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Comedian takes big step, wins a top stand-up competition

November 5, 2016

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Decades ago, Alex Elkin won the talent show at San Dimas High School in California at 14 years old, a promising start to his stand-up career.

And in October, his stand-up career reached a new level. The Eugene-based comedian won the 41st Annual San Francisco Comedy Competition, taking first place by only 0.006 points.

“I always tell people I’ve hated math my entire life,” Elkin said, laughing. “Until Sunday, Oct. 2 at 9:55 p.m.”

That night Elkin, shocked by the victory, joined a prestigious group of past winners — comedians Louis C.K., Robin Williams, Ellen DeGeneres and Dana Carvey have all placed in the competition in past years, reported the Register-Guard (http://bit.ly/2feOWv6).

Elkin knew he wanted to be a comedian since he was 4 years old, he said. He remembers going with his dad to Shabbat service one Friday night, and as the first-born son he had to take a sip of wine. As a 4-year-old, he found the wine disgusting and made a face in front of the crowd.

“Everyone was laughing,” he said. “Even the rabbi.”

Elkin said he loved that feeling of making people laugh, thinking to himself, “I don’t know what this is, but this is what I want.”

As a young comic, his influences included Steve Martin, Jerry Seinfeld and Garry Shandling, and he said that first win at San Dimas High School “gave me the confidence to do it for a living.”

At 18, Elkin started working at the Disneyland Resort Jungle Cruise, cracking corny jokes to passengers on the boat. A few years later, he moved from Southern California to Eugene. Elkin enrolled in Lane Community College and met his wife; they married in 2003 before returning to California, where he opened for national acts such as Gabriel Iglesias and Carlos Mencia.

“I was making a name for myself,” he said.

But after he and his wife had their first child, Elkin realized he didn’t want to constantly be on tour and away from his family.

In 2007, he and his family moved back to Eugene, right after his wife gave birth to their second child. Both graduated from Lane Community College in 2011.

Elkin said it was thanks to local comedian Chris Warren and Eugene’s Brickwall Comedy Club that he began headlining in Eugene.

“I really owe a lot to him,” he said. “He pushed the baby bird out of the nest.”

Elkin and Warren now co-own All Comedy 1450 AM radio, and Elkin is known to listeners as “Beans” during the Brickwall Comedy Show, which airs at 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays.

“When you’re performing, you feed off of the energy of the audience,” he said. “With radio, I don’t know who’s listening or when.”

But Elkin said the work pays off when he’s recognized for his work in his everyday life, like in the line at the grocery store.

Elkin entered this year’s San Francisco Comedy Competition on a whim, and he was one of 32 comedians selected out of thousands of applications to compete by performing for audiences in different venues in the Bay Area over a series of weeks.

Elkin went from joking with students at the University of California, Berkeley, one night to pulling out his Donald Trump material at a senior center another night.

“It forces the comedian to be very agile,” he said of the competition.

As he made it to the top five in semi-finals, and then the final round, Elkin kept reminding himself, “in comedy competitions, nothing is ever fair, nothing ever makes sense — and don’t take it personally,” he said.

Elkin said he really didn’t expect to win first place — he figured that if second place was good enough for Robin Williams in 1976, it was good enough for him.

He won $5,000 and said the win has opened doors for his career, and he is excited to see where it leads.

After the win, Elkin signed with Uproar Records and is recording his first comedy album from Halloween through Nov. 6 at the Las Vegas casino Stratosphere.

“I am doing what I love for a living,” he said. “I’m living the dream.”


Information from: The Register-Guard, http://www.registerguard.com

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