Spinning Platters loves Sketchfest. San Franciscans are generally really lucky, but for two and a half weeks every year, our lives get even brighter and more chaotic, because the best live comedy programming one could imagine is here, in the greatest place on Earth. Of course, it can be awfully intimidating. Hence this guide, to help you sort out everything that you should go to. For a complete schedule and tickets, please click here!
Thursday, January 24th
Rifftrax Presents Night Of Shorts IV: Riffizens On Patrol at The Castro Theater
In what seems to be a tradition, Sketchfest opens up with another Night Of Shorts with Rifftrax. The premise is simple: popular comics mock a vintage short film while we view it. I was skeptical at first, but I’ve attended this the last two years in a row, and it was much more fun than I ever could expect. The movies are very, very surreal, and the comics joining us for this year’s event are exceptional: Kids In The Hall’s Kevin McDonald, Mythbusters’ Adam Savage, The Daily Show & 30 Rock’s Kristen Schaal, genius Paul F Thomkins, and Sketchfest organizers Cole Stratton & Janet Varney.
For: Comedy Nerds, Film Nerds, Science Nerds
Friday, January 25th
“The Adventures Of Pete & Pete” Reunion at Marine’s Veterans Memorial Theater
The Adventures Of Pete & Pete was one of the most well respected shows on Nickelodeon in the first half of the 90’s. It was funny, surreal, and imaginative; paving the way for later kids shows like iCarly and Wizards Of Waverly Place- genuinely funny, well written programs that happen to be aimed at children. This event will include conversations with the cast, as well as scenes being performed by the original cast, and if we are lucky, we will get a performance by Polaris like they got in LA last year.
For: 90’s Nostalgia Nerds, TV Nerds
Get Yucked Up with Andrew Holmgren & David Gborie at Cinecave at Lost Weekend Video
Get Yucked Up is a weekly stand up / dance party that happens at Dirty Trix Saloon, which used to be Holy City Zoo, one of SF’s legendary comedy rooms. Tonight’s show will be happening at another historical vessel- Lost Weekend Video, a place where you can actually rent movies. (Did you know that still happens?) Anyways, we’ve got an abundance of local talent taking the stage in the mission, and it’s only $10, making it one of the best deals in Sketchfest.
For: Comedy Nerds, Civics Nerds
Saturday, January 26th
Bullseye with Jesse Thorn at Punchline
Jesse Thorn, aka America’s Radio Sweetheart, is a legend of podcasting. His old show, The Sound Of Young America, was always engaging and informative. This year he’s bringing about a whole new show that actually airs on terrestrial radio. He is a great interviewer, and his group of folks to talk to at this gig is quite impressive: comedian Steve Agee (Sarah Silverman Program), writer Erin Foley (Conan), critic Peter Hartlaub (SF Chronicle), radio host Roman Mars (99% Invisible), and musician/activist Boots Riley (The Coup). All brilliant people, all with fascinating things to talk about, all on one stage.
For: NPR Nerds, Comedy Nerds, Civics Nerds
Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction at Punchline
It is exactly what the title says it is. 10 comics tell dirty tales of fan fiction. Will somebody finally write the tale of ALF finally getting it on with Kate Tanner? Do we learn that Fox & Friends is really just a big orgy? Was the civil war actually started because it was the only way Abe and Mary Todd could become aroused? Well, maybe, just maybe, somebody will have written one of these tales. Or a better one.
For: Pop Culture Nerds, Horny Nerds
Sunday, January 27th
The Dead Authors Podcast with Paul F Thomkins and John Hodgman at Eureka Theater
Paul F Thomkins is a master of improv and characters. The premise behind The Dead Authors Podcast is pretty cut and dry: HG Wells (Paul F Thomkins) goes back in time and brings a dead author to modern times in order to interview them on his podcast. Brilliant!
For: Literature Nerds, Science Fiction Nerds, Improv Nerds
Monday, January 28th
Reggie Watts and Michael Winslow: Sound Effects Summit at The Independent
This is the first “HOLY SHIT! I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING!” moment of this year’s Sketchfest. I mean, master comedian and beat boxer Reggie Watts- the man that helped The Flaming Lips pull off an acoustic set at Bridge School last year, and Michael Winslow, aka Sgt Jones in Police Academy, a master of sound effects with his mouth, doing a collaborative set. This will be amazing.
