FEATURE DOCUMENTARY

GENRE: COMEDY, DOCUMENTARY, HISTORY, POP CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT BUSINESS    RUNTIME: 90 MINUTES

GENRE: COMEDY, DOCUMENTARY, HISTORY, POP CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT BUSINESS

RUNTIME: 90 MINUTES

LOGLINE


THE SAN FRANCISCO COMEDY COMPETITION’S DECADES OLD TRADITION NO ONE ASKED FOR HAS FEATURED SOME OF THE BIGGEST NAMES THE ARTFORM HAS EVER PRODUCED…IN ALL ITS PAIN, HILARITY, AND MEMORIES.

DAVID ALLEN GRIER

DAVID ALLEN GRIER

DAVE CHAPPELLE

DAVE CHAPPELLE

MARK CURRY

MARK CURRY

IN-DEPTH


The history of modern comedy can be told through the San Francisco Comedy Competition’s subjective — judge and audience decided — outcomes. 

CAST OF HOPEFULS, PRESENT DAY

CAST OF HOPEFULS, PRESENT DAY

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Robin Williams placed second in 1976 for the San Francisco Comedy Competition’s debut. Dana Carvey won the following year. In the fourth year, Marsha Warfield emerged victorious yet she remains the only female winner in its whole history. Eddie Murphy did it at 18-years-old and it was the first time stand-up comedy in this format was on television. 

ROBIN WILLIAMS

ROBIN WILLIAMS

EDDIE MURPHY

EDDIE MURPHY

DANA CARVEY

DANA CARVEY

MARSHA WARFIELD

MARSHA WARFIELD

Bay Area legend Will Durst emerged in the 1980’s, and in ’85, Sinbad’s first place spot almost made the runner-up, Ellen DeGeneres, quit show business. 

ELLEN DEGENERES

ELLEN DEGENERES

SINBAD

SINBAD

The battles of future top names continued into the 1990’s. 1993 featured Carlos Alazraqui beating out Marc Maron and Patton Oswalt. 1995 had Doug Stanhope fend off Dane Cook. 

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DANE COOK

DANE COOK

CARLOS ALAZRAQUI

CARLOS ALAZRAQUI

MARC MARON

MARC MARON

PATTON OSWALT

PATTON OSWALT

The 2000’s elevated increasingly diverse talents like future Emmy winner Kevin Avery, Sammy Obeid (Conan), Solomon Georgio (Comedy Central), none of whom took the top spot, same as their contemporary Ali Wong of Netflix fame.

ALI WONG

ALI WONG

SOLOMON GEORGIO

SOLOMON GEORGIO

KEVIN AVERY

KEVIN AVERY

SAMMY OBEID

SAMMY OBEID

The 2010’s has continued to expand the competition’s imprint. Hasan Minaj didn’t place in any year’s top five, but his Netflix show’s head writer and producer Prashanth Venkataramanujam did.

David Nihill from Ireland furthered the competition’s global appeal in 2018, leaving this documentary’s producer Kris Tinkle behind in fifth place.

HASAN MINAJ & PRASHANTH VENKATARAMANUJAM

HASAN MINAJ & PRASHANTH VENKATARAMANUJAM

DAVID NIHILL

DAVID NIHILL

KRIS TINKLE

KRIS TINKLE

The year 2020 marks 45 years the San Francisco Comedy Competition has pissed off, celebrated, and immortalized its competitors. Those nice, round numbers signaled it is time to trace stand-up comedy’s trajectory from a live event night club phenomenon, to a television product and film lynchpin, to internet and podcast attraction, all viewed through the San Francisco Comedy Competition’s illustrious 45-year history, ahead of crowning the 2020 winner. 

2020’S POTENTIAL WINNER?,,,

2020’S POTENTIAL WINNER?,,,

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PRODUCTION TEAM


DIRECTOR/WRITER

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Danny Acosta is a San Francisco Mission district born-and-bred writer. He co-wrote the feature film, GREEN FEVER (post-production). Acosta has written for an array of national publications for over a decade, produced viral videos and conducted interviews seen by millions on YouTube. Acosta has hosted national radio shows and contributed to them for eight years, and has gone on to publish his photography with his writing. His first feature length documentary “From the Fields to The Gardens" on legendary boxing cornerman Jacob “Stitch” Duran is in production.

PRODUCER/WRITER

Kris Tinkle is a grizzled San Francisco comedy scene native of well over a decade. He’s opened for Dave Chappelle, Patton Oswalt, David Allen Grier, and many of the way more famous names in this film, and many who’ve never heard of him. His three albums have earned acclaim and airtime from and on SiriusXM. A USO Tour favorite, Tinkle has written for MTV, been seen via Live at Gotham, and the documentary “I Am Road Comic.”

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EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

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A former U.S. Olympic wrestler and two-division MMA world champion, Daniel Cormier’s broadcast career has gone from FOX Sports weekly UFC television broadcasts as an analyst to ESPN+ pay-per-view color commentator. Now, the consummate sports professional is backing an inclusion-rider slate of media projects in film, documentary and television. 

PRODUCER

From the Midwest to the Southwest, Laura Swisher’s talent took her to LA as a stand-up comedian featured on Comedy Central’s “Premium Blend” and NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” before producing on The Daily Show with John Stewart, Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell, and The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore. 

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PRODUCER

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Bianca Beyrouti is a UC Berkeley graduate whose film career started working for the Sundance Film Festival, has continued in the non-profit, documentary and public television realm via ITVS, and is expanding producing Bay Area independent film and non-narrative documentary features. 

DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT

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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