A Nerd’s Guide To Sketchfest 2016

by Dakin Hardwick on January 5, 2016

This wouldn't have happened if Chuck just went to a few comedy shows instead.

This wouldn’t have happened if Chuck just went to a few comedy shows instead.

WHAT?!? Sketchfest is already here?!?! It’s quite a bit earlier than usual this year; I’m sure that this is due to some strange event — wherein grown men run around and throw objects at each other in order to help promote the new Coldplay album — interfering with everything in the Bay. If you are actually interested in the big football game in Santa Clara, this list probably isn’t for you. However, if you’re like me and have never seen a football game nor got picked for anything athletic in their life, this is your list. This is where you go to determine which of the 824,422,122 amazing comedy events will be happening in San Francisco over the next three weeks.

SF Sketchfest runs from January 7th – 24th. A full schedule of events can be found here.

Thursday, January 7th

Rifftrax: A Night Of Shorts VI at The Castro

Opening the festival once again is Rifftrax. The brainchild of MST3K’s Kevin Murphy, this is a fun evening of vintage educational shorts, only with “live commentary” by John Hodgman, Janet Varney, Paul F Thomkins, Bridget Nelson and more.

For: Film Nerds, Vintage Nerds

Friday, January 8th

Teen Witch: The Peaches Christ Experience at The Castro

I don’t think there is a single straight teenage boy born in the 80’s that didn’t have a crush on Robyn Lively. She’s going to be appearing in person at The Castro, just so you can have those awkward prepubescent crush fantasies come right back to you. I’m also pretty excited to see whatever the Peaches Christ team does with this:

For: Pop Culture Nerds, 80’s Film Nerds

The Ultimate Crowd Work Show: Todd Barry & Big Jay Oakerson & Friends at Cobb’s Comedy Club

A few years ago, Todd Barry embarked on one of the riskiest tours any comic has ever done: every show, every night, the entire set is made up entirely of crowd work. It was a surprise success! He’s taking to the next level, bringing Big Jay Oakerson, Ardie Fuqua, Maggie Maye and Kids In The Hall’s Kevin McDonald along the ride. Five comics, all doing crowd work on the same crowd, and each of them having to do a unique set. The risk factor is great, but the payoff could be even better.

For: Comedy Nerds, Improv Nerds

Saturday, January 9th

Dave Barry In Conversation with Kevin Pollak at Marines’ Memorial Theater

Legendary newspaper columnist Dave Barry has shaped out culture in a dramatic and important way. Even if you have never read his nationally syndicated column or one of his many books, you’ve at least participated in International Talk Like A Pirate Day, an event that Barry has championed for years. This will be great, whether or not they actually spend the entire interview talking like a pirate.

For: Literary Nerds, Media Nerds

Jeff Goldblum and The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra at Marines’ Memorial Theater

Once upon a time, Jeff Goldblum was a mainstream comic actor that appeared on big Hollywood movies. As time progressed, Goldblum has opted to get weirder and weirder. Tonight he will be appearing with a classic big band, doing whatever he pleases, because he’s Jeff Goldblum.

For: Surrealism Nerds

Spotlight on Drunk History with Derek Waters at The Castro

If you haven’t seen Drunk History, you should immediately watch the following video. Right now. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

OK. Now you know why this is great.

For: History Nerds, Nerds interested in the effects of substance use

Sunday, January 10th

Dead Pilot’s Society at Eureka Theater

Writers Andrew Reich and Ben Blacker are doing something great here: a live stage production of some amazing pilots that the TV networks decided weren’t going to make them enough money to air. Since this hasn’t actually been done before, here’s a random unaired TV pilot I found on the Internet.

For: TV Nerds, Failure Nerds

The Sketchfest Great Collaborators Tribute: Billy Crystal & Alan Zweibel at The Castro

Everyone knows that Billy Crystal is one of the greats, but you may not know who Alan Zweibel is. He was the headwriter of It’s Gary Shandling Show, as well as the man who created such great SNL characters as Roseanne Roseannadanna and John Belushi’s samurai character. Together they created the Broadway smash 700 Sundays. Tonight, you get to experience two living legends live and learn a bit about how they work.

For: Comedy Nerds, Theater Nerds, TV Nerds

Tuesday, January 12th

BAT’s Improv presents Improvised Game Of Thrones at Eureka Theater

BAT’s Improv is one of SF’s best kept secrets. They do improv comedy in a small theater near Fort Mason every weekend for $17 a show. It’s always very intimate and a lot of fun. Sketchfest is moving them to the Eureka for one night only, and if you go to see them, you’ll be hooked from here on out.

For: Improv Nerds, Theater Nerds

Thursday, January 14th

SF Sketchfest Nightlife at California Academy Of Sciences

One of the best deals in all of Sketchfest is this year’s Nightlife event. There is comedy in three rooms, including a taping of Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction. We have Trace Beaulieu and Frank Conniff of MST3K doing live riffing of science education films, and you also get to enjoy drinking in a museum. It’s only $15 for a full evening of fun!

For: Science Nerds

Friday, January 15th

RISK! with Kevin Allison at Swedish American Hall

RISK! isn’t a comedy show. It’s a storytelling show. Kevin Allison gives his storytellers a theme, and they have to tell an autobiographical tale that relates to the subject. It’s often times funny, but is just as often dark, and almost always cathartic. This is a powerful show, and I highly recommend it.

