The last day of SF Sketchfest 2015 kicked off with beloved childrens’ book writer Mo Willems and a group of comedians game for silliness! To introduce his cast Willems said, “Parents, you have done your job right if your kids don’t know a single person on this stage!” Grown ups in the crowd (parents, librarians, teachers and comedy-fans who tweeted they didn’t realize it was a children’s show) cheered as he introduced Scott Adsit, John Cho, Janeane Garofalo, John Hodgman, Kate Micucci, Busy Philipps, Kevin Pollak and Kristen Schaal. The Marines Memorial filled with glee as the actors leant their voices to the stories, the real Trixie joined the stage, and everybody was given paper and pencils and a lesson in how to draw The Pigeon.
After story time, Scott Adsit hopped over to Verdi Club, where he joined host Matt Besser and comedians Colton Dunn and Lauren Lapkus for an afternoon performance of the improve comedy podcast improv4humans. A bevy of topics were riffed, including: abandonment of a newborn by their parents, an all-foreigners house party, the humiliation of parents describing sex to their children, parties after Sunday church service and the afterlife. At one point, Besser called out an audience member who indicated on Twitter they would blow kisses at Lauren Lapkus during the show. This became a running bit when Lapkus caught the blown kiss and put it in a plastic cup which was then flipped over and placed on a table, to which everyone on stage proceed to incorporate in various sketches.
At Cobb’s, SF Sketchfest presented the first public screening of upcoming Comedy Central series “Another Period,” a show chronicling the misadventures of a fictional wealthy Newport family at the turn of the century. Cocreators Natasha Leggero and Riki Lindholme and cast member Moshe Kasher projected a big family tree to introduce the quirky family members and help, and talked about how much fun they had naming each outrageous character. After providing a bit of background on the show, they screened episodes 5 and 8 to a howling audience. Afterwards, cast members Paget Brewster, Moshe Kasher, Armen Weitzman and Jason Ritter joined for a Q&A revealed which moments of the episodes were based on research (a seventeen course dinner party for the family dogs) versus writers’ ideas (a cape made of puppies) and what it’s like to kiss Christina Hendricks. The first questioner of the Q&A asked, “I know this may be a stupid question, but was the dog in episode 8 the dog in “Mike & Molly?” Unbelievably, Kasher confirmed it was, and the dog spotter went home with a bottle of Cocaine Wine, signed by the cast. The colorful series is sure to cause a commotion when it airs on Comedy Central.
The 30th anniversary of “Better Off Dead” reunited writer/director Savage Steve Holland with original cast members original actors Curtis Armstrong (Charles De Mar), Diane Franklin (Monique), Amanda Wyss (Beth) and Kim Darby (Jenny). Guest understudies on Heder, Kevin Pollak, Paul F. Tompkins, Eddie Pepitone, Steve Agee, Annie Savage, Paul Brittain, Cole Stratton and Janet Varney joined the table read. They read the first draft of the script, quite different from the final 1985 version, but with much recognizable dialogue from the cult classic: the audience demanded their two dollars along with the performers. The reunion lovefest continued backstage as cast members and understudies autographed each others’ special commemorative posters made for the live read. (See the story and photos on Entertainment Weekly: link to our press page for the EW story.)
The Eureka closed out the last night of SF Sketchfest with improv featuring “Key and Peele” writers Colton Dunn, Phil August Jackson, Charlie Sanders, Rich Talarico and special guest Ian Roberts. The show kicked off with sketch comedy from Wendigo from Magnet Theater in NYC. Wendigo blended multimedia into their sketch comedy, with music and video clips bookending sketches parodying “The Bachelor” and imagining what an actual friend zone could look like.
The Key and Peele writing team dove right in, asking for suggestions from the audience and picking some perfect ones from this local San Francisco crowd – “LSD” and “bike safety.” The improv scenes showed the writers’ versatility, moving between physical comedy and dry humor while playing a huge variety of offbeat characters. Audience favorites included an extended scene about a horrible TV show called “Saboteur” running six seasons (but no movie) and ruining one network completely. Dunn delivered the very meta punchline that the whole show was meant as a sabotage from a rival network. Other scenes parodied everything from Supreme Court Justices to picky eaters ordering at a deli to, of all things, fans of water-skiing. The writers had a blast playing off the crowd in a show that was fast-paced, witty, and hilarious!
And at Verdi Club, Janeane Garofalo hosted international standup comedians Wil Anderson, Dan Clark, Maeve Higgins, Matt Kirshen and Daniel Sloss at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival International Spotlight. Garofalo set a high bar at the start of the night, with her unique, intimate delivery, hopping off the stage to perform from the crowd. One by one, each of the comedians nailed their material, the short sets leaving the audience eager for more. These are all names we’re bound to hear much more in the coming years.
Thank you to our performers, sponsors, founders, staff, volunteers and most of all our audiences for coming back year after year and making this festival so much fun.
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Thanks to Nadee Gunasena, Matt Zagariello and Morgan Davis for writing contributions.