For: Music Nerds
Tuesday, January 29th
Reggie Watts and Robert Glasper at Mezzanine
Yup. More Reggie Watts. This time reviving his collaboration from last year with jazz pianist / hip hop producer Robert Glasper. More sonic genius, no doubt.
For: Music Nerds
Wednesday, January 30th
A Tribute To Portlandia at The Herbst Theater
In 2011, Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein put together a band, jumped in a bus, and, literally, went on tour. They played the music from the show live, and also previewed season 2. Now, since there is no “tour”, per se, I don’t expect this show to be the same thing. However, it’s a rare chance to get to listen to the creators of a popular, yet divisive, program discuss is during the height of it’s popularity. Sadly, this means we might not actually get to hear their amazing version of Salt N Pepa’s “Push It.” It’s a good thing we have internet.
For: TV Nerds, Music Nerds, People that don’t admit to being Nerds
Professor Blastoff Podcast at Cobb’s Comedy Club
One of the wittiest podcasts out there pits Tig Notaro, who is every comics’ favorite comedian, and her friend’s Kyle Dunnigan, David Huntsburger, and Aaron Burrell discussing, well, intelligent topics, ranging from Notaro’s recent bout with breast cancer, to the American Political System and dynamics of human sexual attraction.
For: Science Nerds, Civics Nerds, All Around Nerds
Thursday, January 31st
SF Sketchfest Comedy Nightlife at The California Academy Of Sciences
Sketchfest takes over the California Academy Of Sciences. It’s a cross between a great stand up line up of Chris Hardwick, Will Franken, Myq Kaplan, Dan Crossley: Centaur, Dave Thomason, Mary Van Note and more, plus Professor Blastoff and Greg Proops Smartest Man In The World shows getting revisited. For $12 (plus no two drink minimum!) you get the best of Sketchfest all in one night in one of San Francisco’s finest museums!
For: Science Nerds, Budget Conscious Nerds, Comedy Nerds
Friday, February 1st
Talkies with George Chen at Cinecave at Lost Weekend Video
A special sort of multimedia stand up show: a fusion of stand up, power point, short films, performance art, and, well, whatever else people want to do. This space gives the performers plenty of options, and it is highly encouraged that performers do whatever they can to work outside of their comfort zone.
For: Film Nerds, Performance Art Nerds, Computer Nerds, Nerds that admit to being Nerds
w00tstock Founders’ Night at The Herbst Theater
Wil Wheaton of Star Trek: The Next Generation? Adam Savage of Mythbusters? Paul and Storm of being awesome? A night of comedy and music all specifically designed for Science Fiction nerds? Fair enough… (Sorry fellas about the tease, but I don’t think Felicia Day will be there. I’m sad about it, too)
For: Science Fiction Nerds, Gaming Nerds
Saturday, February 2nd
You Made It Weird Podcast with Pete Holmes at Cobb’s Comedy Club
A podcast where Pete Holmes puts fellow comics in the most awkward places imaginable, just by talking to them! And, since we are dealing with comedians, the bar of awkward can be raised awfully high.
For: Comedy Nerds
Sketchfest Dozen: Sara Benincasa, Jonah Ray, and Dave Thomason at Punchline
Sara Benincasa is the most talented comic you’ve never heard of. She is a former writer for MTV Think, hosted a sex/romance advice call in show for Cosmo Radio, and has an excellent interview show where she interviews fellow performers and writers from her bathtub! Jonah Ray is the cohost of The Nerdist Podcast. He is also a former record store employee and hosts a stand up comedy show in the back of a comic book store. I think that’s all you need to know.
For: Sex Nerds (Yes, they exist), Civics Nerds, Comic Book Nerds, A place where the kind of nerd that can’t get laid and the kind of nerd that can easily get laid can get together.
Yacht Rock Heroes w/ Mustache Harbor at Yoshi’s Lounge
Local “Yacht Rock” cover band Mustache Harbor have put together a “supergroup” of sorts with Scott Adsit, Matt Besser, Jon Dore, Chris Hardwick and Paul & Storm taking over vocals on all of your favorite “lite rock” classics!
For: Music Nerds, Nerds That Only Listened To Music With Their Dad
Tuesday, February 5th
“R. Kelly’s Trapped In The Closet Sing Along” with Henri Mazz at Rickshaw Stop
R Kelly’s epic poem “Trapped In The Closet” is one of the finest pieces of musical storytelling in the history of music. Each chapter is a little more ridiculous. I’m not sure if the comedy of this piece is intentional, but, nonetheless, this is going to be a fantastic, fun, and absurd piece of work. This event will feature all 32 chapters, plus other classic R Kelly videos, making for a great evening to pay tribute to one of the greatest of all time!
