The Comedy Issue: Dissecting the Joke to Understand It Better

From SF Weekly

The Comedy Issue: Dissecting the Joke to Understand It Better
By Staff, SF Weekly

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


As someone who has remained passionate about all aspects of comedy and its evolution, I think SF Sketchfest is the place to be. The most interesting stuff I see in Los Angeles invariably ends up there, but then, as behooves a place like Baghdad by the Bay, you get a Chinese box of comedy when you come. Endless hidden surprises I never even knew existed. It’s like that dream you have where the house you’ve lived in for 20 years has a room in it you didn’t know about.

That’s Laraine Newman, OG SNL cast member and Groundling founder, extolling the virtues of SF Sketchfest, which transforms the city into a Renaissance Fair of dick jokes for two weeks. Ms. Newman points out that “show business is just one big happy family,” and so comedians tend to see Sketchfest as an opportunity to get together with other members of the tribe and have a good time outside the comedy grind, whatever that is. (Self-flagellation as self-medication?) We at SF Weekly explored this migration, one of nature’s most special and mysterious, with our Comedy Issue. In the pages that follow, you’ll find essays on San Francisco by some of the finest minds in the field today (plus our own contributions), as well as interviews that connect the folks working the stages and podcasts. In order to help you on your own journey of self-discovery, we have also put together a guide for you to navigate Sketchfest based on what species of comedy you might enjoy encountering in the wild.

“Your lungs will hurt,” says Newman, who performs Feb. 8 and 10. “I guarantee it.” In what other field is a promise of pain offered as a benefit? Well, certainly in San Francisco there are a couple of others, but at least for the next few weeks, we’re all taking our licks together.Brandon R. Reynolds

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