Comedy Kumite is a one-night stand-up comedy battle, first organized by Chris White around 2005 at venues in D.C. and Northern Virginia. Eight comedians squared off in a bracketed tournament, with the audience deciding the winner of each match by their cheers. The DC Improv worked with Chris to revive the format in its lounge showroom in the summer of 2015, showcasing the next wave of DMV talent. Kumites have returned every few months since then, always selling out in the lounge and sometimes even filling up the club's main showroom. While the venue was closed in 2020 and early 2021, six editions of the tournament were featured in the club's virtual showroom. More than 30 kumite champions have been crowned.
Below is the roster of all Kumite winners since 2015.
To earn the title of Grand Champion, comedians must win a Kumite Tournament of Champions -- a one-night event where all participants are past winners of Comedy Kumite.
Cerrome Russell (official site), born and raised in Sumter County, Ga., started his comedy career while serving in the United States Marine Corps. He was first exposed to a broader audience as a cast member on the 2nd Season of BET’s popular prank show Hell Date. He has traveled extensively, performing at college campuses and military installations worldwide, as well as opening for Hannibal Burress. Cerrome Russell’s comedy comes in many varieties, including Off-Center, Truthful, and of course, Country. Follow him on Twitter at @CerromeRussell. Cerrome won Comedy Kumite 9.1 and 9.2 (spring 2017) at the DC Improv, Kumite 31 (Veterans Day 2021) and a Tournament of Champions (fall 2017). In summer 2023 he became the Comedy Kumite XL champ, winning a 24-person, 3-day tournament event.
Rahmein Mostafavi (official website) charms crowds with comic timing and charisma developed during a decade of live performance. He entered the stand-up world after working as a longtime cast member of “Shear Madness,” the acclaimed Kennedy Center improv/comedy whodunit. His natural joke writing ability, combined with his acting chops, have won him rave reviews in both the Washington area and around the country. He also produced events under the “Cool Cow Comedy” banner, bringing live comedy to venues in Maryland and Virginia.
Rahmein has been featured at the Laugh Your Asheville Off comedy festival, The Devil Cup, Red Clay, The Cleveland Comedy Festival, and the Cape May Comedy Festival. Rahmein has been seen on FOX, heard regularly on Sirius XM, was featured in “The Truth About Money” on PBS, and was honored to be a speaker at the world famous TEDx Talks.
Born in Iran, Rahmein moved to the United States with his family at a very young age. He currently resides in Northern Virginia. Rahmein won Comedy Kumite 4.2 (winter 2016) at the DC Improv, as well as two Kumite Tournaments of Champions (fall 2016 and summer 2021).
Dylan Meyer was a fast-rising talent whose eclectic style was complemented perfectly by his sharp wit and contagious energy. Always in the moment, Dylan delivered uniquely hilarious performances every time he took the stage. He passed away in May 2018 and is greatly missed by the DC comedy community. Dylan won Comedy Kumite 11.2 (summer 2017), as well as a Tournament of Champions (fall 2017).
Lafayette Wright’s obsessions with art and expression fuel who he is both onstage and off. He has spent close to a decade honing his skills on the DC comedy scene, and he now has a razor sharp act and undeniable onstage likability. He was featured in an episode of “Hart of the City” on Comedy Central. Lafayette won Comedy Kumite 11.1 (summer 2017) at the DC Improv, as well as Kumite 13.1 and 13.2 (winter 2018), Kumite 17.1 and 17.2 (fall 2018), and a Tournament of Champions (winter 2019).
Matt Deakins is a stand-up comedian. He lives in Virginia. When people ask him, he says Washington D.C. It's easier that way. He's performed in these places: Pittsburgh Improv, DC Improv, Vermont Comedy Club, Charlotte Comedy Zone. He's performed with these people: John Huck, Jordan Carlos, Dustin Diamond, Bret Ernst, Yannis Pappas, Paul Hooper Matt won Comedy Kumite 33.1 and 33.2 (spring 2022) at the DC Improv, plus the July 2022 Tournament of Champions.
