WQXR Classical Comedy Contest

The hour-long show, edited for TV, will air at midnight Dec. 8 (into Dec. 9) and at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 10 on WLIW21, and at 10:30 p.m. Dec. 9 on Thirteen WNET.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The competition was stiff, musical, and hilarious at Carolines on Broadway, when nine musical acts went for broke in the WQXR Classical Comedy contest on November 8th. The WQXR Classical Comedy Contest is a partnership between the legendary comedy club and the nation’s most listened-to classical radio station. The competitors – including a violinist/stand-up comic who plays with the Toronto Symphony and two percussionists who met at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College – were chosen from 79 hopefuls from around the world. The winner, Igor Lipinsky, was selected by a world-class line-up of judges from the worlds of comedy and music. The contest was presented as part of the New York Comedy Festival.

The hour-long show, edited for TV, will air at midnight Dec. 8 (into Dec. 9) and at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 10 on WLIW21, and at 10:30 p.m. Dec. 9 on Thirteen WNET.

Watch the entire TV special from WNET:



Winner Igor Lipinsky, Elliott Forrest, Caroline Hirsch


WQXR Classical Comedy Contest finalists:

Magnus Martensson – pianist/comedian

Jim Wallenberg – stand-up violinist

David Cope – stand-up harpist

Igor Lipinski – pianist and magician (WINNER!)

Gabor Vosteen – visual comedian/recorder player

Steve Russell and Kobi Shaw – cranial percussionists

Sarah Worthington and Nathan Carver – singer and musical saw

Elizabeth Tryon & Mark Janas – Opera singer with Rogue Accompanist


About the WQXR Classical Comedy Contest

There is a long and grand tradition of mixing classical music and comedy. Did you know SNL’s Ana Gasteyer is a trained violinist? That Jamie Foxx is a classical pianist? From Victor Borge's musical punctuation; Peter Schickele's 'discovery' of the music of PDQ Bach; Danny Kaye conducting orchestras; Jack Benny and his violin to Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd singing opera, classical music and comedy have often been intertwined.

Finalists performed at Carolines on Broadway on November 8th, 2011 as part of the New York Comedy Festival. Celebrity judges included Peter Schickele of PDQ Bach fame, comedian Robert Klein, IMG’s Charles Hamlen and opera star Deborah Voigt.



Watch this video for a preview of some of our finalists!

More in:

Comments [33]

Having seen the broadcast, I think Igor Lipinski was the clear winner. Runners-up (IMHO) were Gabor Vosteen (I've never seen five recorders played at the same time -- by one person!) and Magnus Martensson ("air" piano -- really? -- yes!).

Shrieking sopranos have never been my cup of tea, and the harpist was a bit too cerebral for that crowd. The percussionists were not quite on the same level as the other finalists.

I do wish the "singers" had been referred to as vocalists, like the pianists, violinist, harpist, percussionists, etc.

Dec. 10 2011 06:56 PM

Well, I'm late to the party, but I look forward to seeing the PBS broadcast. Comedy, she is a crazy monkey-face. Of the three YouTube URLs posted, I enjoyed the theremin the best.

But none was particularly funny, IMHO.

Having once performed "A Little Priest" as both Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett and being asked the day before the performance whether it would really work, I shrugged and said, "We'll see what happens on the stage of the St. James theater."

I got laughs.


Dec. 09 2011 04:57 PM
NYC Producer from NYC

Dear All,

Comedy contests, are entered by those with aspiring aspirations who are vulnerable and usually decent folk. the comedy biz, well, those people are not necessarily artists. Alligators give birth, than can eat their young. Look at it that way.

Dec. 09 2011 08:27 AM

Forgot the url!

Nov. 08 2011 03:43 PM

I agree this contest was very poorly handled. To those at WQXR - for next time - all you needed to have was an autoresponder that immediately acknowledged receipt of each entry. At least the entrant would know their submissions got there. I propose that EVERYONE who entered post a comment with your entry's URL so we can all see one another's work! Let's celebrate our own efforts!

Nov. 08 2011 03:40 PM
René Huixtlaca from Mexico

Wonderful contest!, maybe some latinoamerican musician are funny too :)

Nov. 03 2011 02:11 PM

Again, I want to thank all those who entered. This has been a delightful and huge undertaking and we are so looking for the FINALS on Nov. 8 at Carolines on Broadway.

