February 3, 2012
The eleventh annual SF Sketchfest brings together another stellar line-up of talent to a variety of SF comedy and theater venues for 17 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, Stella and The Whitest Kids U Know, onstage performances featuring players from the leftfield comedy shows Eagleheart, Delocated and Jon Benjamin Has a Van, tributes to such classic movies as M*A*S*H, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Wet Hot American Summer as well as appearances by noted locally grown talents like Doug Benson, Killing My Lobster, Greg Behrendt and Brent Weinbach.
One of the biggest changes for the festival last year was the introduction of venerable Union Square venue the Marine’s Memorial Theatre. While some larger festival events have been held at the spacious Palace of Fine Arts Theatre in the past, the 650-seat venue will host a number of the bigger acts during this edition of the SF Sketchfest including this weekend’s annual sold-out presentations of Celebrity Autobiography.
A four-night SF Sketchfest residency by noted vocalist and leftfield stage comic Reggie Watts anchors the final stretch of weekday performances for the festival. First coming to fame as the lead singer for Seattle-based soul/rock/hip-hop outfit Maktub, Watts was known for using effects pedals to recreate the layered backing vocals and beatboxing of the band’s studio recordings live. After the band dissolved, Watts started exploring his unique intersection of solo vocalization, humor and improv with regular appearances at Seattle venues before taking his one-man show on the road.
Watts relocated to New York City to further pursue comedy and has cultivated a growing popularity through his online videos for Vimeo and CollegeHumor.com, performing at major festivals including Bonnaroo, South by Southwest, Bumbershoot and the Bay Area’s own Outside Lands. He also served as opening for Conan O’Brien’s Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television Tour and has frequently appeared on Conan as a musical guest. For his Reggidency, Watts will showcase the range of his talents with a solo performance featuring just his music Tuesday night at Yoshi’s in San Francisco (8 p.m. $25), a comedy spotlight at Mezzanine with special guests Garfunkle & Oates on Wednesday night (8 p.m. $25), a jazz collaboration with young piano maverick Robert Glasper — who has played with a constellation of hip-hop and soul stars including Mos Def, Maxwell, Kanye West, Common, Jay Z and Erykah Badu in addition to leading his own bands — at Yoshi’s in Oakland (8 p.m. $25). His final night will feature Watts improvising a live score for a yet-to-be-announced silent film at the Roxie Theater in SF’s Mission District at midnight Friday evening.
Additional highlights of the SF Sketchfest’s schedule through Thursday evening include an appearance by local legends Killing My Lobster (Eureka Theatre, Wed/1, 8 p.m. $20), an all-star bill of stand-up comics including Todd Berry, Rob Delany and Chappelle Show co-creator Neal Brennan at Cobb’s Comedy Club (Thu/2, 8 p.m. $20), aand much more. For a more detailed listing of these events and information on how to get tickets, please visit the San Francisco Sketchfest website.