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.
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.
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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.
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?”
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.
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.
To 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.”
One 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!
SF Sketchfest co-founder Cole Stratton selects a few favorite “under the radar” shows happening as we head into the second weekend of the festival.
Cole: This is Harland Williams’ first SF Sketchfest, and we’re beyond thrilled to have him. He’s doing a boatload of different shows this weekend, but I’d recommend checking out his headlining show “Harland Williams: A Night of Stand-Up and Sketches with Sean Tweedley.” Harland has an incredibly hilarious point-of-view and fantastic energy and makes me laugh like an idiot. Catch him at Brava Theater this Friday, January 30th at 7:30pm.
Dave Willis and Dana Snyder, two of the madmen behind Aqua Teen Hunger Force, are bringing their goofy ways to Marines’ Memorial Theatre for a night of all-things Aqua Teen on Saturday, January 30th at 7:30pm. I mean, you don’t often get to hang out with Meatwad, Master Shake and Carl, so why miss this opportunity?
If Aqua Teen isn’t your style, then I recommend you check out Charlotte’s Shorts. I caught my final recommendation down at the Groundlings Theater in Los Angeles, and I can tell you that it is a truly delightful night of theater — six actors read various short essays and character monologues written by Charlotte Dean. The cast is outstanding — Jordan Black, Daniele Gaither, Michael Hitchcock, Laraine Newman, Mindy Sterling and Gary Anthony Williams. It’s Saturday, January 30th at 8pm at the Eureka Theater.
SF Sketchfest co-founder Janet Varney selects a few favorite “under the radar” shows as we head into the second weekend of the festival.
Janet: My first pick is coming up quickly- it’s this Thursday at Cobb’s. Justin Willman was first introduced to me by Neil Patrick Harris, who as many people know is a huge magic fan. Then Chris Hardwick met Justin, and now Nerdist is producing Justin’s pilot for Comedy Central. Sorry to drop all of those names right out of the gate, but if you haven’t heard of Justin yet, I guess my point is… you will. So why not get ahead of the game and see him Thursday? Plus, his opener is the extremely talented Marcus Monroe, who won the prestigious Andy Kaufman award and does things onstage that you won’t believe are possible. I’m not kidding. Check them both out on Thursday January 29th at Cobb’s at 8pm!.
Then the following night, we have the inimitable Greg Proops. Here’s the thing: on speculation, I think Greg might actually BE the Smartest Man I know. He’s wickedly funny, incredibly versatile, and has one of the fastest-working brains in comedy. See all of this in action at his “Proopcast” this Friday night, January 30th at Cobb’s at 8pm.
And then from Proops, you can just walk down to Doc’s Lab, the great new venue that took over when the historic Purple Onion closed, and see two of my favorite stand-ups, Aparna Nancherla and Guy Branum in one of our best show titles this festival: Aparna Nancherla & Guy Branum: Diversity Quota: A Night of Comedy with an Indian Lady and a Gay Jew. Need I say more? That’s Friday at 10:30pm at Doc’s Lab. (They also have an 8pm show, but you’ll be at Cobb’s watching The Smartest Man in the World.).