SF Sketchfest will soon breach our atmosphere: bending sky, burning oxygen and causing birds to scramble for safety. In one week it will land in the San Francisco Bay. A torrential wave will surge through the Financial District, down Mission St, and swallow Twin Peaks in salt water. At least, that’s how it’s going to feel when the biggest celebration of comedy’s many forms comes to town.
There’s always commensal collateral to the lights and glitz, big crowds and big parties. The air feels different, the gravity heavier, especially for a few locals rocking the coveted “Artist” lanyard. Some are turning their hard work, talent, or streetwise into a high profile credit. Some are the new flavor, showcased as the emergent outliers. Some are “over it”, half distracted by growth, having fun before moving on. Some are returning with the Bay in their heart and another city on their mailing address. Some are debuting, honored and humbled, finally on the inside looking… around. Like me. After years of reporting, volunteering, (pining), I’m performing for my first SF Sketchfest @ Lost Weekend Video on 1/31. Spinning Platters’ top brass (a/k/a Dakin) requested an interview… from me, about me. Double the work, way less validation but I shall oblige on weirdness alone.
Thank you for taking time out of your schedule. How are you doing?
I’m doing alright. Thanks for having me.
You do know that this could be used as evidence for schizophrenia or worse, unoriginality, right?
Yeah. I’m sorry. I’m not nearly clever enough to be both brilliantly thought provoking and boisterously hilarious.
This is supposed to be fun.
If you say so.
So dour! You got into 2014’s San Francisco Sketchfest! Aren’t you excited?
I am excited. I’m also overwhelmed. It’s much easier to resent from the sidelines than join in expected to produce.
You DO produce. What’s the overview of your show? Why should people come?
Storking Comedy is a stand-up/interview hybrid that I host at the Stork Club in Oakland, hence the title. Basically I ambush comedians after their sets, about their sets, and (hopefully) we banter to an insightful delight. It has parallels with Kevin Nealon and Dom Irrera’s shows at the Laugh Factory but I’m not rich, famous or respected so my charm and passion is 100% legitimate.
What’s the craziest thing that’s happened at the show?
A very graphic miscarriage anecdote. Extremely uncomfortable. It gets oddly confessional at times. Comics often have no filter, the best comics speak from a personal space, and things can get weirdly fascinating with the right prompt. Sometimes a mediocre set is made magical by asking, “What the hell happened up there?”
You love comedy a lot. Why do hold it such esteem? Do you find anything wrong with it or are your glasses still rose-colored?
Comedy is the only time I feel better. I’ve always been a weirdo, so funny people are innately family. And to your second question, yes, there a number of social, cultural, and spiritual shortcomings within the community but you try to do your best to make things better.
Are you making things better?
That’s a goal. Most of what I do helps others: Courting Comedy, I curate as a living ode to San Francisco’s vast comedy history; Storking Comedy has introduced some of my favorite new comics into the scene (including — weirdly — my little brother). Everything is enveloped in an ethos of love and decency.
Was your little brother funny?
He was all right. Nobody is capital-F “Funny” at their first open mic. You can only get bitten by the bug and hope you can last long enough to find your niche.
Last long enough?
Comedy is a marathon. Some of the funniest people I’ve shared the stage with have left the struggle. The “business” in show business kills a lot of creativity.
Where are you on that journey?
I’ve been doing stand-up for four years. There isn’t a good barometer for overall success but I’m happy where I am and unhappy where I’m not. Hopefully I can work some clubs, travel more, and stay in my own lane.
Where do you ultimately want to end up?
SF Comedy Museum? Dr. Comedy of Social Anthropology? Transient? I have no idea. I’m a mess. I’ll be wherever they will have me. Luckily everything I’ve done has had low-to-moderate success, which is weirdly liberating on my “glass half full days”. Being so enrooted within the scene allows me to see how everybody else is going about his or her career. It’s “standing on the backs of giants” on a way smaller scale.
Who do you look up to in San Francisco or in general?
People with cars. Half the game is getting to the gig. There are too many inspirational people to shout out. That’s why I write a blog.
You’re also covering the festival for this very publication. Are you looking forward to any shows? Any “must sees”, hidden gems or best buys?
Storking Comedy will be the best comedy show you’ve ever seen in your life. Other than that you should seek out the immensely titillating Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction which has a great line-up of comedians performing single-serving smut. Also, Bridget Everett and Dave Hill blew me away at last Outside Lands; they’re tremendously undervalued at $20.
Well good luck with your show and the rest of 2014.
Will you be at my show?