ORLANDO, Fla. – Ken Miller is a two-time champion of Florida’s Funniest Comedy competition but this time, he beat out more than 1,000 comedians worldwide in the first Steve Harvey Stand Up Spotlight competition.
For the Apopka resident being funny comes naturally.
“I was the class clown," Miller said. “(I) got voted funniest in high school.”
Growing up the North Carolina native and Army veteran said he looked up to well-known comics before he stepped onto the comedy stage.
“Martin and Dave Chappelle would the two that kind of influenced me and, of course, the originals, you know, Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, Patrice O’Neal and definitely Chris Rock,” the 42-year-old said.
Thirteen years ago, Miller made the leap when a friend told him to check out an open mic at a lounge in Altamonte Springs. It was a defining moment.
“I bombed for 5 minutes and I was like, ‘Well, this is it. I’m gonna do this’” Miller said.
Since then, he’s been performing at comedy clubs all over the country making people laugh by talking about his life.
“I’m number 8 of 11 children so I talk about that. I went through a divorce, I talk about that. I got remarried again, I talk about that.” he said. “If you come see me, there’s nothing I’ve made up. Steve Harvey says this, ‘The best joke is 90% truth, 10% embellishment.’”
Sure enough, that technique worked. Harvey chose Miller as the winner of his Steve Harvey Stand Up Spotlight competition, the first one this year.
“Man! Do you understand how hard I was crying?” Miller said about when he got the phone call informing him he won.
The winning clip he submitted is called “I’m just a father.”
“It’s a 5 minute routine about me being a dad, it’s a year in the life of Ken,” he said.
In the bit, he talks about a road trip with his children, the tooth-fairy and says parents shouldn’t have to give money for something that we all lose.
The prize includes a three-day trip to Los Angeles and meeting Harvey.
“I smoke cigars so hopefully I get to smoke a cigar with Steve Harvey. I grew up watching Steve. I’ve seen ‘Kings of Comedy’ a million times,” Miller said. “I’m a comedian and I love being on the road and I just hope this opportunity, you know, gets me more road gigs in the future.”
Aside from making people laugh, Miller also enjoys giving back to his community through toy drives for the Boys and Girls Club of Central Florida.
It hasn’t always been all smiles for Miller. His latest recognition comes after years of struggle.
“You’ll email clubs, you’ll call clubs, you’ll text bookers and you don’t get any reply. Just last week I emailed 50 clubs. I got two replies and they were both 'No,” Miller said with a laugh. “To any young comic out there that want to start, understand it’s not overnight. It’s gonna be frustrating but if you keep at it, somebody is gonna see you.”
Miller performs Thursday, Dec. 12 at the Orlando Improv and on Saturday, Dec. 14 at Side Splitters comedy club in Tampa.
For more on Ken Miller and where you can catch him live, visit kenmillerthecomic.com.