Liz Barlow is a standup comic, writer and actor from Virginia Beach. She has been seen on TVOne, Virginia area Funny Bones, Dc Improv, Zanies in Nashville and the Charlotte Comedy Zone. She's also a published essayist , having been published in the Huffington Post and Wearyourvoicemag.com. Liz won Comedy Kumite 29 (online, winter 2021) and Comedy Kumite 41 (fall 2023) at the DC Improv.
Born in Washington DC, Benny Nwokeabia is half Nigerian half Ethiopian but grew up overseas in Geneva, Switzerland. He has performed in NYC and DC as well as internationally in Switzerland, Mexico and Canada (Zoo Fest, Just for Laughs). He has opened for acts such as Matt Rife, Martin Amini, Nate Jackson, Mark Christopher Lawrence and Felonious Munk. Benny won Comedy Kumite 39.2 (June 2023) in the DC Improv lounge.
Justin “Justo” Brooks is a professional comedian and writer. His witty, energetic, and thought-provoking comedy is definitely a must see. In 2020 he won first place in 3 comedy competitions including Magooby’s New Comedian of the Year. In 2021 Justo won a spot at the famous Laugh Factory by winning 1st place in the club’s open mic competition. He has also opened and hosted shows for Tony Woods, Tony Rock, Erik Rivera, Rodney Perry, Dominique, and other comics seen on Netflix, HBO, and Comedy Central. Justo won Comedy Kumite 39.1 (June 2023) in the DC Improv lounge.
Christine O’Dea is a rising character in the DC comedy scene. Mixing an irreverent style with outlandish viewpoints, her comedy is an honest look into her life as a somewhat peculiar woman trying to traverse the obstacles of normal life. She is the co-host of the Quick Time Gals Podcast. Christine won Comedy Kumite 38.1 (spring 2023) at the DC Improv.
A DC native with street sense and low dating standards, Bria Beddoe has been in the DMV comedy scene for several years now. She loves making dad jokes, heckling transplants, and blasting her ex on Facebook (it was a REALLY bad break up). She loves art and artists, deals with people in doses, and has recently relaxed her “I don’t date comedians” stance. Although she is a superstar in her head, she currently lives with her parents and is striving to have a place of her own once this ‘rona heat’ dies down. She has lofty goals, but plans on meeting them all. As long as the world doesn’t end first... Bria won Comedy Kumite 38.2 (spring 2023) at the DC Improv.
Mike Kurtz is a shameless anecdotal comedian representing PG County. He’s been on the comedy scene since 2018, both on the stage and behind the scenes. Look Mike up on Instagram at @prettyhurtskurtz for the latest updates on his comedy career and shows. Mike won Comedy Kumite 37.1 (winter 2023) at the DC Improv.
Kevin Seefried is a comedian and writer who splits his time between Washington, D.C. and Brooklyn, NY. He has performed in more than 20 states and the District of Columbia, including appearances at numerous festivals including the Brooklyn, Boston, and Blue Whale Comedy Festivals. Kevin won Comedy Kumite 37.2 (winter 2023) at the DC Improv.
Winston Hodges (official website) is from DC by way of Richmond, Virginia. He has worked comedy clubs up and down the east coast and is known for his southern charm and edgy wit. His debut album will be released in October 2021 by Helium Comedy Records, and his award winning comedy special "Grieving Productively" is available for free on YouTube. He is the host of the podcasts "Host Battle" and "Dead Dad Comedy Pod." He has performed in the Asheville Comedy Festival and New York Underground Comedy Fest. Come listen to Winston cover all the things we think about but are scared to say. Winston won the "Cottage Kumite" (Kumite 36, fall 2022) at President Lincoln's Cottage.
Alex Castagne is a standup comedian based out of New York City. Alex has been doing standup since the age of 18, and since then had performed in comedy clubs such as the DC improv, Richmond Funny Bone (where he is a 3x winner of Clash of the Comics), Levity Live, the Charlotte Comedy Zone, and more. Alex has worked with nationally touring headliners like Mark Normand, Sam Morril, Michael Rapaport, and a guy who had a puppet. Alex’s epic sense of humor and non threatening body puts audiences at ease and makes for a great night out. Alex won Comedy Kumite 35.1 (fall 2022) at the DC Improv, and he was a finalist at Comedy Kumite XL (summer 2023).
