From Spinning Platters
January 22, 2012
By Marie Carney
Eugene Mirman’s show Pretty Good Friends turned out to be a great start to my SF Sketchfest experience, in spite of the grim start to the evening. At 10:20 it was pouring rain and the line to get in to Cobb’s Comedy Club was around the block. I was umbrella-less, water dripping off my nose and actually thankful that I had forgotten my camera. But then the nice people behind me offered to let me huddle under their umbrella and I ended up meeting some fellow comedy nerds. And to think I was dreading going to a comedy show by myself.
By the time I got to my seat in the club the show was already running 25 minutes late and Eugene Mirman took the stage about three minutes after that saying that he wanted to start on time when it was only 1/4 full but the club wouldn’t let him. He did about 15 minutes of material and was super hilarious using some pictures at the end to emphasize his jokes. After his set was done he began his MC duties for the evening, introducing each guest and doing some material between acts.
Dana Gould was the first comic out, and he started his set boldly, with a long dark joke that ended up getting a big laugh. He admitted afterward that he was worried the joke wouldn’t go well, and honestly listening to the long build I was worried too. But the rest of his set went smoothly as he is a very funny man.
Then Michael Showalter took the stage, speaking for a while about the hard time he had making it here on time from New York because of weather delays for his flight. Then he surprised us all by bringing out his friend and frequent collaborator Michael Ian Black and they proceeded to read off their Twitter conversation from the flight. It was quite funny but it made me glad that I hadn’t been reading my Twitter feed lately. I don’t know if it would have been as funny if I had just read the same material earlier that day, but overall it was a fun surprise.
Before the next performer, Eugene Mirman took a little extra time and showed us something special I’m not allowed to talk about. Sorry! Then John Hodgman came out on stage carrying his latest book That is All to the biggest cheer so far of the night. Not surprising since the 8 o’clock sold out show was his sold out Sketchfest show. He then proceeded to read a section of his book, though most of it was from memory, not actually reading. The story was interesting but I felt kind of jipped. I would have preferred something extemporaneous. It all seemed pretty forced and pompous for a stand up show, but it was still pretty funny.
I had told myself and others that I wanted to go to this show because I really like Eugene Mirman and I hadn’t seen him yet, but really I was there to see one of my childhood heroes, Bobcat Goldthwait, and I was surprised to find that this was true for the majority of the crowd, including the guy I was sitting next to who got out of his seat, pumped his fist in the air and started screaming “fuck yeah!” I swear before that he was a civilized hipster. After the great audience response Bobcat Goldthwait delivered a hilarious and self-deprecating set punctuated by a clip from his newest movie God Bless America that, I think I can say this without ruining anything, highlighted shooting a baby. It was awesome.
Paul F. Tompkins then took on the challenging task of closing the show. He was dressed to the nines, as usual, and seemed to take a cue from Bobcat’s set spending most of his time onstage telling a seemingly improvised story about catching two babies having sex during a hipster bridge party. It was dark and hilarious and showed off his quick mind. I thought it was the perfect end to a very funny evening, glad to know I’m not the only one who thinks that dark jokes about babies are the best.