No other festival or TV show can claim to have discovered as many future comedy superstars as the annual San Francisco Comedy Competition–including no less than Louis CK, Dana Carvey, Ellen DeGeneres and Robin Williams.
Performing at The Center will be 16 contestants in this year’s comedy competition, having survived an elimination process that started with hundreds of applicants. Each will offer up their very best 5 to 7 minute set. The night’s winner in the eyes of a prestigious panel of local judges will be announced at the conclusion of the show. Buy early for this one!
1) Tricia Bates (New York, NY)
Tricia Bates is a New York stand-up comedian and lawyer. She’s originally from the South, and her parents are very concerned about how much she curses in her so-called comedy. She’s performed at clubs all over New York, and you’ve heard her on The Bennington Show on Sirius XM, the Gail Meets Girls podcast, and her own women’s history podcast, She’s Just Awesome!
2) Chris Bennett (N. Hollywood, CA)
Chris Bennett has done stand-up comedy on Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Funny or Die Comedy Festival and has won over 10 stand-up comedy contests including The Funniest Actor in New York at The New York Improv and The Funniest Stand-Up in Southern California at The World Famous Comedy Store in Hollywood, CA. Chris is also the star of the popular Facebook Live Show and YouTube Channel Mister Chris’s Apartment Show, where he teaches adults things they should already know which he co-created with Emmy Award Winner Ryan Mckee from The Late Late Show with James Corden.
3) Mike Betancourt (Sacramento, CA)
Intense. Energetic. Animated. Outrageous. These are just a few of the words that describe multi-faceted performer and creator Mike Betancourt, the comedian, actor, writer and producer. As a comedian, Mike tears up stages all around the nation and creates new fans wherever he goes. He has a colossal personality that instantly connects to the audience, is often described as a “force of nature”, and uses his wide array of voices and characters to command the crowd’s riveted and delighted attention. Mike delves into twisted and controversial topics boldly, using his charm to make them entertaining and hysterical. Mike makes his way to the stage like he’s ready for battle, and leaves it like a conquering hero to the cheers of the crowd.
4) Nick Callas (Closter, NJ)
Nick Callas is a 24 year old, electrifying stand up comic. He brings silliness, energy and physicality to the stage as well as an exhibitionist-like display of insecurities and issues for us to laugh at. Since his graduation from NYU Film school in 2015, he has hosted TV shows for MTV and Music Show and has appeared on SeeSo’s NY Funniest. He has created cartoons for Comedy Central’s Saturday Morningish Cartoons and is set to host Snapchat’s new original series Family Jewels. He headlines comedy clubs and colleges all over the country and has accumulated over 17 thousand followers @MrNickCallas on Twitter. He also loves Dragon Ball Z and hot wings.
5) Grant Cotter (Catalina Island, CA)
Grant Cotter is a stand up comedian from San Diego, CA. He was one of the break-out stars of the MTV prank show, ‘Jerks With Cameras’. In 2014, he was selected to perform on all 22 dates of Funny or Die’s Oddball Comedy Tour alongside Louis CK, Aziz Ansari and Amy Schumer. Since then he has made appearances on HBO’s ‘Silicon Valley’ and NBC’s ‘Last Call with Carson Daly’. In 2015, he headlined the first ever Comedy Tent on the Vans Warped Tour. Most recently, Cotter was featured in the award winning documentary ‘Dying Laughing’ which was released in theaters nationwide.
6) Luca Cupani (London, UK)
Luca Cupani is an Italian actor and comedian that moved to London in 2014. Whilst looking for acting jobs, he discovered the world of stand-up comedy and fell in love with it. He has since won a competition (So You Think You’re Funny? 2015) and performed at the Leicester Comedy Festival, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and at the Montreal Just For Laugh Festival. He has also performed in the Netherlands and in the Baltics region (Latvia, Estonia, Finland) and last year he took part in the 37th Seattle International Comedy Competition.
7) T.J. Ferguson (Washington, DC)
T.J. Ferguson is a Washington, D.C. based comedian and has performed up and down the east coast opening for comedians including Kurt Braunohler, Emma Willmann, Chris Kattan, Jordan Rock, Mike Recine, and Brendan Eyre. He was featured on Destination America’s television show “A Haunting”—he can be spooky—and tackles subjects ranging from dating apps to police brutality.
