Founders’ Picks: Cole Stratton

This week, the founders of SF Sketchfest will be selecting some of their top choices for the week ahead. Next up is Cole Stratton.

sklarpicCole: “Ok, I admit it. I like sports. But even if you don’t, you’ll still get a kick out of the Sklarbro Country podcast, which is hosted by long-time fest performers Randy and Jason Sklar. It’s a hilarious podcast from Earwolf that features the brothers, long-time drop-in guest co-host Dan Van Kirk (who’s impressions, especially Mark Wahlberg, have been killing it on this and Doug Loves Movies) and a bevy of fun guest comedians and athletes. James Adomian, who is one of my favorite character comics and impressionists, is also on hand, as is Jon Daly, who you may remember as a Pittsburgh Pawn Star from Kroll’s Show, and Moshe Kasher, a former local who is also doing his Hound Tall podcast this weekend. It’s fast, it’s funny, and returning to the fest after being absent for a few years.

behrendtGreg Behrendt is a prince among humans — so giving, hilarious and kind, but also, he can shred on the guitar. One of our favorite shows to do at the festival, Bring the Rock features Behrendt and a kick-ass backing band ably assisting guest comics who tell a story and then cover a song related to it. This year’s lineup features Dana Gould (long-time Simpsons scribe and amazing stand-up comic), Andy Kindler (from Dr. Katz and Bob’s Burgers), Kate Micucci (one half of adorable comedic song duo Garfunkel & Oates), and some woman named Janet Varney, who’s bio on our site says something about voicing Korra on Nickelodeon and co-founding some San Francisco comedy festival.

PicturethisposterI love stand-up comedy, but sometimes you need a really fun hook to set a show apart, and Picture This! has a doozy of one. While comics do their sets, animators draw behind them, projected onto a screen. It’s a fun melding of prepared material and impromptu artwork, with both stand-ups and sketchers feeding off of one another. It’s a pretty stacked line up of comics — The aforementioned Sklar Brothers, John Roberts (Bob’s Burgers), Jay Larson (from the great Crabfeast podcast, also at the fest), Amy Miller (who did great on the last season of Last Comic Standing, and memorably sparred with Norm MacDonald), Anna Seregina (ex-local from The Business, now an LA staple), and Bucky Sinister (Oakland’s own poet and stand-up and long time fest performer). And it’s hosted by Brandi Posey, a great comic and podcaster. It’s a really fun, unique night out.”

Founders’ Picks: Janet Varney

This week, the founders of SF Sketchfest will be selecting some of their top choices for the week ahead. Next up is Janet Varney.

“What swiftly became one of my favorite shows in Los Angeles is also one of my all-time favorites at SF Sketchfest: The Black Version, with Jordan Black, Nyima Funk, Daniele Gaither, Karen Maruyama, Gary Anthony Williams and Cedric Yarbrough, who together combined have some of the most impressive comedy credits in show business. They’re all tremendously talented improvisers from the famed Groundlings school and theatre in Los Angeles. This amazing cast lets YOU decide which popular film they’re going to perform the “black version” of, before your very eyes, complete with musical accompaniment. My only warning is that if you’re concerned about something being TOO funny, this might be the wrong show for you. Otherwise, see you Friday January 22nd at 10pm at the Brava Theater.

Ronna and Beverly(1)And here are a couple of suggestions for Saturday the 23rd: I’m also just a little bit in love with the ladies of Ronna and Beverly. Jamie Denbo and Jessica Chaffin have been doing these characters for as long as I’ve known them, which is at least a decade. They inhabit the imaginary souls of Ronna Glickman and Beverly Ginsburg to such an astonishing and brilliant degree, I myself forget that underneath the wigs and tacky (sorry ladies) makeup are two totally different people. And their guests for the evening? Oh, just the amazing Guy Branum and the incredible Kate Micucci, two of comedy’s most unique and delightful voices. You can pick up a lesson or two about how to be better in (and out of) relationships on Saturday, January 23rd at 8pm at the JCCSF Kanbar Hall Theater.

GravidWaterFrom there, you can hop over to the Brava to check out Gravid Water at 10pm, where you’ll see a ton of famous faces perform in half-written, half-improvised two-person scenes. Actors perform lines they’ve learned from a scene in a play while their scene partner onstage improvises responses to each of the memorized lines. It’s been a huge hit each year we’ve had it at SF Sketchfest, just as it is in Los Angeles and New York, where it’s a regular staple at the UCB theaters. Seeing this show is a little bit like watching a series of magic tricks— you can’t quite understand how they’re pulling it off so incredibly well!”

Founders’ Picks: David Owen

Over the next three days, the founders of SF Sketchfest will be selecting some of their top choices for the week ahead. First up is David Owen.