For: Music Nerds, Kitsch Nerds,
Wednesday, February 6th
Plus One Podcast with Kevin Smith and Jennifer Schwalbach at Cobb’s Comedy Club
Kevin Smith aka Silent Bob seems to be much more interested in podcasting these days than making movies. He has a whole network devoted to his own musings, however this one is special. The director of such fine films about romance as Chasing Amy and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back will be talking with his wife about whatever they want to talk about. I guess this is how you make a Hollywood marriage work.
Friday, February 7th
Princess: An Evening Of The Music Of Prince with Maya Rudolph and Gretchen Lieberman at Yoshi’s
Yes, this one is sold out. Really sold out. I’m a somewhat well connected blogger, and I can’t find a way to buy tickets. I’m going to be hanging outside of Yoshi’s for the 10:30 show hoping somebody’s date flaked on them so I can buy your extra off you. I’m really desperate to get in this one. Got an extra? Let me know…
For: Music Nerds, Anyone that buys too many tickets and has flaky friends (Email Me!)
SEX aka Weiners and Boobs at Marines Veterans Memorial
SEX aka Weiners and Boobs was the kind of a reaction to 90’s MTV sketch comedy hit The State getting canceled. It was written by, and initially starred David Wain, Joe Lo Triglio, and Michael Showalter. Also known as three of the funniest men in show biz. According to my research, this marks the first time this play has ever been performed in Norther California, so this is a pretty big deal to anybody that is interested in learning about what happened to these guys in between their ground breaking sketch comedy series and these folks turning into the “go to” guys for American humor.
For: Theater Nerds, 90’s Retro Nerds
Porchlight, A Storytelling Series with Beth Lisick and Arline Klatt at Verdi Club
Porchlight is a monthly event at the Verdi Club where interesting people will tell stories about a predetermined topic. The catch? They are neither allowed to bring notes, nor memorize the tale. So it’s essentially freestyled. With the local show, it can range from bus drivers to local musicians and politician. Tonight’s Sketchfest gig features the comedy stylings of Alan Black, Michael Ian Black, Scott Capurro, Dave Hill, Suzanne Kleid and April Richardson.
For: Literature Nerds, Civics Nerds
Saturday, February 9th
Fancy Meeting You Here: A Comedic Walking Tour starting at The Asian Art Museum
Dave Hill and Carl Arnheiter are New York based comics that have been taking people of humorous tours of cultural landmarks and local museums. How will this work in a city that they don’t live in? Who knows… But Dave Hill is an incredibly gifted comic that can pretty much handle anything.
For: Art Nerds, Civics Nerds
The Naked Gun: From The Files Of Police Squad: A conversation with David Zucker, Pat Proft, Priscilla Presley and Andy Richter at The Castro Theater
David Zucker and Pat Proft were 2/3’s of the team the gave us the TV series Police Squad, as well as the influential films Kentucky Fried Movie, Airplane, and The Naked Gun. Tonight they are screening The Naked Gun, as well as discussing the film and it’s lasting influence on comedy as a whole. They may be forced to apologize for the recently released A Haunted House.
For: Film Nerds, Nerds that refuse to grow up.
Sunday, February 10th
Who Charted? with Kulap Vilaysack and Howard Kremer at Eureka Theater
This podcast is really good, although it might be the antithesis of “nerd”dom, despite it being an analysis if of the weekly music and movie charts. Mostly because Kremer & Vilaysack openly discuss the fact that they don’t really know much about what’s happening in either world. Still, it’s endlessly entertaining and usually the guests know more about what’s going on in pop culture than the hosts. Tonight it’s Michael Showalter. That guy is awesome.
For: Music Nerds, Film Nerds, Pop Culture Nerds
Garfunkel & Oates, Dragon Boy Suede at Rickshaw Stop
Riki Lindhome and Kate Miccuci have been writing songs for years together. Their voices blend together like honey, while their words are biting, yet hysterical. They have managed to take the quality of “comedy music” up to the highest levels in years, and have even managed to get the kind, “Weird Al” Yankovic to join them on stage. I can think of no better way to close the festival. Opening is Dragon Boy Suede, aka Howard Kremer of Who Charted?.
For: Music Nerds, Science Nerds, and everyone else on Earth because Garfunkel & Oates are amazing.