UNDER THE RADAR PICS BY SF SKETCHFEST FOUNDERS

Janet Varney
SF Sketchfest co-founder David Owen selects a few favorite “under the radar” shows happening the final weekend of the festival.

David: There are so many great stand-up comedians who are local to the Bay Area, or who spent a lot of time here and are coming back for the festival. I’m always happy to see the wonderful Brent Weinbach, and I love that he’s doing a show on Feb 5 at the Eureka called “Appealing to the Mainstream” which is funny since he is known as one of the great oddball comics. I have no idea what to expect, which is a good thing. I also love all the former and current members of the stand up comedy collective known as The Business. Some of their former members including Caitlin Gill, Sean Keane and Anna Seregina will be joining current members David Gborie, Nato Green, Natasha Muse, Jules Posner and Bucky Sinister in a show we’re calling “Old Business/New Business” on Feb 6 and 7 at the Hemlock Tavern.

Former local favorite (and Business member) Chris Garcia will be part of the SF Sketchfest Dozen series on Feb 6-7 at the Punch Line. Chris is someone who is totally hitting his stride as one of the next big comics. He will be paired with the hilarious Randy Liedtke. The other awesome pairing on the “Dozens” brings the delightful Irish comic Maeve Higgins together with the very funny Chicago-bred Beth Stelling.

This is our seventh consecutive year of presenting the clever and hysterical theatrical comedy known as Celebrity Autobiography, which has two shows on Feb 7 at the Marines’ Memorial Theatre. One of the things I love about this show is that it always brings the most eclectic mix of performers onstage together — people we would otherwise probably never see at SF Sketchfest. This year’s roster is great. Where else will you see Blondie’s Debbie Harry and The Monkee’s Micky Dolenz onstage with “Bullets Over Broadway” star Jennifer Tilly, “Wings” star Steven Weber, “Wet Hot American Summer” star Janeane Garofalo and “Star Trek” star John Cho? That’s nuts.

Finally, I love strange and unusual twists on live events, and I’m very pleased we’re partnering with Cultivated Wit on their Comedy Hack Day Finals on Sunday Feb 8 at the Marines’ Memorial Theatre. All weekend long teams of technology developers and comedians will be creating ridiculously silly and potentially useful apps. On the final night, emcee Baratunde Thurston hosts and the top teams present their work in a live presentation in front of an audience and celebrity judges Scott Aukerman, Veronica Belmont, Natasha Leggero and Jonah Ray will provide funny feedback and decide the winner.

 

UNDER THE RADAR PICS BY SF SKETCHFEST FOUNDERS

Cole Stratton1
SF Sketchfest co-founder Cole Stratton selects a few favorite “under the radar” shows happening the final weekend of the festival.

Julie Brown Homecoming QueenCole: My first pick is the fantastic improv duo of Zamata & Byer — several years ago, they came to the fest as part of an emerging group called Doppelgänger, and since have gone on to do great things in the comedy world. Sasheer Zamata is a featured player on “Saturday Night Live,” and Nicole Byer is part of the cast of MTV’s “Girl Code.” Don’t miss these two great women and their incredibly funny quick improvisational minds on Friday, February 6th, two shows at 8pm and 10:30pm at The Eureka Theatre.

I was lucky enough to catch a Los Angeles cast-and-crew screening of Kevin Pollak’s fantastic new documentary “Misery Loves Comedy” right before it departed for its world premiere at Sundance, and we’re thrilled to bring it to the Bay Area for the first time. It’s a great look at the idea of “Do you have to be miserable to be funny?” and has hilarious and insightful (and at times, touching) interviews with a who’s-who of legendary comedians and actors, including Tom Hanks, Larry David, Christopher Guest, Lisa Kudrow, Stephen Merchant, Maria Bamford and countless others. After the screening, Pollak will be joined by some of the featured folks in the doc — Scott Aukerman, Janeane Garofalo and Dana Gould — for a conversation and Q&A moderated by the just-announced Kevin Smith! See it Saturday, February 7th at 1pm at the Castro Theatre.

