In Attendance at SF Sketchfest: Greatest Event in Festival History and Birthday Boys
By Dino-Ray Ramos
Thursday, February 6, 2014
It’s without question that there is way too much to do at SF Sketchfest. It’s overwhelming. Conflicts are unavoidable. It becomes a major life decision to choose between going to a show from your favorite improv group or listening to a live recording of your favorite podcast. You may be torn between a stand-up showcase or a reunion screening with the cast in attendance. It’s decisions like these that can drive you to tears. Then there are shows that have names that sell themselves, making the decision-making process a little easier. One of those is “The Greatest Event in Festival History.” The other is “The Birthday Boys.”
90210: So Close Yet So Far…
From Adam Scott and Lance Bangs, the minds that brought you “The Greatest Event in Television History,” was a show that served as an opportunity to talk about their brilliant shot-by-shot remakes of retro TV shows. During the panel, appropriately called “The Greatest Event in Festival History,” Scott and Bangs were joined by Jon Glaser and moderator Kumail Nanjiani as they indulged the audience with funny stories (among other random moments of hilarity) about their remakes of Simon & Simon, Hart to Hart, Too Close For Comfort (which starred Glaser), and most recently, Bosom Buddies.
Scott took us to the inception of the “Greatest Event,” which started with an email exchange with Jon Hamm. They were exchanging YouTube links of opening credit sequences from their favorite TV shows. Then, in a moment of fate, they sent a link to the Simon & Simon credits at the same time. With fate on their side, the rest was history.
From Bangs hanging out of a helicopter to get a perfect shot of the San Diego Coronado Bridge for Simon & Simon to using a green screen to achieve the iconic behind-the-back catch in Bosom Buddies, it’s amazing how detail-oriented they are while trying to achieve the perfect likeness to their remakes. What’s even more amazing is that they got Tom Hanks, Peter Scolari and Billy Joel to make a cameo in their latest episode.
During the Q&A, an audience member asked what opening credit sequences they wanted to remake but couldn’t, and Scott’s answer caused waves of glee in the audience: Beverly Hills 90210. Scott said that they were actually all set to remake it. They got the approval from everyone they needed approval from (including the original cast). In fact, Brian Austin Green was set to be involved. Scott even had some of his dream cast in mind for the 90210 doppelgangers: Chris Pratt as Ian Zeiring, Jon Hamm as Luke Perry and Rob Lowe as Jason Priestly. Unfortunately, the cast was so big that scheduling became extremely difficult so they had to scrap the idea altogether. I vote to have a Kickstarter to make this happen. It’s something the world needs to see.
Finally! An Homage with Kid Rock, the Linkin Park Guy AND Celine Dion!
I have a confession to make. My knowledge of The Birthday Boys is very minimal. Bad, I know, but perhaps that’s a good thing when going into one of their live shows for the first time. Plus, they have the stamp of approval from Bob Odenkirk and if you don’t trust him, then I have no hope for you. That said, I went in fresh.
Watching The Birthday Boys immediately reminded me of The State and Kids in the Hall, sketch groups that I fell in love with back in the day. There’s a delightful mix of earnestness, absurdity and natural hilarity that makes you fall in love with Jefferson Dutton, Dave Ferguson, Mike Hanford, Tim Kalpakis, Matt Kowalick, Mike Mitchell, Chris VanArtsdalen, Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky and Mike. Okay, the last four aren’t really members, but the rest of them work together like a well-oiled comedy machine.
From the moment they stepped on the stage and dropped their white pants and walked around in their undies to abide by the “no white after Labor Day” rule, the audience immediately knew they were in safe hands. Among a smattering of clever pre-taped video bits were sketches that included a brilliant and finely executed Weekend at Bernie’s spoof complete with corpse puppetry; an homage to hip-hop pioneers like Kid Rock, that dude from Linkin Park and Celine Dion; and a whole scene about farting out your skeleton. The last bit was all I needed to deem them as the new guard of those classic sketch groups from the ’90s.