Comedy competition brings big laughs at the El Rey

It was a night of hysterical laughter and drum solos played on toasters. Chico’s El Rey theater hosted the 2018 San Francisco Comedy Competition Thursday. This is a yearly competition where hundreds of comedians audition to for a chance to secure one of 32 spots. The late and great Robin Williams once received second place in the competition’s first show.

Chico’s El Rey theater hosted the third show of the semifinal competition, which featured a panel of celebrity judges including Travis Downey, Jeremy Vee and Amanda Detmer. Comedian “The Tommy Lama” handled hosting duties for the competition and got the laughs going with his opening act that left the audience chuckling.

The competition had a total of ten contestants fighting to get the biggest and loudest applause from the audience for a chance to place in the top five.

They brought their game. Some of the highlights, according to members of the audience, were performers Dave Nihil, Julian Michael and Cristian Machado.

“I loved Julian Michael’s set,” said attendee Ana Rivers. “He was my absolute favorite of the night. I really felt like he really went for it.”

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Dave Nihil asks a concerning question to the audience at the San Francisco Comedy Competition that took place at the El Rey theatre Thursday. Photo credit: Daelin Wofford

Dave Nihil, who hails from Dublin, Ireland, really made an impression with his mesmerizing accent. Sarah Jones, another attendee, expressed her fondness over it.

“Dave Nihil, I decently liked a lot,” Jones= said. “I mean yeah he was funny and all, but I really liked his accent.”

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First place winner, Christian Machado makes the audience laugh with outlandish humor during the San Francisco Comedy Competition on Thursday night. Photo credit: Daelin Wofford

Cristian Machado, the winner of the night, accumulated quite the following with such a short amount of time. Attendee Martin Lori said that Machado’s set almost made him “wet himself.”

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Heywood Banks performs at the El Rey theatre during the San Francisco Comedy Competition. Photo credit: Daelin Wofford

Another big stand out was Haywood Banks’ routine, complete with a performance of his ever-popular song “Yeah Toast” played on a toaster hanging from his neck, “because why not.”

“The toast guy was super weird,” said attendee Tony Gonzalez. “I was surprised when he came out with a guitar and I thought, is he going to sing? Didn’t think he’d end up drumming on a toaster toward the end of it. I definitely did not expect that.”

The final five were announced at the end of the night with first place going to Cristian Machado, second to Dauood Naimyar, third to Julie Ash, fourth to Kris Tinkle and fifth to Hanna Evensen. The finals week for the competition will start on Wednesday at the Rossmoor Golf Club in Walnut Creek. The top five will compete for a chance to win the first prize of $5000.

Alex Coba can be reached at [email protected] or @ThatOneGuyCoba on Twitter.