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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Nato's Comedy Picks, Sketchfest edition: Kevin Camia & Baron Vaughn

Posted By on Wed, Jan 6, 2016 at 12:00 PM


If you like comedy, this is the most important time of year. It's the 15th Annual SF Sketchfest. Sketchfest — which, truth be told, is less and less "sketch"-related all the time — is a comedy nerd's live wet dream. Over the course of three weeks, something crazy like 200 shows crash through San Francisco, with everything from tiny showcases of emerging comics for cheap to big shows with legendary acts. There's standup, improv, musical comedy, live podcasts, comedy gameshows, sketch, storytelling, movie events, classes, tribute shows, and more.

Sketchfest is special because it includes shows that never happen any other time. There will be reunions of people who never perform together, or live shows featuring cast and writers of beloved tv shows, or weird concept shows that get tried once. Like that. If you spend some time with the schedule, there is seriously something for everyone. But I'm here to make it easy for you.

First of all, on Wednesday and Thursday, San Francisco native Kevin Camia will headline the Punchline. I admit, this is not a Sketchfest show, but I love Camia so much. He has jokes I'm angry I didn't write. His comedy is profound and vivid and lyrical and a little raunchy. His first album was called "Kindness," and he's such a warm and decent person onstage and off, that he can talk about heavy or painful subjects like bullying in a way that's accessible to everyone.

Baron Vaughn is doing two shows on Friday for Sketchfest at Doc's Lab. Baron does a lot of acting. He was on Fairly Legal on the USA network, and more recently on Grace and Frankie on Netflix, and was just cast as the new voice of Tom Servo on the rebooted Mystery Science Theatre 3000. Long story short, because of his busy acting schedule, he doesn't do as much standup touring as he used to.

This is too bad because he's great at it. Baron is a trained actor and is a silly person. I love watching Baron's standup because he applies both of these traits to great effect. Sometimes he's told me that he thinks his standup in the past comes off as "light" on substance, but I disagree. He uses absurdity to get into big ideas smoothly. His shows will be a great way to start your Sketchfest.

You can hear my recommendations on KALW 91.7FM public radio or see my Sketchfest show on Jan. 24 at Cobb's. That show is Iron Comic, the comedy game show I'll be co-hosting with Moshe Kasher, in which amazing comics like Janeane Garofalo, Greg Behrendt, Dana Gould, Guy Branum, and Brandon Wardell will write topics on the fly. Good times!

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