Janet Varney
SF Sketchfest co-founder Janet Varney selects a few favorite “under the radar” shows happening the last week of SF Sketchfest!

Janet: I have to start out this week’s picks with Tuesday’s show at the Castro. I don’t have enough room in this writeup to list all of Penn & Teller’s achievements. They’re incredibly prolific, incredibly creative, incredibly smart, incredibly funny and just all-around really cool guys. We have the honor of paying Tribute to them as they take a look at their nearly 40 years of doing magic and comedy together, in conversation with Mythbusters’ Adam Savage, who also happens to be all of those qualities I mentioned above. And for those of you wondering if Teller will be sitting mute for the entire show… you’ll just have to come see for yourself (it will be worth it, I promise). See you there! Tuesday, February 3rd at 8pm.

My next pick is just a good, old-fashioned variety show…that happens to be replete with a bunch of TOTAL BADASSES. Wheels Off With Rhett Miller has music — courtesy Rhett himself (Old 97s) and John Vanderslice, comedy— courtesy SF Sketchfest winning-for-most-shows-done-per-festival staple Paul F. Tompkins, and prose— courtesy the Bay Area’s own brilliant author, Michael Chabon. I’m sorry, but that’s an insanely cool lineup. Come geek out with me at Cobb’s this Wednesday, February 4th at 8pm!

Okay, I know we’re supposed to do 3 picks, but I just want to squeeze one more in here before the last one. Tinkle Twins is a popular standup show at Largo in LA, hosted by two of my favorite people, Dana Gould and Arden Myrin. As if that weren’t enough, their guests for this SF Sketchfest iteration are none other than Greg Behrendt, Mike Lawrence, Natasha Leggero and Brendon Small. That’s a lot of show! Friday, February 6th at 10:30pm at the Verdi Club.

And then finally, jumping ahead to Sunday, our closing day of the festival, I’m super excited for our Sneak Peek at Comedy Central’s new show, “Another Period.” First of all, it’s a dream cast. Created by and starring Natasha Leggero and Riki Lindhome, the show also boasts this astonishing lineup of awesomeness: Lauren Ash, Michael Ian Black, Paget Brewster, Beth Dover, Brett Gelman, Christina Hendricks, Brian Huskey, David Koechner, Jason Ritter, David Wain and Armen Weitzman! “Another Period” is set in the early 1900s and follows the misadventures of Newport RI’s first family. They have absolutely nothing to offer to the world, but have so much money it doesn’t matter. We’ll get a look at episodes of the new show and chat with the cast. Sunday, February 8th at 4pm at Cobbs!

Stay tuned for the final picks from co-founder David Owen and Cole Stratton.


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NPR’s Ask Me Another comedy quiz show returned to the Castro Theatre for another uproarious SF Sketchfest special, hosted by Ophira Eisenberg with VIP guests Alex Borstein (“Family Guy,” HBO’s “Getting On”), Pixar screenwriter and director Brad Bird, and sex columnist turned activist Dan Savage. This installment of Ask Me Another was almost too racy for public radio, but perfect for this lively Castro audience, with contestants participating in quiz show games. Alex Borstein used her Lois voice asked contestants to name famous Peters throughout history. Puzzle master Will Hines asked contestants to identify whether names were: a sci-fi villain, a famous person or a tech startup. The hosts and producers became nervous in the final contestant round, run like a spelling bee, when the challengers got so many questions correct, they feared they’d run out of questions!

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The Ask Me Another audience, whom Ophira described as “nerdy, but sexually active millenials,” ate up all kinds of juicy tidbits from each of the special guests, ranging from Borstein’s wide fan base from the Lois Griffin-lovers to Ms. Swan fan, to Bird’s precocious beginnings as a short film director at the age of 13. Dan Savage, who bragged, “I can undue abstinence education in one hour… my superpower!” closed out the show with some sex advice for everyone to do unto others as you would have them do unto you … or as he put it, the Golden Rule applies even when your pants are off!

The biggest challenge will be for the Ask Me Another producers, who will have to find an hour of public-radio appropriate material from the almost three hour taping of delightfully raunchy entertainment and adult themes.

As Ophira tweeted after the show: “Tonite-one of my fav Ask Me Another shows ever & 5 mins of airable material. Thx @fakedansavage @AlexBorstein @BradBirdA11.”

For more photos and daily updates from the fest, check out our Facebook page and Instagram account!

Thanks to contributing writers Nadee Gunasena and Morgan Davis.


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Tommy Lau

SF Sketchfest spent a musical Sunday afternoon with the Animaniacs. Songwriter and composer Randy Rogel attended with stars and voice actors Rob Paulsen, Tress MacNeille and Jess Harnell, who were, impossibly, more animated than their cartoon counterparts. The crowd was treated to a breathtaking variety of songs ranging from the meaning of time to the complete (musically-abridged) works of William Shakespeare, to the Emmy Award-winning Animaniacs version of “The First Noel.” During the audience Q&A, the stars shared the stories behind the successful auditions that got them on the show, including Harnell’s amazingly distinctive Beatles impressions (including an impression of Ringo Starr that eventually helped him create the voice of Wakko) and the now-famous “Yakko’s World” song, created by Rogel to help him land his role. The show closed, fittingly, on a crowd sing-a-long to the Animaniacs theme song that brought everyone out of their seat! A special meet & great after the show treated superfans to photos and autographs, and treated the cast to anecdotes from the rooms they reached through the TV. Said one father and daughter, “Animaniacs was something we could always share.”

