After a certain hour, the nocturnal muse of midnight, the world gets weird. Sure, reality is eternally enveloped in curiosity and every “hour” on Earth is both day and night. Still, regardless of circumstance, there is a pivotal time drenched in ethereal giddiness that inspires irrational adventures. This is evidently the best time to start a comedy show.
Smug Shift is a flesh tone variety show created and hosted by Brent Weinbach and Moshe Kasher. Founded in 2004, Smug Shift has been a landmark to the daunting, daring, dirty Bay Area comedy spirit. Time has expanded the show’s scope and the indie-variety concept has many cousins, but there’s no parallel to the incomparable duo of Kasher and Weinbach.
Kasher, boastful and gregarious, and Weinbach, offbeat and shrewd, are a definite odd couple. Banter between them, with Moshe’s scatter-shot electricity and Brent’s skewed sharp-shooting, generated golden moments. Their amusing dichotomy simulated a game of supreme sportsmanship, the “yes and…” principal observed to a devout degree. A juvenile seed of “penis” emerged early, rearing its head repeatedly, seasoning whatever topic of banality at play. Serendipitously the crowd throbbed in attentive anticipation.
The Sansa and Shiri Show was a fetching throwback, a beautiful duo of smiling anachronism. Composed of glitter, tattoos and matching sailor suits, the performers sang original ragtime intersected by classic tag team badinage. Sweet and unique, Sansa and Shiri wielded an impressive, whimsical arsenal: an accordion, a banjo, a trombone, flippin’ tap shoes! More than a novelty, the catchy revue embodied vaudeville tenets and talent with a modern progressive spirit. Besmirching charm to that degree is special.
A warm swell of reverence occurred for Jessie Elias, the second guest of the early morning cavalcade. Elias wasted no time demonstrating why he’s considered one of the Bay Area’s best-kept secrets. Avoiding eye contact and conventional logic, Elias gifted his strange, satiric stylings to an affectionate audience. “Damn you Honey Comb, I don’t need you,” declared the youngster after rendering and ridiculing overaggressive cereal campaigns from last century’s sunset decade. Honey Comb had no official retort as Elias concluded a stellar performance.
It’s no secret that Weinbach holds much affinity for 8- to 16-bit video games. Affinity recently turned to application as Brent unveiled a new creation by game developer/comedian Rob F. Martinez: “Stand-Up Comedy ‘The Game’”. The game boasted an incredibly lifelike experience; “killing” (doing well) earned bonus points and “bombing” (doing poorly) lost lives. Kasher and Weinbach shared the controller, manipulating a character bearing an uncanny likeness to Martinez. Though they missed the “top score”, the result was a 1-uplifting play.
Betwixt live-action role-playing of bards and jesters, Smug Shift presented videos complimenting the night’s odd allowances. “Dating Etiquette” (censored version) and “Squeeze” (NSFW?) were double effective due to wild abandon and gleeful grotesqueness. To explain further would be treason. Regardless, the video sketches in tow could only be featured in Smug Shift, adding intrinsic value to the show’s gravity.
“What is Michael Ian Black doing here?” Apparently the State/Stella icon had some quality assurance questions on behalf of SF Sketchfest that outweighed his conspicuous celebrity. His research was fruitful, garnering laughs and information for crowd and solicitor respectively. Inevitably the talk turned to the evening’s phallic friend, which webbed into unreal, hazy, priceless comedic abstractions: tawdry tales of Sketchfest past, kissing and telling, confounding coitus positions, comedian-on-comedian demonstrations and other oversaturated incidents without boundaries or pomp. Well, maybe a little pomp.
Smug Shift had a pleasant fade out by the musically inclined comedic stylings of Nick Thune. Seated casually, he strummed words, phrases and six metal strings. “The only thing technical about a technical college is it’s technically a community college,” stated the steel-eyed wordwanderer plainly. Dark Room’s tight intimacy provided an extra shell of sincerity that amplified Thune’s smirking shtick.
Kasher and Weinbach wrung every ounce of drop laughter and exhausting celebration from the room before casting out their customers. The mad magic faded as modish comedistas wandered into the Mission’s slanted world of street meat and heavily liquored parliaments of various night owls. After a certain hour, the world gets weirder.