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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Four Performers Pick Their Must-See 2016 Sketchfest Shows

Posted By on Tue, Jan 5, 2016 at 3:00 PM


In a world of endless choices, the schedule for the 15th annual San Francisco Sketchfest is a doozy. With over 200 shows to choose from, we decided to seek advice four performers — Mary Holland, Peaches Christ, Judah Friedlander, and Brent Weinbach — coming to Sketchfest on what is not to be missed in the mayhem of the next three weeks. To read about each show or to discover even more opportunities for laughter, visit

Mary Holland
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Mary Holland is a regular performer at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Los Angeles. She plays Shelly Forbes on the Starz original series Blunt Talk (created by Jonathan Ames). Appearing at ASSSSCAT (Jan. 23), Mo Willems & Friends: Don't Let the Comedians Do Storytime! (Jan. 24), and Improv4Humans (Jan. 24).

A Night with John Lurie in Conversation with Parker Posey
Friday, Jan. 8, 9:30 p.m., Castro Theatre
I'm a huge fan of Parker Posey. She's a brilliant actor, and I'd be so excited to see her and hear what she has to say.

Improvised Shakespeare Company with Joey Bland, Ross Bryant, Greg Hess, Thomas Middleditch, and Blaine Swen
Saturday, Jan. 9, 10 p.m., Marines Memorial Theater
If you've never seen the Improvised Shakespeare Company, you must leap on this opportunity. These guys are incredible, speaking in Shakespearean verse, creating a fully improvised Shakespeare play in front of your very eyes. It's an amazing experience. Must see.

BATS Improv Improvised Game of Thrones
Tuesday, Jan. 12, 8 p.m., Eureka Theater
The title and show description immediately grabbed my attention. I love that they create an epic, sweeping story/characters a la Game of Thrones, but it's all made up on the spot. I'm a sucker for fantasy, so I'm 100 percent on board for this show!

Upright Citizens Brigade: ASSSSCAT with co-monologists Sally Field and Michael Showalter
Saturday, Jan. 23, 7 p.m., The Nourse
ASSSSCAT is the flagship show of the UCB Theatre. It's a hugely entertaining and hilarious show, with the best of the best improvisers and some fantastic guest monologists. It's a great show, you gotta check it out. And I'll be there too! A bonus!

Improv4Humans with Matt Besser
Sunday, Jan. 24, 1 p.m., Cobb's
"Improv4Humans" is well-known in the podcast world, and this show will be the live version of it! It's so much fun to do and to watch. Great improvisers doing scenes off stories and sometimes just one-word suggestions. And also I will be there. So... Get your dang tickets! 

Peaches Christ
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Peaches Christ has been featured on VH1’s Totally Gay!, AMC’s “Movies That Shook the World”, Gus Van Sant’s Academy Award-winning film Milk, HBO’s original series Looking, and the upcoming feature film Diary Of A Teenage Girl starring Kristen Wiig and Alexander Skarsgard. Today, Peaches Christ's movie events have outgrown the original Midnight Mass format and for the past several years she's produced mega-events at the historic SF movie palace, the Castro Theatre. Appearing in "Teen Witch: The Peaches Christ Experience" (Jan. 8).

Teen Witch: The Peaches Christ Experience with Robyn Lively, Mandy Ingber, and Josh Miller
Friday, Jan. 8, 7 p.m., Castro Theatre
The Sketchfest event I most highly recommend is our tribute to the late 80's masterpiece Teen Witch. Not only will we be celebrating this cult movie classic with a drag performance tribute but three of the film's stars will be joining us: Teen Witch herself Robyn Lively, her brother Josh Miller, and rapping b.f.f. Mandy Ingber! We all wanna be the most popular girl. Dress in your 80's finery because it's never gonna be the same again...

SF Sketchfest Tribute to Sally Field

Friday, Jan. 22, 7 p.m., Alamo Drafthouse
I think this recommendation is a bit of a no-brainer because... SALLY FIELD! Now, full disclosure I haven't actually seen this new movie that will be screening as part of the tribute but who really cares because Sally Field. This woman is a living legend and has been giving wonderful comedic turns for years and years. Is there still time to ask her if she'll join me for a 25th Anniversary Soap Dish event at Sketchfest this year?

RISK! with Kevin Allison
Friday, Jan. 15, 7:30 p.m., Swedish American Hall
If you aren't a listener of Kevin Allison's wonderfully scandalous podcast "RISK!", you should be. Kevin (often remembered for being the gay ginger on MTV's The State) asks storytellers to tell the tales they not dare share anywhere else. I've been a guest on the show and once told a story I hope my mother never hears (Google it). Also, the hilarious Emily Heller is a special guest at this live podcast event.

RoastSF presents: Comedy Roast of Broke Ass Stuart
Thursday, Jan. 14, 7:30 p.m., Stage Werx
Local former Mayoral candidate, talk-show host, and SF impresario Broke Ass Stuart gets roasted tonight at the live event version of RoastSF, where eight Bay Area comics come together to roast one of their own. I love this event because it can be rude, offensive, and hilarious in a very refreshing way in a city that can sometime take itself too seriously. I hope this one gets at least one upset walk-out!