“I like the strange and unexpected, so I’m excited about the Found Footage Festivals meets Everything Is Terrible! show [Wed, Jan 20th at 8pm at the Castro]. FFF and EIT! are two separate groups who are both master curators of weird and wonderful videos. I don’t know where they find this stuff. It goes WAY beyond funny internet videos because they find all sorts of obscure VHS tapes, old films, commercials and some insane oddities. And the hosts are funny too. You won’t believe your eyes and you won’t stop laughing.”

“I also can’t wait for our fake Presidential Debate [Fri, Jan 22nd at 10:30pm at Cobb’s
Comedy Club
]. We’re calling it the “Write-In Candidates” debate, and it features some of the best character improvisers in the world playing both real and imagined candidates in a fully improvised debate. James Adomian, Matt Besser, Paul Gilmartin, Mary Houlihan, Brian Huskey, Dan Van Kirk and moderator Tom Shillue are all amazing at what they do and this is going to be a really unique once-in-a-lifetime experience, and also a lot more entertaining than the real debates that are on TV every other day.”

JeffGarlin“Finally, I’m a huge Jeff Garlin fan, and I’m looking forward to having him back at the festival [Sat, Jan 23rd at 7:30pm at the Brava Theatre]. Not only is he one of the funniest guys on the planet, a great standup comic, improviser and interviewer, but when you’re in the audience watching him you feel like you’re just hanging out with him in his living room and he’s talking to you and making you laugh. He’s personable and intimate and connects with audiences, and he knows everyone in Hollywood so he’s got great stories. He has some very cool guests, with Dan Mintz and Sarah Tiana joining him, and an opening set by one of my favorite sketch groups, Charles, from Seattle.”

Craig Robinson joins the fest!

Just added! Tickets on sale NOW!


Craig Robinson
with Janine Brito, Hosted by Steve Ausburne

Come experience a night of comedy and music that could only come from the mind and talents of Mr. Craig Robinson (“The Office,” “Hot Tub Time Machine”) in this one-show-only event at Cobb’s. Born and raised in Chicago, Craig studied at revered theatre and school The Second City, mastering improvisation while also developing serious stand-up chops. He has also successfully incorporated his considerable musical prowess into solo work (which will be in full effect at SF Sketchfest) as well as bands such as his duo with Jerry Minor, L. Witherspoon & Chucky and his current band The Nasty Delicious. With opening sets from Janine Brito (“Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell”) and host Steve Ausburne.

Saturday, January 16, Cobb’s Comedy Club

Billy Crystal & Alan Zweibel, Alan Arkin and Sammy Hagar join the fest!

Just Added! Tickets on sale NOW!


The SF Sketchfest Great Collaborators Tribute: Billy Crystal & Alan Zweibel, in conversation

SF Sketchfest is thrilled to pay tribute to great collaborators and long-time friends Billy Crystal and Alan Zweibel. Meeting in the mid seventies on the stand-up scene, they began working together in the early years of “Saturday Night Live” and recently collaborated on the Tony-Award winning hit solo Broadway show turned television special “700 Sundays.” Don’t miss your chance to hear these two comedy greats in conversation at the beautiful historic Castro Theatre.

Sunday, January 10, The Castro Theatre


An Afternoon with Alan Arkin: “The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming” 50th Anniversary Screening and Q&A, moderated by Ron Bostwick

SF Sketchfest welcomes screen legend Alan Arkin back to the festival to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the release of this classic Cold War comedy. When a Soviet submarine, commanded by Lieutenant Rozanov (Arkin, in an Academy Award-nominated role), accidentally runs aground in a quaint New England town, it causes ridiculous mass hysteria among the townspeople. This acclaimed award-winning film tells a tale that is strangely relevant even in 2016. Directed by Norman Jewison, the film also stars Carl Reiner, Eva Marie Saint and Jonathan Winters. Alan Arkin, who started as an improv comedian in the Second City troupe and went on to become a major star of the stage and screen, will sit down for an extended conversation with Boulder International Film Festival producer Ron Bostwick after the screening. Arkin’s many screen roles include “The In-Laws,” “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter,” “Wait Until Dark,” “Edward Scissorhands,” “Argo,” and “Little Miss Sunshine,” for which he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Sunday, January 10, The Castro Theatre


The Rock Solid Podcast with Pat Francis, David Wild, Kyle Dodson and special guest Sammy Hagar

It’s time to rock ‘n’ roll all night … and party once a week! Hosted by Pat Francis, Rock Solid is the comedy/music podcast that brings you music “both new and classic,” plus lots of laughs and musical guests. Joining the fun are Producer Kyle Dodson and Pat’s hilarious rotating Co-Hosts; for the SF Sketchfest edition, Pat will be joined by Rolling Stone contributing editor and author David Wild. They are thrilled to welcome a very special guest — iconic “Red Rocker” and Rock n Roll Hall of Fame inductee Sammy Hagar from Van Halen, The Circle, Chickenfoot, Montrose and The Wabos.

Saturday, January 9, Swedish American Hall 21+