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Anton Shuford: Philly’s Phunniest Person

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Anton Shuford knocked it out of the park right from the start.

Shuford won this year’s Philly’s Phunniest Person contest after a two-week long tournament held at Helium Comedy Club. Shuford wowed the audience and judges right from the bat, telling a completely insane tale about his desire to catch a ball at a Phillies game.

“I feel good. I’m glad I don’t have to re-enter this contest again,” Shuford said in his first interview after taking the title. “There are so many good comics in this competition. It’s a thrill to win. I’m so happy right now.”

Shuford’s victory was not surprising; he’s long been considered as one of the best comics in the city. But his performance in the contest saw him rise to a new level, using his great storytelling abilities as a way for the audience to see, and relate, to his unique worldview.

In the Philly comedy community, Shuford’s known as a philosopher of sorts. The first time I conversed with him was in the green room before a stand-up show both he and I were in. Our discussion covered everything from joke writing, to Alexander Hamilton’s impact on American history and to the hidden depths of the Matrix trilogy.

“I like to be really cerebral with my comedy,” Shuford said.

Shuford’s been performing comedy for six years now. The reason he started came as a result from a tough family situation. While a student at Penn State, studying nuclear engineering, his younger brother was diagnosed with cancer. Shuford did some soul-searching and came away with a new purpose in life.

“When he was sick, I thought about what I was doing and how nothing I was doing was making me happy inside,” Shuford said. “I was a different person then. And I felt like I really needed to do what I dreamed of doing.”

Shuford’s brother ended up beating his illness and Shuford has never looked back.

As a result of his win, Shuford pocketed $1,000. When his victory was announced, the MC asked him how he would be spending his money.

“Well, I’m going to Wildwood tomorrow,” he said. “I’ll probably spend some of it there.”