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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Tonight: Sketchfest + John Vanderslice + Rhett Miller of The Old 97's = Awesome

Posted By on Wed, Feb 4, 2015 at 9:57 AM

  • Rhett Miller / Instagram
What's better than turning hordes of comedians loose on San Francisco? Why, watching what happens when you mix and match them with musicians, of course.

This year's Sketchfest has already seen some great musical collaborations, like the Noise Pop night that hosted John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats, Bob Mould, (formerly) of Husker Du and Sugar,  Jon Wurster, the drummer of whom they share musical custody, and Tom Scharpling, his comedian/radio host counterpart, all coming together to celebrate the latter two's cult-favorite radio show Scharpling & Wurster. And this Sunday will see Maya Rudolph and Gretchen Lieberum bringing the musical stylings of Prince to the stage as Princess at the Mezzanine.

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Monday, February 1, 2010

Last Night: Jason Segel, Fred Willard, Rachel Dratch, More at Sketchfest

Posted By on Mon, Feb 1, 2010 at 11:04 AM

Jason Segel: They loved you, man
  • Jason Segel: They loved you, man

Celebrity Autobiography w/ Rachel Dratch, Laura Kightlinger, Laraine Newman, Steve Schirripa, Jason Segel, Fred Willard, Dayle Reyfel and Eugene Pack
SF Sketchfest
Sunday, Jan. 31, 2010
Cobb's Comedy Club

Better than: Reading Suzanne Somers' poetry alone.

One of the great things about San Francisco's giant comedy bender Sketchfest is all the different ways funny entertainers will make you laugh. The festival includes stand up, improv, iron comics, and, last night, comic actors reading the absurd autobiographies of celebrities who never should be allowed to speak about themselves in public, let alone publish a tome where they offer such valuable insight as "I really wanted to fuck that ass."

But thanks to Celebrity Autobiography creator Eugene Pack, no narcissistic admission is too small to take the piss out of. Pack collects together funny people to read passages from selected autobiographies, but the show gets further creative from there. In the second half of the act, a specific celeb situation is split into different parts, read by a group of actors from different celeb books (for example, the first affair between Burt Reynolds and Loni Anderson, orchestrated by Reynold's personal assist, Elaine Blake Hall, who also wrote a book. The Loni and Burt fling, from its New Year's Eve sexathon spark to its name-calling aftermath, was told through selected passages from all three books, the juxtaposition of perspective getting funnier and more absurd as the telling went along.)

The actors chosen for last night's Celebrity Autobiography were top shelf comedians: Pack; Fred Willard (who's often the best part of Christopher Guest's mockumentaries); Saturday Night Live's Rachel Dratch, Laura Kightlinger, and Laraine Newman; Steve Schirripa from The Sopranos; and, most beloved by all the screaming ladies at Cobb's, I Love You, Man's Jason Segel, a goofball who hammed it up the most for his applause.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sketchfest Q&A: Comedian Matt Braunger

Posted By on Wed, Jan 27, 2010 at 7:55 AM


The only cure for the crappy, rainy weather is comedy... well, comedy and beer. Luckily, the Punch Line not only sells booze, but the club will also host but the very funny Matt Braunger this week as part of SF Sketchfest. He'll be at the venue along with Kyle Kinane and Brendan Lynch this Thursday at 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 and 10 p.m.).

An award-winning comic, Braunger started in improv and transitioned into stand-up. The mix helped him earn a reputation as one of the most diverse and talented rising stars on the scene. His album Soak Up The Night, released by Comedy Central records in 2009, is available both on iTunes and on vinyl (we love the old school vinyl release). His television credits include The Late Show with David Letterman, Live At Gotham, and Mad TV.

When did you start doing stand-up?
I started in improv in Chicago right after I graduated from college. I was always a comedy fan, so I started to take classes at Improv Olympic. I was lucky enough to study under Del Close a couple of months before he died. I got kicked off my improv team because I couldn't afford to take the classes. One of the things people don't understand about improv is that you have to take the classes to be able to perform. Anyway, that's when I turned to the dark side of comedy: stand-up.

