Truly living up to its wordy title, the 27th Annual San Francisco INTERNATIONAL Stand-Up Comedy Competition, crowned Gerry Dee from Toronto as its 2002 champion.
In a photo finish that saw four different winners in the first four final round performances, Dee drove to the wire at the TV taping with original material, unusual ethnic impressions and a strong physical presence. A second generation Scottish immigrant, he currently earns his living teaching high school.
But Dee chose to take a leave of absence from his job to journey to Northern California in the hopes of gaining exposure for his talents. With the top comedy talent scouts from CBS and NBC, Julie Pernworth and Grace Wu, at the judging table on the last night, Dee certainly accomplished his goal.
Taking home $5,000 American didn’t hurt either.
All the participants in this year’s event deserve praise. The finalists were a diverse group with different ideas about how to get laughs. All have very great potential for future stardom. The four other finalists, in the order of their finishing, were:
Vargus Mason (L.A.). A human cartoon, he smiled and even danced as he found humor in surprisingly dark topics like childhood punishment and psychotic behavior. He’s already been discovered by HBO.
Dobie Maxwell (Milwaukee). Once he got started, he barely took a breath, delivering a barrage of outrageous comment. The self proclaimed “Mr. Lucky” skewered his hometown, Greyhound Bus and ignorant people.
Chris Mata (San Antonio). The first Chicano ever to reach the Competition finals, he harkened back to the Alamo in making light of exclusionary businesses. Very charismatic, women loved his tales of bedroom mishaps.
Arlo Stone (Eugene, OR). Brash and mischievous, he was the only political comedian, launching incisive attacks on many common attitudes, including those against illegal immigration. His back flip was a Competition highlight.