Dana Lollar, aka D. Lo, hails from Baltimore MD. Always a jokester, DLo stumbled into the comedy world, in Nov 2015, after a leg injury had her out of work. After countless open mics, she began to rise in the Baltimore comedy scene as a force to be reckoned with. Known for her quick wit and comebacks, she is definitely a spitfire on the mic. In her short comedy career she has won more than 15 competitions, been a finalist in Magoobys New Comedian of the Year Competition, headlined various shows in Baltimore, DC, Delaware, Ohio, NYC, Las Vegas, and Jamaica. She is the unanimous winner of Comedy Wars DMV and has been a finalist in Kevin Hart's "Hart of the City" on Comedy Central. Most recently she was a feature act in the 2019 Black Girl Giggles Festival, 2019 Baltimore Comedy Festival and the 2019 DC Comedy Festival. Known as the "roast queen" of Baltimore, and a improv master, she's sure to leave a lasting impression. D. Lo won Comedy Kumite 35.2 (fall 2022) at the DC Improv.
Dee Ahmed is a stand up comedian from Arlington, VA. A natural goofball, he's molded his unique comedic voice that’s insightful, affable, and hilarious. He has quickly become a regular at shows all over the DC area, from open mics in dive bars to comedy festivals, including The 202 Comedy Festival, Charm City Festival, Pittsburgh Comedy Festival, Cinderblock Festival, and What a Joke: A National Comedy Festival. Dee won Comedy Kumite 34.1 (summer 2022) at the DC Improv.
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Christian Escoto began performing comedy after his high school graduation. Since then, he regularly performs around the DC area and the Baltimore region. Using his quick wit and stage persona, Christian entertains the audience with jokes and stories about growing up in DC area as a Filipino-American. He has performed multiple times at the DC Improv, the Howard Theater and has opened for the national touring improv troupe the Groundlings. Christian won Comedy Kumite 34.2 (summer 2022) at the DC Improv.
Jamal Russell is a D.C. based comedian who has been doing comedy for six years. Jamal has performed at the Ice House in L.A., Caroline's on Broadway, the Milwaukee comedy festival, the Motor City comedy festival and the Boston comedy festival. Jamal won Comedy Kumite 32 (winter 2022) at the DC Improv, and he was a finalist at Comedy Kumite XL (summer 2023).
Rob Maher (official website) is a two-time finalist in Comedy Central's Laugh Riot competition, and in 2017 he was featured on Kevin Hart’s “Hart of the City." He is a recurring guest on Baltimore's 98 Rock and one of Armed Forces Entertainment's featured comedians. He's had the great honor of performing shows for our troops in 17 countries, including Afghanistan, Kuwait, Italy, Turkey, Japan and South Korea. His Dry Bar Comedy Special, “You Can Make it Here…” just dropped, and under the banner of Die Laughing Productions he produces murder mystery comedy shows. Rob won Comedy Kumite 28 (online, winter 2021) at the DC Improv.
With his distinctive perspective on American life and politics combines with a laid-back, friendly delivery, Simone evokes an animated, clever, and funny act. His eye for the absurdities of cultural politics and his unique writing and performance style wows audiences. Audience members have called him "hilarious" and "hysterically funny", while bookers have labeled Simone "brilliant" and a "rising star". Simone won Comedy Kumite 27 (online, fall 2020) at the DC Improv.
Alex Scott is a 20-year comedy veteran with national television credits including HBO's Def Comedy Jam, BET Comic View, Roland Martin on TV One News Now, and Tru TV's Lafftracks. After leaving the U.S. Air Force with severe PTSD, Alex found himself homeless in New York for a time but used comedy, his faith and family to pull himself up and become a successful comic writing for shows such as The Arsenio Hall Show, George Lopez Show and acting opportunities in Los Angeles. He now travels the country selling out venues with his brash, honest and hilarious brand of comedy. Alex won Comedy Kumite 26 (online, summer 2020) at the DC Improv.
Jacques Kindle is a comedian based in Washington, DC. Jacques won Comedy Kumite 23.1 and 23.2 (winter 2020) at the DC Improv.
