Check out the 15th Annual SF Sketchfest teaser trailer, starring Curtis Armstrong and Gary Anthony Williams! Our thanks to Drama 3/4 Productions! Lineup announced Friday, November 20th and tickets on sale Sunday, November 22nd at 10 am!
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.
Thanks to Nadee Gunasena, Matt Zagariello and Morgan Davis for writing contributions.
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).
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 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 email@example.com for help with processing your refund and please ALSO contact us with your proof of purchase at firstname.lastname@example.org. We want to know who you are so we can make it up to you.
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!
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.”