Much like its role in the worlds of film, music and art, the San Francisco Bay Area has had, and continues to have, an indelible impact on the world of comedy. Many entertainers now finding success under the alternative comedy umbrella once logged time in the San Francisco scene, including Patton Oswalt, Greg Proops, and Brian Posehn, but the lure of the LA entertainment industry frequently proves too great to resist. Still, a ton of talented folks live here in the Bay, and many have found an audience at Club Chuckles.
Since December 2003, Club Chuckles has hosted an impressive variety of cutting edge local and out-of-town comedians monthly at the Hemlock Tavern. It's a non-traditional venue for comedy, appropriate to showcase some non-traditional acts, and on Friday, December 12th, the Hemlock hosts Club Chuckles' "Five Year Anniversary Blowout," featuring some of the Bay Area's funniest performers. It's a quality bill with several likely highlights.
One of the funniest and strangest comedians to come out of the Bay, Brent Weinbach's stage presence is simultaneously distancing and confrontational, a slight, hunched posture with two hands tightly gripped around the microphone. It's an appropriate stance for material that frequently recreates awkward dialogues involving some unsettling characters who betray a lack of basic self-awareness. Things don't just get uncomfortable, though. They also get hilariously weird, as Weinbach manages to impress a blind date with a offensive mockery of her heritage, or a student tells the comedian that his tight pants are "fucking up my sperm count." It isn't much of a surprise that Brent Weinbach won the Andy Kaufman award at the 2007 Comedy Festival in Las Vegas, but it also isn't surprising that for every several awards, there's at least one entertainment industry official who doesn't seem to "get" him (with his web site documenting both).
Bucky Sinister's debut CD What Happens in Narnia, Stays in Narnia is very, very funny, even as it challenges the boundaries of traditional stand-up. An accomplished author and poet, Sinister's dense rambling stories avoid the setup-punchline format, but show a hilarious eye for absurd details told by a sarcastic athiest who has clearly seen quite a bit. Sinister's latest book is Get Up: A 12-Step Guide to Recovery for Misfits, Freaks, and Weirdos, and his stand-up material captures bizarre encounters in recovery with humor and wisdom. A longtime San Franciscan, he's also got his fair share of distinctly San Francisco stories about bizarre local businesses and drug-addicted stalkers that are as colorfully strange as they are entertaining. (Listen to Bucky's reading from Whiskey and Robots on KQED's The Writers' Block.)