Dylan Vattelana (official website) is on his way to being a veteran on the comedy circuit. He's equipped with wit, timing, and some of the craziest stories you cannot believe. He has appeared on the TV show "LMAO" on the JLTV Network and seems to be a star on the rise. Dylan won Comedy Kumite 22.1 and 22.2 (fall 2019) at the DC Improv, as well as Kumite 24 (online, spring 2020).
Mike Brown (official site), aka OlmikeB, first felt the nudge toward comedy in his hometown of Norfolk, Virginia. After serving in the United States Army for nine years as a soldier, he started hosting shows throughout the DC area. He launched his production company, OMBvision, in 2011, and he was a regular writer for "Da Jae Spot" and the locally produced “The Tommy Taylor Show". Mike won Comedy Kumite 20.1 (spring 2019) at the DC Improv.
D.C. native John Conroy brings an everyman's attitude to smart, sharply written material that runs the gamut from shrewd observations to social satire. Conroy is a jovial iconoclast whose good-humored but aggressive act makes a lasting impression. John won Comedy Kumite 20.2 (spring 2019) at the DC Improv.
Matt Brown (official website) is a rising comedian from Baltimore, Maryland, who has a way of warming the crowd with his quick wit and warm, pretty boy demeanor. Matt adds raw, colorful hues to dark scenarios and relatable situations, turning upset into something laughable every time. He has a way of warming the crowd with twists and turns, leaving them on their toes for a delivery of hilarious anecdotes and analogies. Matt has worked alongside some great comics such as Louis CK, Dave Attell, Tom Segura, Big Jay Oakerson, Godfrey, and many more. Matt won Comedy Kumite 19.1 (spring 2019) at the DC Improv.
Violet Gray, Baltimore's very own Queen LARPtress, has been a mainstay on the Baltimore comedy scene for years. She has won the pearl Next Superstar Comedian contest and is proud to be North Baltimore’s ONLY Dungeons & Dragons player. Violet won Comedy Kumite 18.1 and Kumite 18.2 (winter 2019) at the DC Improv.
Originally from Camden NJ, Dom Rivera landed in the DMV after joining the USAF. In 2016 he decided to take the Five Minutes to Funny class at the DC Improv. Six years later he’s opened for Patton Oswalt, Maria Bamford and performed at the Kennedy Center for the HBO “Entre Nos” tour. Hear the unique stories and life lessons from a Puerto Rican husband and father of three, professionally diagnosed as anxious AF. Dominic won Comedy Kumite 16.1 and 16.2 (fall 2018) at the DC Improv.
Eddie Morrison is a D.C. native who has performed standup comedy all over the metro area. His appearances include the DC Improv, State Theatre, and Magooby’s Jokehouse, where he was named runner-up at the 2015 New Comedian of the Year Competition. Eddie won Comedy Kumite 15.2 (spring 2018) at the DC Improv, as well as Kumite 30 (spring 2021).
Martin Amini is a stand up comic born and raised in Silver Spring, MD. Martin recently made Thrillist's "Best Undiscovered Stand Up Comedian list" and has opened for headliners such as Trevor Noah, Jerrod Carmichael, and Hasan Minaj. Martin's stand-up material touches on what it's like growing up mixed in America coming from an Iranian and Bolivian background. You can watch Martin on "Laff Tracks" on TruTV and “Unprotected Sets" on Epix. Martin is also the producer and host of The Overachievers Comedy Show. Martin won Comedy Kumite 14 (spring 2018) held at Dupont Underground.
Mia Jackson is a bonafide Georgia peach (that's Georgian for “native") and self-proclaimed know-it-all. After graduating from the University of Georgia she hit the local comedy scene and has thrilled audiences since day one. To her credit she has appeared on “NickMom's Night Out," “Viceland" and was a semi-finalist on Season 9 of NBC's “Last Comic Standing." She also appeared on the fourth season premiere of “Inside Amy Schumer" and the movie “Mother's Day." Mia won Comedy Kumite 12.1 and 12.2 (winter 2018) at the DC Improv.