So you know, we had so many entrants that we could only really personally contact the finalists.

Thanks again for entering, of those who did, and hope to see you all at the finals. Elliott

Oct. 30 2011 12:15 PM
Donna from New York, NY

@ Dorothy - no I didn't get an individual email. I just kept watching this page for updates.

Oct. 26 2011 08:30 PM
Dorothy from New York City

Did you anyone receive a rejection email?

Thanks for applying but no thanks?

I am now wondering if my video/application even went thru.

Not that I can't accept rejection.
That was a high C.

Thanks and good luck to the contestants.

Oct. 25 2011 11:28 PM
Donna from New York, NY

Ooooh, what I mean is that I'd still love to hear comments on my submission from other contestants - do you think my group and I could have been a semi-finalist? Here's my YouTube link- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iE0LSqOPSbQ -an original song I wrote based on a Shakepeare heroine, with a musical canon near the Coda and great singers (I'm playing the piano). Thanks if you comment! :-)

Oct. 25 2011 01:13 PM

Elliot- I hope they are all members.

Oct. 24 2011 03:54 PM
Donna from New York, NY

I'd still love to hear comments from other contestants who've been waiting for the results. Here's my YouTube link- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iE0LSqOPSbQ -a song I wrote based on a Shakepeare heroine, with a musical round near the Coda and great singers (I'm playing the piano)

Oct. 24 2011 03:11 PM
Elliott Forrest

Wow, What an onslaught of entries we had from around the world. Thank you -- to all who entered! I'm sorry not everybody could be a finalist. I suppose we could have invited everybody, but the show would be 3 days long!

I'm looking forward to the finals. Ticket info is on this page. Hope to see you all there on Nov. 8 at Carolines.

Oct. 24 2011 02:58 PM

WQXR owes a personal, individual apology to everyone who entered this contest. At best, your handling of this was clumsy at best. You told everyone you would post (a) semifinalists (b) for public comment (c) on Monday the 17th at noon. You did none of these things. Nor did you apologize or explain the delay or your arbitrary change in procedure. Then you notified at least one finalist on Thursday, even though all finalists had apparently not yet been determined (cf. Mr. Forrest's post over 24 hours later), causing some to question your integrity – probably unfairly, but the anger is certainly understandable. Everyone who took the time and effort to prepare and submit an entry deserves more respect than you afforded them. I am extremely disappointed in WQXR.

Oct. 22 2011 05:59 PM

Yowza! There sure are some cynical, conspiracy charged folks active in this thread.

"Who shot JFK?" "I saw Bigfoot!" "ICH... contest ringers or not?"

ICH are "not" ringers. However, they did work with Bigfoot in Walla Walla, Washington a few years back. BF does a stunning hair hang act to Erik Satie–Gymnopédie No.1

Regards & Laughter,

PS -- I am a good friend, peer and fan of ICH. Go see them at Carolines on November 8th... you will become a fan too.

Oct. 22 2011 11:44 AM
Frideric from New Jersey

@Wolfgang, Kenneth is actually Steve Russell of "In Capable Hands" writing on this blog, so don't take anything he writes here to promote himself too seriously. It's his shameless self promotion that started this whole mess.

Oct. 22 2011 08:38 AM
Mike from California

I entered the contest, but performing is not my career goal, it's just a fun thing to do. Performing on Broadway, like flying on a spacecraft, is not something I aspiree to do. But it would be pretty cool, right? (Space way more so than Broadway.) However, if I was a serious, aspiring professional, and I prepared something for this this contest in hopes of advancing my career, I would be pretty outraged and a little disgusted by WQXR's behavior. It's a contest. Even if a contest is a friendly game of wiffleball - you establish the rules and then you follow them, in letter and in spirit.

