The Best of SF International Comedy Competition hits town
Comedy, like all of the arts, appears to us as the work of individuals, when in reality it is the effort of a larger group of people. Behind the scenes is where some of the more interesting stories appear—and in comedy, there is the silver-haired Jonathan Fox. You might have enjoyed his efforts at the Crow’s Nest, where for the last 15 years he’s been providing the fodder for the weekly Sunday night laughs.
“I’ve actually been booking comedy for 30 years in Santa Cruz,” Fox says. “At first it was at the old Albatross, which used to be off of 41st Avenue. That lasted about 15 years on Sunday nights, and they went out of business and the Crow’s Nest called me and asked me if I would like to move over. And I’ve been here ever since. And, it’s been super successful.”
Fox is also infamous for his discovery of a group of talented comics in San Francisco and parlaying that revelation into the country’s best known comedy club, The Punchline. ”I stumbled across this comedy workshop at a place called The Intersection in North Beach featuring Robin Williams and Dana Carvey,” he recalls. “There were no customers, the comedians were the audience, they weren’t even in the main room they were down in the basement.”
Launching the careers of America’s most notorious comedians has become Fox’s legacy. It was Fox’s SF International Comedy Competition that attracted talent from across the country such as Dane Cook, Ellen DeGeneres, Eddie Murphy and Doug Stanhope amongst a long and impressive list. In 2010 the first comic to ever win both Fox’s SF and Seattle competition emerged, Auggie Smith. Fox beams, “I love comedy that makes people question their beliefs while laughing. And Auggie does that to a tee.”
Smith may appear on the younger side of life, but this seasoned pro has been busy cultivating an audience and working full time as a comic since 1990. “The thing about aging and stand-up is that a guy like me has been around a long time and has always made a living at it, and I have a little bit of an audience—but I’m not a huge star by any means,” Smith surmises from the wings of a stage in Missouri. “But I can always look to the trio, Ron White, Lewis Black and Rodney Dangerfield. Three guys who did it forever before they finally hit. So guys like me can say, ‘Ha ha, see, I can still make it!’”
Appearing at the Best of the SF International Comedy Competition will be headliner Auggie Smith. Also appearing will be Sammy Obeid and Shannon Gettins. The show starts at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 22, at Kuumbwa Jazz. Tickets are $20 advance, $25 at the door. For more information, call 415-302-0519.