I love me some stand-up comedy. Who doesn’t, really? I mean, laughter is fairly universal in its appeal.
Sure, bad stand-up comedy can be downright painful, but a good comedian with some artfully written jokes – that’s money.
Yes, artfully written: There’s an art to good comedy. Anyone who’s seen some joker get up on a stage and simply act like a goofball, or watched a foul-mouthed lackey spew angry rants that are more obscene than funny, knows good comedy chops don’t come easily.
Happily, I got to help judge some particularly good comedy last year at Gallo Center for the Arts during the finals of the multicity, multiweek San Francisco Comedy Competition. Even happier, I get to do it again this year.
The San Francisco Comedy Competition is celebrating its 41st straight year – little says success like a 40-plus-year run – as it returns to the Gallo Center for two shows on Saturday, Oct. 1. The downtown Modesto performing-arts venue will host the finalists this year, with the overall winner being announced the next night, Oct. 2, in San Francisco.
Last year, the Gallo Center not only hosted the finalists, but the overall winner also was announced there.
Hosting the final five means Modesto gets the best of the best. And the contest boasts some impressive past winners and finalists, helping launch the careers of such stars as Louis C.K., Dana Carvey (who himself has played multiple shows at the Gallo Center to delighted audience members – myself included), Ellen DeGeneres and Robin Williams. A look at the list of past competitors reveals some other impressive names, such as Patton Oswalt, Rob Schneider, Marc Maron, Dane Cook, Ralphie May and others.
The five finalists each will perform two shows at the Gallo Center, 12- to 15-minute sets. All are survivors of an elimination process that started with hundreds of applicants. Two separate panels of locals will judge the shows.
Jim Short, the competition’s 2004 winner, will host the Gallo Center show. Short competed five times before finally taking the S.F. Comedy Competition crown, according to executive producer Jon Fox.
Like most comedy events at the Gallo Center, the single show held last season sold out. But with two shows this year in the Foster Family Theatre, more people will get a chance to enjoy some fresh comics who just might end up being major stars.
I can attest to serious laughs from the 2015 lineup. Since the Gallo Center show features the top vote-getters from the slate of 30-plus competitors who began their Northern California tour earlier this month, audiences can expect high-caliber performances.
As a judge, I certainly do.
At press time, tickets still were available to the Gallo Center shows set for 7 and 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 1. Tickets are $20 to $35 and are available at www.galloarts.org. For more on the San Francisco Comedy Competition itself, see sanfranciscocomedycompetition.com.
Come on out and check it out for yourself. It should be a riot!