it another way:

Ten solid comedians perform every night this week around the greater Portland area for FREE.

On Monday's show, three contestants in particular stood out: The clever and weird Phil Schallberger weaved through an array of different styles from songs to impressions to puns and one-liners; Christian Ricketts climbed aboard as a New Mexican cattle rancher without relying on lame stereotypes; and Ian Karmel dazzled with command and rapid-fire rhythm.

Catch the Contest Tuesday at Dante's, or Thursday at Mt. Tabor. For the rest of the dates, including stops in Gresham and Vancouver, see the official schedule. For a little background, check out last week's article.

If you've got nothing to do one of these next few rainy nights, give the Contest a try. It's free, so what've you got to lose?