The Texas National Beard Championships is one of the last stops before the big competition in Norway. So, obviously everyone is going. This year is a bit different, though, because Austin Facial Hair Club ringers Bryan Nelson and Allen Demling have opted to judge this year’s competition instead of compete. Also, Beard Team USA captain Phil Olsen and reigning national champion Arnie Bielefeldt and two-time world champion Jack Passion are all flying in to compete. But since they are in Texas, the first stop is barbecue. Which, by the way, has got to be one of the hardest things to eat with a full beard and mustache. Choices, gentlemen! Next time have your welcome feast at a bite-sized tapas restaurant or something. Jack is not exactly thrilled to have his rivals Bryan and Allen judging the competition. He’s also not excited to have living beard legend Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top show up as the surprise guest judge. While Jack loves Billy, apparently Phil Olsen has made some remarks that Jack’s beard is better than Billy’s and Jack is concerned about reprisal. See the clip below for proof of this.
Speaking of Phil, he is starting to get concerned about the unity of Beard Team USA. Especially after Bryan publicly stated that Texas is considering seceding from the union. I didn’t know they were Civil War reenactors?! Maybe they were watching “The Civil War on Drugs” and got inspired. Anyway, Phil decides that the only way to keep the team together is to arrange a sit down between Jack Passion and the Austin Facial Hair Club. At the sit down, certain members of the Austin Facial Hair Club seem shocked that Jack would be offended that they booed him on stage …or that they are impersonating him on Twitter with some dark jokes. But most of Austin’s anger and unhappiness is directed at Phil Olsen. They don’t like the way he is running Beard Team USA and they aren’t too shy to tell him. Ultimately nothing was resolved in the meeting, but it’s always nice to see bearded men drinking beer in broad daylight. Then tragedy struck: Alex LaRoche’s beard started to sag. Back to the Aquanet salon with you, Alex!
During the competition’s kick off parade down Austin’s main drag, Phil Olsen takes a moment to try and explain why he feels comfortable making a profit off of his efforts on behalf of Beard Team USA: His work, his idea, his profits. Or, in the immortal words of the cast of “Seinfeld”: yadda yadda yadda. Don’t think he’s going to be convincing the Austin boys any time soon. The competition finally starts with guest judge Billy Gibbons arriving to a packed and excited house decorated with a giant sign that says, “DON’T SHAVE,” in case you had any doubt. After Billy gets his trophy for just being generally awesome with a really big beard, the real competition gets under way. As with most competitions, the freestyle beard and full beard natural are the hottest categories. However in Austin, they prefer to call “full beard natural” by its proper name “Gnarliest Beard,” which is quite apt. They also like to count the character and spirit of the beard, not just length and …er, girth. Brooklyn’s Myk O’Connor hopes this will play to his beard’s strengths and he can dominate in the category. Jack, on the other hand, is more than a bit nervous to walk out on stage, what with Austin being the land of anti-Jack Passion rallies. Plus, Jack faces some stiff competition from Brian Redbeard who came from Washington, D.C. and, of course, reigning champ, Aarne Bielefeldt. When Jack is introduced, he tries to score some points by complimenting the competition as the best in the land, which the crowd eats up. Then the judges start their mulling. They come to their decisions quickly, except for one category: Gnarliest Beard. Billy Gibbons seems to be Team Jack, but will Austin’s Bryan and Allen let Jack take the crown? Alex LaRoche takes first in Freestyle, putting him in a good position for the global competition. Then the Gnarliest Beard finalists are announced: Brian Redbeard, Jack Passion, and Aarne Bielefeldt. Once again, Myk did not make the cut. Brian takes third and after a long drumroll, Jack takes second place next to Aarne’s gnarliest beard in the land. Then Aarne, who is no spring chicken, went stage diving, drank beer out of the winning chalice, and drenched his beard in beer. He’s a winner! Jack takes the loss well-ish, but what he doesn’t know is that with the judges deadlocked, the judgment was made based on the roll of a dice. That’s right, fate, luck, or loaded dice chose Aarne to win the competition.
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