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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Nato's Comedy Picks: Sketchfest Week Three, Iron Comic and more

Posted By on Wed, Jan 20, 2016 at 10:30 AM

click to enlarge guy_fence.jpg

It's the final weekend of Sketchfest. We made it, everybody. One more weekend, so clear your calendars and see more shows. Good news/bad news: The good news is that the good people of the festival piled a lot of great shows on this last weekend. The bad news is that a lot of them are already sold out. So to help you get the most of your weekend, I've picked shows and performers that you must see that are not already sold out (for now). Also, for great stand-ups, try to find shows where you can see people in a format not doing regular standup. That's the best part of the festival.

One of my favorite comedians and people, Guy Branum is back in town for three shows. On Sunday, he's doing Iron Comic at Cobb's. Moshe Kasher and I pull topics out of a hat and 5 comedians have eight minutes to write two minutes on each topic. It's like a comedy Iron Chef with no stakes. Past topics have been things like elephants, drone strikes, or ghosts. Guy has done it before and he is amazing at Iron Comic. He's a veteran comedy writer (currently working on Mindy Kaling's show for Hulu), and a prodigious standup with a singular voice and intellect. His background is equally unusual: He's a gay Jewish ex-lawyer raised by Jewish redneck almond farmers in rural California. Guy will be competing against a murderer's row featuring Janeane Garofalo, Dana Gould, Greg Behrendt, and Brandon Wardell. 


Guy Branum at The Nerdmelt Showroom from Omnipop Talent Group on Vimeo.

Maria Bamford is one of the great comedic geniuses of our time. Her regular standup shows are about sold out, but you can still catch her on Saturday on the show for cartoon Adventure Time (also featuring Tom Kenny aka the voice of Sponge Bob), and late that night for the Uptown Showdown Debate: The Internet vs Real Life. Here's her performance last week from the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.


I'd be remiss if I didn't recommend any improv shows. Here are two solid options at the Brava Theatre: on Friday night, The Black Version, in which members of the Groundlings improvise "black versions" of movies. (Groundlings is a venerable L.A. improv/comedy school that is known for feeding people into Saturday Night Live.) On Saturday night, Gravid Water, is where actors perform scenes with lines they know with improvisers who have no idea what's happening. This installment features Matt Walsh and Ian Roberts, two of the founders of the Upright Citizens Brigade improv school and theaters.

If you need more, keep an eye on the Sketchfest schedule, and I suggest you try to see Jackie Kashian (live podcast The Dork Forest and Porchlight storytelling), Aparna Nancherla (writer for the Late Show with Seth Meyers, who is on a whopping SEVEN shows), James Adomian (of Comedy Bang Bang, with a genius Bernie Sanders impression), or Andy Kindler (of Bob's Burgers).  

Stay in touch @natogreen.com. Listen in for more recommendations on Tuesdays at 4:45pm on KALW 91.7 public radio.
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