Get Sketchy Off Campus: SF Sketchfest 2004 The Only Place You’ll Find Groups Named ‘Hard And Phirm’


From The Stanford Daily

January 21, 2005
By Sasha Lubormirssy & Alex Rosen

What’s the difference between a sketchfest at Stanford and a sketchfest in San Francisco? Other than the lack of white boy bump and grind, the latter is significantly funnier, although sometimes just as awkward. The SF Sketchfest, also called the San Francisco Sketch Comedy Festival, is in its fourth year and features everyone from Dana Carvey and The Onion Live to Chris Hardwick (the one that wasn’t the Playboy Playmate on “Singled Out”). Rather successful at its aim (quality sketch comedy and generally good times), it is distinctly different from improv and certainly so from stand-up. Well, what is it exactly, you may ask? Intermission can most simply answer by replying, “Dude, haven’t you ever seen ‘SNL’?”

However, Joe Klocek, who was the MC for the opening night, began the show with some fine quality stand-up. He delivered narratives including one especially noteworthy account about a masturbating bus-rider. If you can believe it, “I hope my stop comes before he does,” and, “I hope I get off before he does” weren’t even the most amusing parts of the, ahem, detailed account. After the enjoyable stand-up came the first sketch comedy team, Hard N’ Phirm. Although it started strong with a multi-media sing-along to a Spanish song about the heart (ventricles in Spanish is way sexier in English), it started to lose its steam somewhere in the middle when the sing-songs continued, but the novelty wore off. Plus, Intermission was all the while stressing out in trying to figure out if That Guy Who Looks Like The Guy From “Singled Out” really was the guy from “Singled Out” (it was). Once we heard the name Chris thrown around and got the pun (Hard and Phirm, get it, do you get it?), we were satisfied.

Kasper Hauser was the next act. Of the four-man sketch comedy troupe, one of the two twins of the group, John Reichmuth, is a former notes editor of Stanford Law Review (and current proof that not everyone goes on to a repressed corporate job after a Stanford education). The comedy, at times, was wise and erudite; at others, there was a pudgy and shirtless 40-something man kung-fu-kicking a white board that had “premature ejaculation” written on it in black marker. Nevertheless, the overall humor was smart — albeit a bit straining at times.

The act that followed was Prank the Dean. The youngest performers that were on stage that evening, the four boys and one girl hailed from UC-Santa Cruz and gave the audience the necessary energy to make it to intermission. Although the general crowd didn’t pick up on the humor right away, Intermission found it hilarious from the get go and judging by the laughter that followed as the sketches went along, it seemed that everyone else came around as well. Especially funny was Jesse Thorn: We expect him on “SNL” in the near future — if it gets better any time soon, that is.

The penultimate act was a two-person female group called Clifford & Kidd, which quite frankly really made Intermission have to go the ladies’ room — from laughter, not antsy squirming. Maybe it’s the woman thing, but we’re pretty sure that Carrie Clifford and Amy Kidd just freaking know funny. Dispersed amongst their main sketches were short vignettes of jaded darkly-clad models smoking cigarettes and musing about life in monotone one-liners. As Air played in the background, we were exposed to the darkest and most hysterical thoughts of the painfully beautiful. Intermission could try and explain, but they were so complex in their simplicity, we suggest you just see them on your own. The act ended with a look into two separate conversations: a mother’s version of life with daughter to a friend, and a teenage daughter at the dinner table backtalking to her mother. The disparity of the interaction will make you laugh, remember your own angsty teen years and laugh some more.

The finale was Killing My Lobster, which despite being highly acclaimed, felt like a step down from some of the previous acts. The whole first sketch had a great premise — a political candidate who lost her election because of her baby hands (no, really, you should have seen her hands) but when it became clear that it was the only joke in the whole skit, it grew old and considerably less hysterical. Nevertheless, Killing My Lobster was enjoyable and the San Francisco Sketchfest is certainly a wonderful way to spend an evening. Even despite the obnoxious red-headed couple sitting right behind us who were consistently cueing each other’s over-exaggerated laughter to the point the jokes were drowned out by FRUSTRATIONBUTWHO’SBITTER, all in all the SF Sketchfest was a fine way to spend a Thursday evening. With a full schedule throughout the upcoming weeks, finally take up that promise to get up to the city and enjoy some of the acts. And ask Chris for his autograph, would you?

The fourth-annual San Francisco Sketchfest makes us wish we were funnier. Or more well read like The Onion. Go to www.sfsketchfest.com for more details how you can see Dana Carvey, Dave Eggers, Dan Castellaneta of “The Simpsons” in the group Totally Looped,Stanford alums Kasper Hauser, and others (you know you want to see Hard and Phirm). The comedy festival runs until Jan. 30 and is guaranteed to be more fun than an SAE kegger.

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