January 14, 2010
The ninth annual San Francisco Sketchfest brings together another stellar line-up of talent to a variety of SF comedy and theatre venues for 18 days of hilarious improvisation, stand-up and ensemble comedy. Plenty of local and national acts that have performed at the festival in the past will make return engagements this year including bi-coastal improv heroes The Upright Citizens Brigade, Kids in the Hall legend Dave Foley and noted Bay Area talents like Doug Benson, Killing My Lobster, Brent Weinbach and Moshe Kasher.
Many of the popular live variety shows and themed programs from past Sketchfests like Comedy Death-Ray, the Paul F. Tompkins Show, Never Not Funny, the Be Bop Heroin Hour, Invite Them Up, Game Show Explosion! and Celebrity Autobiography have been included in this year’s schedule. This ninth edition of the festival also gives spotlight to several influential comedic figures from the past such as musical parodist Weird Al Yankovic, and pioneering talk show host Dick Cavett.
Sketchfest continues with weekend programming a day early on Thursday with several notable events. Monty Python alum Terry Jones appears at the Castro Theatre to take questions and discuss two of the troupe’s most beloved films before and after screenings of ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ (7 p.m. $20) and ‘Monty Python’s Life of Brian’ (10 p.m. $10). Popular IFC sketch comedians Whitest Kids U’Know make a return visit to the festival, settling in for two nights at Cobb’s Comedy Club (8 p.m. Thurs.; Fri. 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. $22-$23). An impressive triple bill of aforementioned local stand-up talents Weinbach and Kasher with Josh Fadem kicks off a three-night run of performances at the Punch Line the same evening (8 p.m. Thurs.; 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Fri.-Sat. $15-$19).
On Friday, Sketchfest welcomes back one of its perennial popular events with two sold-out performances of the Upright Citizen Brigade’s extended improvisation show A.S.S.S.S.C.A.T. The group first came to fame during the three-year run of its cult sketch show on Comedy Central (putting future SNL regular Amy Poehler in the spotlight) and has continued to develop remarkable comedy improvation at its two bi-coastal theaters in New York and Los Angeles. This edition of the long-form A.S.S.S.S.C.A.T. show features UCB regulars Ian Roberts and Matt Walsh, along with noted comedic actor David Koechner (‘Thank You For Not Smoking’ ‘Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby’), SNL vet Tim Meadows, LA writer/improv comic Chad Carter and guest monologist Moon Zappa (Eureka Theater Fri/22 8 p.m. 10:30 p.m. $35). In-the-know locals will also be flocking to see SF product Will Franken, the latest in a long line of gifted comic surrealists produced by the City, at the Purple Onion (8 p.m. $15).
On Saturday afternoon, the festival brings the foremost music parodist to the stage when Grammy winner “Weird Al” Yankovic talks about the creativity that helped make him amass 28 gold and platinum albums over the course of a career spanning nearly three decades. Expect a “White and Nerdy” audience at Cobb’s Comedy Club as “Weird Al” discusses his music, videos (he has directed most of his clips as well as videos for such artists as Ben Folds, The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, and The Black Crowes) and his cult classic movie ‘UHF’ with actor/comedian Chris Hardwick (2 p.m. $20). Later that evening, Cobb’s plays host to the full Reno 911! Sheriff’s Department when the cast of the popular Comedy Central show and feature film ‘Reno 911!: Miami’ takes the stage for two sold-out shows (8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. $30).
Other highlights of the weekend include the popular UCB Theater attraction Facebook Improv with Human Giant members Rob Huebel and Paul Scheer at the Eureka Theater (Sat/23, 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. $20), the presentation of ‘Sunday Comics: Stand-Up and Characters’ with ‘Reno 911!’ cast members Thomas Lennon and Carlos Alazraqui and IFC mockumentary sitcom star Jon Dore at Cobb’s (Sun/24, 9 p.m. $20) and an 80th Anniversary screening of the Marx Brothers classic ‘Animal Crackers’ with with special guests Bill Marx and Dick Cavett at the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center (Sun/24, 2 p.m. $15). For a more detailed listing of Sketchfest events and information on how to get tickets, please visit the San Francisco Sketchfest web site.