StarTalk Live: Eugene Mirman, H. Jon Benjamin, Bill Nye, Dr. Yvonne Pendleton, and Prof. Scott Hubbard (Photo by Jakub Mosur)

StarTalk Live: Eugene Mirman, H. Jon Benjamin, Bill Nye, Dr. Yvonne Pendleton, and Prof. Scott Hubbard (Photo by Jakub Mosur)

Bill Nye, still affectionately titled “The Science Guy” as per his original sketch comedy persona, is one of the most striking examples of a forward-thinking force in modern media. Through a combination of his legacy television influence, his continuing meld of icebreaking comedy and scientific education, and a remarkably popular social media presence, he continues to make knowledge and the desire to learn a positive, enjoyable, and overall uplifting experience. As a piece of glue that can hold the worlds of science and humor together, he’s perfected his craft, and it’s a true treat to watch him work, as well as to pose inquiries to him that get his mind in gear and firing back with equally insightful and thought-provoking questions as a response. Taking a leaf out of the book of colleague scientist Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Bill has returned to Sketchfest for the second year with a live ensemble for StarTalk Radio — along with StarTalk cohost Eugene Mirman — and, to balance out the vast knowledge base of aeronautics/astronautics professor Scott Hubbard and renowned NASA Ames astrophysicist Dr. Yvonne Pendleton, the pair enlisted H. Jon Benjamin for a side-splitting fusillade of comedic jabs and snarky remarks. The full ensemble made for a delightfully entertaining night at the Nourse Theater, and left the crowd sore from laughing and glowing with renewed faith in the world of science.

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Photo by Jakob Mosur

Photo by Jakob Mosur

Sketchfest really killed it this year, as usual. A lot of shows sold out quickly. However, the quickest sell out was Jenny Slate & Friends at The Brava Theater. Jenny Slate’s star seems to be on the rise swiftly. She starred in Obvious Child, my favorite film of 2014. Her web series Marcel The Shell With Shoes On and Catherine are both works of epic genius. It seems that everything she touches turns to gold. However, I’ve never seen her do stand up. Even a cursory YouTube search proved difficult in terms of finding any clips of her doing live comedy. It seems tonight was a very special and somewhat rare experience.

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The cast of Homecoming Queen's Got a Musical, courtesy of SF Sketchfest's Instagram (@sf_sketchfest)

The cast of Homecoming Queen’s Got a Musical, courtesy of SF Sketchfest’s Instagram (@sf_sketchfest)

Every year when the SF Sketchfest schedule comes out I spend a long time going through, making a list of everything that has someone I like in it, or is a show/concept I like, then painstakingly narrow it down to one show per time slot per day. At least, that’s the goal. These are the best two and a half weeks in San Francisco and I’m not going to waste them! So in this process, when I saw the name Julie Brown, the late 80’s kid in me had a fangirl spaz and decided this was the show that deserved my attention for the first Saturday night of Sketchfest. Did I know anything Julie Brown did since “Just Say Julie” on MTV and Earth Girls are Easy? No. Of course not! (Well, other than her small role as the Gym Teacher in Clueless) But this is what Sketchfest is about, seeing that great thing you might have lost track of. So off I trekked into the wilds of the Mission District, to the Brava Theater, with no idea what I was in for. [read the whole post]

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Rhea Butcher, Pete Holmes, Emo Philips, Cameron Esposito and Charlie Sanders after the show. (Photo from Pete Holmes' Instagram @peteholmes)

Rhea Butcher, Pete Holmes, Emo Philips, Cameron Esposito and Charlie Sanders after the show. (Photo from Pete Holmes’ Instagram @peteholmes)

You Made it Weird is a podcast where comedian host Pete Holmes talks at great length with his guest about love, sex and god, mixing in a lot about life in general. It can often get spiritual and deep which makes it a little more interesting and introspective than other comedian led interview style podcasts. But the live format is a little different, focusing more on the weird bits of life side than the deep talks about sex, love and spirituality. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. With five guests to get through in two hours and a theater full of people it is hard to get to the intimate places the podcast can get to, but it does allow for a lot more amazing jokes. [read the whole post]

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Jimmy Gnecco

Jimmy Gnecco

Jimmy Gnecco is not the sort of singer/songwriter who can have that title applied to him with any bit of disparaging condescension. His hauntingly powerful alt-rock outfit, Ours, has maintained a fierce cult following even after their major-label success of nearly 15 years ago; his vocal and instrumentation range is far wider than most modern bands achieve during their entire career; to find him taking residence in such a tiny establishment as the Hotel Utah Saloon, whose show occupancy barely breaks 100 at its peak, is nothing short of astonishing. For a second year, however, the New Jersey native returned to this small corner of San Francisco for a nearly 3-hour-long set of solo tunes, elegant tales, and collaborations with musicians and fans alike onstage; past the unexpectedly long duration, this was a mesmerizing night of gorgeous tunes, not for a moment marred by the cold that the singer had provided as a caveat before the evening began.

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Playing The Warfield this Friday night.

Playing The Warfield this Friday night.

The nerds of San Francisco have some incredibly tough choices to make this week when it comes to their live entertainment. They could be comedy nerds, seeing all of what SF Sketchfest has to offer. Perhaps they’re film nerds, and they’ll be spending the week at The Castro Theater for Noir City. But what of the music nerds? Where should they be this week? Read on to find out!

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Sketchfest Interview: Clare O’Kane

January 21, 2015

Clare O’Kane used to be one of the funniest women in San Francisco. I say “used to,” because she recently left us to live in Los Angeles. We recently had a chance to talk to her about making the transition from SF comic to LA comic, ahead of her stretch of homecoming shows during Sketchfest. […]

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Sketchfest Interview: W Kamau Bell

January 20, 2015

W Kamau Bell is one of the most brilliant and controversial names in comedy. He recently moved back to the Bay Area, after a stint in New York hosting the dearly departed Totally Biased with W Kamau Bell. To celebrate his return, he did a “secret residency” at Cinecave in Lost Weekend Video. He’s playing […]

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A Nerd’s Guide to Sketchfest 2015

January 19, 2015
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0m-k6qZMx8&spfreload=10&noredirect=1

Every year, the good folks at SF Sketchfest program three weeks of live comedy in the Bay Area. They program it so well that it can get exhausting to determine which shows to go to. Well, here at Spinning Platters, a forum for Bay Area music, film, and comedy nerds, we’ll be helping you determine […]

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Spinning Platters Weekly Guide to Bay Area Concerts: 1/16/15-1/21/15

January 16, 2015

Here’s what’s coming up this week: war, monsters, seasons, and Patti Smith.

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