Sketchfest Review: Risk! with Kevin Allison at The Purple Onion, 1/28/11

by Dakin Hardwick on January 29, 2011

Onion with a side of Phirm

One of my favorite pastimes is looking up whatever happened to some of my favorite 90’s icons. I mean, almost everyone knows what happened to some of the lesser known folks in 90’s TV programs. Like Six from Blossom is apparently a struggling country singer, and Rayanne from My So Called Life is married to a lord.  But, my absolute favorite show from the 90’s was The State. It was simply the only TV program of it’s time that I felt emulated my brain functions. With the program now streaming on Netflix, I was reminded of two of my favorite sketches: the mailman that only delivered tacos and the Jew, the Italian, and the Red-Headed Gay. Hence me feeling the need to learn about Kevin Allison, one of the “forgotten” members of The State. Much to my surprise, he has a genius podcast called Risk!, where famous people talk about embarrassing situations they’ve been in. And it’s pretty awesome to say the least. Even better was getting to see it done live at the legendary Purple Onion as part of Sketchfest this year!

Each episode has a theme, and this live show is built around Drugs & Alcohol. Since we are dealing with both San Francisco and comedians, it’s really not a tough one to get a handle on. Allison assembled a pretty cracker jack crew of funny people, but also kept things moving along as the master of ceremonies. In between acts he told his own stories, all very graphic and very funny, and all seemingly very true. He told tales of things ranging from not being able to handle your pot to having to borrow a friend’s urine for a drug test. He managed to mock himself without ever actually treating himself too harshly. He never actually felt like one of his characters from The State, either. He was very genuine, and it seemed that his true self might be the funniest side to him.

His guests were, as well, pretty epic. He first brought out Mythbusters; Adam Savage. Now, I’ve never actually seen the show, so I don’t know much about this guy other than what I’ve heard on other podcasts, but I know the man is funny. The crowd was seemingly there for him more than anyone else in the room. It looks like it pays to have a show currently on the air. The majority of his stories were about getting really wasted all the time when you don’t have a job. I think that we’ve all been there before, and since I believe that this one is getting on the podcast some time soon, I don’t want to give away too much. I’ll just say that he spent a lot of time discussing the poo/vomit balance when you are horribly wasted and the dangers of wearing the trenchcoat Keanu Reeves wore in Matrix while riding a bicycle drunk.

Next up was James Reichmuth of Kasper Hauser, a group that’s little known outside of the bay, sadly. He admitted to not drinking or doing drugs much in his life. This somehow didn’t remotely stop his tails. He discussed how he was tricked into smoking catnip, and then how he spent time in Venzuela with a family of people that enjoyed everything under the pharmacist’s desk.

The biggest surprise of the evening came from Joshua Grannell, whom you may know as Peaches Christ, the legendary drag superstar responsible for many of San Francisco’s most beloved institutions, including Trannyshack and Midnite Mass.  Grannell is a natural born entertainer, and he proved that he does not need the make up or the persona to hold a crowd’s attention. The packed house followed every hysterical line as he told tales of drunken debauchery, sober debauchery, and living life as an undercover celebrity. He even hit the most solid line of the night, after a gentleman he once enjoyed a pleasurable evening with told a story of a friend of his getting “blown by Peaches Christ when she was totally wasted,” leading Grannell to exclaim that no, his friend “did not get blown by Peaches Christ because he was just blown by Peaches Christ!” I think that if Grannell ever felt like doing straight stand up, and could be a very smart decision, although it’s doubtful that he really has time for all that.

Next was Mary Van Note, created of the web series The Mary Van Note Show. Her set was, sadly, the shortest of them all. Maybe because she was the only one to follow the “rule” of only telling one story. It was one heck of a story, comprising of a tale of her roomate releasing her bowels all over the apartment while she struggles to write Mixed Martial Arts For Dummies. (She really did write that book. I think I want to marry her now!)

Closing out the show was former Live 105 morning show correspondent and all around local comedy legend Will Durst. He spoke at length about his love affair with beer. He fell in love with his wife over beer. He was rewarded with a sip of beer after taking his first steps (unsure of the truth behind this), and really hammered home that fact. He also told of drive-thru daiquiri shoppes in New Orleans, and many more acts of genius funniness. (I made that phrase up!) He was good, and he held the headlining slot like the dignified professional he is.

In between sets, we were also treated to the musical guest Mike Phirman, of Hard N Phirm and supposedly Rodeohead. He played choice covers solo acoustic. Here’s his set list:

One Toke Over The Line (Brewer & Shipley)

Cocaine (JJ Cale/Eric Clapton)

Drunk Girls (LCD Soundsystem)

Last Dance With Mary Jane (Tom Petty)

Puff The Magic Dragon/Frosty The Snowman (Peter Paul & Mary)

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