Dinosaurs were the first subject matter I ever felt intellectually connected to, so in 1993 when I was not even seven-years-old, I rushed to the movie theater to watch Jurassic Park. However, thanks to what I know now to be my artistic inclination, I had to pass up to the Spielberg blockbuster to watch Mel Brooks’ spoof comedy Robin Hood: Men in Tights…
It was rare one of my parents would take me to the movies. I lucked out because my cousin went so he could take me to the funny one, while my mom went with my brother to the dinosaur adventure.
Fast forward to senior year of high school and I am putting a VHS tape of a performance copied from a handheld camcorder into my school newspaper advisor’s VCR after school. I had recently seen Mitch Hedberg do stand-up comedy on television; I never knew you could perform one’s writing, it never occurred to me that was possible in such a real and fun format. I was hooked, and immediately jumped into the legendary Bay Area comedy scene, and performed for the first time at the Brainwash Café’s Tony Sparks-run, 15-plus-year open mic.
Journalism in college took precedence over comedy, but at that time I met Kris Tinkle, confusing him for another shaggy-haired white comedian I’d performed with on a show. Tinkle was angry at the mix-up. Nevertheless, we became friends.
We traveled the California stand-up circuit, discussed writing, and always awaited the right project to bring us together in an official collaboration. After I signed to do my first documentary, 2020’s “From The Fields to the Garden,” the story of Jacob Duran, who went from a farmworker in the San Joaquin valley to famous figure in the boxing world, immortalized in the Rocky film franchise, I heard from Tinkle about vying to win the San Francisco Comedy Competition at different points in his stand-up comedy life. His venting illuminated to me the hope, frustration, and humor performers have endured in the tournament’s 44 years.
I’ve interviewed comedy’s big names like Bill Burr, Marc Maron, Ari Shaffir, and Joey Diaz in a journalistic capacity, writing for different media outlets. After making my first feature film as a co-writer, the thriller Green Fever, and directing my first documentary, I looked to combine my burgeoning film talents with Tinkle’s first-hand experience on stage opening for the likes of Burr and Maron to tell this story in the words of the world’s funniest people – and some of the people that could say they were funnier than them on any given night.
The truth is comedy isn’t made for winners. It’s made for laughs. That truth can really hurt the competition’s losers if it doesn’t heal them too.
- DANNY ACOSTA