SF Sketchfest Day 16: Theme Park make for unusual Rockettes

Michael Hitchcock, John Michael Higgins, Rachel Dratch and Ian Brennan form a kickline in Theme Park Improv at the Brava Theater, 2/7/14.  Photo by Tommy Lau.

Theme Park — consisting of Ian Brennan (co-creator of “Glee”), Rachel Dratch (“Saturday Night Live”), John Michael Higgins (“A Mighty Wind”), Michael Hitchcock (“Best in Show”), Jessica Makinson (“Halfway Home”), and SF Sketchfest co-founders Cole Stratton and Janet Varney — took to the Brava Theatre stage for two sets of lively improvisation. Aided by stories from guest monologist Kevin Pollak (“The Usual Suspects”), their free-flowing bits included a Carnegie-Hall ghost, Aquaman and his unusual talents, a militaristic first grade class, low-stakes prank shows, and (as seen here) a band of misfits somehow initiated into the Rockettes.

SF Sketchfest Day 15: SF Sketchfest Honors Alan Arkin on February 6th

Alan Arkin chats with Kevin Pollak before the screening of the “The In-Laws” at it’s 35th anniversary at the 13th annual SF Sketchfest at the Castro Theatre on Thursday February 6, 2014. Photo by Jakub Mosur

Alan Arkin & Kevin Pollak spoke for over an hour, treating fans to delicious tidbits and impersonations, diving into Arkin’s career, and their past work toghether. Arkin shared about the old days, when he was asked to come to Chicago: “I didn’t think of myself as particularly funny when I got the job. I thought, ‘Ok, I’ll go to Chicago and I’ll work for a hundred dollars for the rest if my life… but then, instead of it being the end of everything, it was the beginning.” They discussed how to choose work, and how to keep a balance between life and ‘making the donuts,’ and the inability to turn down a great script. (On Little Miss Sunshine: “I read the first ten pages and it was all pain. Then I started laughing and I kept laughing for the next hundred pages.”) They introduced “The In-Laws” by talking about how the project started. Arkin saw actor Peter Falk on a talks how and had an instinct they’d work well together. That was it – he recalled that he’d read Blazing Saddles and thought it was the funniest thing he’d ever read, called Andrew Bergman and said, “write a relationship where Peter drives me nuts!’ “Two months later, he came back with an almost perfect script” The delighted Castro crowd rose for a standing ovation when Arkin appeared, and when he exited the stage.

SF Sketchfest Day 14: Polish Dancing, Myth Busting and Puzzles at NPR’s Ask Me Another

The audience watches NPR’s Ask Me Another recording with Ophira Eisenberg, Jonathan Coulton, Art Chung and special guests Danny Pudi, Adam Savage, and Farhad Manjoo at the 13th annual SF Sketchfest at the Castro Theatre on Wednesday February 5, 2014. Photo credit: Jakub Mosur

Much fun was had at NPR’s Ask Me Another with special guests MythBusters’s Adam Savage & Danny Pudi Thursday, February 6 at the Castro Theatre. Adam Savage hosted a round of mythbusting trvia, and Danny Pudi tried to avoid being typecast any further (he reveled he’s played five different characters named Sanjay), by showing off his Polish dancing and singing talent. Danny contributed to some Mythbusting of his own, sharing his teenage explorations in starting fires. (A bush can burn: confirmed; stop, drop and roll works efficiently: busted.) Hosts Ophira Eisenberg and Jonathan Coulton created San Francisco centric puzzles, and one could hear audience members in the Castro whispering the answers, straining not to shout them out. After local puzzlers went head to head, Danny presented the winner, crossword aficionado Tyler Hinman, with a Polish and Indian flags.

SF Sketchfest Day 12: Killing My Lobster and Dale Radio play to a packed house at the Eureka

Killing My Lobster, James Bewley aka Dale Seever, his guests and host Nicole Calasich backstage at the Eureka. 

On Monday, February 3, the double bill of Dale Radio and Killing My Lobster filled the Eureka for a night of nonstop laughter. Host Nicole Calasich warmed up the crowd with a quick set about slutty grandmothers, and accruing Save the Dates and their acronym. Dale Seever, caped in gold, greeted the audience, running up and down the aisles before introducing his guests Mary Van NoteDuckwrthAngus MacLaneMarc Vogl and Paul Charney. Killing My Lobster performed to the cheers of their loyal hometown fans, concluding in a six minute rock opera.

SF Sketchfest Day 11: Affectionate, Tender “Enlightened” Cast Reunion Punctuated With Laughter in the Audience and on Stage

Photo: Jakub Mosur

The reunion of the HBO series “Enlightened” took place on a rainy Superbowl Sunday at Marines’ Memorial Theatre. Moderated by Andy Richter, co-creators and stars Laura Dern (“Amy”) and Mike White (“Tyler”), actors Timm Sharp (“Dougie”), Molly Shannon (“Eileen”), Sarah Burns (“Krista”) and producer David Bernad dished about the show, how privileged they felt to be a part of it, and how a third season might have been shaped. Audience members were treated to a sincere and often tender panel discussion, punctuated by behind the scenes stories and genuine laughter from the stage. Mike White shared that his guiding principle for the show was, “How do you do the thing that’s exactly what they haven’t done?” He noted the desire “to capture an existential crisis, and it’s all in pastels.. like a Southern Californian Miss Havisham’s!” He also leant insight to Laura Dern’s character, Amy. “I believe that the world can be better than this and that’s a good quality… even if it’s crazy.” The San Francisco Sketchfest audience burst into applause.