HOW SWEET IT WAS — The 40th Annual San Francisco Stand-Up Comedy Competition clicked on all cylinders during its tour of northern (and even southern) California during September and October. For the second year in a row, a Bay Area comedian won: Myles Weber of Vallejo. He was passed the crown by 2014 champ, Kabir Singh of Fremont.
Myles received top scores from judges (sweeping the finals, just like Kabir) in a variety of venues for his magnetic, youthful perspective and energy, not to mention his fascinating belly button. It was a classic case of an established feature act who might have become somewhat taken for granted using the competition to show it’s time for him to move up.
“Thinking back over the years, the way Myles turned heads this year very much reminded me of a similar achievement by Jake Johannsen way back when,” remarked producer Jonathan Fox.
Also distinguishing themselves during this benchmark year were finalists Pat Burtscher from Toronto, Ken Garr from Chicago, Rodger Lizaola from Seattle and Stuart Thompson, an Oakland native who returned from Studio City, CA, for the occasion. Other worthies included semi-finalists Kate Anderson, Armando Anto, Harry J. Riley, Keith Seoul and Ronn Vigh.
In fact, the entire field was packed with talent.
“I felt we could have just as easily continued with the performers who came in sixth thru tenth when the first five semi-finalists were announced at the end of preliminary round one,” Fox reflected.
The depth of field was a testament to the work of Talent Director Peter Greyy who is a rare individual with the patience and dedication to watch hundreds of audition tapes submitted each year by applicants. Unfortunately, Peter was diagnosed with cancer shortly before the beginning of this year’s event and will have to be hospitalized for several months. We wish him a complete recovery. His presence was greatly missed.
We were able to welcome back several past winners and finalists who lent their talents as hosts. They included Tony Dijamco, Don Friesen, Sammy Obeid and Mike E. Winfield. Carlos Rodriguez finished sixth in his preliminary week and then did his best to prove he’d been robbed with a great hosting job at California State University, Sacramento, his home town.
In the face of several shorter comedy competitions that has sprung up in recent years with the appeal of making things easier on participants, the mother of them all compromised a bit by requiring only four performances per round, yet still managed to provide an array of challenging venues including rowdy one-nighters, casinos, dinner shows, colleges, retirement centers and. of course, theaters.
Just like in the real world, acts were also challenged to get on the road and figure it out for themselves as they traveled to exotic destinations like Escondido, Livermore, Modesto, Santa Cruz and even Tuolumne.
This year’s prize fund was increased by nearly 20 percent with Weber taking home $6,000. The top ten finishers all received enough cash to make their time commitment worthwhile. For those who finished out of the money, it was still a memorable experience that helped improve acts and resulted in new found friendships.
Emulating the NFL which likes to take the Superbowl to new facilities, as will be the case in February at Levis Stadium in Santa Clara, the comedy competition welcomed the Gallo Center in Modesto into its ranks by concluding there this year.
In 2016, the finals will return to The City. An effort will also be made to open the semi-finals in Hollywood to gain industry attention for deserving competitors.
Stay tuned for further developments. Until then, see if you can’t check out Myles. He deserves your attention.