"Smokey, this is not Nam. There are rules." - Walter Sobchak

Oct. 22 2011 02:42 AM

@Kenneth...Actually, in the "About" section which WQXR has changed several times now, it said that they would pick semi-finalists that would be posted on their website for public comment. How those semi-finalists became finalists was very vague. So, I can see how people would be confused as to how the finalists were chosen. The fact that they reached out to an act already, thus, negating their own contest rules is quite suspicious. Dare I say that perhaps the agent of this act is in the loop of WQXR. This act has been on Leno and Regis and Kelly, so is WQXR trying to attain some pop culture "credibility factor" in choosing this act for the finals before anyone else is announced? It is hard to believe that WQXR would not have issued a confidentiality agreement to G.L. Berg Entertainment giving them a date that they can release a press release regarding the fact that their clients were chosen for the finals. Either way, WQXR has completely dropped the ball on this and hopefully will learn from this debacle that they have created.

Oct. 22 2011 02:33 AM

Elliott, Elliott, Elliott...How many times is WQXR going to change the language in the "About" section of this contest. I can't believe you guys didn't put more thought into this.

Oct. 21 2011 09:19 PM

Thank you all so much for your interest in our Comedy Contest. I'm sorry we have not posted the Finalists yet, but it is coming very soon. WQXR received 80 terrific entries from 4 countries and 12 US States. We have been going over all the entries to pick the finalists. Stay tuned. Hope to see you all on Nov. 8th at Carolines!

Oct. 21 2011 08:27 PM
Franklin from New York City

If "In Capable Hands" is such an outstanding family act, why are they by-passing the proper rules of this contest and just cutting in line? Not a good example of what everyone would call good family values, now is it?

Oct. 21 2011 07:30 PM

This is getting ridiculous. It's been almost two weeks and the finals are two weeks away and nothing's been posted. Downright disrespectful to the people who entered

Oct. 21 2011 07:06 PM

I entered this contest. The WQXR website and contest rules, read that the contest finalist's videos were going to be placed on the WQXR website to allow for public comments. It did not say anything about the public voting to select the finalists. The celebrity judges chose the contest winner from the chosen finalist.

On a side note... I have worked with In Capable Hands, they are an outstanding family act. I am positive the WQXR audience will be absolutely delighted with their performance.

Oct. 21 2011 07:03 PM
Veronica from New York City

I was told that WQXR called In Capable Hands and told them to buy plane tickets because they are finalists and will be performing at Caroline's on Broadway. This seems like fishy practices from Public Radio. Contest rules were laid out that there would be a semi finals round voted by the public. You're funded with my tax dollars, you're supposed to be a fair supporter of the arts...What happened WQXR????

Oct. 21 2011 06:42 PM
Franklin from New York City

This is an outrage! What is this, the 1950s? Is this the Quiz Show Scandals all over again? Is Jack Barry on the panel? This is unfair practices and downright cheating to have already invited them to participate in this contest. I checked out "In Capable Hands" on YouTube and they are jugglers who juggle to some classical pieces. It is appalling that they have been preselected for this contest and will be imposed upon the WQXR audience.

Oct. 21 2011 04:55 PM

G.L. Berg Entertainment has announced that their clients "In Capable Hands" has been chosen by WQXR as one of the finalists. Is this true? I thought the chosen acts were going to be posted on your website. Here is the link.


Oct. 20 2011 05:44 PM
alan from NYC

Nooooo? It's almost 4:00 already.

Oct. 17 2011 03:51 PM

Where are the results??

Oct. 17 2011 02:44 PM
jmdelahunt from NYC

Tried to send you link for Classical Comedy, but site wouldn't accept what I believe is a valid URL site(Oct.10, 10:11 pm).
Here is URL:



Oct. 10 2011 10:11 PM
Dr. Victor I. Sendax from NYC

Speaking of music in a comical vein WQXR should certainly revisit its old tapes/recordings of QXR's own Abram Chasins interviewing Peter Ustinov as that great English musical authority figure Sir Banbury Cross on April Fools Day! Hilarious!
And there should be a regular revisiting of Anna Russell's classic COMPLETE Ring Cycle in one hysterically funny rendition!

Oct. 05 2011 06:50 PM
Annette from North Bergen, NJ

I can't wait to hear this!

The funnier, the better.

Oct. 05 2011 01:09 AM
John Todras from NYC

The Tutti Fruity Sonatina is in three movements. The video is just the last movement.

Oct. 04 2011 05:43 PM

This is a creative!like this christianlouboutinshoes

Sep. 07 2011 11:49 PM

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