SF Sketchfest Tribute to Jeff Goldblum
Saturday, Jan. 9, 7 p.m., Marines Memorial Theater
OK, how can you miss the chance to experience Jeff Goldblum play music for you live and in-person? The wonderfully unique and sexy Mr. Goldblum will appear in conversation where he takes your questions, react to film clips, and plays music for you with his band The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra. This all just sounds very, very special.

Judah Friedlander
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On the comedy stage, Judah Friedlander is The World Champion. He is known to comics & audiences as one of the funniest and most original stand-up comedians. You can watch Judah as Frank Rossitan” on the Emmy-winning 30 Rock every night in syndication and on Comedy Central. Appearing at "If Raindrops United" Stand-up and Book Release Party (Jan. 22), Sklarbro Country (Jan. 23), and Cultivated Wit's Comedy Hack Day Finals (Jan. 24).

Hot Shots 25th Anniversary Screening with Jim Abrahams and Pat Proft

Saturday, Jan. 9, 7 p.m., Castro Theatre
I think it would be cool to see the 25th anniversary event for Hot Shots with Jim Abrahams and Pat Proft. Today, movies don't have too many verbal jokes or sight gags, so it would be cool to hear these guys talk.

An Afternoon with Alan Arkin: The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming 50th Anniversary Screening
Sunday, Jan. 10, 2 p.m., Castro Theatre
Yes. I would watch "10 Seconds in an Elevator with Alan Arkin".

Found Footage Festival meets Everything is Terrible!
Wednesday, Jan. 20, 8 p.m., Castro Theatre
I have hundreds of VHS tapes with weird stuff on them - so I like watching their videos to see stuff I haven't seen before, and to see if they have any of the same VHS tapes I have.

Each/Other with Scott Adsit & Tami Sagher
Sunday, Jan. 17, 7 p.m., Eureka Theatre
I worked with them on 30 Rock and it'd be cool to seem them do their thing on stage.

Judah Friedlander: "If The Raindrops United" Stand-up and Book Release Show
Friday, Jan. 22, 7:30 p.m., Brava Theater
This guy Judah Friedlander is doing a stand-up show on January 22. I heard it's awesome. And his act satirizes many of the nation's big issues, including racism, sexism, mass incarceration, and other methods of government corruption and hypocrisy.

Brent Weinbach
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Brent Weinbach is a winner and recipient of the Andy Kaufman Award, which is given out once a year to recognize innovation in stand-up comedy. He is also responsible for various internet video sensations such as "Gangster Party Line" as well as the cult web series, Pound House. Appearing at Brent Weinbach Presents Spotlight on the Andy Kaufman Award 2015 (Jan. 14), "RISK!" with Kevin Allison (Jan. 15), Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction (Jan. 15), and Pound House Live (Jan. 16).

SF Sketchfest Tribute to Sally Field/Hello, My Name is Doris Screening
Friday, Jan. 22, 7 p.m., Alamo Drafthouse
I haven’t seen it yet, but I really, really want to. I loved The Baxter, which Michael Showalter also wrote and directed, and this is the first movie he's directed since The Baxter (which came out in 2005), so I'm just really looking forward to it. Showalter has a great and nuanced sensibility, and he is so, so funny. Plus, Sally Field is one of my favorite, if not my favorite, actresses of all time. I really wish I was in town for this, because I would totally go.

A Night with John Lurie in Conversation with Parker Posey

Friday, Jan. 8, 9:30 p.m., Castro Theatre
John Lurie is so cool, I wanna be like him. I best know him from his roles in Jim Jarmusch movies, but I also really liked his TV show, Fishing with John. It would be really interesting get to know the real John Lurie, which I assume is what this event is about.

SF Sketchfest Tribute to Jeff Goldblum
Saturday, Jan. 9, 7 p.m., Marines Memorial Theater
He’s the best. He is just so funny and nuanced, he's one of my favorite actors. I just wanna watch him do stuff, and apparently he's going to be reacting to film clips, which sounds really fun and funny. I wish I could go to this.

Pound House Live
Okay, so basically, Pound House is a web series and this event is a premiere for the third season. And it's been two years since season two came out, so there's a lot of anticipation going on here. Not only will the first episode of the new season be unveiled for the first time, there will also be a Q&A session with the creators about the cult series. And if you haven't seen Pound House yet, watch it. It's kind of like David Lynch movies mixed with absurd comedy. I should also mention that this is my show and I feel I should promote it, which is why I'm listing it here. The show is made by Doug Lussenhop and me. Doug, also known as DJ Douggpound, is a hilarious comedian and film maker. I'm really proud of this collaboration between me and him, and I'm excited to show people this new season.

Upright Citizens Brigade: ASSSSCAT with co-monologists Sally Field and Michael Showalter
Saturday, Jan. 23, 7 p.m., The Nourse
I’m a big fan of Michael Showalter and a big fan of Sally Field. I would go to this for the monologues alone. But on top of that, you get great improv based on their monologues - I mean, that just sounds like a lot of fun.

In summation, all of the shows I want to go to are happening all the weekends I won't be in town, so I unfortunately won't be going to these shows. But you, you have the opportunity to go, so take it!

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About The Author

Zack Ruskin

Zack Ruskin

Zack was born in San Francisco and never found a reason to leave. He has written for Consequence of Sound, The Believer, The Millions, and The Rumpus. He is still in search of a Bort license plate.


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