Once described by the Washington Post as “the sardonic Semitic Benjy Himmelfarb”, New York based comedian Benjy Himmelfarb agrees that is definitely a fair way to sum him up. He started standup in the DC area where you have to be funny in front of pretty much every type of audience, and he became a great joke writer and dynamic performer because of that. Along the way, he’s opened for headliners like Ramy Youssef, Andrew Schulz, Janeane Garofalo, and Shane Gills, and he’s performed in comedy festivals like New York Comedy Festival, Limestone Comedy Festival, Firefly Music Festival, the Kennedy Center’s District of Comedy Festival, & the Underground Comedy Fest. Benjy won Comedy Kumite 10.1 (spring 2017) at the DC Improv.
Tommy Sinbazo is a veteran of the nerd comedy scene. His quick wit and off the cuff humor has been slicing though crowds like a Vorpal sword rolled by a loaded D20 for over 18 years. Crawling from the depths of the Geek Comedy Tour, this Cosplaying, Leathersmithing, Magic Missile of Myrth is a guaranteed hit. He has shared the stage with comedians Ralphie May, Brian Posehn and Kevin Meeny. He has been invited to perform at numerous comedy festivals, conventions and has even entertained American troops stationed overseas. If his face is familiar, you may have seen him in a mattress commercial. If his voice rings a bell you may have heard him on the radio or as one of the hosts of The Laughfinder Podcast. Tommy won Comedy Kumite 10.2 (spring 2017) at the DC Improv.
Pat Riley is a standup comedian, voiceover artist, sketch writer performer, and DC native with a knack for pointing out the absurd. In addition to being chosen to perform at the Capital Fringe Festival and Charm City Comedy Festival, Pat has worked with headliners such as Mike Britt, Kevin Downey Jr., Judah Friedlander, Jake Johannsen, Bobby Lee, Loni Love, and John Witherspoon. Pat won Comedy Kumite 8.1 (winter 2017) at the DC Improv.
Ross Benoit is a Massachusetts native who moved to Northern Virginia at age 6. Eighteen years later, he started doing stand-up comedy. You can see him hosting shows and performing at venues all around the DMV. Ross won Comedy Kumite 8.2 (winter 2017) at the DC Improv, as well as Kumite 21.2 (summer 2019).
Wendy Wroblewski (official website) is a stand-up comedian and math tutor from Gaithersburg, Maryland. She performs comedy all over the Washington, DC area. She was a guest on the Cape Fear Comedy Festival, the Underground Comedy Festival, and the DC stop of the Betches of Comedy tour. You may have heard her voice as the live on-air host of the short-lived Comedy Central Radio Live on Sirius XM. She has opened for Adam Cayton-Holland, Gary Gulman, Ryan Hamilton, John Heffron, Brent Morin, Mike Recine, Chris Redd, Beth Stelling, Liza Treyger, and Bengt Washburn, and Mike E. Winfield. Wendy won Comedy Kumite 7.1 (summer 2016) at the DC Improv, as well as Kumite 21.1 (summer 2019).
Tim D. Miller (official website) is a master at engaging audiences and crafting a stand-up set that is a guaranteed good time for all. Tim’s material is based on his life experience from Waco to the Army to the White House, trying to raise a daughter, and his unique ability to find the funny in everyday life. Tim has appeared on TRU TV and in 2019 he performed at Comedy Central’s Clusterfest. He is the producer and host of "Read the Room," a crowd work showcase. Tim won Comedy Kumite 7.2 (summer 2016) at the DC Improv, along with Kumite 15.1 (spring 2018), Kumite 19.2 (spring 2019) and Kumite 25 (online, spring 2020). He was a finalist at Comedy Kumite XL (summer 2023).
A native of Baltimore, Jason Weems’ engaging & conversational style on stage leaves audiences feeling like they’ve just finished talking to a close friend. It also simultaneously acts as free therapy for him. Jason has been seen at the most prestigious invitation-only comedy festival in the world, The Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal, and reached the top 100 and semi-finalist rounds on two separate seasons of NBC’s Last Comic Standing. In 2019 he released his second comedy special, “Jason Weems: Unknown.” His live show is truly one of a kind, and tailor fit to each unique crowd. In conjunction with standup, Jason can be heard in the popular serialized podcast “First Day Back”, where he is the subject of the newly released Season 3. Jason won Comedy Kumite 6.1 and 6.2 (spring 2016) at the DC Improv.