Van JamFinally, on Sunday, February 8th at 2pm at Marines’ Memorial Theatre, we’re presenting a 30th Anniversary live script read of Savage Steve Holland’s cult classic “Better Off Dead” with some of the original cast reprising their roles (Curtis Armstrong! Kim Darby! Diane Franklin! Amanda Wyss!) and great guest understudies (Jon Heder! Kevin Pollak! Paul F. Tompkins! Eddie Pepitone! and more). Plus, we’re reading Savage’s original shooting script, which is very different from what ended up onscreen, so it’s truly going to be a rare, fun afternoon. 

Stay tuned for the final picks from co-founder David Owen.

UNDER THE RADAR PICS BY SF SKETCHFEST FOUNDERS

Janet Varney
SF Sketchfest co-founder Janet Varney selects a few favorite “under the radar” shows happening the last week of SF Sketchfest!

Janet: I have to start out this week’s picks with Tuesday’s show at the Castro. I don’t have enough room in this writeup to list all of Penn & Teller’s achievements. They’re incredibly prolific, incredibly creative, incredibly smart, incredibly funny and just all-around really cool guys. We have the honor of paying Tribute to them as they take a look at their nearly 40 years of doing magic and comedy together, in conversation with Mythbusters’ Adam Savage, who also happens to be all of those qualities I mentioned above. And for those of you wondering if Teller will be sitting mute for the entire show… you’ll just have to come see for yourself (it will be worth it, I promise). See you there! Tuesday, February 3rd at 8pm.

My next pick is just a good, old-fashioned variety show…that happens to be replete with a bunch of TOTAL BADASSES. Wheels Off With Rhett Miller has music — courtesy Rhett himself (Old 97s) and John Vanderslice, comedy— courtesy SF Sketchfest winning-for-most-shows-done-per-festival staple Paul F. Tompkins, and prose— courtesy the Bay Area’s own brilliant author, Michael Chabon. I’m sorry, but that’s an insanely cool lineup. Come geek out with me at Cobb’s this Wednesday, February 4th at 8pm!

Okay, I know we’re supposed to do 3 picks, but I just want to squeeze one more in here before the last one. Tinkle Twins is a popular standup show at Largo in LA, hosted by two of my favorite people, Dana Gould and Arden Myrin. As if that weren’t enough, their guests for this SF Sketchfest iteration are none other than Greg Behrendt, Mike Lawrence, Natasha Leggero and Brendon Small. That’s a lot of show! Friday, February 6th at 10:30pm at the Verdi Club.

And then finally, jumping ahead to Sunday, our closing day of the festival, I’m super excited for our Sneak Peek at Comedy Central’s new show, “Another Period.” First of all, it’s a dream cast. Created by and starring Natasha Leggero and Riki Lindhome, the show also boasts this astonishing lineup of awesomeness: Lauren Ash, Michael Ian Black, Paget Brewster, Beth Dover, Brett Gelman, Christina Hendricks, Brian Huskey, David Koechner, Jason Ritter, David Wain and Armen Weitzman! “Another Period” is set in the early 1900s and follows the misadventures of Newport RI’s first family. They have absolutely nothing to offer to the world, but have so much money it doesn’t matter. We’ll get a look at episodes of the new show and chat with the cast. Sunday, February 8th at 4pm at Cobbs!

Stay tuned for the final picks from co-founder David Owen and Cole Stratton.

AS SEEN AS THE FEST: DAY FIVE!

Ask Me Another- Castro-0456 Ask Me Another- Castro-0022

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!

Ask Me Another- Castro-0662 Ask Me Another- Castro-0613

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!

012515_Animaniacs_byTommyLau_17 012515_Animaniacs_byTommyLau_28 012515_Animaniacs_byTommyLau_27 012515_Animaniacs_byTommyLau_34
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.

012515_ScharplingWurster_byTommyLau_23  012515_ScharplingWurster_byTommyLau_19 012515_ScharplingWurster_byTommyLau_18  012515_ScharplingWurster_byTommyLau_07
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.