Every year, the good folks at SF Sketchfest program three weeks of live comedy in the Bay Area. They program it so well that it can get exhausting to determine which shows to go to. Well, here at Spinning Platters, a forum for Bay Area music, film, and comedy nerds, we’ll be helping you determine which shows you should be going to. It wasn’t easy, but I think you’ll get sufficient enough chuckles for handling the post-holiday blues if you follow these guidelines.
Don’t like my suggestions? You can always pick for yourself! You can find the schedule here!
Thursday, January 22
w00tstock Founder’s Night at Marines’ Memorial Theater
Obviously, if you’re a nerd, you know what w00tstock is. You also know who Wil Wheaton and Adam Savage are. For those who don’t know, w00tstock is essentially the perfect nerd variety show. There’s music, poetry, short stories, sketch, and more, all with a decidedly geeky bent.
For: general nerds
Friday, January 23
Jenny Slate & Friends at The Brava Theater
This one sold out in about 30 seconds. I’m only mentioning it because I really, really want to go and need a ticket badly. That is all.
For: surrealism nerds
Come Laugh With Us with Lance Bangs & Friends at The Eureka Theater
Lance Bangs is a great cinematographer. He’s been filming bands for years, including music videos by legendary college radio bands Sonic Youth, REM, Guided by Voices, and Pavement. He also worked with the Jackass crew for a number of years. More recently, he’s been adopted as the prime videographer for Odd Future and is the husband of the great Corin Tucker. Tonight, he’ll screen rare footage that he shot. Not sure what we’ll be seeing. We’ll also get standup sets by the great Emo Phillips, as well as James Adomian, Pete Holmes, Jon Daly, and Phoebe Robinson.
For: music nerds, film nerds
Saturday, January 24
A Salute to NewsRadio at Marines’ Memorial Theater
NewsRadio is a dramatically underrated TV show. It was one of the funniest, most intelligent programs on network TV in the 1990s, and it stands up to the test of time. Tonight, we’ll be getting the majority of the original cast together to talk about their time on this wonderful program.
For: TV nerds
Pop My Culture with Cole Stratton and Vanessa Ragland at The Eureka Theater
Cole Stratton and Vanessa Ragland are self-described “pop culture nerds.” They’ll discuss the meaningless issues of our day with Ron Funches, James Adomian, and Ryan Lambert. I’m unsure of how nerdy these folks are, although Ron Funches has won nearly every @midnight, so we know he can at least BS about our modern world nicely.
For: pop culture nerds
Sunday, January 25
A Tribute to Scharpling & Wurster at Marines’ Memorial Theater
Yes, Scharpling & Wurster are a fine comedy duo. Tonight, however, we have an obscene amount of indie rock royalty supporting the event! “Serenading” our comics while Andy Kindler interviews them are indie rock supergroup Theme Weavers LLC, Mountain Goats’ vocalist John Darnielle, and Hüsker Dü frontman and all-around-hero Bob Mould. So, even if you don’t know who Scharpling & Wurster are, it’s still well worth the money to buy a ticket.
For: indie rock nerds
Tuesday, January 27
The Peaches Christ Experience presents “But I’m a Cheerleader” at The Castro Theater
“But I’m a Cheerleader” is, simply, one of the greatest satires in film history. It’s the story of a straight cheerleader who everyone thinks is a lesbian, so her parents send her to a camp where they retrain gay kids to be straight. It’s hilarious, heartwarming and, sadly, still relevant 15 years after its release. Star Natasha Lyonne will be here, and Peaches Christ is giving the film the full Peaches Christ treatment. And if you’ve never been to a Peaches Christ film screening, you really haven’t lived.
For: film nerds, sociology nerds
Thursday, January 29
The First (and Probably Last) Annual Sketchfest Feline Film & Video Festival for Humans at The Eureka Theater
This is exactly what you think it is: a night where you go to a theater and watch all of the wonderful cat videos that you can normally watch from the discomfort of your desk at work when your boss isn’t looking. Only tonight, a team of panelists will vote on which of the submitted videos (you can submit yours here!) wins a prize: Pooper Scopper d’or.
For: cat nerds
(Sorry. I was going to put a video link here, but I can’t seem to find a cat video anywhere on the Internet.)
SF Sketchfest Comedy Nightlife: What’s So Funny About Love, Sex, and Science at California Academy of Sciences
Every year, Sketchfest takes over California Academy Of Sciences for a night. They use the entire space to create a mini-comedy festival within the festival. It’s always fun, but this year is special. They’re doing a theme night, revolving around the science of sex and love. We’ll be treated to an all-science-fiction version of Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction, an evening with Sex Nerd Sandra, and legendary improv troupe The Groundlings, doing a show called Personals, where the actors base their characters on personal ads. We’re also going to be treated to standup, DJs, booze, food, and crazy animals. It’s gonna be a good one!