8) Tyrone Hawkins (Cincinnati, OH)
His name is Tyrone Hawkins, graduate of the world famous Cincinnati School for the Creative and Performing Arts. His major? Comedy! This guy doesn’t have to force anyone to laugh, it just seems to happen… Online ratings for the jokester, 5 out of 5 stars!!!
9) Aliya Kanani (Toronto, ON)
Aliya Kanani is known best for her playful and mischievous personality. A Toronto-based comic, she’s performed all around Canada and the US, including showcasing at the NBC/Second City Breakout Comedy Festival, Montreal’s LadyFest, Brantford Comedy Festival, Shedot, Crom Fest and has headlined Lady Laughs Festival in Madison. Aliya is also the co-creator and co-star of the wacky web series “Juicy”. In her spare time, she co-produces and hosts underground pop-up comedy shows with The Backdoor Comedy.
10) Kazu Kusano (Tokyo, Japan)
Comedian Kazu Kusano is a playful Japanese imp. With her silly, yet dark comedy, she shatters the stereotype of the demure Asian. Kazu is a finalist of the Westside Showdown in Santa Monica and is the undefeated champion of Joke-E-Oke, the joke karaoke contest at SF Sketchfest. Internationally, she performed her one-woman show at Asiafest in Adelaide, Australia. Married to a Jewish mind-reader, she currently resides in Los Angeles.
11) Justin Lockwood (Berkeley, CA)
Justin Lockwood’s act spans from growing up on a marijuana farm, raising his own son, to dating as a single parent. He’s performed at the Burbank Comedy Festival, the Ventura Comedy Festival, is a San Francisco Funny Fest champion, and has been featured at Comedy Day in Golden Gate Park.
12) Nick Nemeroff (Toronto, ON)
Nick Nemeroff is a cool and strong guy from Toronto. So far, he’s performed in/on the Adelaide Fringe Festival, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, the Sydney Comedy Store, JFL42, NXNE, Oddblock, Put Your Hands Together, and Hot Tub with Kurt and Kristen. His writing can be read on CBC Comedy, his stand up can be heard on Sirius XM, and the phrase “Nick Nemeroff is a burgeoning and very funny comedian” can be seen in The Hollywood Reporter. In 2017 Nick was voted Best Male Newcomer at the I Heart Jokes Awards in Toronto and was named one of 9 Canadian Comics to Watch.
13) Rudy Ortiz (San Leandro, CA)
Rudy Ortiz is chronically tardy yet always has an opinion on whatever conversation he walks into. He’s from San Leandro, CA and has a real love of 90’s R&B and movies. He’s shared the stage with Eddie Griffin, Pablo Francisco and has spent the last 3 years as a sports talk radio host. He was also a convenience store clerk where he was held up at gunpoint multiple times but was never hurt. Now, THAT’S crowd work.
14) Omar Qureshi (San Francisco, CA)
Raised in rural Missouri, Omar Qureshi is a Pakistani-American comedian who got his start in New York and now splits his time between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Omar’s one man show “Mad Metaphysical” has played to sold out audiences in LA and Chicago. He took first place at the 2016 San Francisco Funny Fest competition, beating out over a hundred other comics. He is also an accomplished storyteller—he has won three Moth StorySlams in a row. He has performed at the Desi Comedy Fest, Stanford Comedy Festival, and Sacramento Comedy Festival. He has also performed at comedy clubs across the country, including the Comedy Store, New York Comedy Club, Cobb’s, SF Punch Line, and San Jose Improv.
15) Thai Rivera (Phoenix, AZ)
Thai Rivera is an openly gay comic that offers nothing but the most brutally honest and, often times, politically incorrect thoughts on everything from the homeless to AIDS. The 2013 title holder of the World Series of Comedy competition in Las Vegas, Thai is best recognized for his appearance on Comedy Central’s “Stand Up Revolution” on which Gabriel Iglesias raved “He is amazing…put your seatbelts on its about to get crazy!” Thai has also toured throughout Australia, Japan and Greenland for our American troops…not to mention his most recent seven city tour where he entertained audiences throughout China.
16) Mark Smalls (San Francisco, CA)
Mark Is funny and relatable. One of the hardest working comedians in the Bay Area. A regular at The San Fransisco Punch Line, Cobbs Comedy Club, and the San Jose Improv there is not a stage in Northern California that Mark doesn’t work.