From The San Francisco Chronicle
January 10, 2008
By Reyhan Harmanci
S.F. Sketchfest opens tonight – and this year, they’ve really outdone themselves. Clocking in at 17 days, the event includes evenings with three and four overlapping shows. Local sketchers David Owen, Cole Stratton and Janet Varney started Sketchfest in 2001 to give exposure to their own comedy group; the event has grown to include familiar names.
Over the past year, the rise of YouTube has made Internet stars out of a number of talented comics – like Maria Bamford, of the hilarious “Maria Bamford Show,” Tim and Eric from the “Tim and Eric” show – and long-standing Sketchfest participants have seen their profiles rise. Patton Oswalt even played an animated rat in “Ratatouille.” And, in a nod to big daddy Judd Apatow, there’s going to be a “Freaks and Geeks” reunion panel, hosted by Oswalt, featuring series creator Paul Feig and cast members Dave (Gruber) Allen, Steve Bannos, Linda Cardellini, John Francis Daley, Samm Levine, Busy Philipps and Martin Starr.
Here’s a primer on opening weekend:
Thursday: Opening Night Variety Show. For the past two years, prickly singer Aimee Mann has put on a popular Christmas Show, touring with a band of comics and musicians to celebrate, sans saccharine, the holiday times. She’ll open Sketchfest with a key member of her Christmas show, the dapper Paul F. Tompkins (VH-1 talking head), and comedians Todd Barry and Rhys Darby. Hosted by Kurt Braunohler and Kristen Schaal, who plays the lone groupie in HBO’s “The Flight of the Conchords.” 8 p.m. $30 at Mezzanine, 444 Jessie St., S.F. www.mezzaninesf.com.
Friday: The Naked Babies, a sketch group featuring former “Daily Show” correspondent Rob Corddry along with John Ross Bowie, Brian Huskey and Seth Morris and Internet video standouts Ronna and Beverly, “best friends” from the past 40 years who have written a book called “You’ll Do a Little Better Next Time: A Guide to Marriage and Remarriage for Jewish Singles.” Their wardrobe and makeup are inspired. Also with Diani and Devine. 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. $25. Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson St., S.F. www.eurekatheatre.org.
Sketchfest in the Mission: Local sketch group Sunshine Fortress has an unusual mission: to provide community service as well as entertainment. Sample causes: Toys for Fat Kids, Cancer Isn’t Funny, It’s Sad Awareness Project. With the double-couple lineup of Diani and Devine, Ronna and Beverly. 8 p.m. $10. (Also on Fri.) The Dark Room, 2263 Mission St., S.F. www.darkroomsf.com.
Saturday: The Smug Shift. The Bay Area’s open secrets – droll comedians Brent Weinbach and Moshe Kasher – host a night with L.A.’s future sitcom star comic Morgan Murphy, animator/comedian/Northern California native Drennon Davis and Naomi Crystal, a musical collaboration between Davis and Max Curry. Also: musical stylings by “American Idol’s” Excentric, a.k.a. “the panther guy.” 8 p.m., $10. The Purple Onion, 140 Columbus Ave., S.F. www.caffemacaroni.com