When did things start to hit in your career?
It's been a strange process. From Chicago I moved to LA. I felt like I was a hamster in a wheel, and I wasn't really going anywhere in Chicago. I figured I might as well be a hamster in an enormous field full of wolves, so I moved to LA. Plus, I wanted to have an acting career and a writing career as well, and knew I'd have more opportunities in LA. I first got noticed at the Chicago Comedy Festival in 2001, but it wasn't until the Just For Laughs festival in Montreal in 2007 that the ball really started rolling. The Montreal festival was what allowed me to quit my day job about a year or two later.

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Neil Patrick Harris Out of Sketchfest, Jason Segel In

Posted By on Fri, Jan 22, 2010 at 8:13 AM

Sketchfest suffered another cancellation this week. Neil Patrick Harris, he of Doogie Howser, M.D., How I Met Your Mother, and the Harold & Kumar movie series ("Sorry man, it was a dick move"), will not be part of the sold out "Celebrity Autobiography" series next weekend. The guy has some sort of "previously unforseen" business out of the country.

We were about to be really sad about this news, until we saw who's going to replace Harris: Jason Segal, the dashing star of the eiptome of "bromance" movies, I Love You, Man. He was a Rush-obsessed high school drummer in Freaks and Geeks before making it on the big screen with Forgetting Sarah Marshall. And he seems like a really funny guy.

For "Celebrity Autobiography," Segal will be joined by Fred Willard, Rachel Dratch, and a half-dozen other funny folks at Cobb's on Jan. 30 and 31. 

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Last Night: Sketchfest's Greg Proops Chat Show w/ Robin Williams, Linda Cardellini, Michael Penn

Posted By on Thu, Jan 21, 2010 at 9:10 AM

Greg Proops
  • Greg Proops

The Greg Proops Chat Show: With special guests Robin Williams, Linda Cardellini, and musical guest Michael Penn
Wednesday Jan. 20, 2010

Better than: Writing an investigative story about the $16 "convenience" fee Yoshi's charges for purchasing tickets online.

I was pretty sure I was on Team Conan, but I may have flipped to Team Proops. Admittedly, Greg Proops is not in the running for late night talk show host, but the world is worse for it. Proops took the stage last night at 8 p.m. and didn't give it back for nearly three hours. He owned every minute of it.

Proops, a Bay Area native, quipped that we San Franciscans are so "self-reflexive, self-loving" we could give ourselves a rectal exam. It's almost impossible to quote him directly beyond that because he talks fast, flipping jokes inside out until you end up on the other side talking about an iguana sitting on the shoulder of a shirtless man in a leather vest standing on a Mission street corner. Proops has a fun, ranty, self-deprecating, flamboyant, quick comedy style with depth, range, and most importantly, great jokes.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sketchfest Q&A: Moshe Kasher

Posted By on Tue, Jan 19, 2010 at 8:19 AM

  • Frankie Norstad

SF Sketchfest brings together amazing comics in from all over the U.S., but the best news is we also get a couple of locally-grown superstars this weekend at the Punch Line when Brent Weinbach and Moshe Kasher take the stage (Thursday 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. joined by comedian Josh Fadem). Both Weinbach and Kasher got their start in the Bay Area and have since become award-winning comics whose careers have reached critical tipping-points. We were lucky enough to grab these two for Q & As about their funny profession. Below is Kasher's interview.

Kasher has performed on Comedy Central's Live at Gotham, and at The Montreal "Just For Laughs" festival, Jamie Foxx's Laffapalooza, and Aspen Rooftop Comedy Festival (where he won Best of Fest). Most recently, Kasher's album Everyone You Know is Going to Die, and Then You Are was one of the top 20 comedy albums of 2009 on iTunes.

How did you get your start in comedy?

I'm from Oakland and I started doing comedy around 2001. I moved to L.A. about a year and a half ago, but I was a Bay Area comedian up until I moved down here. It was great starting in San Francisco. I really think it's is the best place to start in the country. The expectation of quality is high, and you can't get away with crap because there are great comedians. There's great comedy history, and great comedy clubs. You'll sink or swim on a higher level of expectation.

The Punch Line is one of the best clubs in the world. It's an intimidating place if you're a younger comic, but the community is so lucky to have a place with such a high threshold and standard. When you jump through all the hoops and figure out how to get work at the Punch Line and Cobb's, then by the time you travel to L.A. and New York you're not scared. Now you have the chops to get noticed. If you start in L.A., you'll get noticed, but you won't be as good. Plus, the Bay Area is the best place on earth.

