The 45th Annual San Francisco International Comedy Stand-Up Competition was a grueling month-long challenge, not for the meek, the weak, anyone who needs to sleep, or owns a vehicle of questionable reliability.
Seen from the outside, it’s not for a single mom running a small business that isn’t a spring chicken, either.
No matter. Chelsea Bearce, although quite beaten, has never been beaten. Well, not by a lot. Only two, in fact, as the longtime Benician and former Vallejo resident placed third, taking home $ 1,500 and a new line on her resume.
“I was surprised at how much this competition meant to me,” said Bearce. “Was I excited to participate?” Absoutely. Nervous? For sure.”
While it may not have been a step for the man and a giant leap for mankind, Bearce finished in rarefied air as a woman in the competition’s Top 3, he said. she declared by telephone on Tuesday.
“People started hitting me when I reached the semi-finals, ‘You have to win this for the women.’ I started to see how many people were behind me, “Bearce said.” It really became clear how much this meant to me. “
Often hosting her own stand-up shows or headlining shows with her friend and former Vallejoan Myles Weber, Bearce said condensing her distinctively freestyle act to 5 to 7 concise minutes for the first round was revealing.
“I learned a lot about myself as a competitor,” she said. “I learned to deal with stress and deal with these overwhelming situations, to fight back and move on.”
Ryan Goodcase of San Francisco went No.1 when the panel of judges was tallied after the last night of September 26. James Hancock III of San Diego was second, while Orion Levine of San Francisco followed Bearce in fourth. . Ian Levy of San Francisco was fifth.
“The fact that Ryan won and he’s a dear friend of mine, I’m so happy for him,” Bearce said.
Third place? Something to be proud of, Bearce admitted.
“At 40, I was the oldest in the final. I was the only woman, the only one with my own business and the only parent, ”Bearce said. “I juggled a lot and put on a show every night in a different city and county. It was taxing.
As for all of the above, it probably helped, Bearce said.
“I think I stood out because of that, because I was so different from the other four competitors,” she said.
Marsha Warfield is the only woman to win the competition, winning the title 42 years ago.
A handful of women finished in the top five, including: Carrie Snow, fifth in 1982; Ellen DeGeneres, second in 1985; Karin Babbitt, fourth in 1990; Maria Falzone, third in 1992 and T. Marni Vos, fifth in 1992; Maureen Langan third at the 34th annual event in 2009; Gina Stahl-Haven, second in 2019, and Pauline Yasuda, fourth in 2019.
Langan said earlier this week by phone that Bearce “has a strong and powerful voice and a powerful stage presence and continues to write in that vein because it is personal and unique to her. And the staff are often universal and the made it stand out.
Langan recognized Bearce’s potential.
“I will probably open for Chelsea in a year,” Langan said. “And all I’m asking for is an appearance on his sitcom.”
Bearce said she was able to contact Warfield for information, adding to the advice of Weber, who won the competition in 2015, Dave Nihill, 2018 winner, and Sammy Obeid, 2010 finalist.
“I wanted to go there with as much ammo as possible,” Bearce said.
Obeid gave Bearce a nugget: no matter which city she performs in, arrive early, learn something remarkable about the city, and incorporate “a local joke or two” into her act.
“It was really good advice,” Bearce said.
Warfield “sent me a really heartfelt message encouraging me to do my best and try to win this thing,” Bearce said. “She also told me that wherever the show is, be nice to the staff.”
It was tight throughout the week of the finals. Bearce topped two of the five nights, as did Goodcase. Hancock stayed in the race finishing second most of the time. A night was decided in the 100th point, said Bearce.
“Competitive comedy is so much different than doing stand-up without any stakes,” Bearce said. “It’s such a different beast. You think of 800,000 things on stage, like you are trying to create it from the top of your head. “
The five finalists “became a little family,” Bearce said. “I see them all as little brothers. They fought and got the job done. They all deserved it somehow.
It was hard to shake off a disappointing night, she said.
“If I didn’t do well, I think about it for the next 14 hours,” she said.
While other comics shared the city-to-city driving, Bearce drove solo from his Benicia home in his 2018 Kia Soul. A 260-mile, over 4-hour trip to Arroyo Grande in the south took some tolls. ravages.
“It touched me,” she said. “If I had driven this far and finished last night it would have been really tough.”
She finished fourth. The following night in San Francisco – the last night of the final – Bearce won, edging out Goodcase and placing third overall.
“I don’t know the total mileage I have driven for the month, but I did an oil change right before the competition and needed another one at the end,” said Bearce.
Of course, she said, “part of me wants to win, but I got third place, which is great.”
Now Bearce can use the new credit to market not only his stand-up, but also the game show “Who Wrote This S #! T!” she created in New York 11 years ago.
Streaming on Twitch, Facebook and YouTube, five actors participate in each show, Mondays at 6 p.m.
Bearce takes the show on stage live on October 22 at Stab! Comedy Theater in Sacramento, October 23 at Badlands in Sacramento and October 24 at The Cellar in Benicia. To learn more, visit tslive.com.