Leading Off a Big Year of Comedy Shows at the Bankhead Theater

Globehead_largeLIVERMORE, CA – (September 7, 2015) – Known for launching such comedy greats as Robin Williams and Ellen DeGeneres, the annual San Francisco Comedy Competition fields approximately three dozen comedians judged over multiple weeks in multiple venues across the Bay Area. In this, the competition’s 40th year, the Bankhead Theater will play host to the contestants on Friday, September 25, 2015, before they move into the competition’s final week. Tickets are $32 or $49 for adults and $16 for students.

“Stand up is arguably the hardest form of comedy. There are no props, magic tricks, partners or music to fall back on,” said Yael Kohen, author of “We Killed: the Rise of Women in American Comedy”. If stand-up comedy is already hard, the format of the San Francisco Comedy Competition certainly does not make it any easier. From hundreds of applicants, approximately thirty comedians are chosen to perform short, three to seven minute sets in one of two preliminary weeks consisting of six shows in six venues. Each show has a unique group of judges who score the contestants in seven categories. Ten comedians proceed to the semi-finals for six more shows where the sets are slightly longer, and the top five move to the finals. After sets of 12 to 15 minutes are performed at the finals, the winner is announced.

Originally founded and held in San Francisco, the venues for the competition are now spread across the greater Bay Area and surrounding regions and, this year, extend to Southern California as well. Competitors must polish their sets for a variety of venues include comedy clubs, bars, restaurants, casinos and theaters such as the Bankhead, as well as for a range of audiences.

The SF Comedy Competition has served as a stepping stone for numerous comic legends, launching many of them to stardom, including Dana Carvey who won the competition in 1977 before going on to appear on “Saturday Night Live.” The list of famous runner-ups is long as well, and includes Robin Williams, who placed second in the competition’s inaugural year, and Ellen DeGeneres, who also just missed first place a decade later.

The SF Comedy Competition is only the first of more than a half dozen comedy shows scheduled by LVPAC Presents this season. On October 30th a veteran of the SF Comedy Competition, Paula Poundstone, makes a welcome return to the Bankhead Theater. Known for her fine-tuned wit, impromptu observations, and impeccable comic timing, she has entertained audiences on stage, television and radio for decades. A range of laughter-inducing experiences follow, including the cerebral stand-up comedy of scientist-turned-comedian Tim Lee, as well as the hit one-person shows “Late Nite Catechism,” and “Defending the Caveman,”  Broadway’s longest-running solo play.  Masters of improv, The Second City, return to Livermore with a show about love and modern romance in February, and the completely improvised musical comedy “Broadway’s Next HIT Musical” appears in March. The annual springtime return of The Capitol Steps is perfectly timed in an election season already rife with the kind of headlines, tangled logic and slips of the tongue that fuel the Washington DC-based group’s hilarious, razor sharp satire.

The Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center provides wide-ranging programs that provide access to the arts for the Tri-Valley community and beyond. The Bankhead Theater and the Bothwell Arts Center are home to nine resident performing arts companies and over 40 studio artists and cultural arts instructors. The Bankhead Theater ticket office is open Tuesday through Saturday from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. On performance days the ticket office is open from two hours before to 30 minutes after the scheduled start of each show. Tickets for all shows in the 2015-2016 LVPAC Presents season, as well as resident company performances and events at the Bothwell Arts Center are available now through the Bankhead Theater ticket office at (925) 373-6800, on www.bankheadtheater.org, or via the new LVPAC mobile app.