Did you have a day job?

I did have a day job. I was a sign language interpreter from when I was 17, but I don't do that anymore. Both of my parents were deaf. I grew up in a deaf household. I don't do any jokes about it really, but yeah that was my day job.

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Sketchfest Q&A: Brent Weinbach

Posted By on Tue, Jan 19, 2010 at 7:55 AM


SF Sketchfest brings together amazing comics in from all over the U.S., but the best news is we also get a couple of locally-grown superstars this weekend at the Punch Line when Brent Weinbach and Moshe Kasher take the stage (Thursday 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. joined by comedian Josh Fadem). Both Weinbach and Kasher got their start in the Bay Area and have since become award-winning comics whose careers have reached critical tipping-points. We were lucky enough to grab these two for Q & As about their funny profession--below is Weinbach's interview.

Weinbach was a finalist in the 2008 San Francisco International Comedy Competition, performed at the Montreal "Just For Laughs" festival, and won the Andy Kaufman award for originality in 2007.

When did you start your comedy career?
When I was three years old. I wrote a song and the lyrics contained only the words "poo poo pee pee and caca." Basically my material hasn't changed much since then.

I grew up in Hollywood, but I was based in San Francisco for 12 years.

What was great about doing comedy in the San Francisco area?
It's a really supportive scene and lots of good, fresh energy was around when I started. Everybody was just really good. It was a city that seemed really open to people that were different and trying new things in comedy.

Are you excited about performing at the Punch Line?

I remember the first time I went up at The Punch Line years ago. It was a Sunday night showcase on a holiday weekend, so it was pretty packed. I was good and it felt great to be well-received by the audience. It's sort of a big deal to perform at the Punch Line when you're a new comic, because it takes a long time to get the chance. That night was a big deal. I love the Punch Line. It's like my home club.

Why did you make the move to L.A.?
In 2005, I started making more trips down to Los Angeles. NBC went around the country looking for comedians of diversity -- meaning comedians that are not white. I'm half Filipino. Even though I don't have much material about being Filipino, if there's an opportunity to be half Filipino, then I take advantage of it. It was a nationwide search and they sent the finalist to Los Angeles. Two of the comics got holding deals from NBC and I was one of the two comics picked.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Insider's Guide to SF Sketchfest: 8 Picks

Posted By on Wed, Jan 13, 2010 at 7:35 AM

Paul F. Tompkins
  • Paul F. Tompkins

If you've never checked out SF Sketchfest (Jan. 14- Feb. 2) then you need to pinky promise us that this is your year to head to one of these shows, or we will never speak to you again.

We were lucky enough to get tips on 2010's lineup directly from founders David Owen, Cole Stratton, and Janet Varney. They were members of the improv troupe Totally False People when they founded Sketchfest in 2001. The event was created partly out of frustration with the lack of venues geared toward sketch comedy. "We had to rent theaters or we'd perform at a comedy clubs," Owen says. They decided to make a home for sketch comedy here by renting out the local Shelton theatre and teaming up with other Bay Area troupes. Nine years later, the organization receives over 100 submissions from groups vying for Sketchfest spots.

As an audience member, sketch comedy can tough to navigate if you don't recognize the names of the artists performing. Plus, this year the festival is so broad in scope it will also include, as Varney points out, "music, podcasts filmed live, talk-show style interviews, variety shows with stand-up comedians, and some classic films too." With all the great acts coming to town, and some taking the stage on the same night, how do you choose the right show for you?

Below, the insider's picks for Sketchfest.

1. For the Movie Lover and Monty Python Fan As Owen excitedly puts it,"Here we are nine years in and we have our very first Python coming!" They'll have Terry Jones on hand at the Castro Theater for an in-depth conversation before screenings of both The Holy Grail and Life of Brian. (Thursday Jan. 21, at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m., $10).

2. The Paul F Tompkins Show Varney says this is an "amazing variety show" so get your tickets now for Friday. The Paul F Tompkins Show is originally based out of a club called Largo in LA, and it involves a little bit of stand-up, a little bit of sketch, and a little bit of music. (Friday, Jan. 15, at 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. @ the Eureka Theater, $25).

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    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"