Set List: Comedy Without a Net was my last show of Sketchfest and my hopes were high. The show is an improve stand-up show where the comedians have to do a stand up routine based on random and weird topics that are projected on a screen behind them. I decided to go because it sounded like an opportunity to witness greatness and tragedy. Which worked out perfectly because that’s exactly what we got.
Sadly, the evening did not start out well. All of these are whiny personal problems, but added to my state of mind. First, hurrying from The Benson Interruption in the Castro, our Lyft driver went the worst way and we got stuck in traffic on Broadway. So when we got there it was after 7:30 and we were seated in the balcony at Cobb’s Comedy Club, which was not the best. I had never sat up there before and you can see ok, but you feel completely removed from the energy of the room. Then we had to eat so we ordered some food. I’m not sure when Cobb’s changed their menu, sometime between this year and Sketchfest last year, but wow. It was disgusting and caused me to spend most of the evening feeling like I was going to throw up. It’s not like the old food was great, but it was decent and I actually enjoyed the nachos. I wish they would go back to the old menu, Punchline still uses it, so I’m not sure what the deal is there.
Anyway, on to the Comedy. Set List opened with host and creator Troy Conrad doing a little intro and introducing us to the soon to be show stealer, sign language interpreter Kylie Kirkpatrick. It became clear from this moment on that signing comedy involved a lot of exaggerated gestures and facial expressions and this was going to be quite distracting for the comedians. Luckily it was really fun to watch, like having a performance artist to the side of the stage, so the interruption was welcome.
After the intro about the show the evening just became a blur of comedian after comedian having varying levels of success writing an on the spot set with unknown, and sometimes nonsensical topics. The most successful, which she always seems to be at this stuff, was Emily Heller. She took a short break, maybe 30-45 seconds when each topic came up, to collect her thoughts then preceded to flow each topic in to each other and have it still show her point of view. No easy feat with the topics of Make a Homophobic Wish Foundation, Our Inner Lifehouse, Point Break Foreplay, My Prehistoric Ex and Oops Hug. Probably the least successful was Eric Andre who proclaimed at the beginning that he shouldn’t be on stage is such a bad mood and spent much of his set cursing and throwing the stool around. Now, I haven’t seen him before, so maybe this is just his style, but it did come across as him really just being angry about something and I would have rather had him ignore the premise of the show and just bitch about what was bothering him. He was still funny though, so it was ok, but if he wasn’t going to do the Set List thing he should have just not done it and just talked.
Everyone else was somewhere in the middle of those two extremes. Rick Overton, Gilbert Gottfried, Bobcat Goldthwait and Wil Anderson were my other favorites. Gilbert Gottfried and Bobcat Goldthwait performed one after the other prompting Goldthwait to say “if this was the 80’s this would be an amazing show!” which was maybe my biggest laugh of the night. Well that and when Kylie Kirkpatrick the interpreter had to keep signing “thumb up your ass” over and over and over. It was a pretty good sign. Though sadly I can’t remember which of the comedians made up that brilliant gem. Another great moment was when it was announced that Mark Wahlberg was to be the next performer. Of course it was Dan Van Kirk who I had previously seen at the Comedy Film Nerds podcast, but the audience didn’t know that and the cheer and immediate disappointment was hilarious.
It was a fun show, though I think they lucked out having Kylie Kirkpatrick there since a lot of the comedy seemed to revolve around her and making her sign ridiculous things. If you’re curious to see the insanity yourself you can watch the TV show on the Nerdist Channel here.