The SF Sketchfest Dozen is a noble and novel concept. Twelve vetted new headliners from across the country perform over three weeks at the Punch Line, one of the most revered comedy clubs in the country.
Internet clips and showcase performances can be too rigid. Television specials and hour-long club sets can suffer from inflated pressure, editing or unfocused filler. The Sketchfest Dozen provides a comfortable middle ground: thirty-plus minutes to make a true impression.
Janine Brito served as host. The highly touted Bay Area comedian eased the audience into the night, notifying that they’re only beholden to their personal desire to laugh. “I’m a professional, I’ve faced tougher crowds,” stated the autumnal Brito: auburn sports coat, chestnut sweater, feathered chocolate hair, hazel eyes. Tougher crowds included a lesbian art gallery, the streets of New York and Internet trolls. Brito spoke with clarity, poise and endearing vulnerability, commanding noteworthy range spanning energetic exclamations to demure self-deprecation.
“Give it up for the most huggable man in the world, Ron Funches!” – Janine Brito
Ron immediately confesses to an accidental boob grazing in the transitional embrace, a smirking, coy ad lib. The time with Funches follows this trend: sweet with a tinge of crass enveloped in unflinching honesty. Ron Funches spoke with stretched, docile tones. He exuded a fatherly aura, tucking the audience into bed, his words dictating a postmodern children’s story reminiscent of Dr. Seuss and Hans Christian Andersen with a Melvin Van Peebles undercurrent. After rocking the audience to sleep, Funches repeatedly snapped the bough, jolting the cradle to the ground. The crowd-child was safe but rattled by the delightful darkness.
Good-natured to the core, Ron Funches handled uncomfortable topics like race, death and disabilities with absurdly specific analogies. At one point a meandering allegory about cats trickles to a jubilant confectionary conclusion. “And that’s not even the dumbest thing I do,” remarked the bashful jokester.
Nick Thune began his set fingerpicking a fauna-adorned Gibson. The serenading guitar progression created a warm bed for clever, witty wordplay and inverted idioms. “‘Enough is enough’, it’s the exact same word,” stated the comic in a performance rife with one-line observations. Thune, the roguishly handsome Man in Not-Quite-Black, spoke on an even keel. The audience was rendered almost inconsequential, sepia-toned-tongue witticisms floating over their heads like wind over amber fields of grain.
The Seattleite proved unafraid to lose the crowd with self-confessed “dumb” jokes and hyperbolic pranks delivered at a deliberate, unflinching pace. Overtly surprising, Thune never tipped his hand, his steely-eyed deadpan poker face providing the canvas to surprising conclusions.