Bear with me. I am going to sound like an old man giving a "when I was your age" speech.
In 2005, I had a tight 7 minute set that I thought was the best I had ever constructed. In the FPIA finals that year, I did very well...multiple applause breaks, big laughs...just killer. When they announced 3rd and 2nd place, I thought, "Oh well...it was still a good set. I'm not going to win. Am I? Nah...Maybe?"
John Ramsey won in his first year of doing comedy. I had never heard of him or seen his act.
I don't know if Brendon Walsh actually read Ramsey's name this way when he announced him as the winner, but what I heard was, "Jooohnn...Raaaaa....msey." For a split second, I won. That was harsh.
I drank a lot that night. No, I mean, more than I normally did. I considered not doing the contest again, because it was a shit ton of self-imposed stress for a month to have 7 minutes of payoff.
In 2006, I did the contest again. Good showing, but it didn't feel like it did the year before. I tried to put together a set I thought the judges would like. Bad idea. I swore I wouldn't do FPIA again...I just didn't enjoy it. I wanted a contest that allowed me to do 15 minutes. 5-7 could suck it, I thought. I drank alot. Again.
2007. One more time. Tactically, I made the worst error by doing a soapbox bit on school shootings...less than a week after the Virginia Tech massacre. I was pissed off at the media for targeting video games and music (again) as possible causes...and my ego was at its peak in '07, so "fuck the judges", I said. Bad idea. I ranted, made it awkward, won them back, big applause break and laughs. I didn't make it past the prelims for the first time in 8 years. But I felt satisfied about my set, and I was able to enjoy the rest of April as a spectator. Never did the contest again.
What's my point?
Is it that you should stay true to yourself and not perform for the same finals judges you'll see in the years to come?
Is it that this contest doesn't really mean much in the real world or outside of the comedy scene (and outside of April-May)?
No. My point is this: If you do really well next week and you don't win and you feel shitty about it, just remember....fuck you! I had it way worse! You aren't gonna lose to someone whose name is 4 letters different from yours! You're not going to be built up for a split second then cock-punched with reality. You're not gonna hear "Chris Cubagooding" or "Chance Royscheider".
None of you fuckers have names that sound like each other. So suck it up, have a great night, and enjoy the goddamn moment. Break a leg.
Side note: Ramsey's set was far superior to mine in 2005. Well deserved. He's hilarious.