For: sex nerds, sociology nerds, science nerds
Friday, January 30
Salute to Preston Sturges: “The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek,” with Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer at The Roxie
Preston Sturges is a name you’ve never heard before. He produced a slew of impressive slapstick films in the 40’s, and inspired the great works of Christopher Guest and his company of comedy geniuses. Tonight, Guest, along with Michael McKean and Harry Shearer (aka Spinal Tap) will be screening his film, “The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek,” and then discussing the movie and its influence. Go to this! You might learn something!
For: film nerds, comedy nerds
The Onion Past Bedtime at Cobb’s
The Onion rarely let’s people into its inner workings. It’s regularly a brilliant piece of work, but part of its brilliance is that nobody knows anything about the staff of writers and photographers that make the greatest newspaper ever to go to print. Well, tonight, all of that gets spoiled because we get to experience a group of writers discuss the genius that is The Onion.
For: nerds delusional enough that they’ll have a career in journalism (like me!)
Saturday, January 31
Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Taking Over SF Sketchfest at Marines’ Memorial Theater
Aqua Teen Hunger Force is a work of epic genius. It’s more than a piece of merely comedic cartoonery. It’s pure surrealism. Simply one of the strangest things to ever grace the television screen. TV simply cannot get better.
For: surrealism nerds, I guess?
Uptown Showdown Debate: Are We Getting Smarter? vs, Are We Getting Dumber? at Marines’ Memorial Theater
This seems plainly obvious from the title but still looks bloody awesome. Simply put, great comedians discussing whether or not society, as a whole, is getting smarter or dumber. What do you think?
For: sociology nerds
Monday, February 2
“Groundhog Day” with Stephen Tobolowsky at The Roxie
Bill Murray’s classic “Groundhog Day” is one of the finest films ever made about the most worthless holiday ever. Stephen Tobolowsky is a character actor that’s been in nearly every film ever made and is an impressive storyteller in his own right. Tonight, he’ll tell us stories before he presents one of the many films he was in.
For: film nerds
Tuesday, February 3
SF Sketchfest Tribute to Penn & Teller at The Castro Theater
Penn & Teller are definitely uncool to like. This comedy magic duo may play Vegas a little too often for the cool “alt comedy” kids in San Francisco, but you hipsters need to get over yourselves, because Penn & Teller are great. And, Adam Savage, whom everyone loves, is chatting with them. Maybe you’ll get lucky and Teller will speak?
For: magic nerds, nerds that don’t really care what people think
Wednesday, February 4
Wheels Off: The Rhett Miller Show at Cobb’s
Rhett Miller is the lead singer of The Old 97’s, one of my favorite bands. Tonight, he’s hosting a variety show with local great John Vanderslice, master impressionist Paul F. Tompkins, and writer Michael Chabon. It will be an old-fashioned good time.
For: music nerds, literary nerds
Thursday, February 5
The Dead Authors Podcast at Brava Theater
The Dead Authors Podcast is the hypothetical world where H.G. Wells travels through time to interview the great authors. Tonight, the brilliant Lauren Lapkus portrays the author, who we’ll find out the night of the event.
For: literary nerds
Friday, February 6
SF Sketchfest Tribute to “Weird Al” Yankovic in conversation with Chris Hardwick, with guests Garfunkel and Oates, Hard ‘n Phirm, and Jonah Ray at The Castro Theater
Weird Al Yankovic is a national treasure. For over 30 years, he’s been the master of the novelty song. He introduced me to pop music—and many, many other kids. One of the greatest nights of my life was seeing Yankovic with my dad and my niece. Tonight, we get to learn a bit about what makes him tick. We also get a rare live performance by Hard ‘n Phirm, as well as the great Garfunkel & Oates. It’s gonna be an amazing time.
For: music nerds, pop culture nerds, anyone that was a nerd when they were 12
Saturday, February 7
The Business: “Old Business/New Business” at Hemlock Tavern
The Business are a troupe of some of the funniest people in the Bay Area. Some of the wittiest people from around town have made their way through the group’s ranks. Tonight is a reunion of sorts, inviting members from throughout their five-year history to fill up Hemlock Tavern. It’s basically a history lesson in modern San Francisco standup comedy.
For: local comedy nerds
Bring the Rock at Cobb’s
This is one of my favorite shows that we get during Sketchfest. Greg Behrendt brings his band, The Reigning Monarchs, to back up a crew of comedians to tell stories about music, before doing a song relating to that story with his band. Trust me. It’s really, really fun.
For: music nerds
Sunday, February 8
Better Off Dead 30th Anniversary Live Read at Marines’ Memorial Theater
Better Off Dead is one of the great teen comedies of all time. Tonight, we get to enjoy a portion of the original cast (sorry, no John Cusack!) doing a live read of one of the funniest scripts in film history.
For: Pretty Much Anyone That Likes Good Things