L.A. Hardy

Port St. Lucie-based standup L.A. Hardy won the Mardi Gras Comedy Challenge in Hallandal Beach. (L.A. Hardy/Courtesy / November 2, 2012)

Being a comic can be tough. Being judged for your ability to make people laugh, well, that’s quite a bit tougher.

L.A. Hardy says he can handle it. And there’s evidence that he can: Last weekend, he won the Mardi Gras Comedy Challenge in Hallandale Beach from a field of 210 entrants.

He says one reason he’s comfortable with competing at comedy is because he grew up playing sports, including Division I baseball at the University of Akron. Another is that he’s from Cleveland.

“Being from Cleveland, I’m used to disappointment,” he says. “For example, you guys down here stole LeBron. But I’m not going to bring that up.”

For winning the Comedy Challenge, Hardy will open for Caroline Rhea Saturday night at Mardi Gras, 831 N. Federal Highway, in Hallandale Beach. Tickets cost $20 at MardiGrasCasino.com.

Hardy, 51, lived in Los Angeles for about 12 years, appearing on BET’s “Comic View,” ABC’s “According to Jim” and other TV shows. He moved to Port St. Lucie about four years ago, when he began working at the Improvs in West Palm Beach, Miami and the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.

“My wife says, ‘I’m moving, and the kids are moving, and you can either come with us or stay here,’ ” he recalls. “Next thing I knew, I was I was driving a truck across the country.”

But the relocation has worked out, because Hardy, his wife, a flight attendant, and their two children live about 10 minutes from Hardy’s mother. And Hardy says he’s all about family.

He says being a regular guy helps him find material and has kept his career going, with film credits in the low-budget 2008 action flick “China Dolls” and Bernie Mac’s 2005 film “Guess Who.” Hardy also appears in commercials, including ones for Blimpie, Sears, the Sylvan Learning Center and Capital One Credit Cards.

His routines include a bit on how much easier airport security would be if everyone just went through naked — “it’d be ugly, but it’d be safer” — and how married men call their unmarried friends for stories and “stuff you can’t do anymore.”

“I think I’m a likable guy, a regular dude,” Hardy says.. “I like hanging out with the guys and I’m a dad. There’s a lot of shared experience.”

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Photos: Coolio show in South Beach