"A Funny Night for Comedy," the name of this Sunday night comedy showcase/live talk show encompasses the subtle wit, quiet sarcasm, and endearing bluntness of its creators, Natasha Muse and Ryan Cronin. The one-of-a-kind show takes place monthly on the second Sunday at 7 p.m. at the Actors Theatre of San Francisco.
Natasha Muse, SF Weekly's "Best Tranny Comedienne," first developed AFNFC as a typically structured comedy showcase, but " It didn't stand out from other showcases except it was in an unlikely place at an unlikely time. So, I wanted to do something different and have fun with it."
After about a year of running the showcase, Muse decided to change it up, and brought on comedian and actor Ryan Cronin to create a comedy show with a late-night talk show format, reminiscent of The Johnny Carson Show, of which they were both fans.
"I think she just wanted me to be her own personal Ed McMahon," Cronin jokes of his position as Muse's funny sidekick.
"A Funny Night for Comedy" crosses the boundaries of live theater, sketch comedy, and stand-up. It doesn't quite fit the pigeonhole of any of these formats, yet it draws an audience from all three areas. This allows for a flexibility and creativity that is you won't see in many comedy shows.
"With the showcase," Muse explains, "I felt like the quality of the show was much more dependent upon who I booked over anything else I did. Now [with the talk show], I still get to book great comedians, but I also get to be more creative with the content before and during the shows."
If you have yet to stay awake late enough to catch a late-night talk show on T.V., AFNFC's early evening time slot might appeal to you, and give your life what it's been missing. Like the traditional T.V. format, Muse opens the show with a monologue that pokes fun at issues of the day, two or three local comics perform live sets and endure unscripted, "without a net" interviews sandwiched between the host and her sidekick, and Mike Spiegelman fills in the gaps with his one-man Cacophonous Euphoria Band.
The crew even holds commercial breaks, when we get to see the scattered direction of Kristen the Stage Manager; and they employ Sign Master Brian Fields to let us know when to laugh, applaud, or say Awww.
"I think in the early days of the show some of the audience really were surprised at what was happening," Cronin says of the show's eclectic and unusual nature. "...To me it was quite a treat to see an elderly audience come to a realization that they were, in fact, NOT watching a Tennessee Williams play."
The upcoming September 9 show features headliner Caitlin Gill, a comic "who really shines in a theater setting," Muse adds. Kaseem Bentley brings the "Best Racial Humor You Don't Feel Guilty Laughing At" (SF Weekly), and Jesse Fernandez performs with a dry San Francisco wit.
If somehow the comedy isn't enough to drag you out on a Sunday evening, the $10 ticket price includes -- wait for it! -- free fried chicken and a slice of lemon cake. It may not be a Tennessee Williams play, but this clever crew has found a way to please that Sunday theater crowd.
Get tickets for "A Funny Night for Comedy," which starts at 7 p.m. at the Actors Theatre of San Francisco, 855 Bush (at Taylor).
Awkward Silence is a weekly column covering local stand-up comedy in San Francisco.