For: Human Behavioral Studies Nerds

Jo Firestone’s Friends Of Single People at Pianofight Second Stage

A live dating show where friends of the person looking for a date do all the competing. Date winners get 2 drinks! (If you want to sign up in advance to participate, please contact [email protected] with “FOSP” in the subject line, after purchasing your tickets! Include your name and your single friend’s name, gender and sexual orientation, so that Jo can find the right special person for your friend!)

For: Romantic Nerds, Nerds who are having trouble finding love

Saturday, January 16th

‘Sup Doc Podcast with George Chen & Paco Romane at Pianofight Bar

Love documentaries? Love supporting local comics? Want to get to know some of the funniest people in the Bay Area while listening to them discuss documentaries? This is your perfect Saturday afternoon treat.

For: Documentary Nerds

The Undone Sweaters: A Weezer Cover Band at Swedish American Hall

I’m not 100% sure what to expect here. Weezer have managed to defy almost all expectations to become one of the few bands from the 90’s to continue to grow in popularity as time goes by, all while everyone claims that their new material is terrible, despite Raditude being their 2nd best record after Pinkerton. Although, for some weird reason, people have decided that they liked “Thank God For Girls,” which is a truly terrible song.

For: Music Nerds, 90’s Nostalgia Nerds

Sunday, January 17th

A Conversation with Noel Fielding and Bobcat Goldwait at Social Hall SF

The Mighty Boosh mastermind Noel Fielding is a comedy legend across the pond. He rarely makes live appearances in the US, but he’s huge in the UK and has even been granted the blessing of Monty Python. Make you friends in Europe jealous, and get yourself a little culture by learning a bit of British comedy.

For: Anglophiles, which is another word for Brit Nerds

A Tribute To “Sledge Hammer!” at Eureka Theater

Everyone loves a good sitcom about cops. Before Reno 911 and Brooklyn 99, however, there was Sledge Hammer!, a fantastic program that only lasted 2 years, probably because there was no “9” in the title. It was still pretty great, and the original cops David Rasche and Harrison Page will be onstage to discuss this groundbreaking sitcom.

For: TV Nerds

Each/Other with Scott Adsit and Tami Sagher at Eureka Theater

Two of Second City’s finest graduates, Scott Adsit of 30 Rock and Tami Sagher of Inside Amy Schumer, presenting an impressive evening of improv in a tiny theater next door to Safeway.

For: Improv Nerds

Wednesday, January 20th

Found Footage Festival meets Everything Is Terrible at The Castro

Two of the finest sources of found footage are meeting together for a triumphant evening of disturbing imagery in an ornate movie palace.

For: Nerds that like things uncomfortable

Friday, January 22nd

2 Dope Queens with Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson at Cobb’s

Jessica Williams is the woman that could be queen — queen of late night television, as she famously declined taking over for Jon Stewart as host of The Daily Show, claiming to be “too young and not ready for it.” She’s smart, she’s funny, and she rarely comes to the West Coast.

For: Politics Nerds

Presidential Debates: The Write In Candidates at Cobb’s

It’s a political twofer at Cobb’s tonight. We have Matt Besser, James Adomian, Paul Gilmartin, Mary Houlihan, Brian Huskey and Dan Van Kirk staging a fake presidential debate as fake candidates. Oh, and it’s moderated by an actual Fox News talking head, Tom Shillue. Since this is the first time these folks have done this, I’m giving you a clip of Matt Besser’s classic show, Crossballs.

For: Politics Nerds

Saturday, January 23rd

Dork Forest Podcast with Jackie Kashian at Punchline

Jackie Kashian is an unexpected leader of the geeks. She takes people of some renown and interviews them about the things they dork out about.

For: Nerds Of Every Persuasion

It’s “Adventure Time” at Marines’ Memorial Theater

Cult cartoon show Adventure Time is, simply put, one of the weirdest things on TV. This event will give you some insight as to how this weird thing came to be, and continues to happen. The song below will be stuck in your head for days.

For: Stoner Nerds, Surrealism Nerds

Upright Citizens Brigade presents ASSSCAT! at Nourse Theater

ASSSCAT! is a show where an actor tells a story, and a team of actors from from the UCB will be performing improvised skits based on that story. This show features both The State’s Michael Showalter and human superhero Sally Field as monologists.

For: Everyone, because Sally Field is a national treasure

Mo Willems’ Writing For Kids for Grown-Ups at Doc’s Lab

One of the most celebrated Children’s authors of our time will discuss his craft while drinking and swearing a bunch.

For: Children’s Literature Nerds

Bring The Rock at Swedish American Hall

Comedians tell a story about their relationship with a song, and then sing the song with The Reigning Monarchs, a surf punk band out of LA. It’s super fun, and I don’t understand why this doesn’t sell out every year.

For: Music Nerds

Sunday, January 24th

Iron Comic with Moshe Kasher and Nato Green at Cobb’s

Not quite improv, this is a game show where comics have to write 10 minutes of material based on audience suggestions. They are given a short amount of time to write their set, and then perform it. And, yes, it is a competition.

For: Game Show Nerds

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