After appearing on five different shows Friday and Saturday, Emo Philips took the Eureka Stage for a night of standup Sunday evening. He treated the packed house to material he suggested he wouldn’t attempt for audiences anywhere but San Francisco. The master performer threw out his ideas for wildly inappropriate greeting cards and shared stories of growing up in a family of Chicago PD members (“It’s like growing up in the mob except you can’t go to the cops.”) He then screened his silent short “The Can Man” while providing his own accompaniment on recorder.

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Tommy Lau

SF Sketchfest turned into a lovefest at the Tribute to Tom Scharpling & Jon Wurster, co-presented by Noise Pop. The Theme Weavers LLC donned tuxedos and bowties to perform their original theme for The Best Show. Moderator Jon Daly (“Kroll Show”) got Bad Company’d by John Darnielle and Bob Mould during his introduction to Scharpling & Wurster, two of his heroes. The evening got underway quickly diving into the roots of Scharpling & Wurster’s friendship. Musical interludes included Darnielle’s crowd-pleasing “Thank You Mario, But Our Princess Is In Another Castle,” and Mould rocked the Marines’ with “Hoover Dam.” The dedicated FOTs in the audience provided for an in-joke Q&A, where the audience ate up details about the creation of Philly Boy Roy and other Best Show favorites. Jon Daly asked the question on everyone’s mind: “Do you guys hang out?” They responded: “We do, we really do,” and shared that they sent each other frequent postcards, and that they’ve enjoyed a long relationship with no bumps. Daly confessed he was jealous: “It’s like a Seth Rogen movie. It’s a bromance.” When the raucous night relunctantly drew to a close, the crowd leapt to its feet for a standing ovation, and backstage hugs were abundant.

For more photos and daily updates from the fest, check out our Facebook page and Instagram account!

Thanks to contributers Nadee Gunasena, Jeff Lang and Morgan Davis.



Fans of critically acclaimed mid 90’s sitcoms were in for a treat on Saturday, January 24th, as half of the original cast of “NewsRadio” reunited to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the show. Dave Foley, Andy Dick, Khandi Alexander and Stephen Root were on hand to share stories from the set and answer questions from the rapt audience. Moderated by writer/producer Joe Furey, the fivesome reminisced about auditioning for the show, battling with the network over creative control, partying with the band Anthrax, and countless other on-set shenanigans. They dished about their favorite episodes and guest stars (psst! it was Adam West), and which co-stars they had crushes on. Many of their fondest recollections from the show involved the late, great Phil Hartman, and they lovingly paid tribute to him on several occasions. All the actors were in hilariously fine form, and it was evident to all that they all treasured their time working together on their brilliantly irreverent show.

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Saturday evening audiences were treated to a very special live anniversary show of “Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist,” celebrating the 20th anniversary of its first episode this May. With Tom Snyder at the keys, and Dr. Katz ready with a notebook, a “couch” and a box of tissues, he chatted with “son” Jon Benjamin, and helped patients Ron Funches, Pete Holmes, Morgan Murphy and Emo Philips. Morgan Murphy took the hot seat, revealing: “I’m single,” and Dr. Katz gave her sound advice: “Before you love somebody else, you need to love yourself.” He paused. “Can you do that for a moment?”

Eugene Mirman @ Invite Them Up with Eugene Mirman & Bobby Tisdale Cobb's Comedy Club before late Invite Them Up show
Ameen Belbahri

After being soundly nurtured by Dr. Katz and the Marines Memorial audience, Morgan Murphy hopped over to North Beach to join guests Derrick Brown, Jon Daly, John Darnielle and Emo Philips for a soldout Invite Them Up with Eugene Mirman & Bobby Tisdale.

Thanks to “As Seen at the Fest” contributors Pete Merriman and Morgan Davis.


Janet Varney
SF Sketchfest co-founder David Owen selects a few favorite “under the radar” shows happening weekend two!

David: We receive a lot of great submissions from performers all over the country and this year the one that made me laugh the most was “Vanessa Gonzalez presents I Don’t Know Words,” from Austin, Texas. I had never heard of Vanessa but I was immediately in awe of her total commitment to character and how damn funny she was. She just seems like someone we’re going to be seeing on “Saturday Night Live” soon. She’s part of two Dark Room showcases. One on Friday, January 30 at 10:30pm and one on Saturday, January 31 at 8:00pm.

philHendrie588x226To get a chance to see some of the next wave of big stand-up comedy stars do extended sets, don’t miss the SF Sketchfest Dozen on Friday and Saturday, January 30-31 at the Punch Line Comedy Club. Andy Haynes, who has been on “Conan” and “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” will be co-headlining with Christina Pazsitzky, who was a Round Table Regular and writer on “Chelsea Lately” and is co-host of the podcast “Your Mom’s House.” And an equally cool pairing is Jared Logan, who in the last year has appeared on “The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail” and “@Midnight,” and Eliza Skinner, seen on “Conan” and “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell.”

Van JamOne of my absolute favorite things last year at the festival was attending Fancy Meeting You Here, which involves comedians giving fake docent tours of major art museums. Created and hosted by Carl Arnheiter and Dave Hill and featuring their funny friends, this is a comedy experience like no other. This year they will be doing tours throughout the day on Saturday, January 31 at the Asian Art Museum. As they write in their description: “No painting is too abstract, no art too modern, no study of the human form overlooked.”

Stay tuned for more selections from the founders!