From The San Francisco Chronicle
January 21, 2010
By Marc Hawthorne
Popular rock bands are a dime a dozen, but how many sketch-comedy groups have become household names? Sure, there are a few – including the Upright Citizens Brigade, the State and the Kids in the Hall – but the disparity is notable.
Especially considering, as Trevor Moore from the Whitest Kids U’ Know says, that sketches and songs have quite a bit in common.
“A sketch should be about two to three minutes, which is basically what most songs are,” says Moore, the troupe’s head writer. “They’re usually done by groups. Good examples of each build and have different parts and twists in them. I guess sketch would be the comedy version of music.”
The Whitest Kids U’ Know are on their way to making that short list of sketch-comedy superheroes. Formed in the early aughts at the School of Visual Arts in New York, the group gained traction on the Internet and with live shows, which eventually led to a TV gig on Fuse.
Now on the uncensored IFC, the Kids – known for skits that find Hitler rapping about being a changed man and John Wilkes Booth driven to murder by a foulmouthed Abe Lincoln – are free to push the envelope as far as they please on their eponymous show, which is heading into its fourth season this summer.
So are there any topics that the group responsible for “Slow Jerk,” a fan favorite that could double as a sexual-harassment case study, won’t, um, touch?
“Not really,” Moore says. “As long as it’s funny, there’s not really anything that’s off limits. As long as it’s not just mean-spirited to be mean-spirited.”
Back for their second stint at SF Sketchfest, the Kids are performing tonight and Friday at Cobb’s, where they’ll mix the old with the new and give a sneak peek at the forthcoming season on IFC. And as luck would have it, they’ll be in town when “Weird Al” Yankovic appears at Sketchfest on Saturday at Cobb’s.
“I’m psyched,” says Moore. “Most young comedians would be lying to say that they weren’t huge Weird Al fans when they were kids. Weird Al is probably the first person I ever realized had a career that was just making jokes. We do a lot of music stuff in our show, and I think that’s inspired both by Weird Al and Monty Python.”
Perhaps in their next life, the Kids can make a beeline to stardom by just focusing on music and starting a band, but for now they’re happy winning over one die-hard fan at a time with their sketches.
“It’s the perfect format for comedy,” says Moore. “You can get in, make the certain amount of jokes that you want to make about a certain topic, and when you’ve said all you want to say, you can just end it. And they don’t have to segue together. You can talk about the Kennedy assassination, and then one minute later just be like, ‘Now I want to talk about Thanksgiving family dinner.’ ”