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Comics answer the call: Stand up and be funny

Tim Parsons
Lake Tahoe Action

Jokes delivered at a fast, furious pace are a certainty in the first round of the 35th annual San Francisco Stand-Up Comedy Competition at 9 p.m. Saturday at the MontBleu Theatre.

Fifteen comedians will compete in one of the first-round battles for the most laughs at 9 p.m. Saturday in the MontBleu Theatre. They each have five-to-seven-minute sets. The sets get longer in subsequent rounds.

“I think this is the toughest round because the really good comics who have 60 minutes of great material,” said producer Jon Fox, “they can be outdone with somebody with just six minutes of great material and slightly better material.”

Hundreds auditioned for the 32 spots in the monthlong competition to win $7,500 and a prestigious resume addition.

“It’s like the gift that keeps giving,” said host Karen Rontowski. “You always have that title.”

Past winners include Dana Carvey, Roseanne Barr and Ellen DeGeneres.

Rontowski said any of the 16 are contenders to win.

“It’s always a surprise,” she said. “There’s never a shoe-in. Robin WIlliams came in second to Marsha Warfield. That’s an example of ‘you never know.'”

MontBleu is the fifth of six preliminary round events in as many nights throughout Northern California. Sixteen other comics compete in a second preliminary round next week. The field will be cut to 10 for a semifinal round for 10-12 minute sets, then the top five do 15-20 minute sets during five final round performances.

“Any veteran comic will tell you that (the first round) is the toughest round,” Fox said. “They want to get over that hurdle and into the semis and the finals to show they have a lot of stuff. Then again it’s the same time duration that they would have if there were on Letterman or the Tonight Show. That’s kind of the TV standard.”

The comics for the first preliminary round are Chris Bennett, Daniel Carroll, Solomon Georgioi, Vahe’ Hova, Jonny Loquasto, Jay Montepare, Toby Muresianu, Patrick Ney, Sammy Obeid, Rob O’Reilly, Sean Ottey, Marc Patrick, Lizzy Pilcher, Marianne Sierk, Auggie Smith and Insane Wayne. One of those comics will be eliminated before the MontBleu show.

“It tests who you are inside,” said Rontowski, who finished eighth the year she entered.

Tickets are $30 plus fees.


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