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Monday, January 11, 2016

Christopher Guest, Cameron Esposito, Jon Hamm and More: Dispatches from Sketchfest, Jan. 8-10

Posted By on Mon, Jan 11, 2016 at 12:00 PM


Dispatches from SF Sketchfest will run throughout Sketchfest (Jan. 7-23). These recaps and previews are designed to fill you in on what you've missed and let you know what's coming next!

The opening weekend of San Francisco Sketchfest featured a staggering array of quality programming. On Friday evening, comics Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher brought their Los Angeles-based "Put Your Hands Together" show to Cobb's, with guest performers Howard Kremer, Joe DeRosa, and Todd Barry.

The festivities started early on Saturday, with an 11 a.m. live taping of the Never Not Funny podcast featuring Jimmy Pardo, co-host Matt Belknap, fan favorite Pat Francis, and Mad Men's Jon Hamm. The Castro Theatre later hosted a tribute to the 20th anniversary of Waiting for Guffman, with director Christopher Guest and stars Fred Willard, Parker Posey, and Bob Balaban joining together to reminisce after a screening of the film. Things took a turn for the inebriated on Saturday night with Sketchfest's "Spotlight on Drunk History," as host Derek Waters brought past narrators like Kyle Kinane and Esposito to the stage for some sloshed banter and clips from the show. Sunday afternoon included a panel dedicated to Netflix's BoJack Horseman at Cobb's, where show creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg, voice talent Paul F. Tompkins, production designer Lisa Hanawalt and supervising director Mike Hollingsworth discussed the show with moderator Mara Wilson.

click to enlarge "Put Your Hands Together" hosts Rhea Butcher and Cameron Esposito pose with a fan.
  • "Put Your Hands Together" hosts Rhea Butcher and Cameron Esposito pose with a fan.


Recently married and eternally brilliant, Rhea Butcher and Cameron Esposito led off their stand-up showcase "Put Your Hands Together" by sharing a number of great stories, including Butcher's father not being sure if he would be able to attend their wedding because he didn't know if he'd have plans in December.

Later Esposito called out a fan who was texting at a table front and center, informing the audience member that even though he tried to hide his phone under the table, the glow made it appear that he was in the midst of telling a spooky story. Busted!

During the Never Not Funny taping, Pat Francis desperately tried to get Pardo, Belknap, and Hamm to read aloud the beginning of a screenplay called "Blow Hard" that he and Belknap had written many years prior. Hamm hilariously shut him down after glancing at the script for one second. Francis later gave the copies he'd printed to audience members, to Belknap's immense dismay.

Pardo's Diet Coke was an unexpected guest of the proceedings. At one point he cracked himself up when he accidentally tried to take a sip of his microphone after popping an Advil, and he later spilled the soda on stage after wrestling with Belknap, causing some great chatter about paper towels, Belknap and Francis's inability to carry the show while Pardo mopped up, and Hamm confessing that he had considered pretending to slip on the floor when he walked out.

Watching Waiting for Guffman with a crowd is an incredible experience. Christopher Guest later informed the crowd that the screening marked the first time he had watched the film in 15 years.

During the Q&A panel that followed, Bob Balaban shared an anecdote about how he used to babysit for the Arquette family, and the children he was watching were the ones that taught him how to smoke pot.

click to enlarge Moderator Kevin Pollack chats with Waiting for Guffman stars Christopher Guest, Fred Willard, Bob Balaban, and Parker Posey.
  • Moderator Kevin Pollack chats with Waiting for Guffman stars Christopher Guest, Fred Willard, Bob Balaban, and Parker Posey.

For those that attended the Drunk History panel sober, they may have left disappointed. Sobriety was certainly not an issue for the guests on stage, who razzed one another, frequently spoke over each other, and all confirmed that Waters' show had led to their renewed interest in history.

At one point Waters screened an outtake from Kyle Kinane's episode narrating the story of the first space walk. In the clip, Kinane argues with Waters over the correct pronunciation of the word "crayon." It may never be possible to hear that word the same way.

The BoJack Horseman panel was a refreshingly insightful look at how a modern animation show comes to exist and continues to thrive, highlighted by moderator Mara Wilson, who kept things moving along and clearly possessed a genuine enthusiasm for the show (she'll be on next season). 

Supervising Director Mike Hollingsworth brought his incredibly bizarre Paul McCartney impression to the event, re-imaging the lyrics to "Love Me Do" as sung by McCartney's ghost. Tompkins also related the uncomfortable moment of doing a table read with director Gerry Marshall, who Tompkins has long done as a character of Earwolf's Comedy Bang Bang podcast. Marshall was more focused on telling Tompkins about why he was wearing a red sweater (for a Christmas party he was attending after the read-through), so it sounds like it all worked out. 

Coming Soon

BATS Improv's Improvised Game of Thrones
Tuesday, Jan. 12, 8 p.m., Eureka Theatre
BATS Improv is San Francisco's longest running improv theatre company. For this show, they'll take on the world of George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones. Expect battles and perhaps a steamy love scene or two at what is being billed not as a spoof or parody of HBO's acclaimed series, but rather an alternate universe of new characters inspired by audience suggestions. 

SF Sketchfest Nightlife at the California Academy of Sciences
Thursday, Jan. 14, 6 p.m., California Academy of Sciences
The popular "Nightlife" series at the California Academy of Sciences gets invaded by Sketchfest for an evening that includes original Mystery Science Theatre 3000 alum Trace Beaulieu and Frank Conniff riffing short films, "Competitive Erotic Science Fan Ficiton" with host Bryan Cook and guests Kevin Allison (The State) and Dave Hill, and fake TED Talks led by Paul and Storm, and Mythbuster's Adam Savage.

RoastSF presents: Comedy Roast of Broke-Ass Stuart
Thursday, Jan. 14, 7 p.m., Stage Werx
Mayoral hopeful Broke Ass Stuart will subject himself to the wrath of RoastSF as eight comics take turns tearing him apart. Roasters scheduled to appear include Big-T, Greg Asdourian, Jesus U. BettaWork, Ash Fisher, Clark Little, Clay Newman, Pete O'Keefe, Jeremy Talamantes, and Cheryl White.

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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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