Russ Green is a writer, comedian, husband and father of four from Washington, DC. The Howard University graduate has opened for Alycia Cooper, Tony Woods, and produces "Laughter Hours with Russ Green" a monthly comedy series. Additionally, he has performed at The Big Hunt (Underground Comedy Presents' Smart, Funny & Black), The Howard Theatre (Brightest Young Things' Super Sampler), and Stand Up NY. His debut comedy sketch earned over 80K views on World Star Hip Hop and his Banana Bread Muffins are renowned. Russ won Comedy Kumite 5.1 (winter 2016) at the DC Improv.
Known in Colombia as "Yamel Yohnson," Jamel Johnson is a stand-up comedian from Woodbridge, Virginia. He is best known for his recurring role as Rowdy Boudy on the hit MTV series "Undressed." He burst onto the scene while creating the television show "Roc." Years later he successfully won a lawsuit against Jay Z for the name "Roc Nation." He took his earnings and started the Lugz Racing Team and the Lugz Racing Foundation which helps in the fight against Wade Boggs' Disease. One of these sentences is true. Jamel made a name for himself on the D.C. comedy scene through a hard-to-hate mixture of non-threatening yelling, weird stories and impressively specific but not alienating sports and music references. His comedy smoothly walks audiences through everything from casual racism to Law & Order: SVU, including the consequences of gentrification and if you can eat a pastry given to you by a maybe-maybe-not drug addict who happened to witness a murder last night. Jamel lives for the laugh from the one dude in the back of the room who also watches too much SportsCenter. After making his television debut in 2016 on Kevin Hart Presents: Hart of the City, Jamel now performs regularly at several elite coastal and inland comedy establishments all across America. He also thanks you for reading this whole bio. It was very sweet of you to do so. Jamel won Comedy Kumite 5.2 (winter 2016) at the DC Improv.
Matisyahu Nissim is a weird young stand up comedian and writer. He was once a physics PhD student, but dropped out when he realized it was super boring. Matty’s writing has been published in the Washington Post, New Zealand Herald, and Scientific American. He has also performed at many comedy festivals, such as the Limestone Festival, Laughing Skull Festival, Bentzen Ball, and San Francisco Sketchfest. In 2014, Matty was a finalist in the Boston Comedy Festival and was the winner of the Devil Cup in New York City. Matty has also appeared on Fox’s “Laughs" and on National Geographic Channel’s “Crowd Control." Matisyahu won Comedy Kumite 4.1 (winter 2016) at the DC Improv.
Sean Savoy is a global force for comedy. Hailing from Columbia, MD, Savoy has toured the planet from Sweden and Norway to Guam and Japan and all over the U.S. of A. with his partner in comedy, the legendary Pablo Francisco. Savoy’s high-impact, rapid-fire hilarity belies his mellow mood and laidback attitude. Sean recently appeared on "Gotham Comedy Live" in his television debut and electrified the crowd. Combining diverse characters with a wicked wit, Savoy can reach any audience with his timeless material, while meeting his expressed goal – to bring joy with his jokes and heal hearts with humor, all while bringing as much fun to his audiences as he’s having on stage. Sean won Comedy Kumite 3 (fall 2015) at the DC Improv.
Natalie McGill is a stand up comic who works as a writer on HBO's "A Black Lady Sketch Show." She previously was an on-air correspondent and writer for the political satire TV show “Redacted Tonight” on RT America. She has performed for the 2 Dope Queens podcast, Bentzen Ball Comedy Festival, Laugh Your Asheville Off Comedy Festival and the Kennedy Center's District of Comedy Festival. Natalie’s stand up was also featured in the 2019 comedy film “American Comic” on Amazon Prime. You can follow her on Twitter at @NatalieSMcGill and on Instagram at @hoothollersnap. Natalie won Comedy Kumite 2 (summer 2015) at the DC Improv.
Kasaun Wilson is currently a staff writer for the Emmy-nominated "The Problem with Jon Stewart". Howard University's own, Kasaun has been seen on NBC's Last Comic Standing, TRUtv's Laff Tracks, Epix's Unprotected Sets with Page Hurwitz and Wanda Sykes and written for LeVar Burton and Jenifer Lewis. Kasaun won the first edition of Comedy Kumite (summer 2015) at the DC Improv.