AS SEEN AT THE FEST: DAY THIRTEEN


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Tommy Lau

Margaret Cho performed two sold out shows on Wednesday night to a packed house at the Verdi Club. The room was full with chairs lining the walls, the crowd ready to be roasted and entertained by Cho’s wicked sense of humor!

Local San Francisco comedian Kate Willett kicked things off with a hilarious set, sharing her stories about finding love – or at least a one-night stand – everywhere from the Burning Man playa to the Trader Joe’s checkout aisle. She asked the audience the age old question – “how old do I have to be to have sex with someone who doesn’t call me dude?”

Then Cho took the stage to loud applause from the entire room. She started her set by remembering some of the late comedy greats, sharing her memories of Robin Williams and Joan Rivers – two great mentors that she called her father and mother in comedy respectively. Her story about Joan Rivers’ funeral – with a memorable eulogy delivered by Howard Stern – set the tone for a wild evening of comedy. Cho’s not afraid to get personal – some of the audience’s favorite anecdotes happened during her stories about changing how she identifies from lesbian to bisexual, and the fascinating differences she’s observed between having sex with women and having sex with men. No topic was off limits, from a recent set she bombed at a rape victim benefit to her plans for justice against Boko Haram. As Cho said, “There’s no I in team, but there’s a Cho in psycho!”

Rhett Miller’s variety show Wheels Off returned to SF Sketchfest at Cobb’s Comedy Club Wednesday night. Rhett started the night with three songs: Wheels Off, Noreen, Longer Than You’ve Been Alive.

He introduced his first guest, Michael Chabon: “Of all the people who’ve won the Pulitzer Prize, this one’s the coolest.”Michael Chabon read an essay about his son’s splendid attempts at middle school self-expression through fasion, reflecting on his own youthful fashion identity: a tshirt he had printed with the word LIBERTINE. He confessed it wasn’t a totally accurate description of him as a teenager.

Janet Varney hopped onstage as an unannounced surprise guest for a Peanuts skit, written by Ben Acker (Thrilling Adventure Hour). She stayed on stage to sing a harmonic duet with Rhett from his forthcoming album.

The next guest John Vanderslice, with drummer Jason Slota, rocked Cobb’s.

A silver-haired right reverend with more than a passing resemblance to Paul F. Tompkins appeared, and Rhett Miller went to work getting the preacher to confess Satan was real, ending with a round of Satan or Not Satan, where Rhett had to admit Satan was behind Rock & Roll.

The crowd was treated to an encore of Vanderslice, Rhett Miller and Jason Slota with a rocking rendition of Wilco & Billy Bragg’s California Stars (original lyrics by Woody Guthrie).

Visit Facebook and Instagram for more photos and updates from the fest!

Thanks to photographers Tommy Lau and Jakub Mosur, and contributing writers Nadee Gunasena and Morgan Davis. 

Statement from SF Sketchfest on the closure of The Addition and cancelation of Kristen Schaal & Friends shows


Statement from SF Sketchfest on the closure of The Addition and cancelation of Kristen Schaal & Friends shows on February 7, 2015

Dear friends and fans of SF Sketchfest:

On January 14th, the nightclub The Addition abruptly closed its doors and went out of business. We received one email from them informing us that all upcoming shows had been canceled, including our “Kristen Schaal & Friends” shows on February 7th, and “Wheels Off” on February 4th. The Addition was contractually obligated to use Ticketfly, a different ticketing service than the one we use for most of our shows. We were able to relocate the “Wheels Off” show to Cobb’s Comedy Club for the same night. We learned from Ticketfly that The Addition had authorized refunds for the “Wheels Off” show and ticketholders were given information about repurchasing their tickets for the Cobb’s show.

Unfortunately, we were unable to relocate the “Kristen Schaal & Friends” shows and they were officially canceled. We later learned from Ticketfly that the Addition had NOT authorized refunds for these shows. The Addition has ignored our demand that they refund customers immediately. Ticketfly has informed us that they are unable to offer customers refunds directly, and has suggested that customers contact their credit card companies and dispute the charge and have it credited back that way. Because the tickets were purchased via Ticketfly and they have strict privacy policies, SF Sketchfest has no way of contacting these customers directly.

We are deeply frustrated by The Addition’s and Ticketfly’s inability to resolve this, and we have demanded that they take care of refunding these customers immediately. We believe in transparency and in strong customer service. If you’re reading this and you have tickets to either of the “Kristen Schaal & Friends” shows on February 7th, please contact customersupport@ticketfly.com for help with processing your refund and please ALSO contact us with your proof of purchase at boxoffice@sfsketchfest.com. We want to know who you are so we can make it up to you.

Sincerely,

SF Sketchfest

AS SEEN AS THE FEST: DAY FIVE!


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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.

AS SEEN AT THE FEST: DAY FOUR!


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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.

AS SEEN AT THE FEST: DAY THREE!


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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?”

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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.